Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Cher Lloyd – Swagger Jagger

In American English, it would be “Swagger Jacker,” but then it wouldn’t rhyme…


Alex Ostroff: After being blown away by her rendition of Keri Hilson’s “Turn My Swag On” that first exposed Cher to the public eye, I had high hopes. While I’m not sure what I exactly wanted her to be doing, a hip-house schoolyard chant about brushing off haters and Tweeting, with a chorus that Swagger Jags the chorus of “Oh My Darling, Clementine,” was definitely not it. She does her best with the material she’s given, but it’s a patchwork quilt of awkward bits stitched together to a beat. The last twenty seconds or so are a fairly irresistible dancefloor banger, though.

Edward Okulicz: Ah, TV talent shows. While watching the journey to stardom, you’re bound to find at least one contestant you can get behind, whose voice or story or look resonates with you and makes you like them enough to keep watching the rest. As a person or a pop star? It doesn’t matter. You’re watching. Clearly the same maxim applies to the construction of this debut from Lloyd, as it throws so many barely-connected ideas at the listener over the course of its length that surely, dear listener, you’ll like at least one bit of it enough to keep listening, even if the rest of it is the most annoying thing you will ever hear.

Jonathan Bogart: Fuckin air-horn synths, man. I can like a lot about this song, up to and including the nonsensical use of “jagger,” but once those Rotemmy sounds come in all interest crumbles into dust.

Ian Mathers: Surely doing your damnedest to win The X Factor should come with some sort of prohibition about complaining about people talking about you for at least a few years, let alone making that the subject matter of your renewed grab for public attention? This shit is getting positively Ouroborosian. Still, god help me, I actually quite like the melody of the part of the chorus where she sings, and even her voice; but if that’s a 7 or 8, the bulk of the track is about a 2, so…

Anthony Easton: A little kiddie pop, but there is still a bit of fascinating triumphalism like transubstantive magic.

Hazel Robinson: I like how playground this is, I like that she sounds like herself, I really like that Will.I.Am is not involved. Every time I hear it, in fact, I like it more — she’s loud and unapologetic and there’s something deliciously mean about the ridiculous chorus, matched against such competent proof that she can do better than that; it’s not her singing “Waltzing Matilda”, she’s mocking older people and why not? She’s snotty and she’s bratty and she’s singing about the things that matter to her: who her friends are, what people are saying about her and to some extent, partying. Also (and this is an almost-certain-to-be-crushed dream) imagine if that bit that sounds like Swedish House Mafia at the end signalled this was the first track of an album that went into the brattiest 4/4 rave you’d ever hear for the next ten tracks. No ballads, no fucking around. Amazing.

Michelle Myers: I loved Cher Lloyd on X Factor, and I really do think that she’s going to come out with song amazing pop songs. “Swagger Jagger” is a fine showcase of Lloyd’s cute girl swag, but a little to busy for its own good.

Jonathan Bradley: So this is the swag when it’s turned on? Cher Lloyd’s X Factor turn was a YouTube hit because it featured a preternaturally mature voice taking on one of Soulja Boy’s ricketiest instrumentals. “Swagger Jagger” is the reverse; a girl sounding younger than she is lost amidst an overstuffed backing track that suggests the producer couldn’t find a single idea worthy of confidence, and hoped a surfeit of weaker ones would compensate. It’s a poor song that can’t wring awesomeness from a teenager sneering “Hi hater/Kiss kiss, I’ll see you later.”

Michaela Drapes: It’s a bit rich to have your first single coming off a TV singing contest that you didn’t even win be an ode to haters. If anyone were actually interested in stealing any of Cher’s uh, mojo, this song would make more sense, I guess?

Sally O’Rourke: If “Moves Like Jagger” weren’t already climbing the charts, everything about “Swagger Jagger” would still scream cheap knockoff: the public domain-sourced hook; the eighteenth-place-in-Eurovision beats; the “eff y’all haters” lyrics cut and pasted from half the other songs in the Top 40.

Zach Lyon: One of those tracks that are perfectly OK until you spend a day with it stuck in your head with no access to something different. You do your best to scrunch your face and at least morph it into “Oh My Darling, Clementine” but you find you suddenly hate that by proxy.

Jer Fairall: Derivative, yes, and of Ke$ha no less, managing to swipe the shameless appropriation of a classic melody a la “Take It Off.” But this particular melody comes from “You Are My Sunshine,” a song that it is probably impossible to render in any way other than absolutely joyful, and this girl delivers it all with a cheerful exuberance that is miles removed from Ke$ha’s smug, taunting cattiness. “Girls Fall Like Dominoes” remains my (and apparently no one else’s) summer jam of choice, but I’ll take this over just about everything else currently being offered up by the charts.

Frank Kogan: This song contorts its face in 50 different ways, and honestly I don’t know if I get it, or if it pulls together nearly enough, but I just love Cher Lloyd, she’s utterly adorable and can stick out her tongue and roll her eyes all she wants.

Katherine St Asaph: “Swagger Jagger” could be a year-2200 oddity-museum exhibit about summer 2011. There’ll be a lengthy placard about how this rapper/singer/walking embodiment of attitude — played by an off-duty security guard, of course — was meant to seem, already somehow, like a Kreayshawn successor, not to mention Nicki (from whom she jacks facial expressions and play-acting) or Ke$ha (from whom she jacks pitch-shifting and Platonic form.) The guide would take five minutes to sweep over the last decade-scape of reality singing competitions and the politics of fanbases and personae and coming in first vs. not-first. Then she’d note “Swagger Jagger”‘s off-kilter, post-BEP synth and trace it as far back as she has knowledge and the museum has a budget (some things never change) and mention how the track takes a dark turn toward the end like the charts’ surrounding apocalyptica. “Swagger,” “Jagger” and Twitter would be explanatory footnotes. The curators would be boggled by the chorus, of course, having to pull out “Oh My Darling, Clementine” and J.R. Rotem and cheesy ’90s Eurodance to even come close to explaining it. But it’d be much easier to explain the video, with its ’80s-rip colors and public dance and the fact that “Swagger Jagger” starts out with its own shitty, tinny ringtone simulacrum and that everything looks like an iPod. The clientele will either be terribly confused about how this all fits together or blase about how simple and unadventurous this is compared to their 2200 trash-compactor jams. The ghost of Cher Lloyd will be overjoyed that she lived on in museum form, not just ephemeral tweets and blog posts and the pence she’ll see in royalties. Forget the realer music you’re about to run to: history will remember us like this.

5 Responses to “Cher Lloyd – Swagger Jagger”

  1. Oh fuck, I knew it wasn’t Waltzing Matilda. :(

    This is, however, still totally great.

  2. D’oh!

    But yeah, what Hazel said.

  3. You guuuuys, I hate this song so much (obvs) and it’s stuck in my head. SEND HELP ASAP.

  4. Keri Hilson?

  5. Thx, that might help. I think this my punishment for giving it a big fat zero; I’m actually feeling a bit guilty. This is weird.