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Best Bruno Mars Songs: 20 Hits From The Uptown Funk Master
List & Guides

Best Bruno Mars Songs: 20 Hits From The Uptown Funk Master

From retro-soul party anthems to come-to-bed ballads, the best Bruno Mars songs prove he’s a master of crafting unbeatably catchy pop hits.

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Ever since he first burst onto the music scene, in 2010, Bruno Mars has lit up the charts with his playful and diverse songwriting excursions into pop, R&B and even reggae. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1985, the Uptown Funk hitmaker has not only become one of the most successful artists of all time, selling over 130 million records worldwide to date, but the best Bruno Mars songs have proven him to be remarkably adept at putting a completely fresh take on the sounds of the past.

Mining the songwriting tricks of 60s and 70s tunesmiths – from smooth-tongued soul brothers to funk-loving playboys – Mars has managed to appease both fans and critics alike while following in the footsteps of his idols Prince and Michael Jackson. The best Bruno Mars songs prove exactly how he’s managed it…

Listen to the best of Bruno Mars here, and check out our best Bruno Mars songs, below.

20: Young Girls (from ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’, 2012)

Delightfully hooky with some winsome synths, Young Girls saw Bruno Mars address those “bright-eyed honeys” falling at his feet following his rise to fame. As it happens, it all got a bit too much for him. “There’s a moment in your life where you start going out every night, and it’s so fun, but then you start to lose yourself; you get lost in the sauce,” he told MTV News, comparing the song’s sentiment to the one in singer Johnny Lee’s 1980 country hit Lookin’ For Love. “It’s another confession,” Mars added. Released as single in November 2013, almost a year after the release of its parent album, Unorthodox Jukebox, Young Girls would go on to peak at No.32 in the US.

19: Count On Me (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

With gentle acoustic backing tailor-made for the Mediterranean strip, the tropical folk-pop charmer Count On Me was released as the sixth and final single from Mars’ debut album, Doo Wops & Hooligans. While only reaching No.78 in the UK, it cracked the Top 10 in Portugal and Spain thanks to its Jason Mraz-esque flavour, coasting in on a message of loyalty and friendship that brought out Mars’ heart-warming side. Following the Typhoon Haiyan disaster in the Philippines, he even donated the song to a charity album in order to help raise funds for the relief effort.

18: Gorilla (from ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’, 2013)

Peaking at No.22 in the US, Gorilla was released as the fourth single from Unorthodox Jukebox, with the sole intention of encouraging listeners to beat their chests like it’s mating season. With all the carnality of gorillas in the wild, Mars said the lyrics were “about good old animalistic sex” while under the influence of illicit aphrodisiacs. “The song needs a sense of danger,” he admitted. “When I was a kid, pop could be dangerous but still massive. Michael Jackson would grab his crotch. Prince would rock assless chaps. With this album, I wanna let loose.” Delivering like only the best Bruno Mars songs can, Gorillas proves he did just that.

17: Runaway Baby (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

A funk-soul firecracker interwoven with doo-wop touches, Runaway Baby become a UK Top 20 hit after Bruno Mars and his band wowed audiences during a blistering performance on the UK’s X Factor. Often channelling James Brown during its kinetic dance breakdown, Runaway Baby brings out the best in Bruno Mars during his live shows. Ostensibly about a playboy cultivating an addiction to breaking hearts, the song was a highlight from Doo Wops & Hooligans, and it proudly wears its 50s R&B influences on its sleeve.

16: Please Me (with Cardi B) (standalone single, 2019)

Best seen as part of Bruno Mars’ infatuation with 90s R&B, this team-up with Cardi B – Mars’ second collaboration with the Bronx-based rapper – begs to be heard. Overtly sexual, with Mars imploring Cardi to give into temptation, Please Me samples Jodeci’s 1995 R&B hit Freek’n You and showcased the pair’s sizzling chemistry in a promo video Mars co-directed with Florent Dechard. Peaking at No.5 in the US and No.12 in the UK, the song sparkles with such authentic sensuality that it’s hard to deny it a place among the best Bruno Mars songs.

15: It Will Rain (from ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1’ soundtrack, 2011)

Co-written with his production team The Smeezingtons for inclusion on the soundtrack to The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1, It Will Rain helped give the vampiric love story some extra bite. “I think the best way to describe the song is: it’s the darker side of love. I think that pretty much sums it up,” Mars told Billboard Magazine. Upon its release, in September 2011, It Will Rain reached No.3 in the US and No.14 in the UK, and introduced Mars to an ever-growing audience of “Twihards”.

