Unorthodox Success?

March 8, 2013

With a recent ascension to number one on the Billboard 200 chart, Bruno Mars is tasting success. Inspiring and entertaining to the lovers of stories, Bruno Mars endured the trials that many face in achieving a goal. Imagine crafting a song, a painting, a business model, or even just completing a homework assignment – now, imagine sitting in front of an authority figure, who can help you turn your craft into a profitable lifestyle, and his response to your work is “this sucks and I can’t do anything with it; come back once your shit is marketable.” For many you know personally, rejection on a professional level is demoralizing and, in some cases, passion inhibiting. When a record label president told him this, he instead stuck to his multi-genre music style and continued pursuing a label who would help him bring him to the day where millions hear “Just The Way You Are” dominate the radio for weeks. Will you go see him live for his 2013 tour?

Having recently released Unorthodox Jukebox (a title that may come from his father’s Jewish descent) in December of last year, Bruno has been touring, even just performed in Houston yesterday, and will begin his monstrously huge 2013 tour on June 22nd in Washington.

But is his music truly unorthodox? Does his fusion of soul and R&B in songs like “Treasure,” or the Reggae, R&B, and electronic synthesis of “Locked Out Of Heaven” separate him from the slew of sounds that erupt from Youtube or a car radio? Yes. Is it commercially successful? Well, of course. For most who take a stab at musical criticism, I see the fallacious association of ‘successful’ with ‘mainstream,’ along with the latter’s implication of herd appeal. Let me make something clear: while ‘mainstream’ is indicative of success, it is because the latter erodes the previous ‘mainstream’ away and the successful acts create the new mainstream. “Obviously,” some may retort, but it doesn’t seem so. Too often there is the Youtube argument or drunk college conversation about society’s failings with the music industry as an example, and the causality is misunderstood. “Oh, but society’s taste in music is degrading, mannn.” That’s another topic all together and for another day, man.

His music is popular and to some extent he probably sees successful music and adjusts accordingly, but the nuance of genre in “Locked Out Of Heaven” is pretty fantastic. In fact, I’ve just listened to it ten times in a row and suggest the same for anyone reading this. If the drum build-up doesn’t get your blood flowing, you might be a dull dud. Or, you just don’t like this type of music. If so, that’s fair! Good thing Bruno Mars only claims to be “unorthodox” with his album title, not “universally appealing,” though he may desire that.

So, are you a Bruno Mars fan? Do you think he’s unorthodox? Does it matter?

Of course! And yes, this an essay question and I want a minimum of 300 words in response. You have 15 minutes.

Extra credit question: Will you go see him live for his 2013 tour? You should.

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