Album Review: Bruno Mars’ ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’

Maggie Mcginity

Bruno Mars’ second studio album, “Unorthodox Jukebox-%20Bruno%20Mars” target=”_blank”>Unorthodox Jukebox,” builds on the multi-genre style he established in “Doo-Wops%20&%20Hooligans%20-%20Bruno%20Mars” target=”_blank”>Doo-Wops & Hooligans” while exclusively exploring some repetitive subject matter: love and sex. Though the situations, styles, and contexts of his songs vary, these two topics pop up in every track.

Young%20Girls%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Young Girls” begins “Jukebox”with multiple keyboard sounds: one keeping it steady with eighth notes, another one moving around with intro melody and progressing chords. A beat comes in about halfway through the verse. This track has nice harmonic structure on the chorus, and there are some high bells and steady drums which sound a bit like construction work. The constant keyboard pulse gets tired by verse two. Mars’ crooning on the bridge and the 80s feel throughout make this track fun and easy listening. The lyrics explore the irresistibility of “young, wild girls” and find some poignancy: “All these roads steer me wrong/ But, I still drive them all night long.”

I didn’t want to like “Locked Out of Heaven.” At first, I was put off by the bluntness of the lyrics: “Your sex takes me to paradise.” I’m used to pop musicians coming up with clever double entendres, not straight-up tell a girl how awesome her sex is. I do appreciate the metaphor “You make me feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven/ for too long.” Musically, though, there is nothing to offend in this song. It starts with drumsticks clicking in and has a sweet bassline and guitar over with Bruno’s processed “Oh, yeah, yeah” background vocals. I find the whole thing a bit sacrilegious (“Open up your gates cause I can’t wait to see the light”), but no matter how much I try to be offended by this song, I find myself getting caught up in its irresistible harmonies and driving instrumentals, giving up, and dancing/ singing along.

Gorilla%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Gorilla” starts with a mention of drinking and drugs. The bass is very prominent; the vocal melody is a tad boring. There are a lot of power chords in this song, power piano, as well as big hits alternating with brief moments of a capella Mars. “Gorilla” definitely has an 80s power ballad feel to it. This song has a lot of straight percussion and doesn’t add to the album’s growing need of  rhythmic interest. The sound turns a bit Bon Jovi on the processed background vocals of the last chorus.

Just ignore the strange computer voice sentence at the beginning of “Treasure%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Treasure.” Once the kicking bassline, guitar and drums come in, it’s 80s central in a very fun way. Mars is definitely taking cues from Prince in this tune. This song features a lot of background vocals, a lot of high keys and synthiness. Lyrically, it’s a compliment song with a standard goal of compliments: getting the girl (“You know you can make my wish come true/ If you let me treasure you”).

Moonshine%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Moonshine” has an interesting slow start, all haunting electric guitar and pervasive held keyboard tones. This track is super 80s and could almost be mistaken for a Michael Jackson song. It’s got a nice beat, supportive guitar line, and high keys doubling the melody, with a lot of action on the keyboard and in the background vocals. The chorus holds a clever play on an alcoholic beverage: “Moonshine, take us to the stars tonight.”

When%20I%20Was%20Your%20Man%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>When I Was Your Man” is simple and soulful. It’s got solid piano throughout with the first chord setting the mood of this heavy piece. This song consists exclusively of piano and Mars’ singing. This track has a similar feel to the emotional pain found in “Grenade%20-%20Doo-Wops%20&%20Hooligans” target=”_blank”>Grenade,” but in a much quieter fashion. Mars makes us wait to hear him sing the title of this tune until the last line of the last chorus :“I hope he buys you flowers/ I hope he holds your hand … Do all the things I should have done/ When I was your man”

Natalie%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Natalie” is another song I know I shouldn’t like but can’t help dancing to. It starts out with consistent clapping in the background. It’s dancy with a simple bass drum in the background and great percussion. This track has a repetitive melody pattern, but it’s catchy and singable. The combination of low piano chords and intimidating lyrics (“Well, I’m digging a ditch

/For this gold-digging b****”) make Mars sound like a dangerous man.

After the death threats of “Natalie,” it’s time to mellow out with “Show%20Me%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Show Me.” This track has an island feel in the verse and infectious steel drum in the chorus. It’s super repetitive and really chill, a fun mix of hip hop and island breezes. The buzzer noise on the bridge briefly breaks the tropical illusion, but the final chorus brings it back.

Money%20Make%20Her%20Smile%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Money Make Her Smile” is a synth-heavy track with simplistic lyrics. The bass is insistent without purpose and a bit overpowering at times. The delays on this track are set off well by the high-pitched rapping in the background. The bridge sounds a bit like someone playing with the sound effects setting of an electronic keyboard, where every key pressed makes a different synthesized noise. Lyrically, this tune tells the tale of an exotic dancer: “It’s not complicated, so this wont take a while/ You see music make her dance, and money, money, money make her smile.”

If%20I%20Knew%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>If I Knew” is a simplistic, gospel-like track. In some moments, it reminds me of Elvis. It has a lot of rich vocal harmonies, a walking bassline, supportive guitar and a straightforward rhythm. This song sounds a bit duet-like in the back-and-forth following the chorus because there are two distinct male voices. When one listens to the lyrics, though, it’s clearly a love song about  Mars regretting a wild past now that he has a girl worth calming down for: “No, I wouldn’t have done/ All the things that I’ve done/ If I knew one day you’d come.”

Top Tracks: “Locked%20Out%20of%20Heaven%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>Locked Out of Heaven,” “When%20I%20Was%20Your%20Man%20-%20Unorthodox%20Jukebox” target=”_blank”>When I Was Your Man”

2.5 out of 5 stars