Bruno Mars

by Randy Lee Maitland


Belted suit by White Chalk and Turtleneck by Belstaff. Dress by AllSaints.


Jacket by John Varvatos and Hat by Stetson. 


Jacket by Opening Ceremony, t-shirt by American Apparel, denim jeans by Levi’s, and watch by Rolex.


Wool apex peacoat and washed cigarette jeans by AllSaints, short-sleeve reverse printed crewneck t-shirt by John Varvatos, and watch by Rolex.


Suit by Kenzo, shirt by White Chalk, and hat by Stetson.


Wool bi-color coat, wool bi-color sweater, wool bi-color shirt, and wool bi-color pants by Prada, braided leather belt by John Varvatos, and hat by stetson. 

Bruno Mars

This Hustle, This Unit is Expressed as Unironic Appropriation

The pop-culture moment of Bruno Mars is of low-artifice


; the specific moment he broke into it (as though waiting in line to get into a club only to find his way in through a side-door), its central figure was the Madonna-inspired Boy Mutant, Lady Gaga—and the fact that she is derivative, the subject of rumor, and ruthless criticism are central features of the Gaga mythos. But also pop music in general. Its emphasized distance from “Culture” drives the machine. Pop is always “Born This Way,” exceedingly sincere and resolute.


But the defiant self-consciousness has run its course; now pop is merely self-conscious.

The categories and the kind of music pop has historically defined itself against (the high modes of music) are no longer culturally relevant3 and the amount of money and economic activity surrounding pop sort of invalidates its traditional mode of being “not serious.” If anything, pop is more serious about the state of economic affairs than any other form of music. It enacts the conditions of its production and mimics the repetitive structures of our economy. Embedded within songs are advertisements for other songs; a code runs through it all, or an algorithm. It is not a reliably good time—or it seems always someone else’s good time, good-looking and willing, but also a little pathetic. The whole thing sort of feels stupid, the continuation of a bad idea—like taking “Material Girl” seriously. But what happened at the end of the aughts put the sound of the 80s in a different light.4 The point wasn’t to try to avoid irony and shallowness—but to emerge through them into something sincere.5 As though the market could make sincerity possible.

So it is, a day after Sandy’s debauching of the Eastern seaboard, Bruno Mars, reclining on a white cushioned sofa, lights a cigarette. He’s got a bit of the old timey relaxed gambler, gangster vibe going.6 There’s a lot of gold involved, in terms of bracelets and watches, chains and necklaces, all in congruence with a certain throwback style tank top beneath a sharp jacket, a wide brimmed felt hat with a black band shadowing a pair of highway patrol aviators. The sofa happens to be situated amid T1000-looking Joel Morrison statues on the rooftop of the Gagosian Gallery in godforsaken Beverly Hills, and Mars—as he has been doing since the start of the day’s interview / art tour—is sarcastic,7 “Wha’d you guys do, run out of room?” referring to the statues on the roof. Very literally, millions of dollars of art are beneath his ass. Warhol, Simon, Prince, Eggelstein, Ruscha, Hirst. It doesn’t matter much to Mars. When the dealer asks him if he likes anything he responds, “Yeah, I’ll buy it all.”

The problem with Mars is a problem perhaps analogous to the problems of pop in general (in today’s climate), but as though the terms in the proposition were reversed. Authenticity as a concern in popular music8 resulted in a strange and convoluted discourse,9 which seemed an offshoot of the old argument between the commercially produced (i.e. made for money) type of music and the kind that was made for the sake of making music.10 For one, no one has ever questioned Mars’ motivation for making music11, because the relationship of the kind of music he is making is like family and he seems entirely sincere. But the issue of authenticity with Mars hasn’t really come up either.

Perhaps Mars’ “authenticity” is so evident people miss it, or they think it too boring or unenlightening to mention.12 But the fact is plain. Mars dresses like his grandfather13, and the music he plays is the music his father raised him on—the music his grandfather would have been listening to when he was 18, 19 years old—the music on the radio. What quickly complicates Mars’ musical career is its origins, two generations removed from doo-wop, and nurtured in Waikiki of all places, on the stages of hotels and trade venues, like the Blaisdell, where he played gimmicky shows for tourists looking less for a musical experience as they are “alterior” spectacle.

