Bruno Mars has made no bones about the “artistry” behind his new Unorthodox Jukebox album, and on Wednesday (December 12), during our “Big & Best of 2012″ live stream, he put a little of that artistry on display.
Mars closed out the eight-hour online event with a stirring, soulful rendition of “Young Girls,” a standout track on Jukebox, and one that’s a perfect complement to the album’s high-energy first single, “Locked Out of Heaven,” which he performed one evening earlier on “MTV First: Bruno Mars.” (Coincidentally, “Heaven” will go to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 next week).
Backed once again by his band, Mars channeled the bleary-eyed, Sunday-morning blues that “Young Girls” conjures up: the inevitable regrets that only come after a night spent carousing and carrying on, even though you know you probably shouldn’t be. Compared to the breakneck pace of “Heaven,” which celebrates the kind of sex that makes you reconsider your belief in a Supreme Being, “Girls” played out gradually, deliberately, with Mars’s voice rising from a rasp to a chill-inducing rush during the song’s chorus. It was almost as if he couldn’t believe the mistakes he’s made … or that he’ll probably make them again in the near future.
The performance showcased the true range of emotions he expresses on Jukebox, and proved that, though he may be living the sweet life, Mars is, ultimately, just another guy. One who’s bound to make the wrong decisions, and then make them again. It’s that kind of conflict that gives birth not only to great pop songs, but to great artistry. Like the old quote says, “It ain’t bragging if you can back it up.”