Bruno Mars' '24K Magic' is a '90s TIme-Capsule for the Present

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Thu, 11/18/2021 - 15:57
Bruno Mars in 2016

Since the top of the 2010s, Bruno Mars has always made timeless music - even when it sounds like he's traveling through time.

Debut Doo-Wops and Hooligans spun off three Top 5 hits, including the chart-toppers "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade." Follow-up Unorthodox Jukebox in 2012 was a nod to '80s pop, rock and soul, with smashes like "Locked Out of Heaven," "When I Was Your Man" and "Treasure." Two years later, the dance-floor filler "Uptown Funk," a collaboration with Mark Ronson, kept the throwback party going, becoming the top single of 2015 as well as Billboard's decade-end chart.

When it came time for his third album, 24K Magic, released on Nov. 18, 2016, Bruno was keen to throw it back to a different era: the '90s. "You hear these ’90s influences on the whole album, really, but ’24K Magic’ is because of West Coast hip-hop: Dr. Dre, DJ Quik, Suga Free," the singer said in an interview with Zane Lowe. "This is what we grew up on. Listening to them, it was at a time when it was okay to party, to be flashy, to get on the dance floor.”

The album capped off an incredible year, including a performance at the Super Bowl halftime show (his second!) and a collaboration on Adele's blockbuster album 25. But 24K Magic was a vision all his own and a shake-up of what came before. This reflected in the formation of a new production team, Shampoo Press & Curl, consisting of Mars, longtime collaborator Phillip Lawrence of The Smeezingtons and newcomer Christopher Brody Brown. Mars even instilled a dress code when recording, to match the fresh feeling of the music.


It was a style that turned heads at first. "I remember the label was iffy when they heard it, and I was like, 'Trust me, there's a whole vision behind this,'" he told Billboard ahead of the release. "Thank God they trust me." And who wouldn't after hearing these jams? The swaggering title track was an immediate smash when it dropped as the first single, reaching No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Luxurious follow-up "That's What I Like" fared even better, becoming Bruno's seventh No. 1 hit.

After slowing it down with the bedroom jam "Versace on the Floor," Bruno picked the vibes back up in a major way at the start of 2018, when "Finesse" was released as the album's final single. The New Jack swing-style track was enhanced with a ferocious guest rap from Cardi B and a video that recreated the set of '90s comedy smash In Living Color, complete with fuzzed-out videotape-style camerawork! It all helped "Finesse" reach No. 3 on the Hot 100.






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When the dust settled, 24K Magic was Bruno Mars' third straight hit album, reaching the Top 10 in 10 countries and certified 3x platinum by the RIAA. In other words: another solid gold record, and then some!