Bruno Mars returned last week with his first solo material since the release of 2012's Unorthodox Jukebox. The upbeat and funky "24K Magic" feels like an extension of his impressive Mark Ronson collaboration "Uptown Funk," which dominated 2014 and 2015, but also continues a trend of his career that has Mars modernizing throwback sounds. The singer is so effective at making the past work in the present that he broke a record in his first two years as recording artist by wracking up four Number One hits, and "24K Magic" could easily become his seventh in six years. With that in mind, we asked our readers to vote for the best Bruno Mars songs. Here are the results.
Inspired by the quiet storm sub-genre of R&B, Mars joined forces with Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker and more to create the intoxicatingly smooth "Moonshine." The song compares a woman to the distilled liquor, with the singer begging "moonshine, take us to the stars tonight" as he tries to continuously recreate the magic of the last time the pair were together.
Going full James Brown, "Runaway Baby" is funky, soulful, doo-wop dance ditty that drives across an electric riff as rapidly talk-sings throughout and hits a Sixties-friendly chorus that is one of his catchiest and most infectious yet.
Mars captures the desperation and melodrama at the center of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn with his contribution to the film's soundtrack. He keeps it simple on the ballad, letting his voice evoke the emotional weight of his lyrical metaphors that note how, if he loses the one he loves, "every day it will rain."
Of all of Mars' throwbacks to older styles of music, the Eighties-inflected sound of "Gorilla" may be his most surprising and rocking. Off his sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox, he pays tribute to "making love like gorillas." He's at his most sexually explicit, promising to make his girl scream and force the neighbors to call the cops because of how loud they'll be.
The mournful piano ballad "When I Was Your Man" hits the peak of Mars' romantic side, one of his strongest musically. In the song, he regrets not treating his ex better, noting he should have bought her flowers and that he had been wrong. Reflecting on the destruction of their relationship, he knows he's too late now that she's moved on to another man who he hopes treats her better.
Singles off Mars' sophomore album, Unorthodox Jukebox, dominated 2013, and he found a way to remain a radio power-player in his "downtime" before announcing his upcoming third LP, 24K Magic, with his smash appearance on Mark Ronson's "Uptown Funk." The song saw both the producer and singer hitting their throwback strengths, perfectly modernizing the irreverence of Seventies funk and early hip-hop. Mars, in particular, is at his most fun and loose, a precursor to his latest single.
Mixing disco with soul-pop, "Treasure" hit all the right notes as a piece of pure pop pleasure. The song was inspired by the live performances of big arena bands with Mars wanting to create pieces of music more fun and danceable to perform live with his band as opposed to the ballads and slower pieces with which his debut album had been filled.
The euphoric "Locked Out of Heaven" celebrates the way Mars feels when he's having sex with his lover. Upbeat and explicit, the song served as not only the first taste of his sophomore album but a complete re-introduction to the young star, who had quickly become one of the most dominant forces in pop music.
Mars came into the pop sphere with a bang: "Just the Way You Are" was a gentle introduction to the nostalgic soul singer and a smash hit. Not only did the single hit Number One, but it also won Mars a Grammy and continued the success he received as a featured artist on Travie McCoy's big hit "Billionaire."
Mars' second solo single proved his staying power, with "Grenade" not only hitting Number One but showcasing his raw emotional power as a performer and singer. The melodramatic ballad has Mars expressing how far he would go for the one he loves even though it's not reciprocated. Mars belts the power ballad, offering the most passionate vocal work of his career.