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Track Review

"You can call it my first single, but I call it the invitation to the party," Bruno Mars recently said of the debut hit from his latest album.

I can't argue with Bruno Mars' description of "24K Magic." The title track from his third album picks up right where his 2015 collaboration with Mark Ronson, "Uptown Funk," left off. Mars once again brings the funk and the '80s synths, this time seasoning those styles with a dollop of disco.

The result is an admittedly catchy, hedonistic confection. Like a paper cone smothered with pink-'n'-fluffy cotton candy, it might taste sweet going down. But it's got about as much nutritional value as cotton candy too, and it's likely to leave anyone who eats too much of it with a stomach ache.

Life: A Perpetual Party

To judge by the lyrics of this song, Bruno Mars and his band pledge allegiance to exactly one thing: the party, the party and nothing but the party. Life is about having a good time—perpetually. And that's it. Genius.com describes the song as a "braggadocious party anthem." And that's exactly right. No more, no less. "Tonight," Mars begins, "I just want to take you higher/Throw your hands up in the sky/Let's set this party off right."

The song's title refers to the jewelry bedecking those skyward-thrusted hands. "Players, put yo' pinky rings up to the moon/Girls, what y'all trying to do?/Twenty-four karat magic in the air."

Bruno, of course, is eager to let everyone know that his party will be the best ever … because he's there. "Pop, pop, it's show time/Show time/Guess who's back again?" Obviously, this is a rhetorical question. "I bet they know soon as we walk in (showin' up)/Wearing Cuban links (ya)/Designer minks (ya)/Inglewood's finest shoes (whoop, whoop)."

For those who haven't gotten the point yet, Mr. Mars presses on, profanely. "Ooh, s---! I'm a dangerous man with some money in pocket." And, of course, where's there's money, gold and a nonstop braggadocious rager going on, well, the ladies can't be too far behind. They aren't. "So many pretty girls around me, and they keep waking up the rocket." (The latter line likely being a not-so-subtle double entendre.)

Hustlas, Gangstas and … Jesus?

Mars wants everyone to have a good time at his gilded soiree. "Second verse for the hustlas," he announces, as well as, "Gangstas/Bad b--ches and ya' ugly a-- friends (Ha ha!)." That, apparently, is supposed to make everyone feel welcome.

But there's one other unexpected guest who shows up, too. "Spend your money like it ain't s---," Bruno brags, "We too fresh/Got to blame it on Jesus/Hashtag blessed."

Not sure, exactly, why Jesus takes the rap for Bruno's party prowess and blazing bling, but there He is right in the midst of it.

From there, it's just more of the same. "Everywhere I go they be like/Ooh, so player, ooh!" In other words, it's Bruno Mars' magical, gold-plated world, and we're just living in it.

As for the song's video, Bruno and his boys are indeed fly as they romp around Las Vegas, drinks in hand, alternately dancing and partying inside casinos and out after deplaning from their private Lear Jet. As is often the case with these kinds of songs, a horde of women wearing little and less undulate and shimmy suggestively around the singer throughout. Bruno—and the camera—repeatedly ogles and objectifies twerking, thong-clad backsides and barely covered frontsides.

Bruno's convinced his gold-plated life is the good life here. But what happens when the party's over? That's a question the song's not really interested in asking … or answering.

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October 7, 2016

On Video

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Adam R. Holz

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