Bruno Mars’ Unorthodox Jukebox has only been out for a week and the single Locked Out of Heaven (3:53) is already Number One on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Furthermore, the album is already Number One on itunes (which is now the Primo-Est of groove-gauges).
I need to insert the smokin’-est hook in my second paragraph, so I’ll say, Unorthodox Jukebox will be ubiquitous, blasting forth from tinty airport speakers, shopping mall sub-woofers, and wailin’ outta Gentleman’s Clubs’ audio inferno towers (and naturally, on every iphones, ipad, or ipod in the entire universe).
Well, that’s a lotta airplay! Bruno Mars’ debut record Doo-Wops & Hooligans has sold 50 million singles in just a little more than 2 years, and the catchy ape at a jukebox could well top it, with virtually nothing out to compete with it (until Adele’s new record hits the racks).
A good harbinger for me is I play the album continuously, without skipping to my favorite tracks. They’re are no weak links in the ten song pop chain; I straight up crank the little platter! One small criticism, is on the itunes edition you don’t get a credit or lyric booklet.
Well, no offering of liner notes is probably obvious; this would look too intellectual or retrogressive. Bruno is the new sound, or maybe a recycled sound born anew. Clearly, he lifts from the Pop Forefathers copiously, but this is not too offensive since it’s the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson, Sam Cooke, The Police, and even Cool & The Gang.
And having inaudible or ambiguous lyrics in Pop has been around for eons! If it’s unclear what the artist is saying (you think he’s riffing ’bout a shakedown at a topless bar, when he’s really discussing the content of a Sunday School lesson, for all you know), this will just punch up cash register sales out the Wazoo!
My favorite track is Treasure (2:59), which may show my age since in sounds most 1970s, like Cool & The Gang, givin’ us a mellifluous 4/4 rhythm with what sounds like an archaic drum machine. I mean it never slows down, just keeps up the never ending bump and grind with a fade out finale (haven’t heard a fade out in a while).
I predict Treasure will be a Number One single also; that’s lobbin’ ya a softball! The muzak-like mixes are perfect for shopping malls, inauspicious and amorphous, chameleons elves hiding ‘neath cumbersome ear wax, I wax prolific. *(If Best Buy will play Bruno Mars 24/7, maybe they’ll survive!)
My runner-up favorite is Natalie (3:45), which reminds me infinitely of Prince; totally early 1980s with subterranean suggestive synths, recurring drum beat, quivering vocals, background harmony coloring, muffled lyric enunciation (which cleverly blurs the storyboard, if there is any), and best of all, the small squirts of synth sample that bend the meaning of the lines (which are already so treated, as to be indistinguishable from the drums and keys). Typical, really.
A requisite reggae tune, Show Me (3:28), is nonetheless catchy; this is not genuine reggae, but rather urban discotheque reggae. Well, maybe there’s no such thing but Mars just invented it anyway, so that people who never heard authentic reggae in their short lives can now share vicariously, if not superficially, in its groovy trip! Alright, so Money Make Her Smile (3:24) will make a bundle of crisp cash for some curvy college girls workin’ their way through school with weekend employment opportunities. Beats student loans!
Did I forget to mention Young Girls (3:50) will easily make it to Number One! I guess I did. These guys (The Smeezingtons) know how to make a record for teeny electronic devices, which is a real plus for Unorthodox Jukebox. In fact, it reveals the hidden meaning of the title, where the iphone or mini-ipad has undermined the traditional, clunky jukebox.
The key nowadays is to suffuse the mix so as not to blow out your eardrums and to keep all the great things of the past (’70s, ’80s, & ’90s) around, buried underneath the micro-circuit (syndicated circus) of sound. Apple meets Bubblegum!