The drunken crab (courtesy of Crustacean) on my plate is in its shell—ugly, big, and wet. I stare at it helplessly. Mars tells me that he doesn’t fuck around with shellfish. “It gives you hives,” he says.14

When the cute blonde girl who works at the gallery comes out with a bottle of champagne, Mars says, “Who the hell is this guy, they’re pulling it all out for you, you’ve got the Veuve and a whole damn crab on your plate. You must be really something.”15

“Yeah, I’m good at polishing things up.”16

Ostensibly, the joke is that there’s nothing to polish up.17 Mars starts in on his garlic noodles. He sets his fork down and asks if I’ve ever had Crustacean before.

“No I’m not really a fancy eater,” I say.

“Me neither. Have you ever been to Panda Express?”18

“No, is it good?”

“When you’re in Inglewood, that place is the spot, it’s pumping and the lines are like Disneyland.”19

So this is the young and (as the discourse would have it) authentic Mars, who first performs not as himself, per se, but as himself as someone else, a chubby brown skinned Elvis not even in the first grade.20 But it’s that legacy. Those sounds, that style—those things have stuck with Mars, and he’s stuck with them, and it’s a weird thing ... what has happened since; and really isn’t happening anywhere else in pop. By remaining true to himself, Mars maintains an identity not quite who he is, which has always seemed like a version twice removed of someone else, and in so doing, he’s risking the loyalty of fans very much not used to this many degrees of artifice in pop—a sound perhaps not so damn layered—a pop music, that at its very core, is a return to, a going back to ...

Mars performs a style of music that harkens back to a different era (his song “Marry You” suggests running away to a chapel) without crippling self-consciousness or narcissism21 that winds up mimicking the market forces22 that created its momentary bubble or pocket of existence. This is the kind wistful sincerity that people glom onto when they propose in the middle of a shopping center. Generally, this kind of pop offers itself as a reprieve from the stresses of the working day.23 How nice it would be if we just took off in the middle of the night and fell in love? Pop has always been like Mars’ clichéd chapel, a place to imaginatively hide. Its true power is that its door remains open and the lights are on 24 hours a day.24 The secure realm of economic activity is endless fantasy. Mars’ first hit, “Billionaire,” engages these very tropes ... “every time I close my eyes.”

Doo-Wop and Hooligans has given Mars the room he needed to make his new album, Unorthodox Jukebox. His intentions for the new record are ambitious: bigger sounds, larger drums, huge choruses, and longer jams (one of his goals when he went into the studio was to make an album that he and his band would want to play LIVE, with song structures that would lend themselves to a jam session) but one of the results of this is that the sound is cleaner. It sounds less like “now”25 and more like its forbearers.26 It’s therefore a safer, closer, and more honest album, but the masses have a strange relationship to those kinds of concepts, like integrity and artistic curiosity, like sifting between actual pop music and nostalgia for Pop music proper.27 But at least he’s fucking doing it28 despite the tricky position it puts him in. People want something new so they can claim its relevance in regard to the old thing. Except that to meaningfully engage that old thing /new thing means to become somewhat out of step with the moment, to either be late or in front of it. Bad timing is impossible to market. Moreover, this is an age where the idea of the new is as viable as the Twinkie. Everything is dead. And Mars recognizes that.

The temptation, however, is to ignore the tombstones, to dig up the bodies, rehash, and recycle, without vivifying, improving, without bringing something to the table. Mars is adamant that no one should moonwalk. “Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.” A helicopter flies overhead. A fly lands near Mars’ noodles. He lazily swats at it and continues, “I mean, it’s in everybody our age, it becomes a point where it is in the singer’s blood29, you grow up listening to it and mimicking it so much, you grow up, it just naturally comes out of you. Then maybe you think of attacking a song like Michael would attack a song, or hit a beat like he would hit a beat. It’s just because, when you were a kid, and you were doing it, you just kept doing it over and over, and so yeah, you don’t move on. Myself included.”

