"We're at the point now where we're losing our fucking minds," he says.
"My engineer's going crazy; he wants to kill me. Sitting in this freezing-ass-cold box trying to come up with songs." "Uptown Funk" cemented Mars' superstar status, spending 14 weeks at Number One – tying for the second-longest run in chart history – and winning the Grammy for Record of the Year.
"There's nothing more joyous for me than those school dances," Mars says. in the morning, the band comes out, fucking dipped in Versace. And then the flyest lead singer the world has ever seen comes on and starts singing some shit." The next day, Mars is back in the studio to fix some of the mistakes he heard last night.
"Slow-dancing at the Valentine's Day banquet with the girl you have a crush on, and the DJ spins ' Before I Let You Go,' by Blackstreet. First on the agenda is a song called "Finesse." "There's just some things fucking the groove up," he says.
And the shit is magical, and you think about it for the next eight months."Mars says he wanted to make a soundtrack for a movie in his head. "Anytime you see us, on tour, on TV, I want to be moving ... He cares about how the bass and the high hat sound.
I was very conscious on this album of the bounce." Mars opens his laptop and pulls up the latest version – the 20th or so, he guesses. He literally could do it alone, like Prince." This doesn't make songwriting any easier for him. "Every beat has already been made, every rhyme has already been said, every chord progression has already been done.
He plays the most recent iteration, a Boyz II Men–ish anthem that climaxes with an indelible hook: "Let's just kiss till we're naked/Versace on the floor." "At a certain point," says Mars, "I needed to stop telling you we're gonna get down, and just get down."It's Mars' MO to tear songs apart like this. ") Meanwhile, his hit "Locked Out of Heaven" started as a cha-cha-style duet, à la Santana's "Smooth." Mars keeps that version on his laptop to remind himself that it's a process, and not to freak out.
His "Grenade," which was Number One for four weeks, was originally British Invasion–style Sixties jangle pop, until Mars realized at the last minute that "it sucked" and revamped it just before its release. Even "Uptown Funk" was almost thrown out several times. He turns to his laptop and plays a messy early version, featuring an inexplicable hard-rock breakdown and a chorus with Mars shouting, "Burn this motherfucker down! "And then one day it was like, ' Maybe we don't have a chorus.' " And sometimes it's a single word that can make or break a song.It also doesn't hurt that he just got back from Lake Como, in Italy, where he performed at the wedding of Spotify founder Daniel Ek."But you weren't supposed to know about that," Mars says, grinning. Can you rip up a talent show at the high school auditorium? I looked back at my band, and I swear I got emotional.I'm just trying to figure out why I'm tuning out in certain parts."The last time Mars dropped an album was December 2012 – four years ago, an eternity for a pop star.He's surfed the intervening years like a pro, with two Super Bowl halftime performances (headlining in 2014, and a cameo last February with Coldplay and Beyoncé), not to mention the biggest-selling song of the past few years, his collaboration with Mark Ronson, "Uptown Funk." But it's been so long since Mars made an actual album that he kind of forgot how it all works: the doubts; the endless tweaking and re-tweaking; the cigarettes.' – and the minute I take it to the car, it's so obvious we were tripping," he says.