I’m happy to say I’ve finally reached the magic age where pop music doesn’t hold the slightest interest to me. Back when I was an impressionable tween, I used to think “I never want to be one of those old timers who don’t care about new music!” Now I’m proud that I don’t know the melodies to any Justin Bieber songs and I’m not exactly sure who or what Nikki Minaj is. As I go about my daily life, I can usually avoid all pop music pretty well, but there’s one place where I’m unavoidably saturated in it: the gym. It seems no matter how loud I blast music I like on my iPod, I can’t wholly drown out the ubiquitous caterwauling of Katy Perry and Adele. A few days ago, when I thought the music at the gym couldn’t get any worse, I heard from out of the past the Avril Lavigne song “Sk8er Boi.” I thought to myself at once: this is the worst pop song ever.
I later kvetched to a friend of mine how Sk8er Boi was so bad it could be played to make kidnappers drop their weapons, and she astutely responded that as bad as Avril’s ditty was, Maroon 5’s Moves Like Jagger was worse.
I had myself a quandary here: which one was indeed worse? Sk8er Boi has lyrics that have been proven to cause irreparable brain cell damage, but Moves Like Jagger has… moves like Jagger. I had to give this more thought. Here’s what I came up with after many days of quiet concentration and august meditation.
Moves Like Jagger
First off, with Moves Like Jagger, I find the whole premise to be absurd. Who would actually try to pick up a girl by saying he had moves like Mick Jagger? I’d sooner tell a girl I had moves like Mr. Jaggers from Great Expectations. By Mick Jagger, does the singer mean the Mick that spent the 60s wagging his finger like someone trying to train a toy poodle, or does he mean the Mick Jagger who’s in his sixties and is most likely doped up on painkillers trying to desperately conceal his syphilitic symptoms? If he told a girl he had the moves like Jagger, wouldn’t she be a bit put off, considering how Mick made an entire career of objectifying women with lyrics like “Parachute woman, won’t you land on me tonight?” The sad part is, not even Mick Jagger has moves like Jagger. I’m sure the man’s now more concerned with the regularity of his bowel movements than his dance moves.
More than the chorus, I find the lyrics throughout to be pretty lamebrained and objectionable. For example, at one point, Adam Levine sings “I don’t want to control you,” and I think to myself, “oh, that’s good. He doesn’t want to objectify women like his idol Mick.” Then Levine adds “look into my eyes and I’ll own you.” Oh Adam, if she’s looking in your eyes, how will she see you move like Jagger? But then, it doesn’t much matter much does it, if she’s an object you can own like a car or a house (by the way, while we’re on the subject of buying things, please buy a shirt, anything will do). If that’s not bad enough, Christina Aguilera makes an appearance on the song where she sings “You know how to make me smile, take control, own me just for the night.” Not only is she okay with being objectified, it makes her happy. As far as I can tell, Moves Like Jagger is meant to be a sexy youthful song about hooking up after a night of dancing, yet it could have easily been written by Rush Limbaugh in a romantic mood after popping a few pills.
So from Maroon 5, let’s transition to Avril Lavigne. You can at least say one thing about her, Avril Lavigne at least has a manlier voice than Adam Levine. Sk8er Boi tells the story of a young, headstrong skater boy who falls for a girl who’s into ballet. It’s a regular Romeo and Juliet, that is, if the play were written by advertising executives for Hot Topic. Then, she says see ya later to the Sk8er boi. Five years go by and the ballet dancer now has a child, which presumably means her ballet career is over thanks to the surreal standards of the art. She turns on the TV and sees the skater boy she left behind is now on stage playing guitar with Avril Lavignes band. She calls up her friends and they go see the skater boy in concert. Here’s where the song makes no sense.
Isn’t having a child an important accomplishment? The ballet dancer brought life into the world. All the skater boy did was play guitar badly in an Avril Lavigne song. Shouldn’t the ballet dancer still be seen in a better light? Even if her ballet career ended and the father of her child left her, she still has a home, friends, and a child. She goes to this concert, and what happens? She hears Avril and the skater boy singing a snotty little song about her.
What has this skater boy done that’s so great? He’s not a particularly good guitar player. At the end of the song, it’s revealed he helped write the song Avril’s singing, so he’s not much of a writer either. If anything, shouldn’t the ballet dancer simply be glad she didn’t stick with the skater boy?
What annoys me most about Sk8er Boi is that it calls itself punk. I think even if Ronald Reagan rose from his grave and listened to Sk8er Boi he’d say it was too cheeky and conservative.
It seems to me pop culture is telling us it’s attractive to be a skater boy and to move like Jagger, but I’m not buying it. I guess the bottom line is that I hate both songs, but if I had to choose which was worst, I’d stick with my gut reaction and say Sk8er Boi. When I think of punk, I want to have pleasant nostalgia about great bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols; I don’t want to think of a boy with baggy pants and a skateboard who writes lyrics so sickly sweet they’d be edited out of a Sweet Valley High novel.
My thoughts aside, I thought it’d be appropriate to let you decide for yourself. Please use the poll beneath to vote for which song you think is worse. In case you’re a luckier person than me and haven’t heard the songs in question… well, don’t listen to them. If you have to, I’ve included the music videos below as well.
And in case you forgot what Mick Jagger moves like…