Conversation turns to “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and Mars makes the point that all good artists steal. “It is what it is. I played a show with Elton John. It was fucking amazing. I sit next to him and he says, ‘Bruno, it’s you young guys that keep me going.’ And he was talking about some song, I don’t know which, but he said to me, ‘I love your song,’30 and I said, ‘Thanks man, I was basically just ripping you off, in the chord progressions.’ And he said, ‘That’s fine I’ve been copying people for years.’”

But to begin in the beginning. Bruno Mars31 was born Peter Gene Hernandez. His father, Peter Hernandez came from Brooklyn to Hawaii where he met Mars’ mother during one of Hernandez’s shows—she was dancing, he was playing the drums. The senior Hernandez was nicknamed “Dr. Doo-Wop” and was founding member of the doo-wop outfit called the Love Notes, Waikiki’s foremost a cappella doo-wop group. They played Friday through Sunday, starting at 8:30 PM in the Love Notes Showroom at the Waikiki Terrace Hotel. Tickets were $20 but they included a drink.

To those in the family, it was obvious at the age of two Mars could sing—and that he was a total ham, whereas his siblings were shy. His mother is quoted as saying when his brothers or sisters got on the stage, they choked. But not Bruno.

Mars was four when he made his first professional performance in Japan. His father had noticed his son could do a good Elvis and thought about bringing him on stage. No better place than a Japanese Sheraton Hotel to trot out a toddler to perform “Jail House Rock.” Mars was simply called Bruno at that time—named for the Italian wrestler, Bruno Sammartino—and for the first 14 years of his career, he was the World’s Youngest Elvis Impersonator.32

After a brief gig as an opening act for the “Magic of Polynesia” at the Beachcomber Hotel, and finishing high school, Mars moved to Los Angeles and lived with his sister. This was more or less the moment in his life when he decided to go for something bigger than what his father had achieved. His sister helped him shop his demo (people know people in Los Angeles) and soon he had a deal with Motown. But Mars and Motown didn’t work out. After that, he doubted whether he should be the one fronting a band. He and a couple pals decided the best way into the business was to produce—write hits for other people—and so the Smeezington production team was born. The story is familiar from there. He wrote the jam “Nothin on You” for B.o.B. and “Billionaire” for Travie McCoy and sang its hook.

“Then I was in like go mode, since ... what year is it? 2012? Jesus, since 2009?”

He went on tour in Europe with McCoy, and was the opening act for a few Maroon 5 shows. “Then I did the Hooligans tour. That was cool. That was like the real tour. Everything else was like you were playing for people walking in. But man. I had the number one record in America, and in Europe, and still, I was playing like 60 seater coffee shops.”

And this is the “origin” story of Bruno Mars. Never really anyone but himself. Never the least bit self-conscious. Hotels, Waikiki, coffee shops in Germany. Or sold out festivals and the Grammys. It doesn’t matter. “I’ll buy it all.” A goddamn maker of the hits.

And right now, it’s where the guy is at, is this all or nothing zone. He’s had a string of top Billboard hits. He wrote Cee-Lo’s ubiquitous “Fuck You” jam. His solo debut album, Doo-Wops and Hooligans, had like a hundred Grammy nods (there’s an entire Wikipedia page devoted to his nominations and awards – he’s won and lost more awards than I can count) and it went platinum or gold the world over.33 Right now, he’s the shiniest recording artist in the game.

“That’s not for sale? Well, I’ve got $700 in my pocket ready to spend ...”34

Of course ... like the lot of them, to stay in the game, he’s gotta stay gambling.35 Be a wolf.36 No point in hiding the fact the man is willing to throw down (UnorthodoxJukebox he tells me is an album very much inspired by Jameson). Of course—while it’s not a complete departure from his debut effort—Jukebox is certainly a cocksure nod to the crowd of key clickers who had figured out the “how-to” for post millennial success in the pop game—soften the hip-hop with a melodic pop hook, and pimp the pop with a little street.37 The black washes the white and vice versa. This of course is all done with the utmost and sincerest lack of irony.38

That was sort of happening on the radio in 2010/2011, midway through Obama’s tepid first term, when people began taking to the streets and established the 99%.39 For all the brazen acts the Occupy movement produced (the spirited clashes with police etc), the movement has always been about responsible leadership and reasonable regulation. Not so much about taking any of the power back, but the responsibility and prudence of those who sit in the upholstered seats within the dynamo of social power. Regulation, oversight, process, and committee. These were the galvanizing tropes that governed the way we approached ourselves (at least rhetorically) as socially conscious actors and consumers of culture in a New America, post-empire.

