Peter Gene Hernandez (born October 8, 1985), known by his stage name Bruno Mars, is an American singer-songwriter and record producer. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, by a family of musicians, Mars began making music at a young age and performed in various musical venues in his hometown throughout his childhood. He graduated from high school and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a musical career. Mars produced songs for other artists, joining production team The Smeezingtons.
Mars had an unsuccessful stint with Motown Records, but then signed with Atlantic in 2009. He became recognized as a solo artist after lending his vocals to the songs "Nothin' on You" byB.o.B, and "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, which were worldwide hits, and for which he co-wrote the hooks. He also co-wrote the hits "Right Round" by Flo Rida featuring Ke$ha, and "Wavin' Flag" by K'naan, allowing him to work with an assortment of artists from various genres. Mars' debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010), peaked at number three on the Billboard200, anchored by the worldwide number-one singles "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade", as well as by the hit single "The Lazy Song". The album was nominated for seven Grammy Awards, winning Best Pop Vocal Performance for "Just The Way You Are". His second album, Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), peaked at number one in the United States. The album spawned the international hit singles "Locked Out of Heaven", "When I Was Your Man" and the moderate hit success "Treasure".
Throughout a singing career spanning 3 years, he has sold 10 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide. Including not only his work as a singer but as a songwriter and producer as well, his total single download sales surpass 115 million worldwide. He has achieved a total of five number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and seven top ten singles, as a solo artist placing himself in the record books by being the second solo artist to do so after Richard Marx. He reached first place with "Just the Way You Are", which sold 12.5 million copies and contributed to Mars becoming the best-selling digital artist in 2011. In 2011, Mars was named one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. In 2014, he was ranked number one on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.
Life and career
1985–2003: Early life and musical beginnings
Bruno Mars was born Peter Gene Hernandez on October 8, 1985, in Honolulu, Hawaii, and was raised in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu. He is the son of Peter Hernandez and Bernadette "Bernie" San Pedro Bayot (died June 1, 2013). His father is of half Puerto Rican and half Jewish (from Hungary and Ukraine) descent, and is originally from Brooklyn, New York. Mars' mother immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines as a child, and was of Filipino, and some Spanish, descent. His parents met while performing in a show, where his mother was a hula dancer and his father played percussion. At the age of two, he was nicknamed "Bruno" by his father, because of his resemblance to legendary professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.
Mars is one of six children and came from a musical family who exposed him to a diverse mix of reggae, rock, hip hop, and R&B. In addition to being a dancer, his mother was a singer and his father used his musical ability to perform Little Richard rock and roll music. Mars' uncle was an Elvis impersonator, and encouraged three-year-old Mars to perform on stage as well. Mars also performed songs by artists such as Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations. At age four, Mars began performing five days a week with his family's band, The Love Notes, in which he became known on the island for his impersonation of Presley. In 1990, Mars was featured in MidWeekas "Little Elvis", going on to have a cameo in the film Honeymoon in Vegas in 1992.
His time spent impersonating Presley had a major impact on Mars' musical evolution and performing techniques. He later began playing guitar after drawing inspiration from Jimi Hendrix. In 2010, he also acknowledged his Hawaiian roots and musical family as an influence, explaining, "Growing up in Hawaii made me the man I am. I used to do a lot of shows in Hawaii with my father's band. Everybody in my family sings, everyone plays instruments...I've just been surrounded by it." In 2003, shortly after graduating from President Theodore Roosevelt High School at the age of 17, Mars moved to Los Angeles, California, to pursue a musical career. He adopted his stage name from the nickname his father gave him, adding "Mars" at the end because "I felt like I didn't have [any] pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I'm from Mars."
2004–10: Production work and It's Better If You Don't Understand
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Mars signed to Motown Records in 2004, in a deal that "went nowhere". However, Mars' experience with Motown proved to be beneficial to his career when he met songwriter and producer Philip Lawrence, who was also signed to the label. After Mars was dropped by Universal Motown, less than a year of being signed, he stayed in Los Angeles and landed a music publishing deal in 2005 with Steve Lindsey and Cameron Strang at Westside Independent.
During Mars' career beginnings, Lindsey, who showed Jeff Bhasker and Mars the ins and outs of writing pop music, acted as a mentor to Mars and helped him to hone his craft. Bhasker, who had met Mars throughMike Lynn (the A&R at Dr Dre's Aftermath Entertainment who first heard Mars' demo tape through his sister and flew him to LA), noted to American Songwriter that: "He’d mentor us, and kind of give us lectures as to what a hit pop song is, because you can have talent and music ability, but understanding what makes a hit pop song is a whole other discipline." Steve Lindsey was responsible for "[holding] Bruno Mars back for five years while they learned an extensive catalog of hit music."
