Bruno Mars’ New Album: Yikes!
Ever since I saw Bruno Mars perform a Bob Marley tribute at the Grammys by covering a The Police song, I knew something was off about him. This premonition was confirmed when I listened to “Unorthodox Jukebox” in full. Under a smattering of random style-samplings, Bruno Mars managed to make my flesh crawl.
The album opens with “Young Girls,” a love ballad similar to his popular single “Just They Way You Are.” The song itself is easy enough to listen to, with catchy drums and soaring vocals. What pulls people in are the puppy dog lyrics, dripping in saccharine adoration for some faceless “young wild girl.” The genius of this song is that the mysterious paramour is actually the listener. Just like in the “Twilight” trilogy, the pull is that the subject is a nondescript, seemingly average girl who is inexplicably obsessed over by an impossibly suave and attractive older guy. Enter millions of pre-pubescent tweens eating up every word, and millions of their (parents’) dollars goes straight into Bruno Mars’ pocket. This explains why every one of Mars’ songs has lyrics about being infatuated.
The next song, hit single “Lost In Paradise,” sounds like Bruno Mars playing dress-up as Sting. This song is played so much on the radio that if I talk about it anymore, I might explode, so let’s move on. “Gorilla” takes the album on a strangely hedonistic turn, with lyrics that are not Knightly News safe. In this song, Mars refers to his recent run-in with the law over a cocaine possession over a foot-tapping rhythm. “Treasure Map” is a disco-heavy romp, and honestly, it’s pretty catchy. The next couple of songs play just like every other bubble-gum chart-topper, especially “When I Was Your Man,” in which Mars’ piano ballad features lyrics so corny that it sends tingles down your spine (another tween-pleaser). “Natalie” has an interesting fusion of Florence and the Machine-esque drum-pounding and some charmingly vengeful lyrics. Unfortunately, the next song, “Show Me,” is such a horrifying attempt at rock/reggae that Bradley Nowell of Sublime has probably turned over in his grave. The final two songs are more of the same: poor attempts at shoving popular subgenres through the pop music meat grinder. “If I Knew” is a doo-wop nod to his previous album, which was chock-full of ’50s inspired tunes. Mars finishes in his comfort zone, crooning over a pop beat.
The cover art of “Unorthodox Jukebox” portrays a gorilla fidgeting with an old jukebox, and this is exactly what the album sounds like. Aside from the most bubblegum, every song delves into the songwriting style of some iconic artist but with a painfully pop twist. The album may be catchy, but hey, so is the flu.
By Annie Armstrong, Features Editor ’13