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.
It doesn’t matter if Kelly Clarkson were to sing the phone book. We’d want to hear it. When Clarkson put out the call to fans asking what songs they’d like her to cover the online requests flooded in. The Stronger tour that ended in April produced amazing covers of an array of musical genres. And like the great vocalist she is, Clarkson showed her range nailing everything from the Rolling Stones‘ “Wild Horses” to Bruno Mars‘ “It Will Rain.” When the tour ended our sad faces began, but luckily for us her Summer 2012 tour with The Fray has reignited the covers we were so obsessed with. Because we know you love the covers as much as we do, we’ve chosen the best five covers from Kelly Clarkson’s tour and concerts this year. Enjoy! Read more…
Each week here on VH1 Tuner, our VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown host Jim Shearer (@jimshearer on Twitter) will be sharing his Shearer’s Spotlight with us. Be sure to tune into the VH1 Top 20 Video Countdown tomorrow morning when it airs on VH1 at 9 a.m. ET/PT.
As I’m sure you know, summertime is a great occasion for music-filled road trips.
I’ve already gone on a couple, and while enjoying music on CDs (yes, I still represent the format), an overstocked iPod, and FM radio; I observed the following:
Hit Song/Bad Lyrics
Though I respect Sia as an artist and songwriter, every time I hear her following lyrics on Flo Rida’s “Wild Ones,” I wince in agony: If I took you home, it’d be a home run. Ouch.
(A few weeks ago I was on a 1970s music kick, so the next four observations will reflect that era. Groovy?)
Continuing on with our Grammys predictions, we’re now ready to discuss the Album Of The Year category (after previously taking on the Best New Artist and Record Of The Year noms). So far, we’ve surmised that the Grammys are going to be the Adele show — the breakthrough artist is more than likely to walk away with a whole army of new statues to add to an already thriving collection. So again, we’re going to pretend for a moment that the other nominees have a chance of scoring Album Of The Year over Adele, and talk about what that would be like.
Adele – 21
Yeah we get it, after all the industry and audience accolades Adele won for 21 last year, which sold 5.82 million copies, it would be an absolute upset if she didn’t walk away with at least album of the year. But in the interests of the rest of this article, let’s pretend she’s not going to win and everyone else has a fighting chance.
Bruno Mars – Doo-Wops & Hooligans
While Bruno Mars didn’t make it into the top 10 in album sales last year, Doo-Wops & Hooligans was still considered a fan and critic favorite, although as far as winning over Adele, might not be the likeliest candidate, although makes a close second to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way.
Ah, the Grammys! The conversation, the speculation, the anxiety! We’re gearing up to this Sunday’s awards ceremony the same way that we’re sure the rest of North America is — putting our tips on who we think will be a winner. Yesterday, we gave our opinion on who would take home the Best New Artist award, but today we’re wondering about Record Of The Year. With Adele nominated in the category, it would seem that no one is safe, but we know stranger things have happened, so let’s pretend for a second that the “Rolling In The Deep” singer isn’t a shoo in, and weigh up the odds on the other contenders.
Adele – “Rolling In The Deep”
Look, let’s just pretend Adele isn’t going to win everything at the Grammys — because the alternative is that we succumb to the fact that she’s going to win everything and that’s just no fun because it doesn’t give anyone else a fighting chance. Realistically though, “Rolling In The Deep” dominated the number one chart position last year and was a very clear favorite with critics and fans. Yeah, who are we kidding — it’s going to be really strange if “Rolling In The Deep” doesn’t win.
Bon Iver – “Holocene”
If Bon Iver front man Justin Vernon hadn’t stuck both his middle fingers up at the Grammys we would have said “Holocene” was the best bet for usurping the “Rolling In The Deep” throne. Like “Rolling In The Deep,” “Holocene” found its way to the top of almost everyone’s best of 2011 list, so who knows — maybe “Holocene” will be the song to strip Adele of her crown.
