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Song Analysis Project (Due Monday, April 20th by 11:59 pm)

Essay (3 pages), worth 150 points


2 Outside Sources Minimum Required
Description:
Choose any song from popular music within the past 10 years and identify three (3)
influences on this song from throughout the history of popular music. These
influences could take various forms, such as a certain music genre, stylistic
element, or particular artist. With each element you identify, elaborate on how and
why you feel this genre/style/person is informing the song.
BE SPECIFIC. For example: Perhaps the singer is borrowing vocal techniques from an
earlier artist, or the instrumental texture sounds similar to an earlier band. Maybe
you identify an allusion or quotation to a specific song by an earlier artist. If digital
beats or sampling techniques are used, as in hip hop, you might name and describe
the particular songs being sampled, which parts of the song, and why you think the
artist or DJ made that decision. You might pick a song by a band that incorporates
an amalgam of styles, pulling from genres such as blues, funk, psychedelic rock,
folk, EDM, etc. In addition, you could also focus on the lyrics, noting textual allusions
to earlier songs, or even to poetry, literature, pop culture and social issues.
In short, the assignment is open-ended. The goal is to serve as a culmination to the
course, allowing you to exhibit what you have learned this semester by applying
knowledge in a way that requires creative thinking. It is an exercise in critical
thinking and critical listening, and reflects one aim of this course, which is to enable
you to listen to popular music with a contextualizing, historically informed ear. And
hopefully you find it fun, too!

Notes to use somewhere:


His current release, Unorthodox Jukebox, infuses styles of dance, reggae rock, and even balladry.

All of Bruno Marss artistic influences have been wide ranging.

Clearly, we can see that Mars picks up an array of musical ideas from other artists in the past century.
Good music has direct access to the emotions. Why music affects us. Music appreciation.
Important to listen with an historically informed musical ear.
Good wordsis the song urban? Stylistic like who? Does he borrow theatrical elements from Michael Jackson?
Vocals ranging from laid back to robotic. Who did he borrow vocal techniques from.

Music has history and todays top artists become memorable by finding a unique sound
that reinvents and blends the music they love. Bruno Mars became a star by creating a trademark
sound that shows a clear appreciation of his musical heroes. From his first single Just the Way
You Are, to his current hit sensation Uptown Funk, Bruno Mars has done an exceptional job
of transforming himself into an artist of mixed styles and genre and becoming the product of his
role models. As such, Bruno Mars songs clearly borrow from the talents of James Taylor,
Prince, Elvis Presley, The Police, and of courseMichael Jackson.
Peter Gene Hernandez was born October 8, 1985 and professionally goes by his stage
name Bruno Mars. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, he is an American singer/songwriter
who has risen to fame by reinterpreting the music of the 80s. All of Bruno Marss artistic
influences have been wide ranging. By blending pop, R&B, soul, and hip-hop, Mars has
displayed a broad variety of musical styles in each of his songs and albums. The song that I feel
most clearly represents Bruno Mars is the song Locked Out of Heaven because it blends
different styles of funk, soul, and pop which shows the massive array of musical styles Mars is
capable of preforming.
This song mixes the genres of funk and pop to form a new and exciting and modern single
that makes you want to get up and dance. Released October 1, 2012, "Locked Out of Heaven"
caught the attention of America, bringing it to the top of the charts. "Locked Out of Heaven," is a
reggae rock song influenced by new wave and funk. The song was well received by critics and
was described as "smooth" and "sweet. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy was positive, giving the
song a rating of 5 out of 5 stars, praising the "80s-styled funk beats and wildly infectious
percussion." After two of Mars earlier songs were released, Just the Way You Are and

