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It's Better If You Don't Understand

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It's Better If You Don't Understand
Bruno-mars-ep-cover.jpg
EP by Bruno Mars
Released May 11, 2010 (2010-05-11)
Genre
Length 13:32
Label
Producer
Bruno Mars chronology
It's Better If You Don't Understand
(2010)
Doo-Wops & Hooligans
(2010)

It's Better If You Don't Understand is the debut extended play (EP) by American singer Bruno Mars. Its title comes from the final lyrics of one of its songs, "The Other Side". The EP consists of four tracks and incorporates pop, pop rock, and hip hop music genres. The record was made available for digital download on May 11, 2010 by Elektra Records in the United States, and on August 11, 2010 by Atlantic Records in France. The song "Count on Me" was not featured on the track list of the latter release. To promote the album, Mars released a home video for the recording "The Other Side". All of the material on the EP was produced by The Smeezingtons members Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine, with the closing track being co-produced by Jeff Bhasker.

It's Better If You Don't Understand received generally rave reviews from music critics – AllMusic's David Jeffres praised the album as showcasing Mars' songwriting abilities and a genre that "leans towards" pop, while About.com's Bill Lamb viewed the EP positively as "music that should be on your radio", calling it a "pop pleasure". All of the songs from It's Better If You Don't Understand were later included on Mars' debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010), and, with the exception of "Somewhere in Brooklyn", were performed on the tour of the same name. The EP peaked at number 99 on the Billboard 200 in the United States, and at number 97 on the UK Singles Chart. As of 2011, it has sold 27,000 copies in the US. "The Other Side" peaked separately on the UK Singles Chart at number 117. In an interview, with Los Angeles Times, Mars' admitted he regrets to have "wasted" the title of this record.[2]

Background[edit]

In an interview with Rap-Up, Mars explained that the song "Somewhere in Brooklyn" is dedicated to his father who is from Brooklyn, adding that: "everyone can agree that New York is a special place". Lyrically, a girl is the subject of Mars' attention. After they met briefly, he tries to find her again somewhere in Brooklyn.[3]

Ari Levine talked in an interview with Sound on Sound about producing some of Mars' songs. "The Other Side", whose production was re-arranged, was intended for somebody else, and several people wrote parts of the track.[4] Concerning the lyrics' concept Mars said that they describe: "the lifestyle you end up living as an artist".[5] He also explained that the title of the record came from the final lyrics of one of its songs, "The Other Side".[6]

In the same interview, Levine explained that "Talking to the Moon" took a long time to record, while he, Mars, and Lawrence decided which drums to use. As a result, the song was arranged and produced "in four different ways".[4] When the team started composing the track, they "only had the first verse and the horns". However their gut told them they were onto something.[4] At one point the team: "had three different bridges and [they] spent a lot of time trying to find out which one was the best". Jeff Bhasker also collaborated on the track's composition.[4] "Talking to the Moon" was the first song written for Mars' debut release once the three of them finished working with other artists and focused on the EP.[3]

Composition[edit]

It's Better If You Don't Understand is composed of four songs employing pop, pop rock, and hip hop genres.[1][7] Mars explained that the EP is hard to classify since: "I just write songs that I strongly believe in and that are coming from inside. There's no tricks. It's honesty with big melodies. And I'm singing the s*** out of them".[8] A romantic soft and smooth recording, the opening track, "Somewhere in Brooklyn", was composed by The Smeezingtons.[9][10] It features "an emo-pop backing" beat,[1] "electronic pops and bleeps",[10] a piano and synthesizers.[7] Lyrically, the tune is about Mars chasing the "perfect woman" who got away, and wishing to find her again.[1][7][10] Mars' vocals have been highly praised in this track.[7][10] The second release, "The Other Side", features a vocal collaboration with Cee Lo Green and B.o.B., and is considered the best on the EP by several critics.[7][9][10] The track has been described as incorporating 60's and 70's soulful feeling.[1][7][9] Its instrumentation uses guitar, organ and a: "drum and bass pace that slowly builds through the verse and into the chorus".[7] It is reminiscent of compositions by Daniel Merriweather and Chris Isaak’s "Wicked Game".[7] "The Other Side" addresses the "excitement of courting" sung in a falsetto voice with a "soaring pop" hook.[7][10][11]

