Bruno Mars stepped out of the songwriting shadows and into the spotlight in a big way with his 2010 solo debut, Doo-Wops And Hooligans, an album that spawned two #1 singles (“Just The Way You Are” and “Grenade”), sold a few million copies worldwide and earned Mars eight Grammy nominations (including a win for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance). The album was a highly entertaining mélange of styles and sounds, which ran the gamut from bombastic ballads (like “Grenade”) to Motown-leaning tracks (“Just The Way You Are”) to crazy catchy lite reggae dittys (see “The Lazy Song”).
In a Billboard cover story last week, the You Oughta Know artist announced that he’ll be releasing his highly anticipated sophomore album, Unorthodox Jukebox, on December 11. The album’s first single, “Locked Out Of Heaven,” was released on YouTube last night, just as word was breaking that Bruno Mars will be both the host and musical guest on the October 20th episode of Saturday Night Live. And, quite frankly, we’ve had the song On Repeat for the last 12 hours and change.
The song is clearly inspired by Outlandos d’Amour-era Police as, on first listen, we thought we were listening to the group’s stone classic, “Roxanne.” A clipped, almost staccato Andy Summers-ian guitar tone that’s paired up with a very Sting-like bassline provide the backbone for the song, but the song’s production is very of-the-moment*. The song’s structure is flawless, too, as we have come to expect from Bruno Mars; the verses are emotional, the bridge (“Your sex takes me to paradise”) provides the build, and the song pays off in a killer chorus (“You make me feel like I’ve been locked out of paradise/For too long-ong-ong”). We’re gonna have this one On Repeat all day and, if history is any indication, for the next few months to come.
*We’re not sure who to credit the song’s production to, but the Billboard article informed us that a veritable Murderer’s Row of producers worked on the record: Mark Ronson, Emile Haynie, Jeff Bhasker, Diplo, Supa Dups and, of course, The Smeezingtons (which includes Bruno Mars himself).