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Six Songs Bringing the Resurgence of Mick Jagger

written by: on September 20, 2011

It’s been 48 years since The Rolling Stones first tapped the British airwaves, six since they’ve dropped an album, and four since the band’s toured, but they’ve just reconquered the pop charts. One song later, and their gaudy frontman has been thrust back into the limelight and offered up fresh to a whole new generation of listeners. Only it’s not his song, not his voice on the recording, and if it uses his likeness, well, it’s a loose interpretation at best.

For the past few weeks, a little ditty by Maroon 5 and Christina Aguilera called “Moves Like Jagger,” commemorating the inventive, soul-influenced hip shakes of the singer, has dominated the charts. And it’s not the only one. It marks the culmination of a string of tributes; neither are Adam Levine and Co. the first to make homage. If you’ve turned on a radio in the past few months, odds are you’ve heard Ke$ha, Kanye, maybe even Cher Lloyd lend props.

Why the sudden resurgence? Is it because Jagger’s surname rhymes precariously well with another buzzword of the late decade? Or does it mark a genuine look back by artists, a tip of the hat to the old guys who had no small part in coining the “Moves”? Is it lyrical laziness from a bunch of glitter-covered pop children, or are the Jonas Brothers really that big of fans of Britain’s greatest R&B act? We examine it through six examples, in hopes of proving whether Sir Mick can feel safe in proclaiming, “I invented swag.”

1. “Swagger Jagger” Cher Lloyd

The line: “Swagger Jagger, Swagger Jagger/You should get some of your own/Count the money/Get your game on.”

It’s hard to tell what this “X-Factor” alumna is going on about. At no point in the tune is there a specific reference to the man himself. In the music video, she touts a leather jacket with the song title stitched on the back in Legos. And I guess we’re supposed to think that makes her bad. For the most part, she seems to be spouting off about how much of a social media icon she is, owing to her looks. Little more than a quick check of her YouTube page shows a discouraging amount of red in the dislike column.

2. “The Time” The Black Eyed Peas

The line: “All-all these girls, they like my swagger/
They callin’ me Mick Jagger/
I be rollin’ like a Stone.”

The Black Eyed Peas would have a hard time convincing me they pee with the seat down, such is the extent of their fall from gangsterdom. Invoking the name “Jagger” over a bad remake of a campy ’80s pop ballad could be equated to heresy—but that can be forgiven as it really is unfair to slam a band who probably doesn’t know who the Rolling Stones are.

3. “Heart and Soul” Jonas Brothers 

The line: “Makin’ mistakes/
But that won’t matter/
If you can swag like ’ol Mick Jagger.”

Somehow Disney’s “clean teen machine” manages to shout out an actual bad boy, but the effect is too little, too faux. Whether or not it’s possible for the brothers Jonas to have swag, let that be put aside. It’s simply hard to make comparisons with one who tore off his shirt, bearing a chest-long Beelzebub tattoo and plunged into a trancelike state howling out the end of “Sympathy for the Devil” at the Rock and Roll Circus. For the sake of the God-fearing trio, we’ll leave that one alone. Best advice: Don’t play with fire.

4. “Swagga Like Us” T.I. 

The line: “My swagger is Mick Jagger/Every time I breathe on the track, I asthma attack it.”

Actually, Yeezy’s guest lines on this track might have a case. His antics, alleged stupidity and fuck-all attitude are comparable, at least on paper, to the satisfaction-seekers. Both have been notoriously prone to nervous breakdowns, presided over public image-scathing concerts, and do their best work with at least one foot in the past for inspiration. Kanye West also managed to drop this gem before any on this list—who knows—he might have triggered the craze. In that sense, he’s more Christopher Columbus; they’re just the pilgrims.


5. “Tik Tok” Ke$ha

The line: “And now the dudes are linin’ up cos they hear we got swagger/But we kick ’em to the curb unless they look like Mick Jagger”

Lest swagger became a boy’s club, Ke$ha staked female rights early on in the word’s rise. There’s no doubt that she tries for that attitude—the carefree, glitzy rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle. The question is whether anyone believes it, even for a second. At least she has the decency to compliment the old boy on his looks—you don’t hear many talk about that face with the sensuous lips, the big brown eyes and wavy mop and—Forgive me, I thought I was going to faint.

6. “Moves Like Jagger” Maroon 5 featuring Christina Aguilera

The line: “I don’t need to control you/Look into my eyes and I’ll own you/With them moves like Jagger.”

And there they are! The moves, the damn moves! The ones that electrified a generation two score and seven years ago and played no small part in meriting the label, “Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band In The World.” In fairness, Maroon 5’s sound resembles more of a late-era Stones with their falsetto funk—and that’s pushing it. The überclean, polished production of the Angelinos’ songs make even the Stones’ most disco work look dirty. However, you can’t help but snicker at the song’s video, a compilation of Jagger dance “tryouts.” Recorded partially in vintage film with shots overspersed of the man himself, it reads best as a tribute. Both Aguilera and vocalist/guitarist Adam Levine have a go—and frankly, it’s not half bad. If not because of their own dancing finesse, then because of how iconic Jagger’s moves really are. And hey, maybe they’re only so imitable because they’re so distinctive. Absurd and at times even funny, they smack of raw attitude, improvisation and sexual vitality, and if you have half a heart, you have to love them.