The two final tracks were described as "bittersweet ballads",[1] with the third being called a "slow burner".[7] "Count On Me" draws from the works of Jason Mraz and David Cook,[1][7] featuring a laid back groove,[9] tropical vibes, "Elvis-esque adlibs at the beginning" and Mars "roots in Hawaii".[7] Pardalis of 411mania.com found its hook "simple but effective".[7] The vocals were described as powerful, "yet pleasant".[7] It conveys the message of comfort found in a friend and shows Mars' "soft side".[7][10] The closing track, "Talking to the Moon", was described as a pop song with power ballad influences.[7][9] It was met with mixed reviews, with some reviewers calling it "the weakest because the heavy production threatens to overwhelm Mars' singing",[9] and others feeling that "the song just gets better".[10] The recording features a "soft piano", "layers of synthesizers", "beautiful vocals" on a chorus with a "phenomenal hook" and "perfect balance" culminating in an "over the top production".[7][10] The track's sentiment has been highly praised,[7][10] with some saying that "anyone could feel it".[7] Its lyrics describe Mars trying to reach his "lost former lover" hoping that his words reach their destiny.[7]

Release and promotion[edit]

It's Better If You Don't Understand was released exclusively for digital download on May 11, 2010 by Elektra Records in the US,[8][12] and in France, on August 11, 2010 by Atlantic Records; this edition did not feature "Count on Me" on the track list.[13]

"The Other Side" was released as a prmotional single from the EP in July 2010. The song featured guest vocals by Atlanta-based rappers Cee Lo Green and B.o.B.[6] The home video for "The Other Side" was directed by Nick Bilardello and Cameron Duddy, and premiered on MTV's website on August 23, 2010.[6][14] "The Other Side", "Count on Me", and "Talking to the Moon" were later included on the standard edition of Mars' debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010).[15] "Somewhere in Brooklyn" was included as a bonus track on the deluxe version of the record.[16] All of the songs were featured on the set list of Mars' Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour, with the exception of "Somewhere in Brooklyn".[17]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
411Mania 8.5/10[7]
About.com 4.5/5 stars[9]
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[1]

Upon its release, It's Better If You Don't Understand received rave reviews from music critics. 411Mania's Dan Pardalis complimented the EP by calling it "pop music at its finest", noting the song "Somewhere in Brooklyn" was "good", describing the other three as "great". He added that the four tracks tell "one love story". Pardalis complement not only Mars' "extraordinary versatility, pop sensibility, and appeal", but also his talent at creating "memorable vocal melodies and his naturally emotive writing", easily making a connection with the audience.[7] Bill Lamb of About.com labelled the EP a "pop pleasure", further praising the record by saying "with justice in the pop music world, this is the music that should be on your radio", rating It's Better If You Don't Understand four and a half out of five stars.[9] Writing for AllMusic, David Jeffres called the EP's four songs a "sparse effort that leans towards pop" and drew attention to "the man’s songwriting". He also deemed the album a "short set of easy, breezy tunes", which doesn't necessarily leave people "begging for more, but it will make most pop fans open to the idea".[1] Harris Decker of the website The Truth About Music also gave the EP a positive review, calling the record "impressive" and Mars "talented". Nevertheless, he felt the release was "rushed" since it was made: "in order to capitalize on the success of the mainstream singles".[10]

Chart performance[edit]

It's Better If You Don't Understand failed to achieve commercial success. It debuted at number 99 on the Billboard 200, the week of May 29, 2010, where it remained for only one week;[18] it peaked at number thirteen on the Billboard Digital Albums chart.[19] As of 2011, it has sold 27,000 copies in the United States.[20] It's Better If You Don't Understand reached number 97 on the UK Singles Chart on the week of August 28, 2010,[21] while "The Other Side" charted separately on the UK Singles Chart at number 117.[22]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from It's Better If You Don't Understand liner notes.[23]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Somewhere in Brooklyn"
  • Bruno Mars
  • Philip Lawrence
  • Ari Levine
The Smeezingtons 3:01
2. "The Other Side" (featuring Cee Lo Green and B.o.B)
The Smeezingtons 3:48
3. "Count On Me"
  • Mars
  • Lawrence
  • Levine
The Smeezingtons 3:16
4. "Talking to the Moon"
  • The Smeezingtons
  • Bhasker[a]
3:27

