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Album Review: Bruno Mars – Unorthodox Jukebox

Just two worthwhile things have come out of the last two series of The X Factor. Last year, it was Bruno Mars performing ‘Runaway Baby’. And this year, it was Bruno Mars airing his latest single ‘Locked Out Of Heaven’. Each performance was distinctly different; the former a cheeky, Motown routine with immaculate choreography, and the latter a testosterone driven ’80s ska stormer. The only link between them was the faultless precision with which each track was delivered with neither a step nor note out of place.

It’s this diversity that’s been the crux of criticism for Mars’ sophomore LP. The way in which he is able to bounce between Elton John-esque piano ballads (‘When I Was Your Man’) and Michael Jackson Off The Wall-era disco funk, with added sex drive (‘Treasure’), whilst also finding the time to have a go at flirty reggae jaunts (‘Show Me’) and ominous pounding paranoid freak outs (‘Money Make Her Smile’), for some, curiously, is a bad thing. The ten tracks that make up Unorthodox Jukebox are entirely individual; there’s no track melting into track here or mistaking one number for another. And it’s beyond me how this could possibly be perceived as anything but a good thing. Correct me if I’m wrong (which I’m not) but didn’t the best selling album of all time become such by being consciously constructed as an LP made up of nine disconnected genre-defying hits?

I’m not saying Unorthodox Jukebox is this generation’s Thriller, but it certainly follows the ambitious mould set out by Michael Jackson in 1982. Meticulous attention has been lavished on each track to ensure a nothing less than delectable assortment of pop perfection was the final product. Like Thriller, every song, when taken on its own merit, simply works. Even ‘Gorilla’, an ode to cocaine and alcohol fuelled animal sex, makes sense on this album and is not to be skipped. Whilst the massively successful Doo-Wops And Hooligans was patchy and erratic at best, Unorthodox Jukebox is convincingly diverse with its individual parts woven together by Bruno Mars’ malleable vocals and admirable ambition.

-Kate Allen

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