Bruno Mars' 24K Magic: What You Need To Know
If it seems hard to believe that it's been four years since Bruno Mars released his second album, Unorthodox Jukebox, you can probably blame Mark Ronson. The producer's ubiquitous hit 'Uptown Funk', featuring Mars on vocals, became an inescapable fixture on the airwaves over the months that followed its release in November 2014, catapulting Mars back into the spotlight before he'd even begun work on the follow-up his 2012 sophomore album.
With the song still riding high in the charts, Mars admitted that heading back into the studio to begin work on his third album was “super-daunting”. It took a little over a year and a half from there, but after revealing a handful of the new songs in performances on Saturday Night Live and the MTV EMAs, this week he's back with 24K Magic. Here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
Early on in the recording process it became clear that the third album was going to be something a little different from the first two. Recording engineer Charles Moniz described it as “the next movement of Bruno”. One of the more surprising developments was the revelation that Skrillex had been working with the singer on at least one of the tracks, with Mars telling Rolling Stone in an interview in July (published in November) that he'd brought in the globetrotting DJ and producer to help him complete a song he'd been wrestling with for months: “There's just something that's still not happening for me. The groove ain't right, or we're not doing something on the chorus – I don't know the exact math. I'm just trying to figure out why I'm tuning out in certain parts.”
However, in the gap between giving the interview and its publication, Mars confirmed to Carson Daly that the track in question wouldn't feature on the album as they weren't able to finish it in time, so that might be one to look out for in the future.
Who's producing it?
The production on the album is credited, rather mysteriously, to Shampoo Press & Curl (although the title track also lists additional production from The Stereotypes, the production team comprised of Jonathan Yip, Ray Romulus, Jeremy Reeves and Ray Charles McCullough II). As for the identity of the former, there's very little information to go on - it's probably just another name for The Smeezingtons, the writing and production team made up of Mars and his songwriting partners Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine. However, it had been rumoured in recent months that Mars has been working with Mark Ronson and Jeff Bhasker. We're speculating here, but could the name be a cheeky reference to the salon scene in the 'Uptown Funk' video? Guess we'll have to wait and see...
Any special guests?
Nope. Mars confirmed in the aforementioned Carson Daly interview that there are no featured artists on the new album after all, despite the rumours of collaborations with Skrillex, Missy Elliot and others.
What does it sound like?
If 'Uptown Funk' was a nod to the R&B and funk of acts like The Gap Band, Mars has taken that idea and run with it on 24K Magic and there are retro-tinged tracks everywhere you look. The title track channels the vocoder funk of Zapp with Mars rapping pretty much the entire vocal, but there are plenty of other flavours on the album. 'Chunky' sounds like the new jack swing of Teddy Riley-era Michael Jackson, while 'Versace on the Floor' is a smooth, synth-powered ballad that also owes more than a little to the late King of Pop.
Does it deliver?
If you've been enjoying what you've heard from Bruno Mars with 'Uptown Funk' and the songs he's already previewed from the album, 24K Magic won't disappoint. It's unashamedly retro in its musical stylings, but really, when it's done with this degree of skill then who cares?