Isn't it interesting how Robin Thicke's current nod to Marvin Gaye, the infectious Blurred Lines, is becoming a nasty litigious issue, while fellow R&B retroist Bruno Mars, for all his idea borrowing, simply wins Grammys?
The 27-year-old Mars, who plays the Tampa Bay Times Forum Wednesday, is considered a unique 21st century singer-songwriter-producer — even though half of the Honolulu native's music pays homage to the style of others. Wiggly synth cut Treasure, yet another smash from latest album Unorthodox Jukebox, is a dead ringer for circa-1982 Prince. The reggae-rock of Locked Out of Heaven was a jaw-dropping nod to the early work of Sting and the Police. Mars started out as pure pop guy (Just the Way You Are, Grenade), but he's become obsessed with his encyclopedic music smarts.
No one seems to have a problem with it. For all his myriad influences, Mars, who can dance as well as sing, is routinely compared to someone previously incomparable: the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Whether that high praise is justified isn't the issue; no, the fact that he's even in the same breath is impressive enough. Eat your heart out, Robin Thicke.
Bruno Mars, with guests Fitz and the Tantrums, performs 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $37.25-$81.25.(813) 301-2500.