Track Review: Bruno Mars, ’24K Magic’
Bruno Mars returns with single “24K Magic,” a record dripping with swagger, characterized by 80s funk cues, and made for the airwaves.
It has been five years since pop musician Bruno Mars has released an album (2011, Unorthodox Jukebox). Two albums in, Mars has experienced gargantuan success. After last making noise on Mark Ronson’s hit “Uptown Funk!”, Mars is back with a new single (“24K Magic”) and a new album, also titled 24K Magic. The question is, is the magic there? For the most part, yes.
The biggest selling point for “24K Magic” is its slick production. Like “Uptown Funk!”, Mars seizes on a funk-oriented sound that took the record to no. 1 and helped Ronson and him win Record of the year. The difference is that the funk is inspired by the 80s. Characteristics include synths and notably vocoder at the top of the record. While “24K Magic” could’ve appeared in a different musical era, it would be an overstatement to call it anachronistic. however, given Mars’ knack for retro music.
Another selling point beyond the production work is the swagger. Bruno Mars remains cool, even after more than a year since “Uptown Funk!” and five between albums. His performance is dominated by his personality and ability to appeal to a wide audience. Lyrically, “24K Magic” is limited, but in the bigger picture, it doesn’t seem to matter.
Despite a lack of depth, the chorus is catchy AF – key to a successful pop record:
“Players only, come on / put your pinky rings up to the moon / girls, what y’all trying to do? / 24 Karat magic in the air / head to toe soul player / uh, look out!”
Lyrically, Mars gets a bit profane on the second verse, shouting out to “hustlas”, “gangstas,” and specifically, “Bad bitches and ya ugly ass friends.” Ultimately, it’s a lot of game –more specifically a lot of talk. It won’t win Mars a Grammy song of the year, but it’s difficult to deny the strength of “24K Magic” as a record.
All in all, “24K Magic” sets up as a potential hit for Bruno Mars. Despite its deficiencies in the songwriting department, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to see “24K Magic” reach the top 10 of the Billboard 200 or even no. 1. Is it the most profound, deepest song of the year? No. Is it a record that’s catchy AF? Definitely. Likely, it’s infectiousness and swagger will be more than enough to propel the record’s success.
Bruno Mars • 24K Magic • Atlantic • Release: 11.18.16
Photo Credit: Atlantic