Single Review: Cher Lloyd – ‘Swagger Jagger’

“An offensively arrogant ultimatum for the undivided attention of those who like her as well as those who don’t”


Digital Release: July 31, 2011

Physical Release: August 1, 2011

You could say Cher Lloyd’s first single release as a proper artist was always going to be of optimum interest to not just those who enjoyed her frequently irritating bravado on popular telly show The X Factor, but to pretty much whomsoever claims to be interested in ‘popular music’. Now, granted, this is mainly because the first release of any hyped artist is always going to be a certifiably ‘interesting’ one of sorts, particularly if they’re a chart-headed act. And also because the first single should showcase what that artist is about. But alas, on The X Factor, we were introduced to two very different Chers, sort of like a dissociated identity. One minute she was a-wobblin’ good and proper, side to side and seemingly quite contented with the fact her pained facial expressions often made it look like she had something uncomfortable lodged somewhere inappropriate, yet the next she was shaking like a trifle in a hurricane and practically falling apart at the seams of her harems. So which personality are we going to be re-introduced to on Cher’s first solo chart assault? Place your bets now.

In fact, don’t. The title gives it away, and it also, not too cleverly, highlights what little substance Cher Lloyd and Cher Lloyd’s ego bring to the table of popular music, or even an individual’s imagination, hence the cringe-inducing sample of ‘Oh, My Dear Clementine’. But she’s under the illusion that this is counteracted by the fact that if you like Cher Lloyd and you like Cher Lloyd’s ego, then you are ‘correct’. If you do not like Cher Lloyd and you do not like Cher Lloyd’s ego, then you are simply a jealous hater and you should probably “just let it go” and stop trying to be such a “swagger jagger”, too. This is her time now, after all.

And naturally, the irritating foibles that riddled her live performances fester in her music. Though it’s very interesting to note that she’s been marketed and moulded to appeal to a, shall we say, less than mature demographic. This is both confusing and very risky; confusing as it drastically narrows who she’ll appeal to and risky in the sense that those she will appeal to are quite possibly the most fickle age demographic there is. These impediments aren’t going to stop her having flash-in-the-pan success but certainly, the growing cocksure of such an undeveloped pop starlet and the foolish presumption of her own fame (which will only be fuelled by her audience of pre-teens) isn’t going to prolong it.

Furthermore, Cher Lloyd hasn’t even had a big hit yet, but in ‘Swagger Jagger’ she’s claiming everyone is stealing her style of clothes, singing, rapping, and wobbling, and that “you can’t stop” generally being a bit obsessed with her. This is quite playful upon the funny bone as Cher Lloyd is yet to prove her own influence on modern music, fashion, and social media, so to claim that everyone wants to be her is more than a little narrow-minded and either intentionally or not, comes across as an offensively arrogant ultimatum for the undivided attention of those who like her as well as those who don’t, the cherry on the cake being that she laughs it all off as her “swagger” and thinks the British public will buy into it.

Throughout the ballsy verses, she’s rapping lyrics in an over-enunciated style akin to Marina Diamandis or a poor man’s Nicki Minaj. The bridge is dropped into place without so much as a thread of attention paid to just how much more ridiculous this bravado anthem sounds once “Get owwn tha flowr!” makes and unexpected and irrelevant appearance. But in the chorus, she actually sings – or attempts to sing – so the vocal aggression is diluted drastically and she sounds like she’s singing a nursery rhyme amongst a production so weak it could pass for one of Britain’s half-arsed Eurovision entries; she’s allowing the chorus to be surrendered to her weaker qualities. That, and the unpleasant combination of her trembling vibrato/gargling, swamps of auto-tune and the Swedish House Mafia imitation at the end expose the concept of Cher Lloyd as a target for “swagger jagging” almost as laughable as her self-assured belief of her urban-pop crown entitlement.


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