Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out of Heaven” Lyrics Breakdown: Locked Into His Style

Bruno Mars Locked Out of Heaven Between The Lines

Posted by on 10/03/2012 at 3:59 PM Lyrics

The Popdust Files: bruno mars, locked out of heaven, lyrics

It’s a little telling that Bruno Mars didn’t even originally intend to perform “Just the Way You Are,” the song that would eventually be tabbed as the lead single off his debut album Doo-Wops and Hooligans. While Mars performed the love song ably, and he certainly found a healthy amount of success with it—it topped the charts and established Bruno, previously known for his supporting roles on B.o.B. and Travie McCoy hits, as a leading man—it just sounded a little vanilla for a guy with as much obvious personality as Mars. Hell, it wasn’t even the best, most personal love song entitled “Just the Way You Are.” There had to be more there.

That personality shone through a little more on subsequent follow-ups, particularly “The Lazy Song,” which was silly to the point of being a near-novelty song, but it still felt like Bruno Mars the artist—the crooner from Hawaii who grew up singing doo-wop and impersonating Elvis and performed like a combination of Frankie Valli, Prince and James Brown—had yet to really show himself. Well, now we have “Locked Out of Heaven,” a single which sounds about as purely as what we’d expect Bruno being Bruno to sound like, and while it might not end up as big a hit as “Just the Way You Are,” it shows why he’s one of the most interesting, talented, compelling artists in pop right now.

Bruno Mars Locked Out of Heaven

The lyrics to “Just the Way,” while coherent and fairly romantic, definitely felt like Bruno playing the role of the too-perfect boyfriend, saying exactly what his beloved (and every girl, really) wanted to hear. It was a song purposefully devoid of self, in which Mars exists solely to hold up a mirror to his girl’s flawlessness. It worked, obviously, but it’s good to hear in the first verse of “Locked Out of Heaven”—a fairly reverential love song in its own right—that Bruno starts out talking about himself: “Never had much faith in love or miracles / Never wanna put my heart on the line.”  (You can only sing so many odes to others before you lose yourself—and the public’s interest in what you have to say—completely.)

Even as the focus shifts to Bruno’s intended, he manages to keep things interesting and keep himself involved. The song’s first real hook comes in the pre-chorus, with Mars’ repeated declaration of “Your sex takes me to paradise.” It would have been far too saucy a declaration for a song as straight-faced and earnest as “Just the Way” or “Grenade,” and harkens back to the “Find a really nice girl, have some really nice sex” line from “The Lazy Song” in its direct listing of good sex as a relationship priority for Bruno. It gives the song a sense of fun and looseness that those first two singles were decidedly lacking in (and arguably could have benefited from).

Bruno Mars Locked Out of Heaven Between The Lines

This sense of looseness, and a palpable sense of sexuality, comes through further on the song’s proper chorus, in which Bruno declares “You make me feel like / I’ve been locked out of heaven / For too lo-o-ong.” The chorus stands in contrast to heaven-set hits like Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” or Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth“—both of which make the obvious comparison of being with a loved one to being in heaven. Bruno takes the simile to the next level, implying the same you = heaven relationship, but expressing it in terms of his frustration at having been previously denied such bliss. It’s a nervier, more raw, and much less clichéd kind of sentiment, delivered by Bruno with impressive urgency, and shows why he’s not just another typical pop balladeer.

Of course, the most important lyric in the song might be a technically non-verbal one, but one repeated throughout the song: “OOOH!” The utterance, delivered by what Bruno (or perhaps someone in his backing band) at the end of every line in the verse, provides the song’s ultimate exclamation points, complementing the muscular funk of the music (which has more than a little bit of The Police in it) and asserting Bruno’s commandeering presence over the song like none of his previous singles. You can’t hear it without picturing Bruno, with his perfectly coiffed hair and ’50s-copped suit, performing the song on stage, driving the crowd into a frenzy with his dance moves and 100-watt smile.

Bruno Mars Locked Out of Heaven Between The Lines

It’s a little tough to predict how the public, used to Bruno’s heartfelt ballads, will cotton to a song like “Locked Out of Heaven.” The song’s sold healthily, and is currently in the iTunes top ten, but it might have a hard time fitting into Top 40 radio, which doesn’t reserve much space for soulful synth-funk reminiscent of The Romantics’ “Talking in Your Sleep.” Regardless of commercial performance, though, the priority for Bruno might not have been commercial success, but just getting to sound like himself. This is me going into the studio and recording and writing whatever I want,” Mars told Billboard last week. “This album represents my freedom.”

Based on “Locked Out of Heaven,” freedom sounds pretty sweet.

Here are the full lyrics. You can play the song at the bottom of the post!

One, two, one, two, three

Oh yeah yeah
Oh yeah yeah yeah
Ooh!
Oh yeah yeah
Oh yeah yeah yeah
Ooh!

Never had much faith in love or miracles
Never wanna put my heart on the line
But swimming in your world is something spiritual
I’m born again every time you spend the night

Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah you make feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

Oh yeah yeah yeah
Ooh!
Oh yeah yeah
Oh yeah yeah yeah
Ooh!

You bring me to my knees
You make me testify
You can make a sinner change his ways
Open up your gates cause I can’t wait to see the light
And right there is where I wanna stay

Cause your sex takes me to paradise
Yeah your sex takes me to paradise
And it shows, yeah, yeah, yeah
Cause you make feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah you make feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

Oh oh oh oh, yeah, yeah, yeah
Can I just stay here
Spend the rest of my days here
Oh oh oh oh, yeah, yeah, yeah
Can’t I just stay here
Spend the rest of my days here

Cause you make feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long
Yeah you make feel like, I’ve been locked out of heaven
For too long, for too long

Oh yeah yeah yeah
Ooh!
Oh yeah yeah
Oh yeah yeah yeah
Ooh!

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