Album Anniversary: Bruno Mars, "Doo Wops and Hooligans"
Ten years ago today, Bruno Mars released his debut studio album, Doo Wops and Hooligans. Due to pressure to release an album, Mars and his team only had six months to work on the album, and a month before it was supposed to be released, they still were working on it. But they managed to complete it, and it turned out to be a big success.
The album has elements of pop, reggae pop, soul, and R & B genres. It drew inspiration from artists including Coldplay, Little Richard, Michael Jackson, and Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.
The album manages to be simple yet sweet. Mars and his team have said that there are tracks on the album that men and women can each relate to, so they stated “doo wops are for the girls, and hooligans are for the guys”.
Doo Wops and Hooligans gave us some of Bruno Mars’ most famous hits, such as “Just The Way You Are”, “Count on Me”, “Marry You”, and “The Lazy Song”, just to name a few.
The first track, “Grenade”, is for sure one of Mars’ most grave songs. It features a piano, bass, and drums. With lyrics like “Yes I would die for you, baby/ But you won’t do the same”, the song is about loving someone who does not feel the same way. In the music video, Bruno is shown pulling a piano by a rope to a girl’s house, getting rejected, and then sitting on train tracks. Talk about dark!
“Just The Way You Are” is a simple yet sweet pop ballad with simple lyrics, and a piano and hip-hop breakbeat to accompany. Mars said he didn’t want anything extravagant when writing this song, and simply wrote it about a beautiful woman, stating, “What woman doesn’t want to hear those lyrics?”
The third track, “Our First Time”, is about exactly what you think it’s about. It contains elements of R & B while also sounding reggae pop. Lyrics like “Don’t it feel good, babe?” and “Girl don’t be nervous” are sultry, but also is followed up by lyrics like “Is that alright? Is that okay?” and “And I will go real slow with it”, so it doesn’t feel creepy.
“Runaway Baby” is one of the best tracks on the album, with an upbeat tempo and elements of funk, 60’s soul, and pop rock. Mars has been compared to artists like James Brown or Little Richard in this track. The lyrics suggest that ladies should stay away from Mars because he is a playboy. The song is catchy, and just makes me want to get up and dance to it.
“The Other Side” is another upbeat song on the album. It contains pop elements while also having a funky, soul sound to it. The track features Cee Lo Green and a rap verse from B.o.B. You can hear guitar, drums, and subtle doo wop vocals in the background. If you enjoy “Runaway Baby”, you’ll enjoy this one too.
“Marry You” is more of an upbeat, doo wop pop song, featuring a piano, double hand-claps, and some echoing church bells. Mars was inspired by a spontaneous Las Vegas wedding to write this track, and it has gone on to be used in more marriage proposals than I can count.
For the seventh track on the album, Mars steps back and performs a slow, R & B-like piano ballad in “Talking To The Moon”. Mars sings about a love that he wants back, and hopes that she is “on the other side, talking to me too”. While simplistic, this track certainly is beautiful.
If you are looking for more of a reggae sound, check out tracks like “Liquor Store Blues” featuring Damian Marley, son of reggae legend Bob Marley. The song includes lyrics like “One shot for my pain, one drag for my sorrow”. It implies that Bruno Mars is looking to drink to forget his problems. Problematic? Yes. But do Mars and Marley come together to make a great reggae tune? Absolutely. If you’re a fan of Bob Marley, you’ll definitely love this one.
Songs like “Count On Me” and “The Lazy Song” have a more laid back groove to them, and sound like something you would hear from Jason Mraz. “Count On Me” has been described as a resemblance of Israel Kamakawiwoʻole’s “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”, with a “tropical” ukulele sound to it. The subject of the song is having a friend that will always be there for you, and it has gone on to be featured in advertisements, performances, and even films.
“The Lazy Song” features a simple guitar with an upbeat drum tempo to accompany it. It manages to sound simple yet very catchy. Mars was inspired to write this song while he was out of ideas for songs. Oh, the irony!
Even ten years after its release, Bruno Mars’ Doo Wops and Hooligans manages to be catchy and infectious. I really forgot how much I loved this album, and this was a reminder to me. So if it’s been awhile since you have heard “Just The Way You Are” or “The Lazy Song”, now you have a reason to listen back and hear some oldies but goodies.