Sings like computer.
Michaelangelo Matos: Why, look! It’s the brand new hit single by prime-time TV star and late-night talk-show regular Adam Levine and his blonde female sidekick whose last album flopped . . . er, I mean, by Maroon 5 (is a group!) and Christina Aguilera, who knows all about playing to the camera since she starred in the ultra-amazing Burlesque. But here she just jumps in with only a hint of the usual “HEY-yeah!” growling that has become her default vocal position. Adam, meanwhile, sounds like he’s auditioning for Chromeo. Uh-oh. Think they wrote this one after the Grammys? Or were they just trying to get Mick to make a surprise appearance on The Voice? Maybe next season, eh?
Alfred Soto: “Wishful thinking” is the obvious response. This sparkly Pro Tooled-to-death stomper is closer to “Moves Like Timberlake,” especially when the guitars mimic the Chic sample in Modjo’s “Lady (Hear Me Tonight)” and Levine actually sings “take me by the tongue” as if he thought it was a sexy come-on. As for the other billed has-been? Now that we’re talking Stones here, anyone remember Lisa Fischer?
Michaela Drapes: I’ve always found Adam Levine nasty and unappealing; the idea of him and Xtina having “kinky” roleplay sex where he’s Mick Jagger and she’s Jerry Hall (better fit than Bianca, or anyone else, right?) is even more appalling. Gross!
Kat Stevens: This is both terrible and amazing! The seesaw of my opinion bangs firmly down on the dog turd splattered part of the playground whenever I think about how much Adam’s voice sounds like Phil Collins (but with less gusto); it soars high up into cotton-candy clouds with a great view over the city whenever I picture Adam and Christina aged 65, gyrating to this at a wedding disco to the disgust of the younger generations. Sitting on the middle of a seesaw is unpleasant but sometimes necessary!
Katherine St Asaph: “Misery” attracted so little company on the charts that Maroon 5 would likely become a nonentity if not for one problem: you have a crush on Adam Levine. You, reader. It is a phenomenon so pervasive Kay Hanley wrote a song about it. It’s not just his looks but his voice, by now so slithery with AutoTune it resembles a sitar. On that strength, he landed The Voice, added televised snark to his Jaggerly moveset and thus got an excuse to release one more song. You’ve heard it before: it’s “Give a Little More,” sexual politics intact, plus a Mick Jagger reference somehow not accompanied by “swagger,” plus total disco (see the “lyrics video,” which abandons all menace for primary colors and pink Katy Perry script.) There’s also Christina Aguilera, and her half-presence raises more questions: is she losing her voice or just being coy with it? Why’s she evoking Britney by clipping her notes with a groan, but evoking her old self with that “Genie in a Bottle” reference? If you subscribe to either The Voice‘s or the tabloids’ versions of Adam and Christina’s inter-coach rivalry, there’s probably some extra frisson to the power dynamics here (and vocal dynamics–when the hell else has Xtina been made so peripheral?) If not, hey, she’s easily ignored. “Moves With Jagger” is also laced with whistling. Somehow, this explains everything else.
Alex Ostroff: I’ve been known to enjoy the white boy funk of Maroon 5 on occasion, but when fused with electrothump of 2011 vintage, any swagger that Adam Levine may have once possessed is leeched away by the same force that sucked out his sense of syncopation and his sleazy seductive qualities. Plus, whistling? I can’t think of a song involving a prominently whistled hook that doesn’t inspire me to fits of rage. I’m sure one exists, but this most certainly is not it.
Hazel Robinson: This has got whistling, which immediately sets me against it and the disco element is so inoffensive it could be on a Sophie Ellis-Bextor record. Except that Man From Maroon 5 is not an ice queen and Christina can’t do minimal, so although there’s probably something catchy in there it’s too wordy to even be an advertising backer.
