Unorthodox Jukebox

Music review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
Unorthodox Jukebox Music Poster Image
More great R&B from Mars, but more mature than first album.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 9 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

Bruno Mars' sophomore album lives in a dark world of love gone wrong, casual -- and sometimes drug-fueled -- sex, and greed. There are a couple of relatively sweet love songs, such as the soul ballad "If I Knew," but they're drastically outnumbered by more cynical ones.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters that populate these songs include wronged lovers, gold diggers, and sex addicts. There may be some lovelorn sentiments that listeners will identify with, but there's little or nothing for young people to emulate.

Violence

The drug- and alcohol-fueled sex that goes on throughout "Gorilla" is consensual, but the woman "banging on my chest/ bang bang gorilla" and the suggestion that the neighbors might call the cops give the song a violent tone. In "Natalie," the singer's lover has betrayed him, and the lyrics say "She better run" and "Better make sure to lock her door/ Cause once I get my hands on her, Imma ooohh."

Sex

Most of the songs have some degree of sexual content, from isolated lines like "Your sex takes me to paradise" ("Locked out of Heaven") or "There's sex in your chemicals" ("Moonshine") to the extreme example, "Gorilla," in which the characters have wild drug- and booze-fueled sex throughout the song, and Mars sings lyrics such as "You've got your legs up in the sky with the devil in your eyes" and "You're screaming give it to me, baby." The opening track, "Young Girls" is sung from the point of view of a sex addict who can't get enough of young girls.

Language

"Gorilla" has a few mentions of "f--k," including "motherf--ker." The song "Treasure" begins with a distorted spoken voice saying, "Baby squirrel you's a sexy motherf--ker"; if that track becomes a single, the line can simply be edited out for radio or a clean version. "Natalie," about a two-faced lover who stole from the singer, says "Telling everyone I'm diggin' a ditch for this gold-diggin' bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's only one explicit drug and alcohol reference on this album, but it's intense: "Ooh I got a bottle full of liquor with a cocaine kicker and I'm feeling like I'm thirty feet tall/ So lay it down, lay it down/ You got your legs up in the sky with the devil in your eyes/ Let me hear you say you want it all."

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that R&B talent Bruno Mars' sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox is different from his debut, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, in terms of content.  That first record had some racy moments and references to casual sex, but generally exuded a lot of romantic love. Unorthodox Jukebox, on the other hand, has a nicely varied musical palette of ballads and uptempo dance songs, but exists in a cynical universe of gold-digging women, brokenhearted fools, and sex addicts. The opener, "Young Girls" is sung from the point of view of someone who can't get enough of "young wild girls." "Gorilla" is about sex fueled by cocaine and booze and includes a few curse words ("f--cking," "mother f--ker"). "Treasure" has one "motherf--cker," and in "Natalie" the singer is furious at a "gold-diggin' bitch." The album is best for older teens and up.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 5, 13, and 17 year old Written bymandrade3g May 6, 2014

Not Child Friendly

This album is not for kids under 18. It has many songs that are sexual in nature. There are two songs that are sexually explicit. There are many times where I... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Euphoric User January 25, 2013

His Best Album for This Time

Unorthodox Jukebox definitely isn't one for kids. Just, no. But the songs are very altered from Bruno's past makings, they're like songs from the... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old February 2, 2013

Sex-fueled vintage hits

The entire album is sex-fueled. Tracks 1, 2, 3, and 8 are about some kind of sex or sex addictions. F**k and b**ch appear a lot. But the music returns to vint... Continue reading

What's the story?

UNORTHODOX JUKEBOX is the second full-length release from R&B artist/composer Bruno Mars. The 10 varied tracks include vintage soul ballads ("If I Knew"), sultry grooves ("Gorilla"), and uptempo dance and disco tunes ("Locked out of Heaven," "Treasure"). Lyrically, the material is fairly dark and occasionally sexually disturbing -- particularly the song "Gorilla," in which a sexual encounter is fueled by "a bottle full of liquor with a cocaine kicker." Before the album's release, two singles, "Young Girls" and "Locked out of Heaven" had already been on the Billboard Top 40 charts awhile, rising to No. 36 and No. 4, respectively.

Is it any good?

Bruno Mars' sophomore album is just not as easy to love as his previous album, Doowops & Hooligans. The productions and arrangements are varied and well- crafted, as uptempo dance songs are balanced with R&B and soul ballads, reggae rhythms, and slow grooves. And Mars is a compelling performer with almost Michael Jackson-like flexibility as a dancer and singer. However, the tone of these lyrics -- full of betrayal, cheap sex, and sadness -- is brutally dark and cynical. Then again, fans should probably expect the unexpected from one of the co-writers of Cee-Lo Green's "F**ck You."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the sexual encounters on this release, particularly in the song "Gorilla." What is the album's point of view toward sex and relationships? Parents, talk to teens about your own values when it comes to these topics.

  • How does Unorthodox Jukebox differ in content and tone from Bruno Mars' previous release, Doowops & Hooligans? Which do you prefer, and why?

  • How does the character in the song "Young Girls" feel about himself?

Music details

  • Artist: Bruno Mars
  • Release date: December 11, 2012
  • Type: Album
  • Label: Atlantic
  • Genre: R&B
  • Topics: Adventures
  • Parental advisory: Yes
  • Edited version available: Yes

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