What’s up, y’all! On Fri. Mar. 5, 2021, Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak (together known as duo Silk Sonic) released the now mega-watt hit, “Leave the Door Open,” which is the first official single from their up coming album, An Evening With Silk Sonic. Y’all, I’ve had that song on repeat ever since it was released! If the official single release wasn’t great enough, Sunday before last (Mar. 14, 2021), Bruno and Andy showed up at the Grammys and tore the house down!
I had to include the Little Richard tribute they did that night. That thang was fyah! 🔥🔥
So far, Bruno and Andy are making the month of March one for the history books, and I’m lovin’ every minute of it! In honor of Bruno’s return, I wanted to write a post listing my favorite songs of his. The post was originally going to be a top 10, but I realized I wasn’t able to just choose 10 songs. I later decided to do a top 15 list, but that wouldn’t cover enough of the tracks I loved, either. So I settled for a top 20 list, and trust me, this list was difficult to make! Several songs were removed and added, and others had positions switched. I actually meant to have this post completed way before now, but y’all know how it goes. Now, after numerous revisions, I finally present to you all the finished list of my top 20 Bruno Mars songs. Now let’s get this party started!
20. “Liquor Store Blues” (feat. Damian Marley)
Many people—including myself—agree that “Liquor Store Blues” is one of Bruno’s most underrated songs. Like any good reggae song, it makes your body move, and everyone can relate to the subject matter: the main character is down on his luck, so he decides to smoke and drink his troubles away for one night. Even if you’re like me and don’t spark up the good stuff, nine times out of ten, you may have wanted a little drinky-drink to treat yourself after an extremely shitty day. “Liquor Store Blues” is the sole reggae song from Bruno’s Doo-Wops and Hooligans debut, and it proves that Bruno has the talent to sing damn near anything. Damian Marley’s vocals add that “secret sauce” to the track, as Bruno would say.
19. “It Will Rain”
Bruno wrote “It Will Rain” for the Breaking Dawn: Part 1 soundtrack, and I must say that this gem is best thing about that trash ass film. Believe it or not, this song had to grow on me. I still remember my mom telling me to listen to it, and my reaction after the track ended was, “It was okay.” However, something compelled me to give it another chance, and once I really listened to Bruno belt out those now famous opening lines:
If you ever leave me, baby
leave some morphine at my door
’cause it would take a whole lot of medication
to realize what we used to have we don’t have any more
I was hooked from that moment on. Bruno kills his live performances of “It Will Rain,” too. I know, he kills all his live performances, but the fact that he can still bring the house down with a scaled down production and without the Hooligans backing him says a lot. Check out his 2011 appearance on The X Factor singing the heartbreaking bal1ad.
18. “Finesse” (original and remix feat. Cardi B)
For me, both the original version as well as the remix of “Finesse” were bangers. What was great about “Finesse,” as well as the rest of 24K Magic, is that Bruno paid homage to the late ’80s and early ’90s R&B style that I grew up on. “Finesse” sounded like a song that I’d hear on The Big DM (all my South Carolina people from the midlands and the Pee Dee know about that station!) back in second or third grade. I honestly didn’t believe the song needed a remix, but when I heard the revamped version with Cardi B, I found myself loving it. Also, I love Bruno’s tribute to In Living Color in the video! That was my show! And to clear it up for all the young bucks that think otherwise, the first part of the video was modeled after the first and second season opening credits for In Living Color, not The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
“Chunky” is another Bruno track that doesn’t get the flowers it deserves. In this song, Bruno employs the late ’80s/early ’90s R&B influence that permeates the 24K Magic album to show some love to the thick girls. Being a thick girl myself, I loved this song immediately. Not only was the theme of the track appealing to me, but the music takes me back to a simpler time when my mother would pick me up from school and we’d listen to Keith Sweat and Bobby Brown on the way home. As usual, whenever Bruno performs this song live, it’s a bop. The SNL performance I posted above is the best live rendition of “Chunky,” hands down. Watch the genius at work.
