Hit ParadeSlate

Hit Parade: Lenny on Mars Edition

Stylistic chameleons from different generations, Lenny Kravitz and Bruno Mars emulated their heroes to generate hits.


What do Lenny Kravitz, a hitmaker primarily in the ’90s and ’00s, and Bruno Mars, a 2010s–20s hitmaker, have in common? It turns out, a lot: Each man has a wide-ranging ethnic and musical background, with early exposure to unusual sides of showbiz. Each has scored hits in a variety of styles. They are admirers of each other’s work and have even performed live together.

But the main thing Lenny and Bruno have in common is their skill—some might say habit—of borrowing tropes and styles from hitmakers of the past. Kravitz from the very start of his career emulated the rock stylings of his heroes, like John Lennon and Sly Stone. And Bruno Mars—talk about an Unorthodox Jukebox: His career has been a parade of hits whose sound has spanned from the Police to Rick James to Michael Jackson.

Are they cultural appropriators, or genius style chameleons? Join Chris Molanphy as he chronicles two premier pop stylists of the last 30 years who wore genres like costumes and rebooted oldies into modern hits. Don’t believe them? Just watch.

Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.