In 2018, shortly after Bruno Mars took the a few of the top honors at the Grammys, I implored every player to put their pinky rings up to the moon in celebration. Now, as the 2021 show marks his return to the stage for the first time since, I must swap in flared collars and dark sunnies for pinky rings — a soulful re-emergence is upon is.
“Leave the Door Open,” Mars’s latest collaborative tune with Anderson .Paak, is a complete throwback to the time of Bobby Womack and Curtis Mayfield. As the supergroup Silk Sonic, the pair have gone full ’70s soul, and “Door” is characterized by its soft piano and smooth vocals, elements they brought to life on the Grammys stage Sunday night (March 14).
By “stage,” I mean a dark set that nevertheless sparkled with he unmistakably ’70s diamond lights, leisure suits, and coordinated swaying of an unabashed nostalgia trip. It’s a vibe that recalled Mars’s own “Treasure” video and one he’s long felt comfortable playing with. Paak, meanwhile, alternately led and offered backing vox (as did Mars, alongside a pair of vocalists in matching garb). It was a mellifluous trip that belonged on Soul Train.
The story of Silk Sonic goes that, after Paak opened for Mars on tour, the pair linked up and began making music together. Now we get to hear it — the Grammys performance was their live unveiling. Sounded good!
This year at the Grammys, Paak’s funky protest anthem “Lockdown” picked up a nod for Best Melodic Rap Performance and one for Best Music Video. Mars, meanwhile, has remained largely out of the musical spotlight since cleaning up at the 2018 Grammys, popping up for tunes with Cardi B and Ed Sheeran the following year and working behind the scenes as a songwriter.
An Evening With Silk Sonic is set to drop later this year, marking both Mars’s (presumed) return to the charts and yet another ’70s resurgence — one ushered in by none other than Bootsy Collins. Tonight at the show, they also brought down the house with a tribute performance to none other than Little Richard, who died in May 2020.
See all the 2021 Grammys winners here, and stay tuned.