First Hit #1: October 2, 2010
It’s telling that the video for Just the Way You Are prominently features a cassette. While an actual cassette player was an item of nostalgia by the time the video was made, it’s indicative of the era where Mars fits best. He has pretty much made a song that is well suited to the era when boybands wandered the earth, being sensitive and earnest to the world’s women. It was a simpler era, and one where the come-ons were focused on a lady’s face and personality rather than her derriere, and songs were marked by a desire to show off the singer’s ability to actually sing above all else. I’m sounding like an old fuddy duddy, and truth be told I didn’t love the production in the late ’90s – or on Just the Way You Are, in fact, since it sort of sounds like a cell phone commercial – but I also didn’t hate it then either. Like the ballads from ten years previous, Mars is the star and everything else is secondary, and after arguably being the star on a B.o.B single we get a solo credit. Whatever I might think of the production doesn’t matter, because Mars does put in a performance that works quite brilliantly as a star making turn. He’s not an aggressive singer, he’s sensitive like Boyz II Men, but that makes a song that’s rather sweet and charming, and whatever throwback aspects there might be, at least it’s a throwback to something good.