The Song: Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera, “Moves Like Jagger”
The Crimes: Profligate whistling, misplaced sass, wholly unsexy instruction to “take [Levine] by the tongue.”
Earlier this year, both Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera were coming off what might be called “soft landings”—the lite-funk outfit’s 2010 album Hands All Over received a tepid reception from the marketplace, while the pint-sized belter was coming off punishing reactions to both her overstuffed robo-pop collection Bionic and the “so bad, it can’t even be so bad that it’s good” pile of camp Burlesque. Then NBC stepped in and hired them both as coaches on their translation of the Dutch talent show The Voice, and what do you know? Being on TV made Americans realize that they still existed, and had even been putting out music in recent months that wasn’t as terrible as some doubters wanted to claim. The only way to properly react to this development was, of course, a cash-in single.
And so we were gifted with “Moves Like Jagger,” in which Maroon 5 seem to be speeding through a piece of Xeroxed-to-death sheet music containing Hall & Oates outtake from 1981, with lyrics to match; sex is compared to starting a car, and there are vague references to making things “feel right” and rubbing, and Aguilera gets a dropped-in bridge where she shows off her pipes briefly. The song hit it big almost immediately upon its release, peaking at the top of the Hot 100 and ending the year at No. 8; the sinuous whistling on its hook is maddeningly, expertly crafted, a simple rise-and-fall line that sounds okay on its first listen and grating on its 10th, and that will have any listener who gets it stuck in their head reaching for the sleeping pills and/or the noggin-sized sledgehammer. Its broad-brush popularity—thanks to the combined wattage derived from the Hot AC popularity of the song’s two responsible parties and the still-extant cool factor of the titular moving man—means that the whistling—da da da da DA da da da DA da da da—can strike anywhere, even in, like, the waiting area for an emergency room.
The most egregious crime of “Moves Like Jagger,” though? Imagine a singles bar where everyone is sloshing your drink because they can’t stop moving around like this—and whistling that damn hook:
I mean, I didn’t even get to Jagger’s moves in that will.i.am video.
The 11 Most Infuriating Songs Of 2011
11. Kreayshawn, “Gucci Gucci”
10. will.i.am feat. Mick Jagger and Jennifer Lopez, “T.H.E. (The Hardest Ever)”
9. Katy Perry feat. Missy Elliott, “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) (Remix)”
8. Tyler, The Creator, “Bitch Suck Dick”
7. Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera, “Moves Like Jagger”
6. Bon Iver, “Holocene”
5. Rihanna, “S&M”
4. Brian McFadden, “Just The Way You Are (Drunk At The Bar)”
3. [White Person], [White Person Cutely/”Seriously” Performing Urban-Radio Hit]
2. Lana Del Rey, “Video Games”
1. Jessie J, “Price Tag”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 27, 2011