This prevailing spirit of regulation no doubt assumed the form of cautiousness in the corporate music biz40 as much as it influenced Betty and Steve’s decision making when they filled out their mortgage forms at the bank post Lehman. But in an industry as moribund as the record business, whose very product seems mass alienation, fear wears the mask of cautiousness and the modus operandi41 is (and has been) simulation.

It would be unfair, however, to state this without acknowledging the role Pop music has historically played in America. Its effects have usually been this kind of energetic dispersal, in mass, before the flattening effect the market has on the style, necessitating the new; or the rebranding of the old. Either way, there was no way in hell early 90s Los Angeles would have welcomed a cat like Bruno Mars, much in the same way there’s no way in hell a song like “Lazy Song” would be culturally relevant without “Fuck the Police.” To be marketable, you have to be like Obama—the “Other” comprised of a series of cultural codes that can be reduced into an amalgam of black cool non-white etc.42

That’s all well and good for Fergie and Jenny from the Block43, but it’s also dreadfully boring and makes for a terrible sort of post-racial homogeneity44 where particularity loses out to a general sense of authenticity. Time and again, the more the “real” is invoked, the more a smug demographic blandness asserts itself, and washes over the contours like a wave.

Mars45 is partly to blame for the end of the decade market floundering around issues of identity and authenticity, sure, but then again, one can hardly blame him. The game is the game, and he was just getting started in 2009/10. It was his first go at things, having already had a false start with a major label under his belt. So maybe he was a little too quick to get into the studio to record an album. Maybe he was a little too keen to capitalize on his successes with B.o.B., McCoy etc. But one thing is certain. In 2010 the market was ready for Mars, it demanded his voice, loudly, in fact, and the label-machine saw to it that that was what they got.

“If James Brown and Prince had a baby, it would be Bruno Mars.”

This isn’t to say he was making music that—up to that point—compromised his artistic integrity or whatever46. No, he was simply and effectively putting on the show people wanted to see. They wanted the “Lazy Song,”47 they wanted lyrics about “snuggies” and watching MTV48—especially during a time when the affect of “raw distress” in the arts comically aped a very real nationwide distress49.

When Mars implores the audience at the Grammys “to get off their rich asses” he’s tapping into the old goading showman routine. He’s not just putting on a show—he’s making visible (and thus consumable) the very enjoyment he has in putting on a show50. This is the kind of affectation that consumes a life. It doesn’t require entire stadiums. He could be just like at the entry way to a Macy’s playing a Casio with a paint bucket filled with pennies and a couple crumpled ones at his feet. He’s an entertainer, and he likes engaging the crowd.

Unorthodox Jukebox plays through a litter of different genres (or forms) and Mars handles each adeptly while the production values maintain this loud stadium feel. Mars is quick to point out he’s not saying, “Look I can do a blues song, look I can do a dance song, look I can do a reggae song. Like a boy wonder, like Mr. Music.” The fact of the matter is, this is the music his dad played for him when he was growing up. This is the music with which his identity is tied up. It’s not a matter of reclamation with Mars. He’s not trying to “realign his music with a Jamaican inheritance.”51

“I’m just trying to excite myself when I go into the studio. And what excites is me is to experiment with different genres, different forms. Pushing myself to want to go to the studio the next day.”

“Right,” I say. “You wouldn’t fault a painter for wanting to try to sculpt.”

