1/26/14

Is Bruno Mars an Orthodox Jew?

As far as we know, Bruno Mars is not Jewish, Orthodox or otherwise... the pop singer is from Hawaii, part Filipino and part Puerto Rican.

His Grammy winning album is Unorthodox Jukebox and let us make this clear, this music is not suitable for Orthodox Jews (or others) who wish to avoid music with explicit themes about sex or swear words. Other than that, we like the album a lot.

Previously on the subject of Bruno Mars (6/5/12) we waxed Talmudic:

We like the popular music of Bruno Mars. It is mostly happy and upbeat. Even the unrequited love theme in "Grenade" comes out as a positive lyric in some strange ways.

The blog Jewlicious pointed us to a music video that wonderfully draws on a Bruno Mars song, "Marry You."
Dancing Jews, um, Juice: Everybody thinks Bruno Mars is singing “dancing Jews” instead of the actual lyric, “dancing juice” (slang for booze). But who cares, this amazing, joyous video gives us plenty of reasons to post it.
Jewlicious does not explicitly tell us that the amateur video shows some friends of the couple dancing dressed up like "dancing Jews" (men wearing hats and fringes - tzitzit) who appear in and out of the frame at the right times in the song.

The video uses the copyright music of Mars and will probably not last long on YouTube. But if you get a chance, take a peek at this fun production. (Search for "Isaac's Live Lip-dub Proposal.")

Talmudic Analysis:

Note: This is a light pop lyric, so it neither pretends to represent any deep romantic or religious values, nor should it.

In the song, a refrain is repeated five times preceding the line, "Who cares baby, I think I wanna marry you."
  • Reading variant number one: "Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this dancing juice?"
  • Reading variant number two: "Is it the look in your eyes, or is it this dancing Jews?"
Number one raises one set of questions. The singer implies that his motives for getting married are either superficial (derived from a "look in your eyes") or an impulse derived out of inebriation ("this dancing juice" i.e. alcohol). These both are credible readings since the premise of the song is that getting married is merely, "something dumb to do."

Variant Number two presents another set of issues. Most obvious, what do "dancing Jews" have to do with a whimsical idea of getting married? (Hmm. Perhaps the singer is thinking ahead to the wedding?)

More troubling is the grammatical issue: "this dancing Jews" is a mismatch of preposition and object. "This dancing Jew" or "these dancing Jews" would be more correct.

We have to say at the end, "Who cares...?" and admit that now we smile more broadly anytime we hear this song.

Note to kosher wine makers: Consider coming out with a new label, "Dancing Jews Kosher Wine."

1 comment:

explorer said...

Bruno Mars (real name: Peter Gene Hernandez) is not a Jew according to Halakhah. However, he does have Jewish ancestry, as his father Peter Hernandez is a Jew (Ashkenazi Jewish mother and Puerto Rican Catholic father).