DAR Music: Bruno Mars' 24K Magic

By @TrueGodImmortal 

1. 24K Magic 
2. Chunky 
3. Perm 
4. That's What I Like 
5. Versace On The Floor 
6. Straight Up And Down 
7. Calling All My Lovelies 
8. Finesse 
9. Too Good To Say Goodbye 

Let me preface this review by starting off with the truth: I was never a fan of Bruno Mars. At all. Not even close. Sure, I thought he was a pretty good singer, but I would never be concerned with listening to his music, or his album for that matter. When he made more pop centered songs, I would hear them all over the radio, but it just didn't appeal to me. I knew he was a successful songwriter and artist, and I could see his appeal. His appeal seemed more worldwide, as his songs all stuck out as hits, from "Grenade" to "Just The Way You Are" to "Marry You" and even the comical "Lazy Song". I just wasn't really interested in the music at the time, but admittedly he gained my attention when he teamed up with Mark Ronson for the biggest hit of his career "Uptown Funk", a huge smash hit that STILL gets played depending on where you're at.

For Bruno to have been around for years and have his biggest hit come on someone else's album (the song was released on Mark Ronson's Uptown Special album), it must have been a motivator. The sounds of "Uptown Funk" were just that, funk. It infused a Prince and Morris Day/The Time sensibility with new age sounds and seemingly gave Bruno new life as an artist and performer. However, with his third album looming, Bruno began working tirelessly, trying to craft and perfect something in particular to invoke the funk and soul sounds that "Uptown Funk" did, but better. Something stronger, more R&B centered with lush arrangements and fluid vocals throughout. I wasn't really paying much attention to news about his album, but I did see Bruno and his album mentioned as one of the most anticipated projects for the year on a few lists. I told myself, "maybe I'll check it out if I hear a good review on it". Then, back in early October, I had heard through word of mouth (which is underrated in music) from people whose music opinions I respected that Bruno just put out an extremely dope song called "24K Magic". I heard the song, was instantly drawn in by the retro soul and funk sound. It was brash, yet smooth and seemed to be reminiscent of the same vibe he gave on "Uptown Funk". I wasn't the biggest fan of Bruno of course, but good music is good music.

When Bruno dropped "24K Magic", I figured it was a one time deal and just the lead single to bring people in to the album because it gave off a more refined "Uptown Funk" vibe. A bit after I heard the song, I found out his album was also titled that and I was slightly intrigued. I thought to myself, "Bruno might make a decent album that I could enjoy", and left it at that. I wasn't prepared for what was coming and because the element of surprise works wonders, when his album was made available, I went in listening with a fairly open mind. A friend of mine contacted me and told me that this album was something special, and being that I trust his musical judgment, I decided to give it a listen in full. Of course, the title track and first single kicks off the album, and I started to groove a little bit within the first few moments. I read the titles of the song, and admittedly got a little worried, but the valuable lesson I learned, that I really already knew, was to just listen. Listen and enjoy. It works wonders. I found out the production team behind the entire album, hilariously named Shampoo Press and Curl, decidedly went into to give us that late 80s and 90s R&B feel, taking elements of Boyz II Men, Teddy Riley, Babyface, New Jack Swing, Bobby Brown, and New Edition all in one. Now, Bruno is NOT the first artist to do this, and he might not even be the best, but that's not a conversation that needs to be had. Music is music, and dope music has no barriers. When I went in to the album knowing this, it not only made the listen more enjoyable, it gave me more perspective within the songs. So, with that being said, let me take you on a track by track ride through this short but sweet 9 track album, that is already standing high on my albums of the year list. Let's get into it.

*24K Magic

-I've spoken on this song earlier in this article, and I really liked it when it first came out. I realized after listening to the entire album that it's probably the weakest song on the album, and though that takes nothing away from the song itself, it just doesn't measure up to the rest of the album. I almost envision this as an intro track, just to welcome us to the listening experience we are about to have. If that was the intended purpose, it certainly worked. If it wasn't the intended purpose, it still works as well. The hook is infectious, albeit simple, and showcases Bruno effortlessly coasting vocally on a track that sounds equally New Jack Swing and West Coast G Funk due to the synth heavy sounds. It's a nice introduction to the album, and if you expect the album to get better as you listen on, you're in luck.