“Exactly, if he’s trying to do something different, come on, because he’s already done this. It’s like with the first album, and I love the first album [Doo-Wops and Hooligans]. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the first album. But I’ve written those songs, and just because those songs worked on the radio doesn’t mean I should go back into the studio and make part two of those songs because I could slide in easier. I feel like with these songs, I am doing exactly what I want to do. And I’ve toured before. I have a bigger ... broader perspective ... of what I want to do this time around.”

The new record (as the old one was) is written and produced by Bruno’s team, the Smeezingtons. But producers like Mark Ronson, Diplo, and Supa Dups make appearances as well. The album sounds like a catalogue of influences, both rangy and ambitious, from obscure doo-wop to Sting and the Police to Elton John and Kanye. Would it be flagrantly unwise to hyperventilate and call Unorthodox Jukebox the excavation of a Bruno Mars? Isn’t the thing that we buy, Bruno Mars, a mess of all those influences—and to consume him is to consume a whole lot of people and sounds that came before him? That’s the gamble of Unorthodox Jukebox, dropping an album on the heads of the boppers who care little for the Police but who have watched the Hooligan’s single “Just The Way You Are”52 music video a staggering 265,000,000 times. There’s no sliding in, anymore. Either he’s in or he’s out. The moment is a fickle bitch.

1  This is a reconfigured sentence from a NewYorker article about Andy Warhol.

2 “It’s only rock n’ roll but I like it” is the radio’s anthem of the disparaged and vulnerable, the commercially successful but utterly frivolous.

3 In the way that MobyDick is no longer culturally relevant. Yes, literature written before 1965 doesn’t exist anymore. Trust me.

4 The 80s emphasized an already developing techno reliance, the loss of the personal, as well as the end-beginning of the simultaneous and personal, punk, post-punk, new wave, etc.

5 A romp with a Gaga album proves her to be persistently middle of the road. What gives? For all the “transgression” of her (alterity) performance, ultimately the most shocking thing about Gaga is how maddeningly run of the mill she is.

6 The video for the first single off his upcoming album, Unorthodox Jukebox (due in stores this December 19, off Atlantic Records) shows Mars singing in what looks like an underground club. There’s also footage of him wearing a hat and glasses shooting dice with some fellas in a backyard. He’s smoking and laughing and winning fistfuls of cash. This is basically the guy sitting across from me. The guy who sang “Young Girls” on SNL.

7 This is not the sarcasm endemic to the white male Brooklyn subspecies. Maybe jokey would be a better description of Mars’ affect. Because, in all fairness, Mars’, when he’s playing to strangers and girls, has a kind of dad-like humor, the safe, irritating, and mildly endearing brand of joke.

8 This began in the 60s, as pop was a way of rehabilitating marginal sounds (Dai Griffiths) but culminated recently.

9 If 50 Cent is the nadir of this, then Frank Ocean is its negative.

10 Bon Iver seemed to gesture in this direction in his Grammy speech for best new artist.

11 He’s described alternately as a showman or a born entertainer.

12 I don’t mind being dull.

13 That is, Mars’ look, the gelled pompadour, the slick suits etc.

14 “Advice from the islands,” I respond.

15 Initially, I wanted to interpret such statements as Mars somehow asserting his superiority, which couldn’t be a more idiotic analysis. I’m merely sensitive and Mars is a goof.

16 The interview’s conceit is that I’m here to watch him buy something, which as the day wears on, seems increasingly absurd. A 1984 Warhol advertisement for a 99 cent steak occasions a Mars “Back in my day steak cost” bit. Conversation about a Marc Newson turns into Mars mock bragging, “That’s nothing compared to what I did when I was 19.” One of the chapters of Taryn Simon’s “A Living Man Declared Dead” about albino hunting in Tanzania prompts a Powder allusion. “Man that guy just couldn’t catch a break.” Anyone who has seen Powder will understand how awesome all this really is. Also, it should be noted that this isn’t “insensitive” or anything like that. Mars’ reaction went from incredulity, “Are you serious, where is this at, why?” to Powder. Mediating one’s experience of the world through “pop culture” is just what our insincere, ironic, post-ironic generation does. It’s also something that we do totally naturally, so it’s not ironic/self-conscious at all. And Powder is a masterpiece.

