In this week's cover story (look for it later Friday), Mars previews the follow-up to his Grammy Award-winning "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" and discusses the new album's energetic first single, "Locked Out of Heaven," which debuts digitally and on radio on Oct. 1.
"This is me going into the studio and recording and writing whatever I want," Mars says confidently. "This album represents my freedom."
The eclectic set includes production from Mark Ronson ( Amy Winehouse), Jeff Bhasker ( Beyonce), Emile Haynie ( Eminem), Diplo ( M.I.A., Usher) and Supa Dups ( John Legend, "Doo-Woops & Hooligans") as well as the Smeezingtons, Mars' three-man songwriting and production team. The trio executive-produced and co-wrote "Unorthodox Jukebox," an album Mars says refuses to "pick a lane."
"I've had big record label presidents look me in the face and say, 'Your music sucks, you don't know who you are, your music is all over the place, and we don't know how to market this stuff. Pick a lane and come back to us,'" he says. "That was disgusting to me, because I'm not trying to be a circus act."
A defiant Mars says he didn't allow himself get boxed in to any one genre during the recoding of the album.
"I listen to a lot of music," he says, "and I want to have the freedom and luxury to walk into a studio and say, 'Today I want to do a hip-hop, R&B, soul or rock record.'"
Released in October 2010, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" debuted and peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and spawned four Hot 100 hits: "Just the Way You Are" (No. 1), "Grenade" (No. 1), "The Lazy Song" (No. 4) and "Marry You" (No. 85). The album has sold 1.7 million in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
His other top 10s include "It Will Rain" (No. 4) from the "Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1" soundtrack, and he was a featured artist on B.o.B's "Nothin' On You" (No. 1), Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" (No. 4), Bad Meets Evil's "Lighters" (No. 4) and Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa's "Young, Wild & Free" (No. 7).
"Unorthodox Jukebox" Song Titles
(Album Sequence Not Confirmed)
"Locked Out of Heaven"
"When I Was Your Man"
"Money Makes Her Smile"
"If I Knew"