Bruno Mars and myself have never really clicked before Unorthodox Jukebox. His freshman album Doo-Wops and Hooligans was full of pop friendly radio songs that would be suited more for Radio Disney than anything else. Add on to that his unyielding love songs, Hooligans was an eye-rolling affair I really just wanted to end. But two years has past, and Bruno is in a different place in his career – even if it is a more refined room he’s placed himself in.
The first single “Locked Out Of Heaven” is probably the most impressive song in his short career, channeling a bit of The Police into his general pop sound which gives us something incredibly fresh. “Gorilla” has some production that reminds me of something The Weeknd could definitely go on, though Bruno’s lyrics and dark attitude here shows this entire other side to him that I wish we had more of on the album. “When I Was Your Man” is another song I wish we had more of on Jukebox; the sad nature of the song and his delivery helps you feel his heartbreak. These four songs are fantastic, and I wish the rest of Jukebox lived up to the standard put out by the aforementioned four.
The opener “Young Girls” is an unremarkable ode to the wild girls who he can’t seem to woo, but still wants them regardless. The chorus is unremarkable, and the production just kind of put a bad taste in my mouth from the start. “Natalie” is a terrible break-up song (of sorts) where he tells off a gold digging bitch he’s been involved with in a rather immature and to lively of a way. “Show Me” has a nice reggae feel to it, but the vocals and lyrics are just head shaking. And the overall package of “Money Make Her Smile” is just outright saddening.
Although I love the old school feel this album has, and some of its songs, the absolute biggest problem Jukebox has is being forgettable. The unoriginal concepts and beat choices (except the awful “Money Make Her Smile”) makes this album run-on for a bit. And maybe this is completely gender based, but none of these songs really appealed to me. Not that songs about women aren’t appealing for a mixtape or two, it just feels like his kind of pop music isn’t suited for me. It feels like he was aiming for women to swoon over him rather than guys sympathize.
Unorthodox Jukebox has the sound I feel like is missing in today’s pop music – the instrumentation and arrangements felt complete and natural for the most part. But for the most part, Bruno Mars’ second studio album is just not feeling right. Unorthodox Jukebox is a ten song long showcase of what Bruno Mars CAN do, but an album showing off his full potential. If he can fix these gripes I have with him, he could become a favorite. It’s just not happening with this one though.
Final Grade: C
Go Download: “Locked Out Of Heaven,” “Gorilla”