17 In an interview with RollingStone, Mars quite smartly states, “I don’t overthink it. I’m not gonna Shakespeare it out. If I want to write a song about how I love a girl’s ass, it’s gonna go, ‘I love your ass.’”

18 Pandas warm my heart.

19 When I tell him I live on Twizzlers and pretzels he tells me he lived on Rite Aid ice cream for a long time. This too was only 99 cents.

20 It is fitting that the album art for his new album features, a gorilla, or ape. To ape. And that a lot of this seems “subconscious” or “unintended”

21 Radiohead is ever eager too, in its pursuit of an “honest business model”

22 I could very much imagine behind Skrillex’s weird spaceship looking DJ booth a NASDAQ scroll. What better symbol of abstraction and value than the very figures and the real time activity of those financial events?

23 Jimmy Eat World’s refrain “It just takes some time” comes to mind and also the fact that maybe pop is actually a legitimate reprieve for some people.

24 This would be akin to finding at your feet an arrow and more or less going in that direction until you reach a building, which you are then bidden to enter by a strange man you feel naturally compelled to call “father.” Also keep your head down for a moment of consideration.

25 There are only ten ways to hang on after you lose someone and eating something is one of them. Also, cocaine.

26 Again in the Stone interview. The writer mentions that the crowd’s response to his playing the song that inspired “Billionaire”—“Money” as covered by the Beatles—as lukewarm.

27 I can’t imagine this album doing poorly. I also can’t imagine it being the money making juggernaut Hooligans was either.

28 Or continuing the engagement with the racially and socially charged categories of hip-hop, dance, doo-wop, and reggae.

29 For the sake of integrity, I have to mention I tell Mars a series of idiotic anecdotes, about how one afternoon, when I stayed home from school, I donned my mom’s gigantic panties and danced to a Dangerous cassette. I follow this with a few glasses of Veuve and an exciting skip to the boy’s room where, at the shaking off the driblets stage of the process, I pee a little on my pants. Upon return from said incident, I tell Mars, “I’ve just peed on myself.” This prompts laughter and Mars’ statement that, “Any man who can go from talking like you to pissing himself is an artist in my book.” All I say in response is, “Really, really?” I hate the sound of my voice on these recordings.

30 At this point I knock the recorder off the table between us and I ask Mars how pissed he would be if I lost the entire interview and he says, “No, it would be great.”

31 There are a lot of reasons given over the course of a few interviews for the moniker. He probably chose Mars because it sounded cool.

32 Mars had a bit part in the underappreciated Cage masterpiece, Honeymoon in Vegas.

33 Forbes pegged Doo-Wops & Hooligans at 2.5 million sales, generating 15 million single sales, and had Mars pulling in an estimated $8 million that year alone.

34 On “Marry You” Mars sings about blowing a handful of cash and running out with a girl.

35 Mars tells me, “It’s almost like writing songs is a numbers game. Out of every fifteen songs you write, you get one good one. And I definitely went through that with this album. I had a two, three, month hiatus of writer’s block, and we were just writing the worst shit ever, and then the insecurities kicked in, and I was like what the hell. But you just gotta wait for it to come.”

36 “At night the wolf comes out,” he tells me, about his partying. But for Mars partying and being in the studio are more or less the same activity, much in the same way booze probably played a major role in the action painting of Pollock, by perhaps playing no role whatsoever. Who cares?

37 The February issue of Vibe, which featured Mars on the cover along with Wiz Khalifa and B.o.B., announced the trio as “The New Pop Music”

38 In 2003, deflecting rumors of alleged racism, Justin Timberlake’s bodyguard rushes to his defense, calling Timberlake, the “blackest white guy” he’s ever known. This is or is not ironic.

39 I hesitate to call the 99% the new “proletariat” or “working class” since they’re out of work management and the American working class is mainly in China.

40 Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream cost EMI an estimated 4 million, according to a report on NPR. And though the number is huge, there wasn’t a helluva lot about that album that seemed especially risky. From the proven hit producers (like Benny Blanco) behind each track to guest spots featuring proven commodities like Snoop (age doesn’t affect pot-head cool apparently) to what were rigorous demo specific ad campaigns and pay for play on top 40, it’s hard to imagine a world in which the Katy Perry machine would have broken down.