16. “Wake Up in the Sky” (also feat. Gucci Mane and Kodak Black)
Seriously, who doesn’t love “Wake Up in the Sky”? When this song was released in mid to late 2018, I gave a whole new meaning to the phrase, “I let my tape rock ’till my tape popped.” Bruno owns the song with that killer hook, and Gucci Mane’s and Kodak Black’s lyrics delivered as well. By the way, this was the first Kodak Black song I ever listened to (I know him more for his antics than his music, to be honest), and I admit, the first Gucci Mane song, too (don’t judge me. I didn’t listen to a lot of new school Hip Hop between 2004 and 2017). Also, the music itself is just perfect. The heavy bass coupled with the smooth keyboard causes you to float away from your drab existence and right into Bruno and the fellas’ diamond covered world.
I have interesting story behind this song: when “Wake Up in the Sky” first premiered, Hurricane Florence just hit South Carolina. We continued to have inclement weather that following weekend, and what really sucked is that my car decided to stall on me while I was out running errands…smack dab in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. A gentleman was nice enough to give me a jump—in the rain, no less—and by the grace of God, we were blessed enough to live to talk about it. Nonetheless, I was still irked by the whole experience, especially given the fact that the downpour caused some water to get into my cell phone’s USB port. However, when I decided to listen to “Wake Up in the Sky” to make myself feel better, it did the trick in no time flat, and I soon forgot about all the foolishness I had to endure just minutes beforehand.
15. “When I Was Your Man”
This was another Bruno song that my mom turned me on to (in case y’all didn’t realize, my mom is the one that converted me into a Bruno Mars fan, just like she converted me into a Mr. Robot fan). I remember listening to “When I Was Your Man” with her for the first time, and how she remarked, “Bruno didn’t write this song just to write it. He actually went through this.” When I listened to the song again, I could hear the hurt and pain in Bruno’s voice, and I realized Mom was right. Her assumption was later confirmed when I watched an interview where Bruno admitted the song touched on a time that he and his current girlfriend, Jessica Caban, temporarily split up. I honestly believe “When I Was Your Man” is more about Bruno’s previous girlfriend, Chanel Malvar, but that’s another story for another time (if you’re aware of Bruno’s history and breakup with Chanel, I’m sure you’d agree with me). This song just proves that some of the most beautiful things can come from the most painful moments. If you have the chance, also check out Bruno’s live performance of “If I Was Your Man” on an international special. That boy was sangin’!
14. “Versace on the Floor”
“Versace on the Floor” was one of the first songs I heard from 24K Magic, and I loved it right off the bat. It reminds me so much of the love songs I used to listen to from Bobby Brown’s Don’t Be Cruel album (again, it took me back to those times my mom drove me home from school), and whenever Bruno’s honey dripping vocals sing about lovemaking…man, it gets me every time. 🔥
If “Versace on the Floor” is reminiscent of a Bobby Brown track from the Don’t Be Cruel era, then “Treasure” is reminiscent of New Edition during the days of their eponymous second album in the mid-’80s (you know, the “Cool It Now” and “Mr. Telephone Man” days). Not only is the song straight R&B, but it has that funky groove that makes you dance no matter how hard you wanna keep still. Also, the robotic voice announcing, “Baby squirrel, youse a sexy motherfucker,” always makes me smile. Bruno brought it old school in every way, including the video, which takes a lot of inspiration from Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1981 video for “Let’s Groove.” Oh, and don’t look for the music video in higher resolution. You won’t find it.
12. “That’s What I Like”
When I first heard “That’s What I Like,” I remember thinking to myself, “It’s not as good as ’24K Magic.'” A few months later, in May 2017, I was getting ready for my college homegirl’s wedding and I had this very song blasting in the hotel room. I enjoyed it so much I let it play a second time. Weeks later, I found myself singing it loudly off key whenever it played on the radio. In Sept. 2017, one of my oldest friends held a live band karaoke night at his restaurant, and I performed “That’s What I Like”…and I won their contest for best performance! Needless to say, I ended up adoring the song almost as much as “24K Magic.” “That’s What I Like” is the type of tune that immediately lifts your spirits and makes you envious of the woman that’s getting all of Bruno’s attention. Speaking of which, y’all have to watch Bruno’s live performance of the song during the 2017 Grammys. This is my favorite live rendition of “That’s What I Like,” without question. Not only was Bruno lookin’ super sexy (as usual) and his vocals were on point (of course), he had all the women—famous and otherwise—thirstin’ for him (naturally)! 💦
11. “Our First Time”
“Our First Time” is the sole R&B track on Bruno’s Doo-Wops and Hooligans album, and it speaks on the subject of…you know. Remember what I said about Bruno’s lovemaking songs? “Our First Time” not only holds true to that fact, but it’s one of the sexiest songs he’s ever made. Bruno’s descriptive lyrics and the smooth melody make “Our First Time” the perfect track to get romantic with your partner, whether it’s your first time, second time or 1,000,000th time. I adore the studio version, but it’s also a joy to listen to “Our First Time” live as well. Sometimes Bruno will employ his brass section to accompany him, other times the music goes a little harder on the reggae influence by putting emphasis on the guitar parts, and then there’s times where he’ll sing a sexy medley of other sexy songs (i.e. “Pony,” “Ignition,” etc.) mid-way through the song. Either way, it’s fantastic to watch. I posted one of my favorite live performances of “Our First Time;” it’s from the 2011 Summer Soul Festival in Sao Paulo. If you wanna hear the original studio version, here’s the link.
