Pity Bruno Mars, y’all. He’s a dude, yet he’s releasing a new single in the midst of Ke$ha, Rihanna, and Adele’s onslaught of new music. In 2012, not being a diva in the pop market can really work against against you. (However, hip-hop and country are still hostile toward women, so I guess it balances out.)
To rise above the crowd, Mars’ new single “Locked Out of Heaven” needs to be hot and cool. At the very same time. But is it? Let’s see:
Let’s start with the charming cover art of a woman in 70s-era frock and furs exposing her cleavage and wearing some kind of fancy key between her breasts. Could this be… wait for it… the key to heaven?
After all, the chorus finds Mars crooning to a lady that her “sex takes [him] to paradise” and makes him feel like he’s been “locked out of heaven for too long.” Except he got back into heaven because of his lady’s magical vagina.
Granted, Mars is hardly the first person to make these parallels, and I guess his angle is more romantic than, say, Akon’s. So even though the lyrics to “Locked Out of Heaven” make me roll my eyes, I can give them a pass. (I feel this way about a lot of Mars’ songs. “Throw my hand on a blade for ya” is a terrible lyric, but he sings “Grenade” with so much passion that I admire his pluck.)
Plus, the backing track, which hovers between old-school funk and new wave rock, is really hot. As much as anyone, Mars is updating classic rock and soul sounds with the slick production and technological bleeps of the modern age. And he’s doing it well, proving there are still interesting things to say with the old genres. On this song, for instance, the “hoot-hoot-hoots” and “heep-heep-heeps” behind the electric guitar and pounding drums so weird that they grab my ear every time I hear them. I look forward to them, because they make the song quirky and surprising.
I feel like this song will be a hit, because catchy is catchy in any decade, but it’s possible Mars has gone too far beyond the current pop-dance trend to really stick. Since he’s not Adele, people may not instantly embrace his old school flavor. We’ll find out soon enough!
Mark Blankenship thinks women are great, but he doesn’t think they’re magical. Unless they are Cher. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship