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Locked Out of Heaven

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Subject: Treasure (Bruno Mars song), Bruno Mars, MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video, X Factor Indonesia (season 1), List of Billboard Hot 100 number-one singles of 2012
Collection: 2012 Singles, 2012 Songs, Atlantic Records Singles, Billboard Hot 100 Number-One Singles, Billboard Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs) Number-One Singles, Billboard Pop Songs Number-One Singles, Billboard Rhythmic Airplay Number-One Singles, Bruno Mars Songs, Canadian Hot 100 Number-One Singles, Elektra Records Singles, Heaven in Popular Culture, Mexican Airplay Chart Number-One Singles, Mtv Video Music Award for Best Male Video, Number-One Singles in Poland, Record Report Pop Rock General Number-One Singles, Reggae Rock Songs, Song Recordings Produced by Emile Haynie, Song Recordings Produced by Jeff Bhasker, Song Recordings Produced by Mark Ronson, Song Recordings Produced by the Smeezingtons, Songs About Sexuality, Songs Written by Ari Levine, Songs Written by Bruno Mars, Songs Written by Philip Lawrence (Songwriter)
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Locked Out of Heaven

"Locked Out of Heaven"
Single by Bruno Mars
from the album Unorthodox Jukebox
Released October 1, 2012 (2012-10-01)
Format CD single, digital download
Recorded 2012
Genre Reggae rock
Length 3:53
Label Atlantic
  • Bruno Mars
  • Philip Lawrence
  • Ari Levine
Bruno Mars singles chronology
"Count on Me"
"Locked Out of Heaven"
"When I Was Your Man"
Music video
"Locked Out of Heaven" on YouTube

"Locked Out of Heaven" is a song by American singer-songwriter Bruno Mars from his second studio album, Unorthodox Jukebox (2012). It was released as the lead single from the album on October 1, 2012. The song was written by Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine of The Smeezingtons, and produced by Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker, Emile Haynie and The Smeezingtons. "Locked Out of Heaven" is a reggae rock song influenced by new wave and funk. The song's lyrics are about the rapturous feelings brought about by a relationship infused with positive emotion as well as euphoria from sex.

"Locked Out of Heaven" was well received by most critics, some of whom complimented Mars' different musical direction, his vocals were praised, being called "smooth" and "sweet," while its sound was lauded, with the song being called "interesting" and a "musical evolution". While some critics noted influences from various bands, mainly The Police, Mars stated that The Police influenced him to write the song. The single charted inside the top ten in over twenty countries, including the United States, where it became Mars' fourth number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, where it spent six consecutive weeks and topped the Canadian Hot 100 for three consecutive weeks. "Locked Out of Heaven" was certified quintuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Due to the certifications, "Locked out of Heaven" was able to join an elite group of the best-selling singles worldwide.

The song's music video was shot by director Cameron Duddy and by Mars, in which Mars is seen amusing with his bandmates by doing things like smoking, drinking beer and playing games. The singer performed "Locked Out of Heaven" on television shows such as Saturday Night Live and The X Factor and included it on The Moonshine Jungle Tour and at his Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show set list. The song won several awards and received three Grammy nominations. The song has been covered by various recording artists, including Leona Lewis and Bastille.


  • Background 1
  • Release 2
  • Composition and influences 3
  • Critical reception 4
    • Accolades 4.1
  • Chart performance 5
    • North America 5.1
    • Europe and Oceania 5.2
  • Music video 6
    • Development and synopsis 6.1
    • Reception 6.2
  • Live performances 7
  • Cover versions and remixes 8
  • Formats and track listing 9
  • Credits and personnel 10
  • Charts and certifications 11
    • Weekly charts 11.1
    • Year-end charts 11.2
  • Certifications 12
  • Release history 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15


After his 2010 debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans, which produced the singles "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade",[1] Mars revealed he wanted to create something unexpected with its follow-up.[2] "This is me going into the studio and recording and writing whatever I want," Mars said confidently. "This album represents my freedom."[1] Jeff Bhasker, one of the producers of the song, explained how they came up with the song "That song came in the middle of the process of putting together the album," he explains of the song's roots. "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."[3] The Smeezingtons co-wrote and co-produced the track, and was also handled by Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker, and Emile Haynie.[1][4] "Locked Out of Heaven" was unveiled digitally and on radio on October 1, 2012, and became available for purchase the following day.[1] Regarding the song, Mars says "Man, there's a good pocket on this song right now. Let's keep it going."[5] Mars mentioned that it took a long time to create the song, commenting "People didn't see us going at each other's throats in the studio and pulling out our hair." He added, "Trying to get these drums right and figure out a base line."[6]

"Locked Out of Heaven" was mixed at Larrabee Sound Studios in Hollywood by Manny Marroquin. Jeff Bhasker, Bruno Mars, Nick Movshon, and Homer Steinweiss played the instruments, with additional assistance by Emile Haynie. The recording was done by ALALAL, Ari Levine, Mark Ronson and Wayne Gordon, while Bob Mallory and Tyler Hartman served as the recording assistants at the Levcon Studios in Los Angeles, Daptone Studios in Brooklyn and Avatar Studios in New York. Levine was responsible for engineering the song, with Charlez Moniz assisting him. David Kutch mastered the song.[7]


"Locked Out of Heaven" was released as the lead single from Unorthodox Jukebox.[8] Atlantic Records serviced the song to download and to Mainstream Radio in the United States on October 1, 2012.[8] It was released as a CD single in Germany on October 3, 2012.[9] On November 5, 2013 a CD single was released on Poland and included the album version of "Locked Out of Heaven" and a poster and stickers of Bruno Mars.[10] On November 11, 2012, the song was released as a digital download in the United Kingdom.[11] The song was released as an available download on November 21, 2012.[12] On January 21, 2013, four remixes were released for download and a CD single in the UK.[13]

Composition and influences

A 23 second sample of "Locked Out of Heaven".

Problems playing this file? See .

Mars co-wrote "Locked Out of Heaven" with Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine of The Smeezingtons. The three co-produced the song with Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker, and Emile Haynie.[14] It was written in the key of D minor, with Mars's vocals range from the low note of A3 the high note of Bb4.[15] Levine said that on "Locked Out of Heaven" some part in the song are not even instruments. On "Locked Out Of Heaven" Bruno was like "we need a dep-dep-dep-dep sound," Ari Levine recalls. "I said, "Sing it into the microphone" and then I chopped it up. It sounds like it’s a instrument, but it’s really his voice. We do that a lot."[16] The song finds Mars singing a confession of a relationship that is so good that he repetes to his love "Your sex takes me to paradise." [17] "You make me feel like I've been locked out of heaven for too long/ Can I just stay here, spend the rest of my days here?" he sings.[18] During his Google Hangout on the day of the song's release, Mars was asked by a fan to name his favorite lyrics from the track. Mars picked the phrase "But swimming in your water is something spiritual," and later said that the single's exploration of feeling and being in love fits into the "sensual, sensual and sensual" theme of the album.[18]

"Hell yeah! You try to write a Police song!. I grew up listening to The Police, I grew up performing in bars, singing Police songs ... 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!'."

—Mars talking about The Police influence on the track.[19]

It has been described as a reggae rock track[20] heavily influenced by new wave and funk.[21][22] Tim Sendra of AllMusic described the song as "a breezy mashup of "Beat It", The Police, and Dire Straits."[23] For Paul MacInnes of The Guardian called it "a brazen – but successful – welding of Dire Straits' "Sultans of Swing" and "Can't Stand Losing You" by the Police."[24] Carl Williott of Idolator found out that "the angular guitars and Mars' Sting-like staccato delivery are heavily indebted to The Police," also seeing "hints of Foster the People on the omnipresent "eh-eh-eh-eh-ooo" punctuating the beat."[25] Melinda Newman of HitFix commented that the song has a "Police/‘80s rock skipping beat plus a touch of The Romantics' "What I Like About You".[26] Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times expressed, "think the Police (circa Ghost in the Machine) infiltrating the Human League."[27] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times simply called it "a vivid carbon copy of Zenyatta Mondatta-era Police."[28]

Though critics have pointed out the song's similarities to some of the hits by the Police, Mars told MTV News that he did not set out to write anything inspired by the Sting-fronted band. Instead, it came to him out of the blue, one night during his studio sessions prior to recording the Unorthodox Jukebox album. "I don't think it initially tried to sound like anybody else, but I picked up the guitar and just started playing [the song's opening chords]," Mars explained. "That's how it normally works; I'll pick up a guitar and I'll start humming a melody, and I started singing that, and I was up there in Sting-ville, in that register, so that's what you get...".[19]

Critical reception

The majority of music critics noted similarities between "Locked Out of Heaven" to a handful of tracks by the English rock band The Police (pictured). Later, Mars admitted that the song was inspired by the band.

The song has received positive reviews from most music critics. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy was positive, giving the song a rating of 5 out of 5 stars, praising the "80s-styled funk beats and wildly infectious percussion", the "singalong chorus may be a hasty reminder that his strength lies in fist-clenching". He also wrote that considered the song "one of the most interesting musical evolutions of 2012."[17] Jody Rosen of Rolling Stone gave the song 3.5 out of 5 stars, writing that "The song is about unbridled passion, but as usual with Mars, the aesthetic is tidy and impeccable, pop songcraft polished to a high-gloss gleam: jittery Police-esque rock-reggae verses that erupt, amid thunder-boom synths, into a steamrolling four-on-the-floor chorus."[29] Carl Williott of Idolator also gave the song a positive review, writing that it "shows an interesting musical evolution," and called the song "interesting" and evolutionary for Mars.[25] JT of Neon Limelight also praised the song, calling it "irresistible" and "funky".[30]

Ryan Reed of Paste Magazine called it "a driving pop anthem that moves from a punchy, 'Roxanne'-esque new-wave groove to a soulful, synth-driven chorus."[31] Matt Cibula of PopMatters further explained the track, writing, "It starts out like an early Police single, with some straight-up Reggatta de Blanc syncopation and a shockingly good Sting vocal impression. But the chorus opens up to turn into something less Police-y and more, dare I say it, Bruno Mars-y."[32] Kitty Empire of The Observer wrote that the song "channels the Police, but its 21st-century builds owe as much to rave-pop as they do to producer Mark Ronson. It's an ill-omened meeting that somehow gels."[33] Jason Lipshut of Billboard gave a very positive review, stating that "'Locked out of Heaven' is Mars' best solo single to date, with the singer-songwriter yelping about fornication as a tossed salad of chopped guitars and vocal exclamations buttress his sumptuous leading-man act. Sometimes, the perfect lead single is hard to find; other times, it walks right up to you and delivers a big, cozy hug."[34] Melinda Newman of HitFix praised "Mars' singing and the catchy little background vocals," which according to her, "keep the song moving downstream at a rapid pace." She also noted that "Even clumsy lyrics like 'your sex takes me to paradise' can’t diminish that joy that the beats and melody bring."[26]


"Locked Out of Heaven" has received several nominations. Including for Outstanding Song at 2013 NAACP Image Award.[35] It was nominated for Top Radio Song and Top Pop Song at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards.[36] In the same year, "Locked Out of Heaven" received the acollade for Top 10 Gold International Gold Songs at the RTHK International Pop Poll.[37] It also received a nomination for the "Choice Single by a Male Artist" award at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards.[38] At the 2013 MTV Europe Music Awards it won the award Best Song, only category the song was nominated.[39] In December, 2013, the song was nominated at Los Premios 40 Principales 2013 for Best International Song, however it lost to "Impossible" by James Arthur.[40] In 2014, "Locked Out of Heaven" received nominations for Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Remixed Recording, Non-Classical for its Sultan + Ned Shepard remix at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, but was not able to win any.[41]

Chart performance

North America

In the US, "Locked Out of Heaven" debuted at number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold 92,000 copies in its first week.[42] In its third week, it climbed to number 15 on the chart with 106,000 downloads sold.[43] In its fourth week, "Locked Out of Heaven" climbed to number 7, becoming his ninth Hot 100 top 10, only in 2 years.[44] On December 22, 2012, the song replaced Rihanna's "Diamonds" in the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming Mars' fourth Hot 100 topper since his arrival in 2010, becoming the fastest collection of a male artist's first four number-ones in 48 years.[42] "Locked Out of Heaven" charted for a second consecutive week atop the Hot 100, with Mars becoming one of nine male soloists in the Hot 100's 54-year history to tally at least two weeks on top with each of his first four leaders.[45] On its third consecutive week on the top, the song was the first to lead all the four talies (Hot 100, Radio Songs, Digital Songs, On-Demand Songs) simultaneously.[46] The song spent 6 weeks at the top, becoming the longest-reigning of Mars' four number-one singles (surpassing Just the Way You are and Grenade, who stayed fourth weeks each).[47] It became his eight song to reach the best five positions on the chart and the fourth to achieve number one,[48] equating the record held by the singer Bobby Vinton for less time to make four singles reaching number one in less time (4 years, 10 months and a week).[49]

