Liquor Store Blues
|"Liquor Store Blues"|
|Promotional single by Bruno Mars featuring Damian Marley|
|from the album Doo-Wops & Hooligans|
|Released||September 21, 2010|
"Liquor Store Blues" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars for his debut studio album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010), featuring vocals by Jamaican artist Damian Marley. It was released as the first promotional single from the record, on September 21, 2010 by Elektra Records in the United States; while in the rest of the world it was liberated by Warner Entertainment Group (WEG). "Liquor Store Blues" is a reggae track with dub influences written by Mars, Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Dwayne Chin-Quee, Mitchum Chin Damian Marley and Thomas Pentz, known professionally as Diplo. It was produced by the former three, under their alias, The Smeezingtons and Dwayne "Supa Dups" Chin-Quee. Musically, "Liquor Store Blues" has been described as borrowing "heavily from roots reggae" and from dub sounds, while lyrically it addresses a way of avoiding "foreshadowing" problems by drinking with hope that afterwards everything will be fine.
Upon its release, "Liquor Store Blues" received generally positive reviews from music critics, who praised its reggae style and Damian Marley's appearance on the track, as well as, establishing comparisons to Mars' cocaine bust in Vegas as the song arrived shortly after the event aforementioned. The song peaked at number 97 on the Canadian Hot 100 and Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100, a component of the Billboard Hot 100, by peaking at number 105. The music video, directed by Jake Summer, was released on March 8, 2011 and features Bruno Mars and Damian Marley singing together with a colorful background and "acid-trip" visual effects, during the whole video. The song was performed many times during Mars' debut world tour, The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour (2010-2012), as the ninth track on its set list. During the 2016 Grammy Awards, Mars had a flask, filled with a drink, to "get some winners drunk". The bottle is engraved with the lyrics, "One shot for my pain, one drag for my sorrow" from the song.
Background and production
In an interview with Sound on Sound, Levine said that the team, The Smeezingtons, never met Supa Dups personally and that "Liquor Store Blues" was finished by exchanging files of the song. The latter producer helped finishing the track by providing a dub sound, something the three of them "could just not nail it". During an interview granted to Vibe Mars said that he never met Damian Marley, since the latter did "his part" after a show in Washington. Nevertheless, the singer explained how Marley was guested in the song:
|“||I just wrote the song called "Liquor Store Blues". It had this reggae vibe...when I wrote, I was like, "Man, what if we could just get Damian on this?" So we [The Smeezingtons] made the phone call, and he came in with open arms and destroyed it.||”|
"Liquor Store Blues" was written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, Dwayne "Supa Dups" Chin-Quee, Mitchum Chin, Damian Marley and Thomas Pentz and produced by the former three, under their alias, The Smeezingtons, and Chin-Quee. The latter was in charge of programming and arranging the drums, which he played. Chin played the guitar, bass, and keys. Levine engineered the song at Levcon Studios in California. The mixing of the track was done at Larrabee Sound Studios in Los Angeles by Manny Marroquin, with Christian Plata and Erik Madrid serving as assistants. It was mastered by Stephen Marcussen at Marcussen Mastering in Hollywood, California.
Composition and lyrics
"Liquor Store Blues" was described as a "melodious boom-box midtempo" borrowing "heavily from roots reggae". It is heavily influenced by dub music and has a moderate reggae tempo. Its composition has been compared to his previous project with Travis McCoy on "Billionaire" and Sublime's work, as well as, a "Michael Jackson-meets-Bedouin Soundclash" According to the digital sheet music the song was composed in common time and in the key of C# minor with a tempo of 144 beats per minute. Mars' and Marley's vocals range spans from the low note of G3 to the high note of C6. The track is three minutes and fifty nine seconds. The song's lyrics describe feelings of "pain" and "sorrow", using alcohol as method to flee "bad fortune in an odd foreshadowing of events". In the end, hope is found by "getting messed up today" since on the following day everything will be fine. Tyrone S. Reid from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer considered that the record explores addiction in a "wonderfully, if humorously" way ("I take one shot for my pain, one drag for my sorrow/Get messed up today, I’ll be okay tomorrow").