Dan Weiss: The best thing about Maroon 5 these days is their font. I mean it: “Makes Me Wonder” and “Won’t Go Home Without You” deserve a poptimist reevaluation from critics now besotted with Rihanna and Robyn. This is sticky, kinda. Chorus is an OK “Makes Me Wonder” retread, and Aguilera’s contribution is graciously brief, but who knew whistling could be so wordy?
Jer Fairall: Pop’s most aggravating male voice teams up with its most frequently squandered female one for a song far too limp to evoke its titular subject’s late 70s disco flirtation, the only even remotely plausible point of reference here. Not that such a thing is anywhere within Adam Levine’s abilities to begin with, but Christina has actually performed with Mick, so perhaps she should know better. Then again, 90% of Christina’s career has consisted of things that she should know better than.
Jonathan Bogart: The firmer (not to say duller) thump of modern pop gives a grateful bottom end to what would otherwise be an exercise in twee nostalgias, all sprightly indie whistling and disco dressage and Maroon 5’s own thin, anxiously reverent parlor-soul. Christina takes the “featuring” credit seriously, keeping her orgiastic pipes in check so as not to blow Adam out of the water, and the result is a strutting confection that is both entirely ridiculous and, given the right spot in a playlist, utterly charming.
Edward Okulicz: In the interests of research, I watched some videos of Mick Jagger dancing to refresh myself as to what his moves look like. Fluid, but untrained, his dancing combines looseness of limb with exuberance and a genuine love of his own material. “Moves Like Jagger,” on the other hand is as stiff as a board; its beat is flat and pat and its guitar sounds like Chic as described by someone who’s never heard let alone enjoyed disco. Adam Levine’s voice is so slick and frictionless he could be a robot programmed to sing and the vaguely reptilian charm he had on something like “Harder To Breathe” is a distant memory these days. Christina Aguilera’s bit can’t even be called a diversion, that’s how boring it is.
Jonathan Bradley: Comes on like a brand new Stardust single released a decade too late. The reference to the titular Rolling Stone is too gimmicky to steer the hook sufficiently far from novelty; I tired of that trick when Pimp C used it twice on the one UGK album. Confirms that the platonic ideal of Maroon 5 was the disco rock of “Makes Me Wonder.” Disco house works for them, but it reduces the value of Adam Levine as a frontman.
Ian Mathers: Now, maybe I’m being overly literal in my reading of the lyrics, but if “I don’t even need to control you / Look into my eyes and I’ll own you” really does stem from “moves like Jagger,” should we be calling in Van Helsing or something to deal with that shit? Adam Levine makes a shitty Renfield, anyway.
Frank Kogan: OK, my towhead grandchildren, let me geeze and wheeze at you and recount the original days when I knew people who tried to move like Jagger, and some of them did it credibly, not a swagger (as has been claimed elsewhere) but a cold deadly stalk. These were the guys who terrorized kids in school lavatories and who mocked and humiliated misfits and even went after yours truly. So there’s a little bit of the old freezing-on of fear in the hairs that stand upon the back of one’s neck when this Jagger move is recalled; though ears I had too and so kenned that the Jagger Man put forth words that seemed to break his own legs and cut himself off at the kneecaps, if viewed correctly through the cold long end of the telescope. But the man moved his cold walk anyway, as if he hadn’t heard what he himself was saying, and few others seemed to see this. “Did anyone notice that he’s just drawn a parallel between himself and a man who gets his sexual kicks by torturing defenseless black women?” No, not many did apparently, as black girls in the summer heat walked around with “Brown Sugar” emblazoned across their tank tops. Anyhow, this Levine character, nice enough guy, it seems, has no pretensions to move like a Jagger in the forests of the night, so the song’s something of a gag, the point being the distance between this and that. Just a nice song, a good little semifunk that needs a bit more from a singer who usually gives slightly more. I don’t hate it, but I miss the past, and the power, as horrible as it was. Missed opportunity, as the slight self-mockery and slight gleam and groove from Adam could’ve been part of a better song.