Grenade, he wanted to create something new and unexpected that showed the album represents
his freedom. Mars also stated that The Police (a rock, new wave, and post- punk band from
England), influenced him to write the song. As some critics say the song is a rip-off of
"Roxanne" by The Police, it is actually a tribute. He says, "Hell yeah! You try to write a Police
song! I grew up listening to The Police, I grew up performing in bars, singing Police songs ... I
remember performing a song like "Roxanne", and you play those first couple of chords, and you
hit that first note, and you watch the whole bar ignite. And as an artist, as a songwriter, it's like
'Man, I want to write a song that makes people's eyes explode the first chord! In addition to
influences from The Police, Tim Sendra of AllMusic described the song as "a breezy mash up
of Michael Jacksons "Beat It."
Stemming off that, Michael Jackson is another one of Bruno Mars songs Locked out of
Heaven main influences. From his Motown'sdancefareandballads,totechnoandswing,
Jacksonstrivedtocreateworkthatincorporatesbothfunkrhythmsandhardrockguitar.Asyou
canseeinmanyofBrunoMarsothersongs,healsotakesthesetechniquesofJacksonand
changesthemintohisownpopversion.Bothartistsuseloudinstrumentationintheirsongs,
whichcreatesafunkanddiscofeel.NewYorkTimesnotedthatonsometracks,"Jacksongulps
forbreath,hisvoicequiverswithanxietyordropstoadesperatewhisper,hissingthrough
clenchedteeth"andhehada"wretchedtone."Inthesong"Locked Out of Heaven", Bruno was
like "we need a dep-dep-dep-dep sound," Ari Levine recalls. I said, Sing it into the microphone
and then Ill chop it up. It sounds like its an instrument, but its really his voice.
As this comparison shows, both artists choose to use their vocal ranges as interments of
their own. While Michael Jackson creates songs of balladry i.e. Remember the Time, to songs
of upbeat funk i.e. Beat it, Mars does the same thing when relating the ballad of, Just the Way

you are to Locked Out of Heaven. Likewise, Jacksons theatrical persona on stage greatly
inspires the way Mars preformed in his music video to Locked out of Heaven.
Most people are influenced by the music they hear in their childhood. Bruno Mars grew
up a big fan of the great Elvis Presley. He stated in a recent interview, "I watch the best. I'm a big
fan of Elvis. I'm a big fan of 1950s Elvis when he would go on stage and scare people because he
was a force and girls would go nuts! You can say the same thing for Prince or The Police. Its just
guys who know that people are here to see a show, so I watch those guys and I love studying
them because I'm a fan."
Mars imitates Elvis in terms of his stage presence. Through taking command on the stage,
both artists give off their music not just through hearing it, but through watching it as well. In
addition, both Elvis and Brunos performances contain unique dance moves.
The song Locked Out of Heaven can affect listeners in various ways. On one hand,
Marss goal for writing this song was to just present a cheerful and up-beat tune to get audiences
excited and on their feet. To achieve this goal, stylistic elements include the use of percussion
interments, electric guitar, and loud vocals, all which help create an old school and funk-like
harmony. On the other hand, Mars uses his lyrics to send a message about how he is feeling
within his current relationship. "Never had much faith in love or miracles...Never want to put my
heart on the line." This part of the song is stating that he been hurt before and doesn't want to
hurt again. Subsequently, he has now met someone he loves so much that he's willing to let down
his guard. Doing so makes him feel amazing and they can't get enough of each other. He can't get
enough of sharing a piece of heaven with her, whether it be physically or emotionally. When he
says, "Open up your gates cause I can't wait to see the light"...again, Bruno is showing that
letting down your guard and becoming vulnerable is the only way to be loved completely.

Basically he was never in love before now he is. Being with this person is making him think
twice about being a sinner, or in other words reverting back to being the player he once was. He
is so elated about this new love that he feels as though he is in paradise and in this case,
paradise equals heaven. For he was once locked out of love and fairytales (not believing in
them), now he appears to be in love heaven. Listeners are able to connect to this by relating
their own love lives and maybe have experience similar feelings to that of Brunos.
Clearly, we can see that Mars picks up an array of musical ideas from other artists in the
past century but he is not the only one. Good music has direct access to the emotions and affects
each and every one of us by appealing to how we are feeling, thus helping us to relate to the
artist. Many do not appreciate or understand the influence that music has on people but we need
to in order to see a different side of the music industry. Music builds on itself over time and the
modern artists we see today all take influences and inspirations from the musical geniuses before
them. Similarly, it is extremely important to listen with a historically informed musical ear in
order to understand the specifics of why artists do certain things they do i.e. adding in
instruments or playing in a specific ABAB structure. All in all, it is apparent that Bruno Mars in
particular likes to look forward by looking back.