Friday, September 06, 2013

the subversive stylings of bruno mars

Although everyone was up in arms last week about Miley Cyrus pole-dance-twerking on Robin Thicke, no one seemed to notice who was the truly subversive (and truly talented) musical artist in the room ... Bruno Mars. Mars has been quietly turning out hit after hit, for himself and other artists for the past few years. And while Robin Thicke may smarmily wink and croon about "Blurred Lines," Bruno doesn't need to be coy or pull any punches. His songs embody a true rock and roll spirit, many of them frankly sexual. Most importantly, they are consistently catchy as hell.

Born in Hawaii, from a musical family ("Everybody in my family sings, everyone plays instruments ... I've just been surrounded by it"), Mars has been performing since he was three years old. He made a splash in 2010 with his first album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, which featured the chart-topping "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade," and followed that up in 2012 with Unorthodox Jukebox, which has already spawned three hits — "Locked Out of Heaven", "When I Was Your Man," and "Treasure." Besides his two hit albums, Mars has also sang on and/or co-wrote many other recent radio hits, including "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, (featuring guest vocals from Mars) and "Fuck You!" by Cee Lo Green (co-written by Mars).

What Mars really brings to the table is his wanting to keep his love songs sexy. His lyrics don't just want to make one dance, but dim the lights. His love songs can be full of elation:

Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line.
But swimming in your world is something spiritual
I'm born again every time you spend the night 
Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah you make feel like, I've been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long — "Locked Out of Heaven"

Or despair:

If my body was on fire
Ooh, you'd watch me burn down in flames
You said you loved me, you're a liar
'Cause you never, ever, ever did, baby 
But darling, I'd still catch a grenade for ya
Throw my hand on a blade for ya
I'd jump in front of a train for ya
You know I'd do anything for ya 
I would go through all this pain
Take a bullet straight through my brain
Yes, I would die for you, baby
But you won't do the same — "Grenade"

Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green, from

Sometimes he's just a posturing guy, bragging and trying to impress a girl (or anyone who will listen):

Ah yeah
Well, let me think, let me think
Ah, what should I do?
So many eager young bunnies
That I'd like to pursue 
Now even now they eating out
The palm of my hand
There's only one carrot
And they all gotta share it — "Runaway Baby"

Sometimes he's just a guy trying to be himself:

Today I don't feel like doing anything
I just wanna lay in my bed
Don't feel like picking up my phone, so leave a message at the tone
'Cause today I swear I'm not doing anything
Nothing at all, nothing at all 
Tomorrow I'll wake up, do some P90X
Find a really nice girl, have some really nice sex
And she's gonna scream out
This is great
(Oh my god, this is great)

I'll just strut in my birthday suit
And let everything hang loose ... — "The Lazy Song"

Sometimes he's just damned funny:

I see you drivin' 'round town with the girl I love
And I'm like, "F**k you!"
I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough
I'm like, "F**k you and f**k her, too!" 
Said if I was richer, I'd still be with you
Hah, now ain't that some sh*t?
(Ain't that some sh*t?)
And although there's pain in my chest, I still wish you the best
With a f**k you — "F**k you," Cee Lo Green

Smart, funny, always profane.

Pundits can keep dredging up the Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke number from the recent MTV Video Music Awards, but Bruno Mars kicked real ass, by performing the latest song from Unorthodox Jukebox, "Gorilla." I guess no one was listening too closely to the lyrics ...

Ooh I got a body full of liquor with a cocaine kicker and I'm feeling like I'm thirty feet tall
So lay it down, lay it down
You got your legs up in the sky with the devil in your eyes
Let me hear you say you want it all
Say it now, say it now 
Look what you doing, look what you done
But in this jungle you can't run
Cause what I got for you
I promise is a killer, you'll be banging on my chest
Bang bang, gorilla — "Gorilla"
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