Bruno Mars dressed up to make Magic

Jamaica Gleaner - - TWIST -

NEW YORK (AP)

WHEN BRUNO Mars was in the stu­dio craft­ing his up­beat, funky new al­bum, he had a dress code – wear your finest clothes and leave your sloppy sweat­pants at the door. He said dress­ing up set the mood so that he and his col­lab­o­ra­tors could write and pro­duce groovy, smooth and soul­ful songs that make up 24K Magic, his first al­bum in four years. “I made it a point – I’m show­ing up to the stu­dio, we work­ing, but I’m not show­ing up in sweats ‘cause you’re go­ing to get what sweats sounds like ... So I’m go­ing to wear ev­ery jewellery piece I col­lected and my finest shoes and write some songs,” Mars said. “It just helped keep the mo­tion (go­ing).” His swag and style – a curly, mini Afro, silky Ver­sace shirt, clas­sic shorts, slick shoes and a stud­ded pinky ring – match the sound of 24K Magic, an epic ‘90s R&B-in­spired al­bum that plays like a co­he­sive jam ses­sion. It will be re­leased today.

Mars, 31 years old, said the al­bum was in­spired by his love for R&B acts like New Edi­tion, Boyz II Men and Jodeci, as well as West Coast rap (DJ Quik, who came to the stu­dio to give him a flex­a­tone, the per­cus­sion in­stru­ment, to use on the al­bum).

‘90S VIBE

“The spirit of this al­bum, grow­ing up in the ‘90s, is, to me the most joy­ous (time) for me. That’s my child­hood. That’s what I grew up on,” he said. “I love DJ Quik, Suga Free, Too Short, E-40, Dr Dre, of course, Snoop. And that’s be­cause these songs, they in­flu­enced hip-hop, these ‘70s funk songs, but it took place in the ‘90s and that’s why you had this soul­ful mu­sic with a su­per­star rap­ping on it. For me, it was all about the live show and the kind of party I want to throw.

“That is the spirit we were hop­ing to cap­ture on this al­bum, and that rhythm is not as pop­u­lar on ra­dio right now,” he added.

Mars says the trendy sound that some of his peers have adopted – down­beat, al­ter­na­tive R&B – isn’t him. “See, when I grew up, you had to know how to dance. That was the whole thing. Ev­ery­body danced, thugs are danc­ing, the girls ain’t look­ing at you un­less you’re danc­ing,” he said on a couch in the finely dec­o­rated and hip At­lantic Records of­fice in New York City. “I re­mem­ber hav­ing so much fun grow­ing up, go­ing to func­tions and danc­ing, hav­ing a good time. Peo­ple see me and my band do what we do and I’m just try­ing to push that even now more so on this al­bum than the last two. It’s like ‘we got to be mov­ing’ – that’s it.”

Then he adds: “And I’m be­ing mean about the R&B stuff. There’s room. It’s just not what I can bring to the ta­ble. ...It’s not what I want to do.”

24K Magic is Mars, yet again, craft­ing his own space in the pop mu­sic land­scape: Af­ter de­but­ing in 2010 as a co-writer, co-pro­ducer and guest singer on hits like Nothin’ On You and Bil­lion­aire, he went on to be­come a solo star with his de­but Doo-Wops & Hooli­gans, as well as its fol­lowup, 2012’s Un­ortho­dox Juke­box. He won Gram­mys for both multi-plat­inum al­bums.

RE­CENT ACHIEVE­MENTS

They helped him head­line the 2014 Su­per Bowl – an ac­com­plish­ment no other artiste chalked up so early in their ca­reer – and the suc­cess of last year’s Up­town Funk brought him to the big game for a se­cond time last Fe­bru­ary.

Mars’ dance rou­tines have got at­ten­tion be­cause they are slick, hip and, at times, hi­lar­i­ous. He started work­ing with Phil Tayag of the hip-hop dance crew Jab­ba­woc­k­eez for Up­town Funk and con­tin­ued to work with the dancer for his lat­est project and tour (The 24K Magic World Tour kicks off next March, and Mars will open Sun­day’s Amer­i­can Mu­sic Awards in Los An­ge­les).

“We’d link up and just start mov­ing and see who could make each other laugh first,” Mars said of the chore­og­ra­phy. That was also the mood he had in the stu­dio while writ­ing his new al­bum, Mars say­ing “if we can make each other laugh, that should mean some­thing”.

The only guest on the al­bum is Halle Barry, whose voice ap­pears on the ir­re­sistibly smooth Calling All My Lovelies. R&B icon Baby­face lends a hand to the clos­ing track, the slow groove Too Good to Say Good­bye and TPain co-wrote the catchy Straight Up & Down, which uses parts of the 1993 hit Baby I’m Yours by R&B group Shai.

BRUNO MARS

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