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Chart Beat Podcast: Inside Bruno Mars’ R&B Takeover With ‘That’s What I Like’

Atlantic Records' John McMann offers insights about Mars' successful sonic transformation with the "24K Magic" album. Plus Hot 100 action for Kendrick Lamar & Sam Hunt.

Welcome to the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast, where each week co-hosts Gary Trust and Trevor Anderson, from the Billboard charts department, discuss why what’s on the charts … is on the charts.

This week, Atlantic Records senior vp promotion John McMann, who stopped by the podcast two weeks ago to share the label’s perspective on Ed Sheeran‘s success, returns to dig into Bruno Mars‘ chart domination. Mars’ latest album, the R&B-flavored 24K Magic, became his first No. 1 on Billboard‘s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and has spun off two top five Billboard Hot 100 hits: the title track and “That’s What I Like,” currently at No. 3 on the April 22-dated chart. It also rules the Hot R&B Songs tally for an eighth week.

“The album, he was telling us along, was going to be much more R&B-influenced [and] maybe a little throwback vibe here and there,” McMann says, adding that Mars’ Grammy Awards appearance in February, when he performed “Like,” as well as a tribute to Prince, helped show off the star’s multiple sides. Says McMann, “Bruno is a master of having a throwback DNA in his songs, but still sounding super-current.”

McMann further muses about potential future singles from 24K Magic, as well as the success that Atlantic is enjoying with KYLE, whose “iSpy” (featuring Lil Yachty) rises 5-4 on the Hot 100, and Flo Rida, whose “Cake” (with 99 Percent) is growing at radio (up 25-24 on Pop Songs), continuing the rapper’s run of hits dating to his debut with “Low” nearly a decade ago.

Gary and Trevor also discuss Kendrick Lamar‘s No. 2 launch on the Hot 100 with “Humble.” and Sam Hunt‘s 12-6 vault with “Body Like a Back Road.” The former is the highest-debuting rap song on the Hot 100 since 2010, while the latter is the first country top 10 on the chart since 2013. Plus, travel back to this week in 1985, when USA for Africa‘s all-star charity single “We Are the World” took over atop the Hot 100 (and when, before Trevor was born, Gary learned more about the pop culture smash in fifth-grade science class).


Enjoy the entire latest Chart Beat Podcast and check back for more upcoming episodes with artists, label executives, radio programmers and personalities, songwriters, producers and more. And, to receive every episode automatically in your inbox, subscribe to (and rate) the Billboard Chart Beat Podcast on iTunes!