"Liquor Store Blues" received generally positive reviews by most music critics. Tyrone S. Reid, considered the song one of the best in the album, "You simply can’t get lyrics more droll or brainer than that." The addition of Damian Marley made the track "more alluring". DJ Gravy praised the fact that the song "has a more authentic yard vibe, thanks to Black Chiney's Supa Dups", when comparing it to Mars and Travis McCoy's "Billionaire". Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson panned the song as "sway gently with a hint of reggae swagger". Kevin Barber from the Consequence of Sound, who positively reviewed the album, wrote "In return for all of his generous favors he has given other artists, they give back as well. Damian Marley joins him on the reggae jam". Idolator's writer Robbie Daw had a mixed opinion towards the song by writing that the recording "isn’t nearly as infectious as "Just The Way You Are", [but] it should still make for a fairly decent album track in what we’re hoping is a tasty plateful of catchy future singles". He found the tune to be "reggae-tinged jam". Scott Mervis of Pittsburgh Post-Gazette felt that "Liquor Store Blues" was in a "heavier dub zone with toaster Damian Marley" furthering a personal matter "the young singer should have stuck to the liquor store 'cause he was busted for cocaine in Vegas last month". Andrew Winistorfer of Prefix Magazine criticized the artist, saying "After conquering the ladies who love weak pop music that is sung by a competent if boring singer, Bruno Mars has decided to try to carve off a chunk of Sublime's fans". He concluded by deeming the recording a "faux reggae track". A writer for Rap-Up magazine commented that the recording's lyrics regard "a quick escape from his bad fortune in an odd foreshadowing of events". Similarly, while reviewing the music video, Entertainment Weekly's, Brad Wete stated that the content of the lyrics saying "Mars aims to "get messed up today" in hopes that he'll "be okay tomorrow"".
After being released as a promotional single, "Liquor Store Blues", entered the Canadian Hot 100 at number 97. Around the same time, it failed to reach the Billboard Hot 100, however it peaked inside of the Bubbling Under Hot 100, which acts as an extension of the former chart, peaking at number 105. On October 22, 2010 it entered and peaked at number 20 on the US Latin Pop Airplay, spending 7 weeks on the former chart.
The music video was directed by Jack Summer, and was premiered exclusive on March 3, 2011 for members of Bruno Mars' official website. The video features Bruno Mars and Damian Marley singing together in a psychedelic room with a colorful background and "acid-trip" visual effects. Thorough the clip "plumes of smoke" emerge in the screen in every direction with Marley "rapping about being "high as Superman" and shouting out pineapple kush", while Mars is upset about something. They both drown "their sorrows in the colorful visuals".
The video has been described as "psychedelic" and as an anthem to Marijuana, rather than one about drunkenness. Brad Wete for Entertainment Weekly explained that Mars was "ready to drown his sorrows in a tall glass of alcohol" and tipped "find out what concoction Mars and Marley are whipping up" by watching the clip. Prefix Magazine 's Andrew Winistorfer gave the video a harsh critic, he wrote that the smoke was not the only featured in the video as anyone "get to see Damian Marley sell out in real time". He furthered that Damian, "might as well be in McDonald's commercials. I guess this song is supposed to make you THINK about stuff [...] but mostly it makes me try to find someone to blame for this". The video was nominated for International Video of the Year at the Danish GAFFA Awards.
|1.||"Liquor Store Blues" (featuring Damian Marley)||3:49|
Credits and personnel
- Engineering and mixing
- Engineered at Levcon Studios, Hollywood, California; mixed at Larrabee Sound Studios, Hollywood, California
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Elektra Records.
|Canada (Canadian Hot 100)||97|
|Romania (Romanian Top 100)||74|
|US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)||5|
|US Latin Pop Songs (Billboard)||20|
On September 21, 2010, the song was released worldwide as the first promotional single as an iTunes Store-exclusive prior to Doo-Wops & Hooligans album release in October 2010, under Elektra Records. In the countries outside the United States, such as Germany, it was released under WEG.
|Germany||September 21, 2010||Digital download
(iTunes countdown single)
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