It’s a single so bad that it destroyed a career


1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#68: Cher Lloyd – Swagger Jagger (2011)

Sometimes just one song can ruin an album and send a career spinning off into obscurity. MATT KELLY has got this to say…

I don’t always think about what the worst single ever made is, but when I do I think about Cher Lloyd’s ‘Swagger Jagger’. It’s certainly one of the worst songs to ever hit #1 (in the UK – it didn’t chart at all in the US, ending the debate about Brits supposedly having better taste.)

Cramming Herculean amounts of awfulness into every aspect of the song in a way ‘The Macarena’ can only dream of, a decade on the song retains its power to make first-time listeners screw their faces up like they’re sucking a lemon dipped in battery acid and ask. “What IS this TRASH?”


Support Witchdoctor’s ongoing mission to bring a wealth of new and historic music interviews, features and reviews to you this month (and all year round) as well as coverage of quality brand new, contemporary NZ and international music. Witchdoctor, entertainment for grownups. Your one-off (or monthly) $5 or $10 donation will support and help us keep producing quality content. It’s really easy to donate, just click the ‘Become a supporter’ button below.


It’s from Lloyd’s debut album Sticks And Stones which is actually not that bad (‘Want You Back’ is a jam) which is why I’m covering the single rather than that record. And I want to excuse Lloyd herself from this debacle because this is an instance where the performer isn’t the problem. She was only 18 so I wouldn’t judge her too harshly. She does exactly what a 2011 song about swagger jackers requires of her, even pronouncing “jacker” as “jagger” to make it rhyme. Rolling Stones fans can rest easy, your god is not being smeared here. (Maroon 5 had already done that the previous year.) But in any case, Lloyd indeed swaggers around the track with appropriate gusto and oomph and attitude; such swagger that you may even want to jagger it.

No, the problem here is the song and its production. What annoys people? Narcissistic lyrics? Nursery rhyme interpolations?* Chipmunk vocals? Eurotrash beats? The most annoying synthesiser sound EVER? (The latter starts 18 seconds in if you’re interested.)

*Well okay, the song interpolates ‘Oh My Darling Clementine’ which isn’t actually a nursery rhyme but it feels like it in this juvenile context.

It’s just such a perfect storm of sonic dreadfulness. The way the track begins with one annoying element and then continually transitions to another EVEN WORSE one and then begins blending them together to create a maelstrom of awful is genuinely impressive. It’s a song, and I’m not joking, where on repeat listens you will notice further details that make you hate it more.

It’s a pity really, because I think Lloyd had some potential with her fun, big personality and voice, but ‘Swagger Jagger’ is one of those hit songs that hurt the artist’s career – it made her a joke and when her considerably better second album Sorry I’m Late dropped in 2014, no one cared, it flopped and she was done. Still, this stands eternal as a monument to just how bad three minutes of music can be.


Avatar photo

Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Give a little to support Witchdoctor's quest to save high quality independent journalism. It's easy and painless! Just donate $5 or $10 to our PressPatron account by clicking on the button below.

Witchdoctor straight to your inbox every 2nd week


Advance Paris - Designed with French flair. Amplifiers, Streamers, CD players and more
Previous Story

Star Wars-influenced gaming headset is a real winner

Next Story

Forty years ago – Philbo keeps a low profile

Latest from 1001 albums you must die before you hear

Go toTop