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Music Reviews

MPAA Rating
Unorthodox Jukebox
Hit No. 1.
Record Label
October 1, 2012
Adam R. Holz
Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars

"Locked Out of Heaven"

Sometimes when you're listening to a new song, lyrics here or there might hint at something suggestive. But at the same time, the songwriter has played things just coyly enough to make it uncertain whether a particular artist is really singing about sex … or just singing words that happen to work as a double entendre for those whose minds accidentally drift in the wrong direction.

Bruno Mars doesn't succumb to such sly misdirection on "Locked Out of Heaven." He begins with all sorts of spiritual language on this first single from his sophomore album, Unorthodox Jukebox. But it soon becomes apparent that he's much more interested in the flesh than the spirit. In fact, he's only interested in the flesh.

"Locked Out of Heaven" finds Mars borrowing heavily from the '80s, thanks to the track's Police-meets-Michael Jackson pop-reggae vibe. But since no pop song worth its salt these days would be complete without nods to the increasingly dominant electronic dance music scene, there are plenty of synth-strut flourishes as well. And it's all in the service of a song imagining paradise completely in sexual terms.

The closest he gets to subtle—and it's not—is the third line in the first verse: "Swimming in your water is something spiritual." After that, there's no wondering what Bruno's singing about. "I'm born again every time you spend the night," he tells a woman in the last line of that stanza before launching into this unambiguous chorus: "'Cause your sex takes me to paradise/Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise/ … 'Cause you make me feel like I've been locked out of heaven/For too long."

Heaven, then, equals sex. End of discussion. Or, actually, I only wish it was the end of the discussion. There's more to document here when it comes to the kinds of concepts Mars manhandles.

Lustfully, he continues to unpack his carnal urges by way of spiritual phrases. "You bring me to my knees/You make me testify," he exults. "You can make a sinner change his ways." And then this seriously sensual zinger: "Open up your gates, 'cause I can't wait to see the light/And right there is where I wanna stay."

The song's video alternates between Mars performing in front of dancing, drinking fans and hanging out with the band as we watch them laugh and carry on and smoke and gamble, among other things. We also repeatedly glimpse two women kissing and caressing each other.

All the while, Mars just keeps singing and smiling, "Your sex takes me to paradise."