By CHARLIE SNYDER STAFF WRITER
The new Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak collective, Silk Sonic, is leaving the door open for a new generation of R&B and soul.
On Mar. 5, the newfound American super-duo Silk Sonic, consisting of pop sensation Bruno Mars and rapper/singer-songwriter Anderson .Paak, released their debut single, Leave the Door Open, via Atlantic Records.
Serving as the lead single for the dynamic duo’s upcoming debut studio album, An Evening with Silk Sonic, Leave the Door Open has become a massive success. Just nine days after its initial release, the song was performed live at the 2021 Grammy Awards, joining some of music's biggest names with Mars’s and .Paak’s throwback style performance. The song would debut at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 but is steadily gaining popularity, eventually squeaking its way into the No. 1 spot earlier this month. This marked Mars’s eighth No. 1 song, and .Paak’s first, serving as a preview for the many hits that are yet to come from the duo. With their dynamic chemistry, unique vocals, and solid production, Silk Sonic blends both retro sounds and fresh modern ideas into a musical masterpiece.
Originally meeting in 2017 while touring together, Mars and .Paak became fast friends. With the two being some of the most celebrated and respected musicians in the R&B and soul setting, it seemed as though the two artists’ eventual collaboration was never a matter of “if,” but “when?” Though, not many fans had anticipated the joy that would come when they would eventually go all out and create their own collective. Just based on their first song together, Mars and .Paak have shown that they truly know how to bring out the best in one another. On Leave the Door Open, .Paak handles the song’s provocative yet smooth verses, while Mars provides nothing short of his patented catchy chorus vocals that served as his claim to fame over the past decade. However, this time around, Mars seems to take a lot more influence from classic soul tracks and sounds of the 70s, as opposed to the funk and pop aesthetic of his earlier career. This could very well be the influence that .Paak has brought to the table, having dabbled in a bit more soul and blues sounds throughout his career. Nevertheless, the auditory experience that this mashup provides is impeccable and effectively captivates listeners in a way that transports them to the golden age soul.
Heavily influenced by the quiet storm sound of the 70s, to call the production on Leave the Door Open ‘smooth’ would be an understatement. It is almost as if the band name was intended to serve as foreshadowing for their work, with the song’s production and vocals indeed being as smooth as silk. The song’s trickling opening string line sounds like it could have easily been recorded on a harp, and paired with .Paak’s raspy vocals, give listeners a sharp contrast that only enriches the overall feel of the track. Furthermore, despite being so seamlessly flush, the song never falls into the common trap of becoming repetitive or boring. Instead, multiple key changes and various complex chord progressions make listeners feel as though they are watching a broadway show with the plot unfolding before their very eyes. In this case, the cast is paying homage to those before them, yet providing their own unique twist in order to prevent sounds from becoming stale.
There is a reason that Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak have both had such successful careers up to this point, and it is simply because their distinct voices are so utterly irresistible. In fact, Mars’s early vocal chops were so impressive that he was earning comparisons to the late king of pop, Michael Jackson. Although those are big shoes to fill, the 5’5 Mars is evidently up to the task, bringing along a vibrant young co-star in .Paak along with him.
If the two can continue to ride their momentum of a ridiculously successful decade, then Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak will have proved that history repeats itself once again, with the future looking jam-packed with vibrant and engaging hit songs.