I’m a big fan for classic soul and R&B, especially the Stax and Muscle Shoals sound. I’ve also become a fan of the neo-soul sounds of artists like Ryan Shaw and Raphael Saadiq. Until earlier this year, though, I’d basically ignored Bruno Mars, dismissing him as just another disposable pop guy. That changed after I saw his James Brown inspired performance of “Runaway Baby” at this year’s Grammy Awards. I thought it was the most entertaining thing I saw all night and immediately checked out his 2010 debut, Doo-Wops & Hooligans.

Two years later, Mars is getting ready to release the follow-up, Unorthodox Jukebox, in December. But last night he dropped the record’s first single, “Locked Out of Heaven”. This track lures me in almost immediately with its funky bass, drum, guitar beat and when the songs sticks to that, I dig it. But it loses me in the choruses & bridge when it gets hijacked by keyboards and synths. Still, it’s a fun song, and it gives me just enough to want to check out the album. You’ll be able to check Mars out on October 20 when he pulls double duty as the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. For now, you can have a listen to “Locked Out of Heaven” below, and let us know what you think.

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