10. “Nothin’ On You” (also feat. B.o.B)
I know. Technically, this is B.o.B.’s song, but it’s still the track that started everything, and that’s reason enough to love it. Back in 2010, Bruno and his writing partner Philip Lawrence wrote “Nothin’ On You” for B.o.B, and after the record execs heard the demo, they finally decided to give Bruno the opportunity to be featured on one of the songs he wrote. The song got major radio airplay after it was released, and the rest is history. What’s really a trip is that after a few short years, Bruno became even more famous than B.o.B. No shade or disrespect intended at all, just sayin’. I still remember the first time I heard “Nothin’ On You” (I didn’t become a big fan until 2017, so I initially listened to the song years after its release). The way Bruno sang the hook actually made my eyes well up. No cap. I also loved B.o.B’s lyrics, especially his verse toward the end (that’s one of my favorite parts of the song). “Nothin’ On You” is one of the sweetest and most romantic songs ever, but it anyone can enjoy it, whether they have someone, or they’re single, like me. By the way, during Bruno’s early career, he used to perform a “remixed” version of “Nothin’ On You,” without B.o.B. I highly recommend y’all give it a listen.
Again, when Bruno sings about getting intimate with his woman, he goes all out. However, “Gorilla” doesn’t describe romantic, passionate lovemaking like “Our First Time” and “Versace on the Floor.” “Gorilla” showcases Bruno’s sexual prowess and how he can’t wait to get his girl in the bedroom (or wherever) to beat it up. Bruno definitely channeled Prince for the explicit lyrics, and the song is smokin’ hot. The video is straight fire as well. Those love scenes give me chills every time…the good kind. By the way, it still kills me how many folks out there are shocked that Bruno actually said the word “fuck” in this song. He’s a grown man, y’all!
“Grenade” was the first Bruno Mars song I ever heard. Back in 2010 or 2011, 103X (the local pop station otherwise known as 103.3 FM; again, my people from the Pee Dee region know about that) played this song nearly every hour on the hour. Whenever I listened to it, I felt so bad for this guy that was so full of unrequited love, that he’d be willing to lay his life down for his girl, despite the fact that she’d never do the same for him. Although I heard “Grenade” on a near daily basis, I never got tired of it, and I loved Bruno’s voice. Ten plus years later, the song is still super powerful, and the video is even sadder (especially the end). The only thing better than the original studio version is—you guessed it—Bruno’s live performances of “Grenade.” He did a stripped down acoustic version for Billboard circa Oct. 2010 that’s definitely worth watching. Also, check out the acoustic version Bruno performed for Sirius XM, too. It’s the bomb.
7. “Just the Way You Are”
Like “Grenade,” 103X played the hell out of “Just the Way You Are” back in 2010 or 2011, but I wasn’t mad. I loved the song and its message. More men should follow Bruno’s example and shower their women with love and compliments so they can be happy and feel like the queens they are. I do believe “Just the Way You Are” may have been the second song of Bruno’s I ever heard, and I remember having the intense urge to find out who this new Bruno Mars guy was. I didn’t become a big fan until years down the line, but his music always spoke to me (more on that later).
