Filed Under:

Bruno Mars Goes Anyplace And Everyplace On 'Jukebox'

Play associated audio

I became a Bruno Mars fan in about 60 seconds. It happened in the car, when "Grenade" — from his first album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans — came on the radio. One time through the refrain and I was hooked. With just this album and a string of cameo appearances from the Hawaii-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Mars established himself as an elite pop talent.

Like a lot of people, I was curious to see where this guy would go next. The answer, according to his new album: anyplace and everyplace. Unorthodox Jukebox tears through a range of musical styles with head-spinning energy.

"Locked Out of Heaven," the first single from Mars' new album, is a dose of pop euphoria that makes everything else on the radio right now seem drab by comparison. Of course, those alive in the 1980s may hear this song as not quite so new: Some have noted that it's an uncanny imitation of The Police. Mars is a student of the pop hook, and a degree of emulation is part of his game. He can write a tune that borrows huge building blocks from Stevie Wonder or Maroon 5 or Prince, and still somehow sound like himself.

In interviews, Mars talks about his appetite for all kinds of music, and how he doesn't like to be pinned down. Unorthodox Jukebox bears this out. There's a sexy disco send-up ("Treasure"), a skittering electro fantasy ("Natalie") and a thumping pop anthem ("Young Girls").

Not everything on the new album is brilliant; in several tunes, the lyrics amount to generic sex talk, running status updates of his carnal whims and desires. At times it seems his skills as a composer might not be as fully developed as his wickedly expressive singing; but even then, in the most X-rated moments, it's clear that Mars has crazy potential. Maybe he'll harness it differently on some project in the future, and settle into one lane on the expressway. For now, he's all over the road, and it's a pretty fun ride.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Mislabeled As A Memoirist, Author Asks: Whose Work Gets To Be Journalism?

Suki Kim wrote Without You, There Is No Us after working undercover as a teacher in North Korea. She says the response to her book is also a response to her identity as Korean and a woman.
NPR

Amid Craft Brewery Boom, Some Worry About A Bubble — But Most Just Fear Foam

Fueled by customers' unquenchable thirst for the next great flavor note, the craft beer industry has exploded like a poorly fermented bottle of home brew.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - July 1, 2016

Kojo and Tom Sherwood chat with D.C. Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo and Virginia Del. Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax).

NPR

After Deadly Crash, Safety Officials Will Examine Tesla's Autopilot Mode

The fatal crash of a Model S that was in autopilot when it collided with a truck in Florida is prompting a preliminary evaluation of the feature by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.