Bruno Mars has been around for a while now. You may not have heard of him until recently, but Bruno has received songwriting credits on many popular songs. Flo Rida’s ‘Right Round’ and ‘Wavin Flag’ by K’naan are just two of the many songs he has helped out on. It wasn’t until he was featured on ‘Nothin On You’ though that music listeners worldwide got a taste of his vocal talents. Shortly after, he was featured on Travie McCoy’s ‘Billionaire’. Between ‘Billionaire’ and ‘Nothin On You’, both of which were massive hits, Bruno Mars quickly became a household name.
While he wasn’t busy helping out other artists, he was quietly working away at his solo career. It seems as if the Hawaii native’s work has paid off. Bruno Mars’ debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans has finally dropped and it may just be one of the strongest albums of the year.
The album gives Mars the chance to show us he has some real range. He eloquently moves from pop rock (‘The Other Side’), to rock and roll (‘Runaway Baby’) to reggae (‘Liquor Store Blues’) and finally to R&B (‘Our First Time’). The album even features a nice ballad in the form of ‘Talking To The Moon’. Simply put, this album has it all.
Mars kicks off with the track ‘Grenade’ and with lyrics like “I’d catch a grenade for you”, it may lead you to believe this is the theme song for the Jersey Shore boys. Luckily, it’s anything but.
‘Grenade’ is a catchy tune that has Mars expressing his love for a girl, telling her he would do just about anything for her. He sings “I’d catch a grenade for you / Throw my hand on a blade for you /I’d jump in front of train for you/You know I’d do anything for you/.”
Bruno showcases some impressive vocals on the track and he’s supported by some nice background singing during the chorus. Tribal drums accompany Mars as he portrays himself as the victim of a failed romance. Heavy on the vocals, light on the instrumentals, the track turns out really well and it’s one of the stronger songs on the album.
In ‘Just The Way You Are’ a song that has already found incredible success as a single, Mars gives us his best young Michael Jackson. It’s a feel good track that has a bit of an R&B feel to it mixed with some pop. Mars’ soulful voice blends into the pianos in the background as he sings the sweet but somewhat cheesy lyrics.
It’s a sweet thought, Mars is telling us that we should love someone for the way they are, and we shouldn’t want to see them change, the lyrics are just a bit too corny. He sings “When I see your face/there’s not a thing that I would change/Cuz you’re amazing/Just the way you are/And when you smile/the whole world stops and stares for a while/Cuz girl you’re amazing/Just the way you are/”.
As I said before, nice lyrics, but a bit cheesy. Despite this, it’s still a fantastic song. Mars shows off his vocal talents once again and when it comes to the chorus there’s some nice percussion that blends well with Mars’ voice. Sure to strike a chord with the females out there, Mars produces another hit with ‘Just The Way You Are’.
With ‘Runaway Baby’ Mars shows off his rock ‘n’ roll side. It’s a fast paced, high tempo song that is quite different from anything else on the album. It’s got a bit of a funk and country feel to it as well thanks to the guitars in the background.
There are a couple crummy lines as Mars sings, “So many eager bunnies that I’d like to pursue/Now even though they’re eating out the palm of my hand/There’s only one carrot and they all got to share it/”. It’s a joke some may not get but I think it’s a bit out of place on the album. Nevertheless, the song has some flare and is worth a listen.
With ‘The Lazy Song’ Mars sounds a bit like Jack Johnson. It’s a laid back, easy going song that fits in with its apt title. Lines like “Tomorrow I’ll wake up, do some P90X /Meet a really nice girl, have some really nice sex/” and “I might mess around and get my college degree/I bet my old man will be so proud of me” fill the song and make for some less than great lyrics.
It’s a relaxed song that may not have the best lyrics but it’s still far from a bad song. One of the weaker songs on the album yes, but not a bad song by any means. Following almost the some route is ‘Count On Me’, yet another song that has Mars reaching into Johnson’s playbook, musically at least. And like with ‘The Lazy Song’ the lyrics won’t exactly turn heads.
When we come to ‘Liquor Store Blues’ we clearly see that Mars has quite the range. With this track he goes the reggae route and it works out superbly. Featuring Damian Marley, the track is one of my favorites on the album. In the chorus Mars sings “One shot for my pain, one drag for my sorrow/I’ll get messed up today, I’ll be ok tomorrow/”.
Mars brings out the pain in his voice as he talks about drowning his sorrows in alcohol and whatnot. Marley also has some nice lines as he brings an authentic reggae feel to the track.
During ‘Talking To The Moon’, Mars gives us a beautiful ballad. It’s a song that rivals even the best that Adam Levine (Maroon 5) has to offer. It offers some great verses and certainly has potential to be a radio hit.
‘Our First Time’ sees Mars putting to use some falsetto vocals. It’s not a terribly original song but it shows off some of Mars’ vocal talents. It’s not one of the stronger songs on the album as it’s a bit too slow and soulful for me but it may appeal to some.
During ‘Marry You’ Mars offers up some nice lyrics and gives us a catchy tune to sing along to. It’s another song that could be a radio hit and once again Mars gives us a track that is very easy on the ears.
Perhaps the best song was saved for last though. With ‘The Other Side’, Mars brings two friends along. B.O.B and Cee Lo Green both hop on the track and lend Mars a hand. It’s an up tempo, catchy and exciting song. It’s the best song on the album and B.O.B. kills it during his verse. Green, who has gained a lot of attention recently for his track ‘Fuck You’ also does some admirable work and the trio comes together to provide an incredible song.
So in the end what do we get? To be honest, we get one of the best albums of the year. Not every song is a winner but the majority of them are. The songs that are good are more than good, they’re superb. Even the songs that are just mediocre are still far better than most of the crap we hear on the radio these days. Doo-Wops & Hooligans is a must have album. It showcases the unstoppable talent of Bruno Mars and it will leave you wanting more.
Doo-Wops & Hooligans was released on October 5th, 2010