Wednesday 24 May 2017

Music: Bruno Mars Doo-Wops & Hooligans *

Slick but so syrupy

John Meagher

John Meagher

First, some random stats. Bruno Mars sold out his forthcoming Olympia, Dublin, show in eight minutes flat.

He's the first male artist in 13 years to see his first two singles top the US chart. He has been nominated for seven Grammies. Not bad for a 25-year-old comparative newcomer from Hawaii.

He knows his way around a recording studio -- as a member of The Smithereens, he's one of the most in-demand producers around -- and he co-wrote three of last year's biggest hits (the brilliant Cee Lo Green tune, Fuck You!, plus Travie McCoy's Billionaire and BoB's Nothin' On You).

And this debut album suggests that his studio gift and knack for writing insidiously catchy tracks is even more finely honed than one might have imagined. This is one of the slickest albums you're ever likely to hear and it's probably a safe bet to suggest that it will be among 2011's biggest sellers.

It's just a shame Doo-Wops & Hooligans is such a dismal, uninspired collection that attempts to pilfer the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson and Barry White, but comes up short each time. Much of it is third-rate Justin Timberlake, especially the ubiquitous Just the Way You Are, whose syrupy sentiments could have been written by Dana.

There isn't a single cliché that Mars doesn't embrace, particularly on the icky Grenades, in which he promises to take a bullet in the brain and step in front of a train in order to prove to his lover how much he adores her. The only problem, he wails, is that she doesn't feel the same. Oh dear.

The nadir is reached on self-aggrandising Runaway Baby, with the following, memorable couplet: "There's only one carrot/And they all gotta share it." Trust me, he's not espousing the merits of root vegetables.

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