This book argues that Bruno Mars is uniquely positioned to borrow from his heritage and experiential knowledge as well as his musical talent, performative expertise, and hybrid identities (culturally, ethnically, and racially) to remix music that can create "new music nostalgia." Melinda Mills attends to the ways that Mars is precariously positioned in relation to all of the racial and ethnic groups that constitute his known background and argues that this complexity serves him well in the contemporary moment. Engaging in the performative politics of blackness allows Mars to advocate for social justice by employing his artistic agency. Through his entertainment and the everyday practice of joy, Mars models a way of moving through the world that counters its harsh realities. Through his music and perfomance, Mars provides a way for a reconceptualization of race and a reimagining of the future.
Melinda A. Mills is associate professor of women’s and gender studies, sociology, and anthropology at Castleton University in Vermont.
Introduction: Introducing Bruno Mars
Chapter 1: New Music Nostalgia, Or, Is What’s Old New Again?
Chapter 2: Blurred Boundaries, or Reading Between the Lines
Chapter 3: The Performative Politics of Blackness
Chapter 4: The Sonic Politics of Pleasure, Or Love and Joy in a Time of Trauma and Tragedy
Chapter 5: (Re)fashioning Race and Music