-When this song started up, the opening instrumentation already let me know that we were in for a treat. Now, lyrically, Bruno is no great writer, as his lyrics tend to stay in a playful manner on this whole song, but it works. From his chant and shoutout to the women who "pay their rent on time" to the hook where he explains that he's looking for the girls with the "big ol hoops, who drop it down in daisy dukes", Bruno has fun on this track, something that tends to get lost in music in general for the artists. Sure, Bruno is making sure we have fun as listeners, but this song is a prime example of him just having fun, and I could see many people dancing to this particular track, with that New Jack Swing appeal. Though this isn't my favorite song on the album, it's really a fun listen and a great way to continue the vibe established on the first song.


-I personally am not a fan of this song, but I do enjoy the production. This sounds more 60s and 70s inspired, with a lot of James Brown esque funk behind it, but it tends to disappoint me in a way. It's a fun song for sure, but misses the mark of what I'd hoped. Bruno weaves through his vocals pretty smoothly, but the hook is unbearably corny to me, and if there was one song I'd remove from the album, this would be the one. It's not a bad song, it just falls flat in sound and comparison to the rest of the album.

*That's What I Like 

-My favorite song on the entire album is one of the smoothest songs I heard this year. The horns are resounding, the drums are knocking, the keys sway over the beat, and the bounce to it just makes it far too infectious. The opening few drum hits let you know you're about to hear something amazing, and with the "aye, aye" adlibs kicking it off, Bruno jumps off the track with "I got a condo in Manhattan", before talking his shit to entice the lady in his vision. This is that fly, New Jack Swing playa sound, spoiling your woman to keep her happy, and enjoying every moment of it. The hook is infectious as well, making this the song of the album where everything is completely infectious and truly unstoppable. This is my go to song every time i listen to this album. It's that good.

*Versace On The Floor 

-This is true 80s classic music, as Bruno weaves a very laid back, Jeffrey Osborne esque sounding track that tells the story of Bruno seducing his lady and making her feel special as they head to the bedroom. He sings "Take it for me, for me, for me, for me now girl.... Versace On The Floor", and paints the picture of a slow seduction of his lady dropping her Versace dress to the floor, and engaging in a night of passion. It works well and is likely the bedroom anthem of the album, though there's a few here.

*Straight Up And Down 

-The music here is so laid back and smooth, that it could work as a secondary bedroom anthem, if you needed one more on the album. Bruno sings of having his lady's body moving "side to side", and having "some fun tonight", which provides a great listen. I can't say much about this track, because I just enjoy playing it and letting run all the way through. Probably my 3rd favorite on the entire album and a song I've played about 30 times since I've first listened to the album. Great song.

*Calling All My Lovelies 

-Imagine a song that Halle Berry would have a feature on.... yeah this is one. It's hilarious in essence, but this song is yet another smooth record that sounds like Bruno just having a lot of fun. The woman he wants isn't available and won't give him the attention he wants, so he explains that he has "Iesha waiting, Alicia waiting" and all the ladies waiting on him. It's another smooth New Jack Swing playa song, one that really makes me look back to the late 80s. It's not my favorite either, but it is a really smooth listen, and a fun track all around.


-This is my 2nd favorite song on the album. Bruno was able to take the spirit of Bobby Brown and the classic Don't Be Cruel album and infuse it here. A bit of back story on this song: Bruno recorded 21 different versions of the song. That's right, 21, 21, 21, 21. Imagine recording 21 versions of a song and not being satisfied with 20 of them. Well, that shows the precision that Bruno has in his mind to create something special. This track is 100% Bobby Brown however, or even an upbeat Guy track, as Bruno carries the hook with the infectious repeated lines of "out here dripping in finesse, it don't make no sense... out here dripping in finesse... you know it, you know it...", which makes the song play over and over in my head. It's a perfect end to the album from the upbeat sense and leads right into the final track, which is top notch as well.

*Too Good To Say Goodbye

-It's as if Bruno knew he had to go and get Babyface for this song. The music has such a different feel that it carries a bit of a classic Babyface meets Jackson 5 vibe in it, shining through with soul, but also bringing a very melancholy vibe of a love lost. With the greatest songwriter of all time, Babyface, helping to write this song, you can hear him in some of the lyrics. It's a signature Babyface song just vocally handled by Bruno. The result is something great, and I can see why it's a favorite for most people. Ballads are always something that Bruno executes well and this is no different. Thank Babyface for adding a perfect final song to the mix.

Overall, this album would be ranked around 8.5/9 out of 10, making it one of the strongest albums this year. I wasn't checking for Bruno and his music that much before, but after this album, I'll be watching what he does next. And that's exactly what artists hope to do, entice new fans with a new release. Well done, Bruno.



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