Throwback Review: “Doo Wops And Hooligans” by Bruno Mars

The pop star’s 2010 debut is full of songs that create something new from familiar influences. 12 years later, it still holds up.


Bruno Mars’s 2010 debut combines elements of pop, funk, R&B, rock and other styles to create music both familiar and unlike any other artist before him.

Bruno Mars has been an iconic figure in pop culture for some time now, having released some of the biggest songs of the past decade, and is one of the loudest voices in pop music, neo soul, and R&B. 

However, everyone has to start somewhere. It just so happens that Mars started his career with arguably the most defining pop album of the early 2010’s. Released on Oct. 5, 2010, “Doo Wops and Hooligans” was Bruno Mars’ first studio album. Cover to cover it is filled to the brim with iconic hooks, infectious instrumentals, and even 12 years later it is still just as fresh as the day it came out. 

Any conversation about Bruno Mars has to start with the vocals. Bruno has always been known for his great singing ability, although, on this record it doesn’t feel as though they get a front seat. Granted, later in his career he would put more focus on them (perhaps a symptom of experience), but on this record, while not bad by any means, they are not the focus. With that being said, Bruno’s vocals on “Grenade” are brilliant, making the song a shining moment on the album. 

Equal parts heartbreak and love, the writing done by the trio of Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Ari Levine is predictably catchy, with almost every song being a chart topper across the world. Songs like “Just The Way You Are”, the aforementioned “Grenade” and of course “The Lazy Song” are known across the globe as certified classics, with the album as a whole being seven times platinum in the United States, nine times platinum in New Zealand, and platinum in Brazil, Italy, and Japan respectively. 

Production on this album is also a distinct factor in its success worldwide. Drawing inspirations from American pop, reggae, funk, R&B and even rock in some cases, instrumentation done by the previously mentioned trio of Mars, Lawrence, and Levine (known collectively as “The Smeezingtons”) is timeless with influences like Micheal Jackson, Kanye West, Little Richard, and Shakira. However, the many pieces are molded together very well, flowing through the project making for easy listening that doesn’t come off as unorganized. Particularly on songs like “Talking To The Moon” and “Runaway Baby” the production, while simplistic, manages to feel unique and shines in its role of giving the emotions of the music even more depth. 

55,000 release week sales, a debut at number three on the Billboard 200, a Super Bowl halftime show performance and multiple grammy nominations (and a win) later, “Doo Wops and Hooligans” is a classic pop record that began the career of one of the most celebrated artists in recent history. I can’t recommend this one enough for someone looking for a nostalgic trip.