'Finesse' by Bruno Mars, Featuring Cardi B: A Curmudgeon's Take


With Drake keeping a lock on the top spot with "God's Plan," and Ed Sheeran holding steady at No. 2 with the dreadful "Perfect," let's listen this week to the No. 3 song, "Finesse" by Bruno Mars, featuring Cardi B.

Mars won big at the Grammys last month: he took home six, including album of the year and best R&B album for his 2016 release "24K Magic," which includes "Finesse." The version on the Hot 100 is actually a remix that spotlights Cardi B, a New York singer and rapper on a fast upward trajectory.

The pairing is inspired: "Finesse" is a frothy, upbeat jam with a retro feel that harks to new jack swing acts like New Edition or Bell Biv Devoe: simple electronic drums, bright synth bursts and a distinctive, stuttering rhythm fill at the end of the verse. Mars has strong vocal chops and an instinctual feel for hummable melodies, and Cardi B adds an element of brash, gleeful sass underscored by a throwback video (on the set of "In Living Color") that captures the feel of those choreographed new jack swing clips on MTV in the '80s. 

It's entirely possible that liking this song only underscores my curmudgeon status: it sounds like the olden days, when we had to walk 10 miles to school uphill both ways in waist-deep snow, and music was fun, and no one named Drake thought having haters was part of some divine strategy. Now get off my lawn! In truth, "Finesse" is a catchy song that's built for fun. Mars and Cardi B bring a knowing playfulness to their performance, which certainly gives the impression they are having a great time. Sometimes that counts for a lot.