Bruno Mars: Success earned
For those who weren’t convinced before, all they needed was to watch the performance at the 2017 Grammys. On this night Bruno Mars paid tribute to one of his fallen heroes, Prince. Mars, dressed as Purple Rain-era Prince, took the stage and it was as if the spirit of The Purple One jolted through his body. His rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” was one of the most memorable retrospectives in a series of them since the pop icon’s death.
Mars, 31, has drawn comparisons to Prince pretty much since the time he broke big as a solo act. From the moment he became a headliner, his charisma, his musicality, his song-and-dance work, his showmanship and his flair for the dramatic all seemed reminiscent of The High Priest of Pop.
But it’s more than that—Mars brings elements of many of the greats to the stage. His energy is comparable to that of James Brown. His style and movement have tinges of Michael Jackson. His all-encompassing pop sound isn’t far off from the universal musical hug that Lionel Richie brought with his decades of hits. And, of course, there are the Elvis comparisons, which go beyond just the shaking of hips. As a child, Mars became a local celebrity in his native Hawaii impersonating The King. In fact, Mars is the fastest male act since Presley to garner five No. 1 singles on the Billboard 200.
But back to Prince. In the history of Super Bowl Halftime Shows, his is, if not the best, on the shortlist of the top performances along with U2 and Bruce Springsteen. In 2014, Mars joined that lofty company with an awe-inspiring, all-encompassing 13-minute blaster that was so off-the-charts good, it seems barely remembered that the Red Hot Chili Peppers joined him for part of it.
Of course, being a master showman doesn’t mean much if one doesn’t have the music to back it up. Mars seems to be a natural at every aspect of this world. That Grammy performance—check the guitar solo towards the end. That Halftime Show—peep that nasty drum solo he kills to kick the damn thing off.
And those songs. These are pop songs that will last through the years. Expect them to be talked about in the same way as the tracks of the artists mentioned.
“Just The Way You Are” has been the first song for newly married couples for how many weddings now? “Treasure” has that 1970’s soul sound down to a pat. “Grenade” connects from a clear line of ’90s R&B to the present. “24K Magic” splits those decades with that sweet candy sound of the ’80s.
Then there’s the ever-present Mark Ronson-cut “Uptown Funk,” which Mars holds down the vocals on. With over 2 billion views on YouTube so far, this is the one that permeated pop culture and created a deluge of knock-off videos. School teachers and their students, groups of friends, Harry Potter imitation tracks—everyone was up on this thing.
There are so many reasons to see Bruno Mars. Pick one or pick them all. He’s proven time and time again he’s worth it.
T-Mobile Arena, 8 p.m. July 15, starting at $45 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849