On the Radio Songs chart, "Locked Out of Heaven" debuted at number 54.[42] In its sixth week, it climbed to number 7, becoming Mars' 9th top ten consecutive career-opening, extending his record among men.[50] On the Mainstream Top 40 chart, "Locked Out of Heaven" debuted at number 26, extending Mars' career-opening streak among men in the chart's 20-year history.[43] The song also debuted on the Adult Pop Songs at number 26, marking the highest entrance by a solo male, unaccompanied by another artist, since Rob Thomas debuted at number 20 with "Lonely No More".[42] By November 2013, "Locked Out of Heaven" sold 4,366,000 copies in the United States.[51] In 2013, Mediabase ranked "Locked Out of Heaven" as the most played song on Top 40 radio stations.[52] While, according to Nielsen SoundScan, the song was the fifth most played song across he U.S. and the seventh most played on the Top 40.[53] In Canada, the song peaked at number one on Canadian Hot 100 for the issue dated December 22, 2012, becoming Mars' third single to reach number one on the chart.[54][55] It remained atop of it for three consecutive weeks.[55][56]

Europe and Oceania

"Locked Out of Heaven" made its first chart appearance in Spain and on France on October 6, 2012, where it debuted at number 35 and 85, respectively.[57][58] In Spain, the song leaft the charts for two weeks, it re-entered at number 40. The song kept fluctuating on the chart for the next six weeks, until it peaked at number 3,[57] while on SNEP it peaked at number 3, remaining at the position for one week.[58] In the UK, the song peaked at number 2, on the week ending December 24, 2012.[59] The song sold 421,000 copies in the UK in 2012, the 33rd best-selling single of the year.[60] Since 2004, it is the 66th most downloaded song in the UK,[61] and was the fourth most played pop track on the radio in 2013.[62]

In Austria, it debuted at number 28 on the Ö3 Austria Top 40, on October 19, 2012. It peaked at number 5, on November 9, 2012.[63] "Locked Out of Heaven" debuted at number 32 in Denmark, becoming Mars' fifth top-fifteen single in the country and peaked at number 2, spending one week.[64] "Locked Out of Heaven" peaked at number 7 in Germany.[65] "Locked Out of Heaven" peaked at number 8 in Norway,[66] in Sweden the peak was 6,[67] Switzerland peaked at number 8[68] and in Finland the peak was at number 11.[69]

"Locked Out of Heaven" entered the New Zealand Singles Chart at number 23 on October 15, 2012. After five weeks the song jumped in the top ten, to number 8, remaining for two weeks, before climbing to number 6. Eventually the song peaked at number 4 after four weeks.[70] The single has received a double-platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand, denoting sales of 30,000 copies.[71] "Locked Out of Heaven" debuted at number 21 on the Australian Singles Chart on October 21, 2012. The song reached a peak of number 4 on November 11, 2012.[72]

Music video

Development and synopsis

Mars and his hooligans in a shot from the video.

A music video for the song was directed by Cameron Duddy and Mars, and was released on October 15, 2012.[73] The concept of the video is about Mars having a good time with his bandmates doing things like smoking, drinking beer and playing games. He is also seen singing the song with his band at a club. The video has a vintage style, like those of VHS tapes.[73] Mars explained to MTV News, "The concept is just old-fashioned fun. No story line, it's not me singing to a girl, you get a good sense of what you're going to get live... It's very VHS-y. I love that man, it takes me back to my childhood, when the tracking is off and the color is off, there's a beauty in that. You'd have to stand by the TV with, like, aluminum foil all over you."[18]

Hugh McIntire of Billboard explained the video, writing, "Everything about "Locked Out Of Heaven" – whether it be the video or the track itself – is retro. While the song references the early discography of The Police, the video takes us back a little bit further. From the style of their dress and the wonky-TV effects on the video, one might guess that Bruno and his friends are partying in the '70s. Only the Akai MPC sampler being played by a band member reminds the viewer that this video is, in fact, modern."[74]


Idolator reviewer Sam Lansky wrote that Mars is "serving up all kinds of retro flavor in the clip for that song, which eschews the higher-concept vibe of his other videos (dancing monkeys in "The Lazy Song") for a mellower vibe", adding that the video is "all filtered with Instagram-evoking effects that give it the grainy feel of an old tape."[75] Rolling Stone, commented that the video takes place "in a dingy club" however, "the real attraction here are the grainy visuals filmed in fake fuzziness, giving the clip a retro feel."[76] Chris Martins of Spin believes that "The vintage may be slightly off since the Unorthodox Jukebox single sounds far more Sting than Curtis Mayfield", however praised the video "the look is a good one nonetheless."[77]

The music video for the song received multiple awards and nominations. In 2013, it received a nomiantion for Outstanding Music Video at the NAACP Image Award.[35] At the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards Japan received three nominations for Best Male Video, Video of the Year and Best Karaokee! Song.[78] It also received nominations for Video of the Year, Best Pop Video and Best Male Video, winning the latter at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.[79] The video received a nomination for Best Videoclip, a category decided by a Jury at the 2013 Los Premios Principales.[40]