14: Liquor Store Blues (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

Though a music video was made to accompany its release, the pop-reggae stormer Liquor Store Blues never actually charted, but it’s hard to deny its appeal among the best Bruno Mars songs, thanks in part to an appearance by Bob Marley’s son and Welcome To Jamrock star Damian Marley. “Being from Hawaii, the Marleys are royalty,” Mars told 4music, praising Damian for keeping his father’s Rastafarian flame alight. “I thought it would be a dream come true if I could get one of my idols to be on this song.”

13: Versace On The Floor (from ‘24K Magic’, 2017)

Namechecking the famous Italian fashion label while channelling the slow-jam spirit of 90s R&B with a grinding rhythm, Versace On The Floor reached No.33 in the US following its release as a single in June 2017, and it caught Mars on typically seductive form (“Let’s just kiss ’til we’re naked, baby/Versace on the floor”). “At a certain point,” Mars told Rolling Stone magazine, “I needed to stop telling you, ‘We’re gonna get down,’ and just get down.”

12: The Lazy Song (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

Again exploring his love of reggae, The Lazy Song began as a fun distraction during recording sessions in which Mars claims he was trying hard to out-do The Fab Four. “We were trying to make a song that was better than The Beatles,” he said in an MTV News interview. “We were trying to be magical and historic.” Emerging as one of the best Bruno Mars songs, The Lazy Song gifted the singer a UK No.1 for his trouble. “When you’re overshooting, you get the worst work,” Mars concluded. “When you’re relaxed, you have your best. I’m a light kind of guy.”

11: Finesse (Remix) (featuring Cardi B) (standalone single, 2018)

After meeting backstage following one of his shows, Mars invited Cardi B to collaborate on a remix of Finesse – an album cut from 24K Magic – that fused all the much-loved elements of new jack swing. Creating a danceable R&B-tinted throwback, the music video alone fizzled with nostalgia, with Mars and Cardi dancing in a studio set inspired by 90s US TV show In Living Color. “Anytime you see us, on tour, on TV, I want to be moving,” Mars told Rolling Stone. “I was very conscious on this album of the bounce.”

10: Marry You (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

As any songwriter will tell you, you can never go wrong with a wedding song. Marry You – the fifth single from Doo Wops & Hooligans – peaked at No.11 in the UK upon its release as a single in August 2011, and was intended to give newly-engaged lovers something to swoon to. One of the best Bruno Mars songs, it was reportedly inspired by boozy nights spent in Las Vegas, where Mars almost felt that he could unexpectedly wake up with a new wife. “We wanted to capture that feeling and put it in a song,” he said, enlisting the tried-and-true artistry of the best 60s songs to get the job done.

9: Treasure (from ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’, 2013)

Venturing into disco, the upbeat pop single Treasure was a vivacious burst of energy that took Mars to No.5 in the UK No.12 in the US. Produced by his longstanding friends The Smeezingtons, Treasure glistens like a rotating mirrorball, blinding listeners with a poptastic zest for life unlike anything else in the charts. “This is me locking myself in the studio and being free recording whatever it is I want to record,” Mars said in a VH1 interview. “Just being inspired by all different styles of music, and isn’t that what music should be?”

8: Grenade (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

A lung-bursting love song, the 2010 single Grenade saw Mars explode into the pop charts, reaching No.1 on both sides of the Atlantic. Toying with power-pop chord changes, Mars sings of heartbreak and how his attempts to win a lover’s favour – short of putting a bullet in his head – are all in vain. Alarmingly, the popularity of Grenade led to a spate of fake grenades being thrown on stage during Mars’ live shows. “At first it was cute,” he told The Idolator. “Now it’s beginning to spook my band out!”

7: Leave The Door Open (as Silk Sonic) (from ‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’, 2021)

Not one to let a global pandemic stop him, Mars spent most of the COVID-19 lockdown holed up with rapper Anderson .Paak, with whom he now moonlights as Silk Sonic, a songwriting vehicle with which the duo explored their love of 60s and 70s soul and R&B. Lushly composed with a velvety touch, their first single, Leave The Door Open, met with acclaim upon its release in March 2021, peaking at No.1 in the US and adding a new dimension to the best Bruno Mars songs. Showcasing Mars’ passion for Philadelphia soul, and with the singer donning leisure suits and flared collars in its delightfully retro music video, Leave The Door Open would go on to win both Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year at the Grammy Awards in 2022.

