Unorthodox Jukebox

Common Sense Media says

More great R&B from Mars, but more mature than first album.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable
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."

 

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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."

Families can talk 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

This review of Unorthodox Jukebox was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 10 years old February 2, 2013
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

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 vintage roots, especially in "If I Knew" and "Old And Crazy". It is really good because of this.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byThe Euphoric User January 25, 2013
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

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 80's. That's an additional why I love the album so much even with the over usage of words that describe sex, drugs, and drinking. I recommend this for everybody who's mature enough.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Kid, 11 years old April 13, 2013
AGE
15
QUALITY
 

Unexplored Themes

Unorthodox Jukebox is Bruno Mars' very unexpected album. Since he's set out an image of a romantic icon people figured that this one would be just like Doo-Wops & Hooligans, it is absolutely not. This album explores what it's actually like for the rest of the world Bruno has clearly gone through. With this second album it's, in my opinion, made to really fit its title. With ten tracks of variety it's sure to get people hooked with its 70's MJ pop and Jamaican inspired songs. Learing more about injustice with love, golddigging and sex it sure raises few red flags for younger fans. Aside from how much Unorthodox Jukebox matureness developing it's extremely favorable to just about anybody. An instant classic.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing

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