Thursday, 3 March 2011

Life on Mars

Time for a musical interlude.

One of the great things about having teenagers in the house (and yes, there are some) is their determination to remind you that pop music did not, after all, come to an abrupt end in 1979. No car journey with my son or daughter is complete without an insistence that we listen to a sample of their latest musical discoveries on the omnipresent iPod. I suppose we should be flattered that they don’t consider our musical tastes completely beyond redemption. Cultural curmudgeon that I am, though, I mostly remain doggedly unimpressed, wearily commenting that so-and-so was doing the same kind of thing thirty years ago, only better...

But just occasionally, something will stand out and I’ll have to admit that the rumours of pop music's death may have been premature. So it is with Bruno Mars, whom my offspring claim to have discovered on Youtube long before his current rise to fame. The guy certainly can sing and he’s a hugely versatile songwriter, as his recent album demonstrates. If I had to pick a favourite track, it would be the perfectly- crafted ‘Somewhere in Brooklyn’ which, as I never tire of telling my son and daughter, is in the great tradition of romantic railway songs. Although the two are very different musically, it always makes me think of Tom Waits’ ‘Downtown Train’. Looking up the video for the latter reminded me that he, too, name-checks Brooklyn. And both Waits and Mars share a penchant for old-fashioned men's hats. A little bit of unconscious imitation going on there?

On a more kitsch and cutesy note, the other evening my son turned up this video of a 4-year-old Bruno Mars doing a stunning Elvis impersonation, and being interviewed by Jonathan Ross into the bargain. Love that lip curl.

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