Charts[edit]

Chart (2011) Peak
position
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[21] 97
US Billboard 200[18] 99

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from It's Better If You Don't Understand liner notes and AllMusic.[1][23]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Ref
United States May 11, 2010 Elektra Digital download [12]
France August 11, 2010 Atlantic [13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jeffries, David. "It's Better If You Don't Understand > Review". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on July 21, 2012. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  2. ^ Wood, Mikael (December 26, 2012). "Bruno Mars gladly loses his cool on 'Unorthodox Jukebox'". Los Angeles Times. Eddy Hartenstein. p. 2. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b Cline, Georgette (March 3, 2010). "Bruno Mars Calls on B.o.B, Cee-Lo for EP". Rap-Up. Devin Lazerine. Archived from the original on March 14, 2016. Retrieved October 11, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d Tingen, Paul (June 2011). "Ari Levine & The Smeezingtons: Producing Bruno Mars". Sound on Sound. SOS Publications Group. Archived from the original on January 2, 2016. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Bruno Mars bio" (PDF). Warner Entertainment. Time Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 30, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c Fried, Melanie (July 16, 2010). "Bruno Mars Brings Cee-Lo to 'The Other Side'". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on March 1, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Pardalis, Dan (May 11, 2010). "Bruno Mars – It's Better If You Don't Understand EP Review". 411Mania. 411mania.com, LLC. Archived from the original on June 26, 2016. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  8. ^ a b "Bruno Mars Blasts Off Into the Top Ten Albums Chart on iTunes With New Digital EP; Acclaimed Singer/Songwriter/Producer Follows B.o. B's #1 Blockbuster, "Nothin' On You" With Much-Anticipated Solo Debut; Four-Song EP Features Guest Appearances From B.o. B and the Legendary Cee Lo Green; Major TV Performances Slated Throughout May; "It's Better If You Don't Understand" Arrives at All Digital Retailers Today" (Press release). Marketwire. May 11, 2010. Archived from the original on June 16, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Lamb, Bill (May 11, 2010). "Bruno Mars – It's Better If You Don't Understand". About.com. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Decker, Harris (May 12, 2010). "EP Review: Bruno Mars – "It's Better If You Don't Understand"". The Truth About Music. The Truth About Music, LCC. Archived from the original on March 11, 2011. Retrieved May 22, 2016. 
  11. ^ DeAndrea, Joe (October 12, 2016). "Bruno Mars' 5 Best Deep Cuts". Bilboard. Archived from the original on October 18, 2016. Retrieved October 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "It's Better If You Don't Understand: Bruno Mars". Amazon.com. Amazon Inc. Archived from the original on May 11, 2010. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b "It's Better If You Don't Understand: Bruno Mars". Amazon.fr (in French). Amazon Inc. Archived from the original on October 22, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Bruno Mars – "The Other Side "". MTV. Viacom Media Networks. August 23, 2010. Retrieved August 26, 2010. 
  15. ^ Bain, Becky (September 10, 2010). "Bruno Mars Reveals His 'Doo-Wops & Hooligans' Track List". Idolator. SpinMedia. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 10, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Doo-Wops & Hooligans (Deluxe) (+video) (+digital booklet)". Amazon MP3. Amazon.com, Inc. Archived from the original on January 11, 2013. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  17. ^ Atkinson, Mike (November 2, 2010). "Review: Bruno Mars, Capital FM Arena". Nottingham Post. Local World. Archived from the original on May 29, 2016. Retrieved May 26, 2016. 
  18. ^ a b "Bruno Mars – Chart history" Billboard 200 for Bruno Mars. Retrieved May 26, 2016.
  19. ^ "Bruno Mars – Awards". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Archived from the original on May 2, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  20. ^ Smirke, Richard (July 15, 2011). "Bruno Mars: The Billboard Cover Story". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Archived from the original on November 30, 2015. Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  21. ^ a b "28, 2010/ Archive Chart: August 28, 2010" UK Singles Chart. Retrieved May 21, 2017.
  22. ^ Zywietz, Tobias. "Chart Log UK: B – 2011". Official Zobbel Website. Zobbel.de. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 20, 2012. 
  23. ^ a b It's Better If You Don't Understand (Digital booklet). Bruno Mars. Atlantic Records, Elektra Records, Fueled by Ramed. 2010.