The Bottom Line
"Gorilla" sounds like Bruno Mars' self-conscious effort to recapture the musical spirit of Prince's arena sized ballad "Purple Rain." Lyrically he is looking for an erotic connection as well. The problem is listeners are likely to remain unconvinced or even turned off.
- Arena pop production
- Bruno Mars' crooning
- Tasteless lyrics and concept
- Written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine
- Produced by The Smeezingtons, Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie, and Mark Ronson
- Released September 2013 by Atlantic
Guide Review - Bruno Mars - "Gorilla"
Bruno Mars' #1 hit album Unorthodox Jukebox is filled with songs heavily influenced by classic pop music of the 1970s and 1980s. "Gorilla" feels like an homage to Prince, but it leaves a crucial element behind. With the words about alcohol and cocaine fueled rough sex, it is difficult to see the song as truly erotic. Prince has always drawn listeners into a sensuous, forbidden erotic world, but here Bruno Mars makes us hope his lover can escape from her "Gorilla."
Musically, "Gorilla" feels grandiose and Bruno Mars' crooning is appealing. The pounding keyboards and crunchy guitar will invite a live audience to sway along in time to the music. However, it is impossible for listeners to escape from the imagery of gorillas having animalistic sex in the zoo. Bruno Mars briefly soars into falsetto range to make the Prince comparison even more obvious.
The problem here is not one of concept but one of taste. The history of pop music is filled with successful efforts to push the limits of erotic possibility in a song. However, "Gorilla" pushes in a direction of tastelessness. Bruno Mars is looking for a fourth top 10 from Unorthodox Jukebox. He may well achieve that mark, but a bit of the shine has worn off his repertoire.