Live performances

Mars performed the song live for the first time on Saturday Night Live on October 20, 2012. His performance was well received by critics. Rolling Stone magazine wrote, "With a little oomph, a whole lotta shimmy-shimmy-ya and a few hip swivels, Bruno's ska-bop jam was given new life. It all seems so effortless; so cool and fresh; pop performances don't often fall ahead of the curve, but this one does."[80] Sam Lansky of Idolator praised the performance, writing that "Mars turned it out on the show, with an energetic rendition of 'Locked Out of Heaven' backed by a fleet of impeccably choreographed dancers."[81] A live performance was also done on The X Factor UK, on 25 November 2012.[82] On December 4, Mars performed on the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, aired on CBS. His performance happened during the Calendar Girls.[83] On the December 8, 2012, Mars performed in the 2012 edition of Jingle Bell Ball, event annually held and promoted by Capital FM which happened at The O2 Arena in London.[84] On December 13, he performed it live on the FOX reality television singing competition, The X Factor.[85] Mars also performed the song with Sting at 2013 Grammy Awards, joined later by Rihanna, Ziggy Marley and Damian Marley to pay tribute to reggae legend Bob Marley.[86] and was fifteenth on the set list of his second worldwide tour, The Moonshine Jungle Tour (2013).[87] On February 2, 2014 the single was featured as the third number in the mini-set medley, in the halftime performance of Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey .[88]

Cover versions and remixes

British quartet Bastille covered "Locked Out of Heaven" for BBC Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox in the Live Lounge on January 21, 2013. The band's version saw a mash-up between the track and Rihanna's "Diamonds"; also incorporating "Niggas in Paris" by Jay-Z and Kanye West and "Angels" by The xx.[89] The female members of the New Directions glee club covered the song in the "Sadie Hawkins" episode of Glee.[90] On 22 February 2013, Alex Rudiart sings "Locked Out of Heaven" during the first gala show of the first season of X Factor Indonesia.[91] English singer Leona Lewis included an acoustic version of "Locked Out of Heaven" on the set-list for her 2013 concert tour, Glassheart Tour.[92] American singer Bridgit Mendler covered an acoustic version of the song for her online series called The Hurricane Sessions and the official video of her cover was uploaded on YouTube on May 15, 2013.[93] The video received nearly 500,000 views in its first week, landing herself in the 46th position of Billboard Social 50 Artists.[94] English singer Amelia Lily performed the song in her set on the Girls Aloud Ten: The Hits Tour in 2013 and during her summer gigs.[95] The song was covered by English band Peace for the Live Lounge in March 2013, including a homage to The Police's "Message in a Bottle".[96] The duo Major Lazer produced a remix of the song that was include on the Target Edition and later on the deluxe edition of Unorthodox Jukebox.[97][98]

Formats and track listing

Credits and personnel

  • Recorded at: Levcon Studios in Los Angeles, California, Daptone Studios in Brooklyn, New York and Avatar Studios in New York, New York; mixed at Larrabee Sound Studios in North Hollywood, California.

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Unorthodox Jukebox, Atlantic Records[7]

Charts and certifications


Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (   5× Platinum 350,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[142] Gold 15,000x
Belgium (BEA)[143] Gold 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[144] 5× Platinum 400,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[145] Gold 10,000^
France (SNEP)[146] Platinum 150,000*
Germany (   Platinum 300,000^
Italy (FIMI)[147] 3× Platinum 90,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[148] Gold 100,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[149] Gold 20,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[150] Platinum 30,000x
New Zealand (RMNZ)[71] 2× Platinum 30,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[151] Platinum 760,000^
United States (RIAA)[152] 5× Platinum 5,000,000^
Venezuela (APFV)[153] 4× Platinum 40,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[154] 2× Platinum 3,600,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[155] Platinum 8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history

Country Date Format Label
United States[8] October 1, 2012 Mainstream radio, digital download Atlantic, WMG
Italy[156] October 2, 2012 Contemporary hit radio
Germany[9][157] October 3, 2012 Digital download
November 2, 2012 CD single
Poland[10] November 5, 2012 CD single
United Kingdom[11] November 11, 2012 Digital download Atlantic Records
Japan[12] November 21, 2012 CD single Atlantic Records, Warner Music Group
United Kingdom[13] January 21, 2013 CD single Atlantic Records


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