The Meaning Behind Bruno Mars’ Sexy Hit “Locked Out of Heaven”

Bruno Mars was ready to move in a new musical direction when he released “Locked Out of Heaven” in 2012. Following the success of “Grenade” and “Just the Way You Are” off his debut album, Mars set a new precedent with his sophomore endeavor, Unorthodox Jukebox. True to the album’s name, Mars delivered an unorthodox tune with “Locked Out of Heaven” in 2012.

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Meaning Behind the Song

It all started with a jam session. Mars was out on the road touring in support of his 2010 debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans when he started working on songs for Unorthodox Jukebox. One of those songs was “Locked Out of Heaven” which was born out of a jam session in the green room backstage at a show.

“That song came in the middle of the process of putting together the album,” Jeff Bhasker, co-producer of “Heaven,” explained to American Songwriter in a 2013 interview. “We were just having a jam session, tracking some things, and Bruno started playing this groove and making up something on the spot; we all thought it was pretty good. We wound up working a long time on that, trying to get it just right.”

Once they were back in Los Angeles, Mars and his co-writers Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine put words to the music. The lyrics depict an irresistible love, one that brings the singer to his knees and is so powerful it can make a sinner change his ways. “It feels good to sing about,” Mars told GQ about the sexiness of “Heaven.” “It feels…sexy. It puts you in a sexy frame of mind. It feels good to pro-ject. Sex is a great party starter.”

The song is anchored by the steamy line, ‘Cause your sex takes me to paradise, that Mars has said in years past is about actress Halle Berry. He also cited, Swimmin’ in your water’s something spiritual, as the most meaningful lyric in the song.

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Following the song’s release, many critics drew comparisons between “Heaven” and songs by The Police like their signature hit, “Roxanne.” Mars wasn’t shy about the fact that his track was influenced by The Police, having been a fan of the band since childhood. “I grew up listening to the Police, I grew up performing in bars, singing Police songs,” Mars told MTV about his intent behind “Heaven.” “I remember performing a song like ‘Roxanne,’ and you play those first couple of chords, and you hit that first note, and you watch the whole bar ignite. And as an artist, as a songwriter, it’s like ‘Man, I want to write a song that makes people’s eyes explode the first chord!'”

It’s safe to say the superstar accomplished this mission. “Locked Out of Heaven” topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six consecutive weeks and has been certified diamond by the RIAA for sales of more than 10 million copies. The song helped him make history as the first male artist in nearly 50 years to accumulate his first four No. 1 singles on the Hot 100 as quickly as Bobby Vinton did in the 1960s. Both artists racked up their four No. 1s in the span of two years, Vinton between 1962-1964 and Mars from 2010-2012.

“That one shocked me, that it turned out the way it did,” Mars added of the success of “Heaven” to GQ. “I haven’t done a song like that. And hopefully every album, I’ll get that feeling. And shock the world!”

Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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