Bruno Mars’ latest, 24K Magic, is tight and right. As I always say, if an album is less than 10 tracks (his is nine), the artist is either extremely confident that each cut is a body builder strong or they’re lazy as hell. Because it’s been four years since his last offering (Unorthodox Jukebox, which had just one more track than 24K), it’s clear Bruno opted to chef up a hearty entree as opposed to umpteen appetizers. Amazing albums, to me at least, aren’t long. The only classic double disc record I can think of off the top of my head is Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life.
Fortunately, Bruno went the short and sweet route and came through with 33 minutes worth of jammies, this time with an ‘80s and early ‘90s R&B vibe. Magic feels like vintage New Edition, Guy, The Deele, and Keith Sweat. There’s a heavy dosage of New Jack Swing and that bounce found in cuts like “P.Y.T.” from Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Below, I share some random, though fitting, thoughts I’ve had while listening to 24K Magic since it dropped halfway through November.
“Chunky” – This SNL debut of “Chunky” was perfect. Chill choreography (love his backup homeboy dancers). Hoop earrings will forever be best paired with sass and a nice ass.
“That’s What I Like” – I have to try strawberry champagne to see if I like it or not and if I should have it with my lady. This bridge is sweet.
“Versace on the Floor” – Don’t think I’ve ever danced under a chandelier. Or sexed on a Versace rug. #Lifegoals
“Straight Up & Down” – Lyrically starts off like a Lonely Island song. “Girl I bet your momma named you Good Lookin’,” he sings. “’Cause you sure look good to me.” Did Jeromey-rome, The International Lover, write these bars? Bruno makes nearly corny lines sound like cold game because he believes in them. Feeling the doo-wop vibes here.
“Calling All My Lovelies” – Another Lonely Island start. But damn, this is a good track. Slow bop ‘80s cool shit. “I got Alicia waitin’, Aisha waitin’/ All the ‘Eesha’s waitin’ on me,” Bruno explains to a woman that won’t pick up the phone when he rings. Trying to stunt on a girl that’s fronting on you is desperation at its finest. This would’ve been the soundtrack to my life from time to time when I was single. “Pick up the phone, pick up the phone,” he begs. “‘Cause all this loving needs a HOOOOOMMMME!” Also, that Halle Berry voicemail assist is highly respected flex move.
“Finesse” – The Finesse challenge warms my heart. I love seeing y’all dance. “Fellas grab your ladies if your lady fine,” Mars orders. “Tell her she the one, she the one for life.” Love songs are so much more fun when you actually have someone to dedicate them to.
“Too Good to Say Goodbye” – The only thing I don’t like about this song is its placement. Closing such joyous album out with a breakup ballad kind of leaves me with a queasy feeling. It’s like I spent the whole album dancing with the love of my life and now she’s leaving me while the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” plays in the background.
(I must say, I feel like I’m being a bit of a hypocrite because I do like sad endings when it comes to film. They leave that bad taste in your mouth that seems to linger longer than the happy feeling you have when the story wraps and everyone is okay. It’s cool when art does that.)
Maybe that’s the feeling Bruno wanted? But I would have preferred an upbeat ending to this album. “Goodbye” could have been the first track and then Bruno could have spent the rest of the album winning the girl back. Or he could’ve put it after “Calling All My Lovelies” and made the narrative one where, after his ex won’t pick up the phone when he tries to make her jealous (all them ‘Eeshas would make a lesser woman answer), he really has to beg. Anyway, this is still a great song on an amazing album. All thriller, no filler.