By Amanda Wicks
Forget about the “Midas Touch,” Bruno Mars has pure “24K Magic.” In the three studio albums and one EP he’s released since his 2010 debut Doo-Wops & Hooligans, he’s produced number one hit after number one hit. Mars may have a penchant for blending styles and influences—so songs that start out sounding like, say, Michael Jackson quickly shift into Kanye West territory—but he knows how to make everything his own. Here are his songs, ranked.
1. “Uptown Funk“
No surprise here, as “Uptown Funk” ended up being Mars’ biggest hit with producer Mark Ronson, and earned him fans as high ranking as First Lady Michelle Obama. He and his funk-driven success would set a high bar to surpass thanks to the song’s slick guitar riff, catchy rhythm and big brassy blaze.
2. “24K Magic“
Mars wanted to surpass what he achieved with “Uptown Funk,” which partly explains why it took him so long to return with 24K Magic and its titular single. The song may not exactly reach the same heights as “Uptown Funk,” but damn if it isn’t a funky throwback to the 1980s with a flashy Mars-esque sparkle.
3. “When I Was Your Man“
There’s no question Mars can write a killer upbeat hit, but he has been equally adept at penning moving ballads. “When I Was Your Man” offered a textbook example with its opening stark piano and the way Mars practically screamed with regret. It was heartbreaking through and through.
4. “Locked Out of Heaven“
Much like the hits he would achieve with “Uptown Funk” and “24K Magic,” his 2012 single “Locked Out of Heaven” struck upon that perfect blend of pop effervescence and sexually charged R&B undertones. Right from the very start, Mars dazzled with a punchy rhythm and his reach-for-the-rafters vocals.
No pop song captured raw desire quite like Mars’ single “Gorilla.” Where he could have stuck to a major pop-friendly key, he instead moved into a minor dip during the second half of the verses. Add to that his warped vocals and the pounding drums, and it’s easy to see how he captured sex appeal in a song.
6. “Nothin’ On You” (B.o.B. featuring Bruno Mars)
This may be a B.o.B. tune, but it was Mars’ vocals that offered the track a little something extra. The two worked really well together with B.o.B.’s verses delivered earnestly and Mars adding a romantic tinge to the sweet message.
7. “It Will Rain“
Off The Twilight Saga: Breaking Down soundtrack, Mars went full on brooding on “It Will Rain.” He achieved the perfect rock ‘n’ roll rasp from the get-go, as he pined, “If you ever leave me baby/ Leave some morphine at my door.” Plus, the way he built the song into an anthem showed off his skills for lyricism and memorable melody/rhythm combinations.
“Treasure” signaled what Mars would later accomplish with “24K Magic” by co-opting hit styles from different time periods and updating them for modern listeners. The roving bass line threw “Treasure” back into the disco era.
Mars performed a balancing act with “Moonshine.” The opening guitar riff felt closer to late 1990s alt rock, but he left that era behind and ended up creating a cross between Michael Jackson and The Weeknd. It may have been a marriage of many styles, but Mars achieved a moody quality that stood out.
10. “Straight Up & Down“
With an opening reminiscent in melody and delivery of Boyz II Men, and synths that call to mind early 1990s R&B, Mars got full on sexy in this innuendo-laden track. Coming in the middle of 24K Magic, Mars didn’t mince words when explaining to his lady just what he wanted her to do.
11. “The Other Side” featuring CeeLo Green and B.o.B.
13. “Young Girls”
14. “Billionaire” (Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars)
15. “Calling All My Lovelies”
16. “The Lazy Song”
17. “Lighters” (Bad Meets Evil featuring Bruno Mars)
19. “Runaway Baby”
20. “If I Knew”
21. “Marry You”
23.”Talking to the Moon”
24. “Money Make Her Smile”
25. “Mirror” (Lil Wayne featuring Bruno Mars)
26. “That’s What I Like”
28. “Young, Wild and Free” (Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa featuring Bruno Mars)
29. “Show Me”
30. “Just the Way You Are”
31. “Versace on the Floor”
32. “Liquor Store Blues” featuring Damian Marley
34. “Bubble Butt” (Major Lazer featuring Tyga, Bruno Mars & Mystic)
35. “Too Good to Say Goodbye”
37. “Our First Time”
38. “3D” (Far East Movement featuring Bruno Mars)
39. “Somewhere in Brooklyn”
40. “Count On Me”
41. “6AM” (Bueno featuring Bruno Mars)
42. “Watching Her Move”