Bruno Mars: Unorthodox Jukebox
music is in a sorry state. It isn’t that much of a stretch to say that the
music industry is run by record labels and not musicians. While said industry
continues to roll out marketable non-talents, there is hope that music fans are
becoming a bit more educated – a small ripple of change that has pushed many
artists to consciously differentiate themselves. Say what you will about Bruno
Mars, but here is a singer that has taken the prerogative to stand out.
Doo-Wops & Hooligans, was released in 2010 to massive commercial
success, receiving platinum certification in the US and double platinum in
Europe. Two years on, Unorthodox Jukebox looks set to increase the
versatile singer’s stock
in Waikiki, Hawaii, Mars cites the likes of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson and
Little Richard, as his greatest musical influences. With Unorthodox Jukebox, Mars has utilised this mishmash of musical
inclinations to produce what is actually quite an eclectic record.
‘Young Girls’, carries a 70s pop sound that doesn’t push Mars out of his
comfort zone, while songs like ‘Gorilla’ portray that ever-so cheeky spirit that
has characterised his most popular songs: “You and me baby/Making love like
more to Mars, as can be seen in ‘Natalie’, which reveals a darker angst to his happy-go-lucky
nature. There’s no new sentiment here – just the same old torment of failed
relationships and past lovers – but it at least makes for nice relief from the
slightly nauseating summer-pop that he’s become associated with.
Her Smile’ and ‘Moonshine’ see Mars expand his repertoire further – with mixed
results. The latter is co-written by
Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt of Miike Snow, but Ronson’s magic touch hasn’t
worked this time round, courtesy of some pretty uninspiring and hollow lyrics: “Moonshine,
take us to the stars tonight/Take us to that special place/That place we went
the last time.” A Mark Ronson-produced track more often than not means syths
and big, bouncy beats, but it just doesn’t work here. There’s no edge; just
other single on the album, ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ exposes a musical depth that
will surprise even the most cynical of listeners. Very obviously inspired by
the Police, Mars excels in his lyricism, musicality and that oh so important charisma.
Unorthodox Jukebox isn’t going to win
Bruno Mars many new fans, but it’s an album that manages to please his fan
base, while showing that underneath that fedora and almighty quiff, there are glimpses of a serious artist.