6. “Calling All My Lovelies”
I first heard “Calling All My Lovelies” back when I was starting to become a huge Bruno fan. I was listening to the 24K Magic album one afternoon at work, and the second “Calling All My Lovelies” started, I was intrigued. My intrigue turned into giddiness once Bruno and the Hooligans sang these lines:
I got Alicia waiting
All the Eshas waiting on me
I cracked up laughing right there on the production floor. I’ve seen some people on the internet take offense to those lines, claiming that Bruno disrespected black women with that verse. Personally, I think it’s just the opposite. I believe Bruno is showing appreciation for black women in the song, and the line itself is pretty tongue-in-cheek. The entire song is tongue-in-cheek, which is why I love it. It’s so cute and funny, and Bruno really outdid himself when it’s revealed that the lady that’s ignoring his calls is none other than Halle Berry (that really is her voice on the answering machine). Unfortunately, “Calling All My Lovelies” was never released as an official single, so there’s no music video. However, Bruno performed a condensed version of the song during his 24K Magic: Live at the Apollo concert and killed it (I couldn’t post it here because strangely enough, the uploader will only allow folks to view the video on YouTube, which defeats the purpose)! You’ll definitely wanna see it. I promise you won’t be disappointed, especially toward the end!
5. “All I Ask”
I know what y’all are thinking, “That’s not Bruno’s song! It’s Adele’s! Bruno just covered it!” You make a very good point. However, Bruno wrote “All I Ask” for Adele, and sometime in late 2016, Bruno performed the song on BBC Radio 1 while promoting the 24K Magic album. I kid y’all not, Bruno to’ this song up so well (and yes, I did write that correctly) that I have no desire to listen to Adele’s version, no offense to her. Bruno did the damn thing that night (and it’s even more impressive considering that Bruno and the Hooligans may or may not have had a bit of liquor in them). As far as I’m concerned, “All I Ask” to Bruno is akin to “Nothing Compares 2 U” to Prince. They both wrote the songs for other recording artists and later performed them just as well—if not better—than the artist that officially recorded them. Hence, in my humble opinion, “All I Ask” is just as much Bruno’s song as it is Adele’s. Watch the video of Bruno’s performance and tell me if you feel any different.
4. “Uptown Funk” (also feat. Mark Ronson)
I was aware of Bruno and enjoyed his songs since 2010/2011, but I was a casual listener in those days. Hell, I lumped him in the same category as Jason Mraz and Train, and kept it pushin’ (again, no shade or disrespect. Just sayin’). “Uptown Funk” was the song that made me pay closer attention to Bruno. In early 2015, I just happened to catch the video on Revolt TV, and I found myself jamming to it and marveling at Bruno’s Michael Jackson-esque walk (seeing this video also made me aware that Bruno could actually dance).
However, it really made a mark on me when a little girl that’s like a daughter to me came over and repeated the song on YouTube the entire weekend she was at my house. My mother fell in love with Bruno, and I added “Uptown Funk” to my playlist, finally realizing that Bruno was so much more than just a pop star. My fandom officially began.
3. “Locked Out of Heaven”
Every morning in late 2013 and early 2014, sometime between 6:15 and 6:30 AM, 103X would play “Locked Out of Heaven,” and I’d rock out each time I heard it (I’d also trip off the “your sex takes me to paradise” line. “What did he say!?”). “Locked Out of Heaven” is so fun and energetic, you can’t help but dance to it, regardless of whether or not you’re on the dance floor or stuck in a car for a few hours. Not only that, it’s upbeat enough to immediately brighten your day, no matter the circumstance. It’s no wonder Bruno used the song to open up his first Super Bowl performance.
I know this has been said a dozen times, but I have to repeat it: one of the things that’s great about “Locked Out of Heaven” is that’s it’s reminiscent of the music The Police did back in the ’80s. Everything from the guitar to the sound effects seemed to be influenced by Sting and his boys. I don’t doubt it, seeing as Bruno proved to be a fan when he performed his tribute to Sting during the Kennedy Center Honors in 2015. The video is everything, too. I loved the VHS aesthetic (again, if you search for a 1080p version of this video, you’ll be a lookin’ ass), and how the video just shows Bruno having a great time performing and hangin’ out with his boys. He even looks sexy smoking, even though he really shouldn’t do it. Many consider “Locked Out of Heaven” to be Bruno’s magnum opus, and although it’s not number 1 on my list, I can see why a lot of people feel that way.
