In an age of autotune, “singing” rappers, and studio acts, as a vocalist and musician, I along with many others have long been waiting for a return to good ol’ fashioned music, and songwriting. I can surely appreciate some of the techno infused mainstream music, after all I AM an 80s baby that grew up on house music. However there’s nothing like actual instruments and a band playing behind an awesome singer.
Enter Grammy Award winning Boricua/Filipino superstar Bruno Mars, with his latest, “Unorthodox Jukebox,” a title that completely fits the description of this amazing album. I say album, as I am of the 30 year “old” bracket and can actually still remember vinyl records and 45s (for you kids out there, they were those big black discs that used to go on record players, aka turntables, like the DJs used before laptops and digitized music made it easy for everyone)
Even rarer nowadays is for me to like every single track on an album, but since downloaded, I’ve had this on steady repeat (and am actually listening to it now as I write this on the subway).
1) Young Girls
The second single, which he sang on SNL when he hosted. About a series of romances with women on the road of rock stardom, a unique ballad, a theme that recurs in other songs down the line.
This catchy first single, that you cannot hear without walking away singing “OH YEAH YEAH… OH YEAH YEAH YEAH YEAH” after listening, feels like a cross between The Police & Hotel California.
This well orchestrated love song reminiscent of Prince “Purple Rain”, has a throwback 80s feel with a 2010s spin, complete with hash tag flow “Cuz what I got for ya, I promise it’s a killer, you’ll banging on my chest bang bang #gorilla.”
Another 80s style throwback, with a Rick James/Tina Marie feel to it, that makes you wanna dance, complete with a call and response bridge, and an even hotter harmonic breakdown. “You are my treasure… You are my treasure… You are my treasure… Yeah you, you, you, you are!” (Anyone who’s ever heard my music knows I’m a BIG fan of the breakdown).
The best way to describe this song is that it sounds like a metaphorical love affair with an intoxicating vice that elevates you to outer space “Moonshine take us to the stars tonight, take us to that special place, that place we went the last time…”
6) When I was your man
A more classic piano ballad and remorseful love song that rips through your heart at the thought of all the things you should have done to keep that love from going away.
My absolute most favorite song on the entire album, about the aftermath of an affair with a “crazy gold digger named Natalie… She ran away with all my money!”
8) Show Me
Another one of those atypical love songs with a rasta twist, it wouldn’t be a Bruno album without some sort of reggae inspired jam. “Girl show me, you tell me all day that you’re lonely, then show me show me show me tonight”
9) Make her smile
This is a bad ass song, a little bit Dirty Diana (MJ), a little bit Heartless (Kanye… BEFORE the skirt) ”It’s not complicated so this won’t take awhile, ya see music make her dance, but money, money, money make her smile! (Watch her!)”
10) If I knew
The last song on the Juke, another classic style love song, very much like a page out of Sam Cooke… If you’ve ever heard ‘Bring it on home to me’… then you know what I’m talking about.
Now if some of the aforementioned names, used in comparisons, totally escape you, you’ve got homework to do.
As for Mr. Hernandez, aka Mr. Mars, THANK YOU for revitalizing the digitally flooded airwaves and giving these youngins a much needed music history lesson!
I give Unorthodox Jukebox a 5/5.