In his latest single, pop-rnb crooner Bruno Mars sings about being Locked Out of Heaven. Despite the implications of the song’s title, we see Mars going in a much more devilish direction than ever before. Sure, he still loves his woman, and delivers lines that only the perfect boyfriend would, but this isn’t the tenderly emotional Bruno Mars we saw in It Will Rain or Just the Way You Are. Nope, this song is about sex. Oh come on…you knew it was coming.
Luckily, Bruno praises his woman’s body and “abilities” without being too graphic or vulgar. Lines like “Your sex takes me to paradise” may walk the line, but he never crosses into Your Body territory (stay classy, Christina). In fact, this song mostly relies on the imagination to interpret lines like “Open up your gates because I want to see the light.” Yes the double entendre is there, but its delivered with Bruno’s laid back swagger that keeps the song from being seen as sleazy.
The song is tinged with a vintage, ska inspired sound. It hearkens back to the funky sounds of early ska and new wave bands like The Police. In fact, Bruno’s vocal delivery and “oh yeah yeah” hook sound so strikingly similar to Sting’s style that it almost comes off as imitation. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing. The revival of the ska-funk sound is quite refreshing, if trendy at the moment.
So, is the song catchy? Bruno always delivers a solid vocal performance, and he really does shine on the song’s verses. However, with no transition, the dance beat drops in the chorus, and the song takes a turn for forgettable. Consisting of the repeated phrase “You make me feel like I’ve been locked out of heaven for too long,” the chorus drags on through a jarring dance beat that just seems unnecessary.
While Locked Out of Heaven tries to do some new things for Mar’s career, I can’t help but feel like this is one slightly missed the mark. Sure, the ska-funk sound is cool and the lyrics take him in new directions, but the song simply lacks the impact needed to really stand out.
Final Score: 3/5