Sunday, November 20, 2016

Kat's Korner: Bruno Mars wants to see you dancing

Kat: "I know you didn't get your hair done so you could just sit down and sit still," Bruno Mars chuckles at the start of "Perm."

This third of nine songs that make up the album 24K MAGIC is really at the core/theme of the entire project.


"Throw some perm on your attitude because you gotta relax!" Bruno insists and then attempts to use a perm as a metaphor but never fully carries it out.

Will anyone notice?

Probably most will move along riding the beat and the music that recall both his previous "Uptown Funk" and the work of the late James Brown.

"That's What I Like" finds him declaring "I'll never make a promise that I can't keep."

It's not a bad song but it's hard not to imagine him putting that line over in a ballad.

That's the big news here.

"Versace On The Floor" passes for a ballad to some.  At best, it's a power ballad and moving far too quickly to let Bruno tear into it the way he did with is incredible performance on his 2013 number one hit "When I Was Your Man."

Equally true, nothing peculates like Bruno's 2010 number one hist "Just The Way You Are."

At a time when Charlie Puth's "Does It Feel" -- among other tracks -- is putting Puth dead center as the soul man of the slow grind, was it really smart for Bruno to walk away from the ballads?

Maybe a better question is what's the point of track two?

"Chunky" plays like a musical re-write of Michael Jackson's "Baby Be Mine" (the only track on THRILLER never released as a single).


We are aware that there's a difference between a chunky butt and a bubble butt, right?

Because in 2013, he, Tyga and Mystic worked with Major Lazer on "Bubble Butt."

Maybe Bruno just likes butts of all kinds?


Or maybe he's just looking for a way to get butts shaking on the dance floor.

Which wouldn't be a bad or dumb thing to do.

This year saw Usher return with HARD II LOVE and the fifteen tracks were solid but no one was really buying.

Is it because of the streaming service TIDAL?

(Usher co-owns the service.)

Did that cut into or prevent sales?


Or possibly people weren't in the mood for classic Usher.

It happens.

You don't have to be Prince in 1996 to exhaust an audience.

1996, for example, saw Prince release CHAOS & DISORDER as well as the three disc EMANCIPATION.  Or take Ani DiFranco -- from 1997 through 1999, she released five discs (including the double disc LIVING IN CLIP).  The quality of the work during this period of either Prince or Ani wasn't in question.  It was just overwhelming for fans not to mention difficult for working class fans to repeatedly fork over for each new release.

And maybe Usher, offering the album up on TIDAL and also doing classic Usher, didn't give people enough reason to buy the new album.

Bruno shakes things up with 24K MAGIC, to be sure.

It defies a lot of simple categories.

That includes the categories the PR material tries to put the album in.

The album's supposed to be a tribute to the 90s grooves that Bruno danced to but when I hear "Versace on the Floor," I'm hearing the eighties of The Pointer Sisters (specifically "Freedom") and Klymaxx (specifically "I Miss You" and "I'd Still Say Yes").

It's also the length of a sixties album -- around a half hour.

And it closes with "Too Good To Say Goodbye" which is probably Bruno's strongest vocal performance on the album.  Musically, it reminds me of something Stacy Lattisaw would have done at the height of her chart making and it rolls in a soft up tempo reminiscent of her "Love On A Two Way Street" with a heavier does of drums.

In 2010, on his number one "Grenade," Bruno declared, "Id jump in front of a train for ya, You know, I'd do anything for ya."

Six years later, he really just wants to see you dancing.

The title track kicked off tonight's American Music Awards live broadcast on ABC.

To do that right, it requires something strong, a real opener.  Both the song and Bruno succeeded.

A lot of people are going to be missing the ballads.

That'll probably keep them hungry for Bruno's next album.

But right now, he's serving up his strongest and most cohesive album yet.  That it's a dance album is proof that he's not going to just release the same damn album over and over.