41 It’s only recently that the political and economic realities of America have mirrored so explicitly the nature of the music industry that the comparisons, so obvious, have about them this air of “weightlessness.”

42 A NY Times piece on Mars says, “Race was always a concern” and insinuates it had something to do with Mars failed tenure with Motown Records. Race here is the negative or empty signifier, the possible pose ... like anyone else of color, in his Motown lament, he’s “another” “everyman” with an amorphous sense of being marginalized. It’s also worth noting most consumers—who see themselves as such—carry with them this amorphous sense of marginalization.

43 The presentation of the everyday and “real” “Latino” Jennifer Lopez is grossly equivalent to a cute animal in human people clothes.

44 The very idea is acutely racist. But it needs to be said (or I can’t help myself), that one of the aspects that makes pop music viable and exciting—its ability to incorporate historically abandoned sounds.

45 It is interesting Mars’ began his career as an impersonator. Likewise his interest, though inchoate, in Warhol, who made a career out of impersonating an artist.

46Doo-Wops and Hooligans comes across much better live, and any musician would be proud to have a certain number of those songs in their catalogue. I’ll stand by that.

47 I remember first hearing “Lazy Song” at a Duane Reade on Delancey St. in New York. I think at this time I had become a pot smoking shut in with a beard, playing Castlevania and watching lots of Youporn. Much of my time at night was spent sneaking around various stores, avoiding eye contact with strangers, buying candy and chips that I would regret eating as soon as I was done madly stuffing the lot into a maw that infrequently saw a toothbrush. During one of these episodes I heard Mars’ track and thought to myself, “What terrible lies! This kid makes doing nothing with your life seem easy. It’s not easy. It’s a miserably slow slope into shit. Nothing but shit and getting fat. And I bet he’s skinny and gets a lot of ass.” I usually hate “feel good” stuff, the kind that “gets ass” anyway so maybe I’m not the fairest critic for Hooligans, which I think got a lot of ass.

48 Of course this is an after the fact analysis. It’s really very easy to say the market demanded “some” “thing” after that “thing” generates a lot of capital.

49 The biggest movement right now, probably among the college kid middle class demo, is EDM, which live, is the equivalent of everyone celebrating someone at a computer. The distance and pathos of EDM shouldn’t be undervalued, but you can’t also ignore its absurd symbolism of our times.

50 That RollingStone article about Mars describes Mars toying with a crowd of screaming girls by sticking his head up through the sunroof of a limousine and quickly ducking back down, like heart-throb-whack-a-mole.

51 This is verbatim in the Wiki about Brostep. The link to the interview with Rusko is dead last I checked.

52 I don’t quite know what it means, but the single “Grenade” as it is on the album, is pretty okay, but in the transposition from studio to stage, it gets much better. The doo-wop treatment is particularly affective. And the stage is where Mars really shines. The gold suited cool of his Grammy performance can’t be overstated.

Photography: Hunter & Gatti for

Photography Assistants: Ira James, Ace Buhr, and Jai Lennard.

Styling: Lysa Cooper.

Styling Assistant: Darryl Glover and Jillian Atun.

Model: Ajak for

Hair: Jason Schneidman for

Makeup: Naomi Medina.

Makeup for Ajak: Ingeborg for

Tailor: Antonio Marquez.

Production: Anita Reartes, Patrick Strickler, Julio Torres, and Patricia Caballero.

Grooming Notes: Hydra Beauty Serum, Ultra Correction Total Eye Revitalizer, and Hydramax + Active Lip Care by Chanel. Manipulator and Hard Head Hard hold hairspray by Bed Head by Tigi.

Beauty Notes: Invisible Fluid Makeup in 6WN1 by Estée Lauder, Sculpting Powder in Shadowy and Strobe Liquid by M.A.C Cosmetics, and Sheer Lipstick in Autumn Leaves and  Larger Than Life Lip Gloss in Rouge Tribal by NARS.