Bruno Mars
24K Magic


4.5
superb

Review

by Nolan D. USER (6 Reviews)
March 21st, 2018 | 11 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "All this is here for you!"

I have sold my soul to the pop industry. It wasn’t one of those things where I saw The Man standing under a shady tree and I contracted my soul to him for some magic golden fiddle, things don’t happen so fancifully in the real world. Instead, my soul was bought gradually, through yearly installments of new commercial pop that I could not help but be drawn to. Finally, when the industry offered me 24K Magic with its luxurious singles, my soul was lost entirely, and I became a vessel for pop music.


The Man first set his sights on me at a young age when I only was allowed to listen to filtered Christian Rock. Of all the bands I was forced to sift through, I took a preference to Family Force Five, a glitzy hip-hop infused rock group (branded ‘crunk’), with mindless lyrics usually concerning how much they want you to get up and dance. But I didn’t care about what they were saying, because I liked the sounds that they made, and it made me want to dance, just like the band intended.

As the years went on, my preference for a sound represented in pop and hip-hop grew stronger. While my older brothers started listening to heavier music than our younger years, characterized by blaring electric guitars and guttural screams, I began to get obsessed with the album Aim and Ignite by fun., a baroque power-pop album akin to the style of Queen. I told people that, in all honesty, I find some Macklemore songs to be listenable, despite his being a total tool. I became an obnoxious proponent for ‘the Beatles are the greatest band to ever touch the earth’ squadron. But, it was not until I heard “That’s What I Like” in a Friday night haze that my fate was sealed.


It was a song that I had heard in passing before, but hadn’t consciously considered; because since when has a Bruno Mars song been worth thinking about? But this time the song hit me, and it hit me hard. As it is with most good music, I wasn’t positive what it was that I liked about the song on first listen, but I knew that I was in love. As days went on I kept on feeling this urge to pull the song back up and break it down to see exactly what was piquing my interest.

Initially, I found two things that drew me to the track above all: the bass and the bridge. The tone of the bass is stunningly clear on a good set of speakers. Within each verse, the bass accents two consecutive thumps at each chord change, one on-beat and one off-beat, with a snazzy lick in between to hold it together. This clean bass, constantly riffing between each set of thumps, gives the song a sense of forward motion, and keeps you hooked to the melody. This bass is further accentuated by a subtle synthesizer in the verses with a high pitch, which feels as if it is twittering or lightly dancing on top of the firm bass base.

The bridge struck me with its glorious sense of climax. When Bruno croons, “All this is here for you!” I am filled with an ecstasy that almost feels religious. It seems that he is not only deifying the technical advances in modern pop music, but that he is offering these luxuries to anyone who wants to utilize them. This sacred vibe is complimented by the gorgeous complexity of the chord structure. According to the Ultimate Guitar tab that I prefer, this song is constructed of sixteen different chords, none of which feel out of place in the song. To compare, other ‘good songs’ enjoyed by the general public can get away with being composed entirely by two chords, C and G. To see a pop-star with such a variety of chords, and who knows how to use these chords for maximum climactic value, is massively meaningful to me.


So I went about my life, having convinced myself that I had taken a liking to Bruno’s recent work for its musical qualities solely. After all, the topic of the album was unfazing in its hedonism and superfluousness, and a tad tacky at that. But it was only a matter of time before the ideology of 24K Magic started to rub off on me. It started to make sense to me why Bruno Mars is so damn full of himself, and I began to see the appeal of an extravagant and hedonistic lifestyle.

A common proverb heard around the world is “Money is the root of all evil.” There is, obviously, a lot of truth to this. Money leads to war. Money leads to greed. Money leads to people being classified by their wealth, and the lower tiers are prejudiced against. But if this proverb encapsulates the nature of money, and if people really believed it to be true, than why is it that every man, woman and child has a deep down desire to be rich? Because we know this proverb only speaks a partial truth; while wealth can lead to evil behaviors, it is not inherently evil itself.

On Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange, an album concerned with the trappings of hedonism instead of the perks, there is this rather annoying interlude called “Not Just Money” that describes a healthy interpretation of wealth. Frank’s mom tells him that it is “so much more than money; it’s the difference between going to the prom and disappointing your girl.” This symbolizes the positive side of being rich. The more money you have, the more able you are to experience new thrills. Whoever said “money can’t buy happiness” is wrong; Frank Ocean and, in turn, Bruno Mars would argue that money is essential to happiness, as long as you know what to spend it on.

It is interesting to consider what he does with his money when listening to Bruno Mars’ braggadocious lyrics about his steady cash flow. Bruno would say that the correct way to handle a healthy paycheck is to “spend your money like money ain’t ***.” There is a parable in the Good Book where a master gives his servants a certain amount of money before he goes on a journey. When he returns, he asks his servants what they have done with the money. Two of them invested the money, and their investments were returned two-fold. The master generously rewarded these servants. But the third servant thought that he would “play it safe” and buried the money where no one could find it. The master lashes out at this servant, calling his actions lazy and evil. As I grow older, and see how stars like Bruno Mars handle their money, the master’s reaction to this unfaithful servant makes more sense to me; to withhold your resources merely due to fear of failure is an arguably evil behavior.


