Bruno Mars continued to display his mastery of funk and 1980s R&B at the Grammy Awards on Sunday night, performing “That’s What I Like” from last year’s 24K Magic album.
Mars was in full-on seduction mode on “That’s What I Like.” “I will never make a promise that I can’t keep,” he assures a prospective partner, and he follows that with another smooth-operator come-on: “I promise that your smile ain’t gon’ never leave.” In the song’s final third, Mars flies into the richest part of his voice to plead his case, bringing to mind the firepower of New Edition’s Johnny Gill.
At the Grammys, Mars executed tightly wound dance moves in sync with his two backup singers. As the song progressed towards its climax, he stepped out from behind his mic and started to work the crowd, addressing himself to the ladies in particular: “You don’t think we can break it down for you on live TV?” He then proceeded to do exactly that, bringing the song to a close with a quick series of impressive jumps into his falsetto register.
Mars is no stranger to the Grammys: he has performed at the ceremony multiple times and taken home four awards total. He won first in 2011 for “Just the Way You Are,” and struck again in 2014 when Unorthodox Jukebox came out victorious in the Best Pop Vocal Album category.
Mars was especially successful last year for his work on Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” which took home two awards, including Record of the Year. This made Mars nervous about the release of his follow-up, 24K Magic. “Coming off the biggest song of my career, it was super-daunting,” he told Rolling Stone. “I don’t know if people are going to love this shit. I don’t know if radio is going to play it.”
But he didn’t need to worry: the album’s title track spent 15 weeks in the Top Ten of the Hot 100. “That’s What I Like,” recently cracked the Hot 100 as well.