Move over Drake, there’s a new emotional rapper in town, and it’s one you never would have expected — Lil Wayne! Weezy is showing us his softer side with his new track “Mirror” featuring Bruno Mars. The rapper, who has spent time behind bars and is better known for his aggressive hip hop, has teamed up with the pop-soul singer for a little bit of self reflection. The emotional video sees Wayne and Mars back lit in a cinematic setting, with pristine close ups of Wayne’s tattoos as he splashes red paint against an unseen canvas. Finally, the canvas is revealed in a dramatic moment, but we wont give it away — let’s just say it looks like Weezy is a deeper character than we first thought him to be.
Turns out Bruno Mars isn’t just good at catching grenades; he dodges them pretty well, too. Mars managed to avoid a conviction after being busted with a not insubstantial amount of cocaine — 2.6 grams, to be precise — after performing at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas back in September of 2010, and he’s about to walk away from the ordeal conviction free after strictly adhering to the terms of his plea deal. At the time, he was apprehended after a toilet attendant informed security that someone might be taking drugs in the stall — doing it hard, just like a the rest of us.
Mars pleaded guilty to the possession charge (telling police he had never done drugs before), and was given a probationary sentence that included a $2,000 fine, 200 hours of community service for a non-profit organization and eight hours of drug counseling. And now that Mars has fulfilled all these “punishments,” and kept himself out of the powder room for an entire year, it looks like he’s going to walk off with a completely unmarred criminal record. So what have we learned here folks? We’d like to think the message is “Don’t do drugs,” but it seems more to the tune of “Don’t get caught doing drugs, and if you do, you better be rich enough that you can afford a lawyer who will get you off with little more than a slap on the wrist.” Although, we can’t quite imagine Mars spending 4 years in a state prison (which would have been his punishment if he were convicted), so the outcome is definitely lucky for both Mars and his fans.
Bruno Mars to avoid cocaine conviction after keeping his nose clean and serving probationary sentence [Daily Mail]
While speculation around Adele’s possible Grammy performance has been causing a flutter, several other artists have been officially announced as performers for the prestigious music industry ceremony. Playing at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards (airing February 12) will be nominees the Foo Fighters (six nominations), Nicki Minaj (four nominations), Taylor Swift (three nominations), Kelly Clarkson (one nomination), Bruno Mars (six nominations) and Jason Aldean (three nominations).
These artists have been announced as the “first” performers on the Grammy’s website, which means that there’s still hope that big names like Adele (six nominations), Kanye West (who has the most nominations of all, with seven nods), and Lady Gaga (three nominations) will perform on the night. Even though there are rumors abounding that Adele will play, she’s still recovering from throat surgery, so we’ve got our money on Lady Gaga to be announced as a performer given her strong presence and dedication to the stage, evidenced by her complete saturation of 2011. We’d also like to see our You Oughta Know artist Foster The People (2 nominations) take to the stage, as they were the dark horse of the previous year, their tracks “Pumped Up Kicks,” and “Helena Beat” bringing up the rear to find an overwhelmingly positive critical reception.
Foo Fighters, Nicki Minaj, Taylor Swift Playing the Grammys [Spin]
[Photos: Getty Images]
VH1 is getting ready for a chilly winter by cozying up with some good tunes; to wit, check out our neat new promo video for the holiday season. Set to the sounds of The Black Keys‘ “Lonely Boy,” the video is a fast-paced, energetic montage of all your favorites from You Oughta Know‘s Bruno Mars to Daughtry. The best part is watching the stars transform from humans into illuminated cartoons — our favorite is “Countdown” Beyoncé finger clicking as a fluorescent illustration.
Are you sick of “top” and “best of” lists for 2011 yet? Surprisingly enough, we’re not — even though they are getting a bit repetitive in the Adele/Iver global back pat that’s happening right now. With all the glory being attributed to musicians for songs and albums, Songtrust have come right out of left field to say, “Yeah, kudos guys, but let’s have a round of applause for the people who are actually writing these songs.”
Some of our favorite hit machines — including You Oughta Know artists Adele and Bruno Mars, as well as Katy Perry — are seasoned song writers in their own right, but what about the guys and gals behind the music that aren’t also household names? Using data from Billboard Radio Songs and Digital Songs charts, Songtrust have compiled a list of 2011′s most seminal writers — yep, that’s right, these are the people responsible for all those songs you’re putting on your favorites lists. So three cheers for the writers! Songtrust’s Top 20 Songwriters Of 2011 after the jump.