6: That’s What I Like (from ‘24K Magic’, 2016)

The second single released from 24K Magic, That’s What I Like outdid the success of its predecessor by scoring Mars yet another US No.1. Produced by The Stereotypes, the song wound its way round all the touchstones shared by hip-hop, R&B and new jack swing, and went on to win Song Of The Year at the Grammys in 2018. Naturally, That’s What I Like Was Mars’ brainchild, as Stereotypes bandmate Ray Romulus recounted to ABC Radio: “He just portrayed how he wanted things to move… it was a full collaborative effort and it was basically like a party.”

5: When I Was Your Man (from ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’, 2013)

Crafting a break-up song to rival those by 70s songsmiths such as Billy Joel and Elton John, the 2013 single When I Was Your Man found the Hawaiian songwriter at his most masterful, instantly asserting itself as one of the best Bruno Mars songs. “That came from the gut,” he told Rolling Stone. “It’s the most honest, real thing I’ve ever sang.” Despite wanting to steer clear of ballads, When I Was Your Man was an essential cut on Unorthodox Jukebox, scoring Mars further chart success by peaking at No.1 in the US and No.2 in the UK.

4: 24K Magic (from ‘24K Magic’, 2016)

Lifting his pinkie ring to the moon, Bruno Mars took to Instagram in October 2016 to tease the release of 24K Magic, the lead single from his third album. “You can call it my first single,” he wrote, “but I call it the invitation to the party.” Boasting the swagger of 90s hip-hop and the danceability of contemporary R&B, 24K Magic was a joyous and instantaneous pop pleasure which rocketed its way to No.4 in the US and No.5 in the UK. “What I hope I can bring to the table,” Mars said in an interview with BET, “is that pure joy.” With lyrics touting him as a Las Vegas playboy, and a G-funk vocoder part recalling Roger Troutman’s appearance on 2Pac’s California Love, 24K Magic would go onto win Record Of The Year at the Grammys in 2018.

3: Uptown Funk (with Mark Ronson) (from ‘Uptown Special’, 2014)

Despite being initiated by the horn-toting Amy Winehouse producer Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars’ fingerprints are all over the party banger Uptown Funk. Evoking Prince’s “Minneapolis sound” as well as the disco strut of The Gap Band (Oops Up Side Your Head), Uptown Funk was the result of a lot of to-ing and fro-ing between Mars and Ronson, but the pair’s unrelenting perfectionism helped it become one of the best Bruno Mars songs, hitting No.1 in both the UK and the US. “The way we were doing it was so unorthodox, piece by piece,” Mars told The Wall Street Journal. “When we finally got together and picked up the instruments, we got to feel it. That’s when the superpower comes in.”

2: Locked Out Of Heaven (from ‘Unorthodox Jukebox’, 2012)

Often speaking of his love of new wave group The Police, Bruno Mars decided to put on the red light when he picked up a guitar and produced a choppy pop-rock tune of his own. “I tend to listen to a lot of guys with higher registers – Sting being one of them,” the singer admitted to MTV News, adding, “because I’ve got a high voice.” The result, Locked Out Of Heaven, was released in October 2012 as the lead single from Unorthodox Jukebox, and it soared straight to No.1 in the US and No.2 in the UK. With co-production from Mark Ronson, Locked Out Of Heaven also won Best Song at the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards, and more than deserves its place among the best Bruno Mars songs.

1: Just The Way You Are (from ‘Doo Wops & Hooligans’, 2010)

Written by Bruno Mars with The Smeezingtons, Needlz and Khalil Walton, Just The Way You Are was originally offered to R&B singer Cee-Lo Green, before Mars was persuaded to record it himself. Released as his debut solo single, the song couldn’t have made a bigger impact: a No.1 hit on both sides of the Atlantic, it was was a romantic ballad par excellence, grabbing listeners by the throat from the get-go. “I’m a big fan of simple songs,” Mars said in an interview with 4music. “When we wrote Just The Way You Are, I wasn’t thinking of anything deep or poetic. I was telling a story. Get ready to fall in love!” Instantly causing fans to fall for Bruno’s retro-pop mastery of the songwriting playbook, Just the Way You Are marked the arrival of a truly insatiable talent, and that’s why it tops our list of the best Bruno Mars songs.

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