Bruno Mars has sold 12 million albums worldwide since 2010, won four Grammy Awards and headlined the Super Bowl. His clean-cut persona and starry-eyed singalongs have won him hearts far and wide, old and young. Why would he switch up his style? Perhaps he was inspired by the immense success of last year’s collaboration with Mark Ronson — “Uptown Funk” — because on his new single, “24K Magic,” he’s seeking old-school coolness.
The song shares its title with Mars’s upcoming album, and it’s an electric arrival at a groovy scene. Vibrant synths and thick bass strums strike like lightning as Mars struts across their boogie line with Prince-level swagger, boasting upon his arrival, “Pop pop, it’s show time!” The second verse is dedicated to “gangsters, hustlers, bad bitches and [their] ugly ass friends” in an ironically explicit turn for the usually-proper pop star, but his energy makes the lyrics’ intention clear: this is a booty-shaking anthem time warped from the 1980s. Bruno Mars is just playing the part, cuban links, designer minks and braggadocio included. The world should forever be grateful that he has decided to do so.