Washington Post music critic Allison Stewart is one of those people who can’t tolerate the idea that listeners under 16 might favor a singer who isn’t “edgy.” In her review of the second album from schoolgirl favorite Bruno Mars, Stewart complained, Mars has been too “vanilla,” too “edgeless,” too “mild to the point of being dead,” and hence he’s “too amiable to give these songs any real misogynistic bite.”
But Stewart is pleased this is “not your mother’s Bruno Mars album,” since she can approve of a song with lyrics about getting drunk, snorting cocaine, and making love like zoo animals (and wouldn’t you enjoy ten-year-old girls repeating the lyrics?):
For one thing, there’s the song “Gorilla,” on which the formerly mild-to-the-point-of-possibly-being-dead Mars maps out a night of romance. It begins with “a body full of liquor with a cocaine kicker” and ends with “you and me/Making love like gorillas.” Anyone who has spent any amount of time watching Animal Planet would not find this much of an inducement, but hear him out: “Gorilla,” for all its awfulness, is just the sort of image shifter Mars needs.
It used to be that there wasn’t much to know about Mars, except that he was very good at singing charming, edgeless, hip-hop-flavored ballads while wearing a variety of jaunty hats. His platinum-plus debut, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans,” earned Mars comparisons to fellow vanilla-flavored Hawaiian balladeer Jack Johnson, mostly because there didn’t seem to be much else to say about him.
Mars apparently needs to be on the wrong side of the police to help his image with the youth: "But a post-success arrest for cocaine possession added subtle bad-boy shadings to Mars’s image, and while 'Jukebox' doesn’t take full advantage of the shift, it does kick the tires a little."