Think about the R&B genre since 2001, and who comes to mind? Probably artists who pushed through from the 90s, such as Boyz II Men and Mariah Carey. Whereas if you think about artists who emerged a year later, there are plenty: Alicia Keys, Rihanna, Pharrell, etc. These artists all have a thing in common, and that is they broke the mould in R&B. They brought something different to the table, and changed the whole characteristic of the genre.
Personally, I don’t think R&B is ever going to match the heights it reached in the 90s. It isn’t what it once was: songs are easily forgotten nowadays because the beats and styles are so similar, and there are only a few artists who try to clinch onto distinctiveness. In a nutshell, new R&B artists simply aren’t as good as their predecessors, and as with anything, to have any chance of longevity you need to stand out and not be like anyone else.
However, Bruno Mars might just make it. Why? Well, there wasn’t many stand-out album names in 2010, but Doo-Wops & Hooligans is a name that certainly catches the eye, and radio favourites ‘Nothin’ On You’ (featuring B.o.B.) and ‘Billionaire’ (featuring Travis McCoy) were, and still are songs that people just can’t get out of their heads. Along with this Bruno has a rather distinct and impressive voice, in the sense that it’s almost lullaby-esque and is a soft falsetto. He sings effortlessly, and he’s obviously got friends in high places, with guest appearances by Damian Marley, Cee-Lo Green and B.o.B.. This adds a sense of coolness and trend to the record.
Winning tracks are the charming ‘Just The Way You Are’, ‘Count On Me’ and the marvellous ‘Liquor Store Blues’. Even though Mars‘ sound, style and joyfulness hits the right places, sometimes the lyrics can let the songs down and be a little bit clichÃ©. For instance, ‘Marry You’ might sound sweet and a favourite couples song, and the addition of wedding bells does work, even though it shouldnâ€™t, but there quite frankly hasn’t been a more horrible wedding song lyrically since perhaps ‘Let’s Get Married’ by Jagged Edge.
Regardless of the miniature flaws, Bruno Mars gets credit for having written even song on the album as well as playing all the instruments and programming the music. As you can see, he’s a really talented individual, and as long as the pressure doesn’t get to him he should hopefully excel and grow to becomes a shining light in the R&B genre. A very commendable debut indeed.
Written by Rhys Milsom