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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak’s ‘An Evening with Silk Sonic’ is great, but overhyped

The long-anticipated collaboration between Mars and .Paak shows again why they are individually revolutionary, but perhaps why their collaborative effort is not.
The Mars/.Paak collaboration project spans a short 31 minutes, with an intro and eight full-length tracks.

Nov. 13 brought us “An Evening with Silk Sonic,” the joint effort of two of the most talented artists of our generation: Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. The groovy duo now known as Silk Sonic have been hyping up this album ever since the debut single, “Leave The Door Open,” which instantly became a hit back in March 2021. The track currently sits at a whopping 627 million total streams on Spotify. For comparison, Mars’ 2010 nostalgic powerhouse “Grenade” sits at a close 675 million streams. Everything was aligned perfectly for this project to become a modern classic.

But the album is just… good. It is an entirely decent album, with a few songs impressive enough to potentially be overplayed within the next couple of days. My hesitation to call it great lies in the (over)hype that surrounded its release. A half-year’s worth of promotion and advertisement should climax in more than just a recreation of old-style R&B, no matter how good that recreation may be. But if we ignore that fact, it’s easy to say that “An Evening With Silk Sonic” is as cool as a cucumber.

After an exciting one-minute intro, we get the majestic “Leave The Door Open” as the first of eight full-length songs—and the best one at that. Nothing on this album surpasses the debut single, but that’s not a bad thing. The duo know they have a masterpiece on their hands with this one, confidently switching back and forth between Mars’ warm and sentimental voice that we’ve all come to love and .Paak’s smooth, almost conversational verses.

One track does come close to dethroning the first song, though: “Fly As Me.” A tune reminiscent of Motown beats, “Fly As Me” impressively embodies the LP’s attempt to transport us backward through music history. .Paak shines on this track, with his unique, fast-paced and cheeky aesthetic pairing perfectly with the addictively catchy chorus. “I deserve to be with somebody as fly as me,” sing the duo on said chorus, but no one is as fly as their performance on this track.

The album’s aforementioned attempt at recreating an old genre is confusing, but it’s important to note that the artists know what they are making: an ode to the music they both love. They are not claiming to achieve striking uniqueness or a revolutionary merge with modern music; they are writing a love letter to the rhythm and blues of the 70s.

“​​We’re making music to make women feel good and make people dance, and that’s it,” Mars said to .Paak, per .Paak’s conversation with Rolling Stone. And if that’s the case, I’d say they hit the bullseye.

Bruno Mars is seasoned at such attempts anyway, with his multiple Grammy-awarded “24K Magic” considered a ‘Disneyland recreation of 1986,’ per Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan, with .Paak already being known for bridging the new and the old. The commitment to this recreation was, of course, going to be admirable too, with the usage of certain drum skins and particular mic arrangements in the studio creating a bold attempt to achieve the vibe of the 70s.

After the impressive first two songs, the rest of the album maintains a steady quality of smoothness, which is a compliment to two artists who know what they’re doing. “After Last Night” is a hot and sexy ballad, “Smoking Out The Window” is dramatic and thoughtful and “Put On A Smile” is serious and grand, with Mars bringing out his well-known range and pitch.

Then we get “777,” arguably the most fun song on the project (but also in my opinion, the sloppiest), thematically a Vegas dream playing out in the track. “Bar full of liquor, cash for the strippers, / It’s gon’ get weird tonight, so no pictures,” the lyrics read, a crude contrast to the romantic and playful silkiness of the rest of the album. “Skate” follows, leaving no impression on the listener other than “Didn’t I hear this already?” After, we finish the album with a banger, “Blast Off,”  with an ethereal atmosphere and lyrics to match. 

I realize now I have said almost nothing but positive things about the album. After finishing the album, one might wonder Is it great after all? I’m tempted to change my initial hesitancies. From a technical standpoint, the album pulls through exquisitely and most of the songs just make you want to belt out the lyrics or act overconfident in your dance skills for a few minutes. But I was instead hoping for something revolutionary, as I normally do when I hear Mars’ name attached to a project. And this album wasn’t that.

As good (maybe, great) as this was, I don’t think “An Evening With Silk Sonic” will have a long-lasting effect on the music industry. And you know what? Maybe it’s not supposed to. If the women feel good and the people want to dance, who am I to complain?

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About the Contributor
Deniz Orbay
Deniz Orbay, Former Senior Staff Writer
Deniz Orbay (25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science double-majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science and minoring in Cinema and Media Arts. He writes for Life and News, is a big movie nerd and is better than average at every sport in which a ball is used. You can reach him at [email protected].
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