Mars’ ’24K Magic’ feeds on rape culture

Sam Malone

Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic” plowed its way to receiving six Grammy nominations as he opens his third studio album with autotune vocals which kick immediately into his classically catchy and driven beats.

Of those six, the album climbed its way to a nomination for the coveted Album of the Year award where it lands as possibly the most toe-tapping collection of music on the list. With tracks that will ring in listeners’ ears long after they finish the album, the music has its perks, but the sexist themes presented throughout seem like a step back into the 1950s.

Objectifying lyrics like, “what you got a man? I don’t see you with him,” and “you gotta get up, don’t be stingy with your big ol’ butt,” project a strong womanizing attitude on “Perm,” the album’s third track.

Despite this disappointing attitude, the music behind the words is punchy and driven making the album reminiscent of the nauseous excitement which follows a carnival ride. Looking past the ego-driven lyrics, the melodies shoot from Mars’ lips demanding listeners sing along.

With a rainbow of background instruments following many of the songs, synthesizers and horns add bursts of color throughout the album on tracks like “Perm” and title track, “24K Magic.” Reflecting an old R&B pop style, the melodic raindrop patterns of the synthesizers take Mars’ album from a lyrically driven, sexist piece of trash to a disrespectful, yet well done piece of art.

Contributing to the redeeming qualities of the album is the immense amount of auxiliary percussion featured on songs like “Finesse,” the album’s eighth track. “Finesse” opens with a brief drum introduction, taking listeners to a hypnotic state of mind as more sprinkles of flavor are dropped in one by one.

Slowing things down to highlight his voice, but not enough to jump off of his ego-driven rampage, Mars mixes up the catchy summer hits with “Straight Up & Down” and “Too Good to Say Goodbye.” “Straight Up & Down” would be a good highlight of what Mars can do, except for the fact he ruins the track by romanticizing the objectification of women.

“Take it nice and slow, let me watch while you turn around,” Mars sings in the pre-chorus as if he were prince charming when, in reality, he is spewing sexism all over the record. “Just back it up on me girl right now, right now.”

“Too Good to Say Goodbye” closes the album in a contradiction to every other message it has projected at this point and, ironically, a contradiction in itself. Suddenly, a soft piano melody takes over as Mars falls to his knees admitting his flaws and begging for a second chance— something seeming too little, too late now that he’s made his muse aware he’s a gift to women everywhere and doesn’t need her.

If music aficionados can look past the disgusting attitude of “24K Magic,” they can see why it’s been nominated for Album of the Year, but a win for Mars would mean a loss for women and another excuse for rape culture to continue. Musically, yes, it is a piece of art displaying catchy melodies and an abundance of flavor, but from an inside look, the theme is disastrous—kind of like biting into a donut without being told it’s jelly-filled.