It’s a good time to be Bruno Mars right now. The young Hawaiian singer, songwriter and producer has served his time in the celebrity shade, and recently leapt into the limelight quicker than you can say, “number one hit single”. The singer released his debut album in early October, which is currently riding high on the Billboard 200 chart, and is loving life at the top.
Although pursuit of a solo career was always his main goal, money – or a lack of it – initially forced Bruno Mars to work as a producer and songwriter for other more established acts. After a childhood spent performing on various Hawaiian stages with his father, a 17 year old Mars left the island to chase his dream in Los Angeles. Although he managed to land an initial recording deal with Universal Motown, the label didn’t really take him seriously as an artist, and he struggled to find a producer who understood his ideas.
At the time Mars was naïve, inexperienced, and lacked focus, but his talent was undeniable. The singer made a friend in songwriter Philip Lawrence, who recognised Mars’ precocious musical ability, and guided the young star in the right direction. Along with Ari Levine, they formed the Smeezingtons, and began work as a production trio. Over the course of the next few years, the Smeezingtons wrote and produced material for such varied acts as Justin Bieber, Sugababes, K’naan, and Brandy. After working with Flo Rida on his international smash hit, ‘Right Round’, the Smeezingtons came to the attention of Aaron Bay-Schuk, A&R director at Atlantic Records, who set up a meeting with Elektra co-presidents Mike Caren and John Janick. The pair were blown away by Mars’ performance, and signed the trio immediately.
Two of the songs Mars played for Elektra were ‘Nothin’ on You’ and ‘Billionaire’, which the Smeezingtons subsequently presented to rapper B.o.B. and Gym Class Heroes singer Travie McCoy. Mars did not intend to appear on the final tracks, however, once they had heard him sing the hooks, both McCoy and B.O.B were insistent that he enter the recording studio with them. The foundations of Mars’ solo career were laid, and both tracks were massive hits. ‘Billionaire’ peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, whereas ‘Nothin’ on You’ made it to number one – all of a sudden Bruno Mars was hot property.
After capitalising on the attention with a digitally released debut EP called ‘It’s Better If You Don’t Understand’, Mars recorded his sentimental debut single ‘Just the Way You Are’, which exploded onto the singles charts this summer. After a steady climb, the single made number one in September, and has been at the top of the charts for four consecutive weeks to date. Debut album ‘Doo-Wops & Hooligans’ was released on 4th October, and currently sits at third spot in the Billboard 200, behind Toby Keith’s ‘Bullets In The Gun’ and Kenny Chesney’s ‘Hemingway’s Whiskey’.