One of the harshest critiques that you could give a pop artist like Bruno Mars is that their music is not an accurate representation of how the upper echelon lives their lives. The formula for a successful pop-artist is someone who is equal parts cocky and confident, and who rarely considers the consequences of their actions. As soon as these traits are observed in an artist, the crowds immediately shout, “Aha! Another pop witch has been ousted; destroy their worthless music and burn them at the stake!!” But, in actuality, how horrible is it to be superfluous and cocky as an artist?

When “That’s What I Like” and, in turn, 24K Magic swept through the Grammy ceremony earlier this year, accusations that Bruno Mars is nothing but a pop slave were immediately thrown out. Along with that, three weeks ago a video was published by Seren Sensai, an artist and activist, accusing Bruno of recreating the music of other artists in an ingenuous fashion, and that he is no better than a Karaoke singer. These claims are not wrong (other than his ingenuity, that is just a matter of taste), but the problem is that they make it seem like what Bruno does is so negative. Bruno Mars is known for being a performer, and he wears this identity on his sleeve. To criticize him for something that is essential to his identity as a musician seems vapid.

The main reason for the rising of tensions after Bruno’s victories at the Grammys was that he beat out Kendrick Lamar’s Damn. for Album of the Year, an artist who has been snubbed a few times before. Fans claimed that the themes on Damn. were significantly more meaningful than Bruno’s themes. James Fauntleroy, a legendary producer who collaborated with Bruno on every track of 24K Magic, responded to the backlash by saying people have lost the feeling of joy that is created through beautiful music. That is the real meaning behind 24K Magic: to bring joy back into music. I would bet my soul (if I hadn’t already sold it) that Bruno has had a friend shot in the streets, or that he has had a bad experience with drugs, or that he has waken up in the morning so depressed that he cannot get out of bed. But these are not the feelings that he wants to express through his music. He wants us to be lifted by his music, instead of weighed down by dark messages.


The most important lesson that I’ve learned from listening to 24K Magic countless times is that having an expensive taste doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s a commonly held belief that you are a schmuck if you shell out the money for a name-brand version of a product. Why buy a 200-dollar pair of Beats that are only marginally better than a pair of headphones half the price? This line of thinking makes sense, and to save a couple dollars here and there is a rational way to go, but to say that frugality should be a rule of thumb is also foolish in my opinion. In the long-term, products made of finer craft and materials will end up being more costly than their inferior substitutes. To live frugally is to hold yourself back from experiencing the best that the world has to offer. This is the “deeper meaning” that people claim Bruno Mars is incapable of incorporating into his work.
At the end of the day, the point of Bruno Mars’ latest music is not to just spend money recklessly, but to spend money on the things that you truly want. Bruno knows that his taste can be a bit on the pricey side, but he knows which things are important enough to him to drop loads of money on. He knows that he wants lobster tail for dinner. He is aware of his preference for strawberry flavored beverages. When he wakes up in the morning, he wants to see Versace on the floor, not Hanes.

The dust has finally started to settle on the fierce debates that followed Bruno Mars’ success in the past year, but one thing remains changed for good; I have been completely sold to the sound and lifestyle worshipped through pop music. I understand now how pivotal it is to have some popular music that is not concerned with the horrible things that happen on our planet on a day-to-day basis. Pop is a way to escape from the horrors of daily life without resorting to potentially harmful experiences and substances. To this end I implore you, dear reader, let joyous music take its place at the pinnacle of the music industry once again. Stop letting people block positive and carefree messages from the spotlight simply due to their lack of realism. I, for one, will do the best I can to bring back the celebratory nature of music. I have sold my soul to the pop industry, but I am not ashamed at all.

Recommended Tracks:
Chunky
Perm
That's What I Like
Versace on the Floor
Finesse



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Comments:Add a Comment 
nol
March 20th 2018


9638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I wrote this essay for class, so the style may be a bit unorthodox, but I like it anyway and feel this represents my thoughts towards the album as a whole. It's a celebration of all things luxurious.

Digging: Silk Sonic - An Evening with Silk Sonic

ramon.
March 21st 2018


3850 Comments


FF5 my dude pos

Get Low
March 21st 2018


11435 Comments


Subbing as a reminder to read this when I have time.

Edit: Fantastically written. Pos'd.

nol
March 21st 2018


9638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thx yo's

@ramon did you know FF5 just released a song featuring the same Mr. Talkbox as the TT on this

as a side note I'd also like to write about how Perm is pretty much the guide on how to win a grammy

DoofusWainwright
March 21st 2018


19991 Comments


An essay on Bruno Mars

GhostB1rd
March 21st 2018


7939 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

This only needs a one word review.

nol
March 21st 2018


9638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@doofus yes, an essay on bruno mars, and it’s well deserved

For comparison my next essay will probs be ab aenima by tool

BenThatsMyJamin
March 21st 2018


3882 Comments


Gosh finesse might be the most annoying thing I've ever heard

gryndstone
March 22nd 2018


2159 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

nah finesse slaps. especially the one with the cardi b feature

nol
March 22nd 2018


9638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The woodblock or whatever after he sings “we out here drippin in finesse” is just so well placed lol, gets me every time

nol
March 5th 2021


9638 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

HYPE.



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