2. “24K Magic”
This is it, y’all. This is the song that made me love Bruno for life. Anyone that knows me knows I love all things ’80s (I admittedly have a love/hate relationship with the clothes and hairstyles of the decade, though), especially music. As a matter of fact, my one of my favorite stations on SiriusXM is ’80s on 8. So when I first heard Mr. Talkbox belt out those opening lines followed by that now famous synth melody, I was done. I remember first hearing the song during The DL Hughley Show while driving to Dollar Tree to run a quick errand. Unfortunately, I reached Dollar Tree right in the middle of the song, and I cursed myself for having to miss it. Thankfully, DL played that bad boy a second time, and I got to listen to the whole thing after I left the store. I couldn’t wait to have my mother listen to it (who by this time, was head over heels for Bruno). We jammed to this for weeks on end. I was in love.
I always thought of “24K Magic” as a type of sequel to “Uptown Funk,” and I’m not mad at that at all. It stands out on its own, but it’s a more than fitting second installment to the now legendary Mark Ronson collaboration. I adored “24K Magic” so much that I included it in my Top 10 Songs of 2016 list. My homegirl from college played it during her wedding reception the following year. Over four years later, “24K Magic” is still in heavy rotation in my playlist and has never gotten old. Feel how you want (some folks are opposed to Bruno’s lyrics, particularly the one about “bad bitches and [their] ugly ass friends”), but “24K Magic” is a certified bop and classic.
1. “Dance in the Mirror”
Some of y’all may be thinking, “What the hell is ‘Dance in the Mirror’? I never heard of that song!” I sincerely doubt many people have, aside from most die-hard Bruno Mars fans, seeing as it was never released. For those that don’t know, before Bruno blew up, he worked as a producer/songwriter, while trying to get his own career off the ground. A lot times, he’d record demo tapes, either for himself, or for other people to sing (here’s a link to Bruno singing “Long Distance,” which was eventually recorded by Brandy back in 2009). I believe Bruno had every intention of releasing “Dance in the Mirror” on his own album, given the fact that no other artist picked it up and Bruno once performed it during one of his earlier shows overseas. As a matter of fact, it was that very same performance that introduced me to the song. Once I heard Bruno sing it live, I hoped there was a full studio version of “Dance in the Mirror” I could listen to (the video of the show only featured a snippet of the song). Thankfully, there was.
“Dance in the Mirror” drew me in the minute I heard it. It’s a beautiful song. Everything about it is pure perfection, from Bruno’s sweet vocals, to the Bossa Nova type drums, to the sexy lyrics, which once again, make me believe that Bruno wrote this song with Chanel in mind. After all, the song is about how Bruno loves to watch his girlfriend dance in the mirror every morning, and Chanel is a dancer. I wish Bruno would release this version—it’s perfect the way it is, so it doesn’t have to be re-recorded—on a compilation album a la Prince’s Originals. The world needs to hear this gorgeous song.
“Please Me” (with Cardi B.)
After the success of “Finesse” (that rhymed!), Bruno and Cardi teamed up again for “Please Me,” and their chemistry oozed through the track, as well as the video! I have to be honest, I had to warm up to this song, but once it did, it was one of my favorite jams of 2019!
“Billionaire” (with Travie McCoy)
Technically, “Billionaire” is Travie’s song and not Bruno’s, but let’s be honest. Bruno’s hook is the “secret sauce” that makes this great song even greater. Plus, I love that this song is about someone actually wanting to be philanthropic with his money if he were rich, as opposed to spending it on Cristal and hoes like most rappers.
“Old & Crazy” (with Esperanza Spalding)
“Old & Crazy” was only available on the deluxe version of Unorthodox Jukebox (which could only be purchased at Target when the album was first released), which is a shame, because it’s a cute song. I loved the ’20s vibe the song has, and the message is sweet. May we all be blessed enough to meet someone that’ll still want us when we’re old and crazy.
“The Other Side” (with Cee-Lo Green and B.o.B.)
“The Other Side” is another one of Bruno’s songs that’s completely underrated. His and Cee-Lo’s vocals are perfectly matched, and Bruno is so handsome in the video!
“Leave the Door Open” (with Anderson .Paak)
Last, but certainly not least, is the song I’ve had playing non-stop since the first Friday of this month. The only reason it’s not an official part of the list is because it’s brand new. This song is everything: the ’70s aesthetic, the sexy lyrics, Bruno and Andy’s vocals, what’s not to love? Bruno done done it again (and yes, that’s how I meant to write that).
—Written by Nadiya
Did you agree with my list? What are some of your favorite Bruno Mars songs? What would you have kept in the list or removed? Let me know in the comments section!