Single Review: Sugar Ray “Mr. Bartender (It’s So Easy)”

Mr. Bartender (It’s So Easy)
Album: In Pursuit of Leisure
Year: 2003

Lead singer Mark McGrath hangs out at the bar where everybody knows his name in the peculiar R&B/rock of “Mr. Bartender (It’s So Easy”).

Opening with a raunchy processed guitar, McGrath says that it’s not that difficult to let loose and have fun at the bar. He’s blase and unworried. (“It’s so easy/It’s so right (bartender)/It’s so easy/To rock it all night (bartender)/It’s so easy/It’s so right (bartender)/It’s so easy (come on)/To rock it all night (oh”).

Underneath fuzzy and sped up vocals, he approaches the bar and DJ booth, requesting his favorite drink and song. He wants to forget about the pink slip in his pocket and not return to his home, where he’ll have to think about paying the bills. He flirts with some women and takes them to the dance floor. He wants to see them be wild. (“Mr. Bartender/Mr. DJ/Make me feel good/I got fired today/Don’t wanna be at home alone tonight/Ladies take your hair down/Put your drinks on the ground/Just get on the floor & lose your mind.”) With the echoed vocals and electro influences, it’s like McGrath has discovered his inner Simon LeBon. But without the charismatic voice and well-written songs.

He chews out the people who try to stop him from getting out of control and says they are being pretentenious and uptight. (“If you came to break us down/Your headin’ for the door (bartender)/Don’t try to act like/You’re too good for the floor (bartender)…you’re too good for the floor (oh.”)

For no particular reason, a Jamaican guy says “Mr. Bartender” at the start of the second verse. Then, McGrath repeats his why he’s there and asks for a shot. He adds he’s going to stay until closing. He doesn’t have to worry about waking up early anymore. He rather pretend the day didn’t exist. (“Mr. Bartender/I’ve had a bad day/Gimme a shot/I got fired today/I just wanna burn the night away/Gonna stay til a quarter of 4/Cause I don’t have to be at work no more/Just wanna turn the night to day/(It’s so easy, easy)/(It’s so easy, easy.”)

Jamaican Guy returns to rap. After using Elvis’ famous lines of “one for the money/one two for the show,” he tells people to unwind and feel themselves relax (“One for the money/One two for the show/Kick back & lay back/Watch the inner flow.”) Then, in the only standout moment of the song, strings break through. It matches perfectly with the vocoder “it’s so easy.” For a split second, it’s like the listener is actually inside the dive bar.

Then, a piano and bass accompany the Jamaican guy for another rap. It’s at the end of the night. The bar is closed and the bartender has told them it’s time to leave. He heads for the next club. He’s stumbling, with his drink splashing over shirt. He tells the DJ to take a break as he tries to get everybody left in the club to do the hand-motion dance. (“5 o’clock the bars cut me loose/I’m up in the club/The gin & the juice….I spilled all my liquor/We going outta mind/Almost outta time/Get down bump & grind/DJ stop rewind/Lemme pour you some wine/So you can break it on down/Let’s do it like this til the next time.”)

Jamaican Guy and McGrath have everybody wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care. People still do that? Seriously? (“We’re gonna do it like this/Do it like that/Do it like this/Nah we ain’t gonna do it like that/Do it like that/Everybody jam across the land…we can do it like this/from the front to the back.”)

The “If you came to break us down” section is repeated again.

Jamaican Guy corrects the people who aren’t the hand-motion dance. After ten years of practice, the listeners should have it down pat. (“Like I said once before/Everybody throw your hands from side to side/Like this no no your not doin’ right/Over here look look look.”)

The chorus ends the single.

The lackluster “Mr. Bartender” has many problems. McGrath’s wooden vocals can’t gather the energy necessary. The vapid lyrics include every cliche used in dance music. The music is also heavily processed, making the single sound tinny and unnatural.

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