When Philip Lawrence was first asked to meet Mars he was reluctant to do so, since it would cost him everything he had to go there. Keith Harris, drummer for The Black Eyed Peas, told him, "Whatever it costs you to get out here, I’ll reimburse you." Lawrence responded, "Just give me five dollars back for the bus." They started working together and writing songs for Mars, but they received many rejections from labels. This made them think that they were not good enough and they were considering moving back to their home towns. However, in the same week, they got a call from Brandon Creed (Mars' manager) who was A&Ring a reunited Menudo who needed songs. He liked their song "Lost", which was written for Mars. The duo didn't want to give the song away, but when they were offered $20,000 for the song, they were so surprised that they said "You can have that one and whatever else you need!" It was that call that saved them, allowing them to stay in LA a little bit longer. At this point, Mars and Lawrence Lawrence decided that they would write and produce songs together for other artists.
In 2006, Lawrence introduced Mars to his future A&R manager at Atlantic Records, Aaron Bay-Schuck. After hearing him play a couple of songs on the guitar, Bay-Schuck wanted to sign him immediately, but it took about three years for Atlantic records to finally sign Mars to the label, because Atlantic felt that it was too early and that Mars still needed development as an artist.
Brandon Creed became Mars' manager after dropping his work as A&R for Epic. Although he admits "[I] wasn’t 100% sure the artist thing was going to be a go," he saw enough potential to leave the label and become Mars’ manager.
Before becoming a successful solo artist, Mars was an acknowledged music producer, writing songs for Alexandra Burke, Travie McCoy, Adam Levine, Brandy, Sean Kingston, and Flo Rida. He also co-wrote the Sugababes' hit song "Get Sexy" and provided backing vocals on their album Sweet 7. His first musical appearance as a singer was in Far East Movement's second studio album Animal, featured on the track "3D". He was also featured on pastor and hip hop artist Jaeson Ma's debut single "Love" in August 2009. He reached prominence as a solo artist after being featured on and co-writing B.o.B's "Nothin' on You" and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire"; both songs peaked within the top ten of many charts worldwide. He said of them, "I think those songs weren't meant to be full-sung songs. If I'd sung all of "Nothin' on You", it might've sounded like some '90s R&B." Following this success, Mars released his debut extended play (EP), titled It's Better If You Don't Understand, on May 11, 2010. The EP peaked at the 99th position on the Billboard 200 and produced one single, "The Other Side", featuring singers Cee Lo Green and B.o.B. Mars collaborated with Green once more in August 2010 by co-writing his single "Fuck You". He performed a medley of "Nothin' on You" and "Airplanes" with B.o.B and Hayley Williams at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards on September 12, 2010.
2010–2012: Doo-Wops & Hooligans
Bruno Mars' debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, was released digitally on October 4, and saw its physical release on October 5, 2010. The lead single, "Just the Way You Are", was released on July 19, 2010, and has reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 as well as several other charts worldwide. The music video was released on September 8, 2010. The second single, "Grenade", was released September 28, 2010, and has also seen successful international chart performance. In the United States, Doo-Wops & Hooligans debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 for the week of October 13, 2010, selling 55,000 copies. The album also received generally positive reviews from critics. Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt praised Mars for his "instant-access melodies" and "sly snatches of dance-floor swagger", but noted weaknesses in songs deviant from his conventional pop and soul genres. He opened for Maroon 5 on the fall leg of the Hands All Over Tour starting October 6, 2010 and co-headlined with McCoy on a European tour starting October 18, 2010.
On September 19, 2010, Mars was arrested in Las Vegas for possession of cocaine. When talking to a police officer, Mars reportedly stated that what he did was "foolish" and that "he has never used drugs before". Mars pled guilty to felony drug possession, and in return for his plea, he was told that the charges would be erased from his criminal record as long as he stayed out of trouble for a year, paid a $2,000 fine, did 200 hours of community service and completed a drug counseling course.
On February 13, 2011, Mars won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, having received six nominations; Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Nothin' on You", Record of the Year for "Nothin' on You" and "Fuck You", Song of the Year for "Fuck You", and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 53rd Grammy Awards.
On September 16, 2011, Bad Meets Evil released their single, "Lighters", which featured Mars in the song. The song was met with mixed reviews from critics and many criticized Mars for doing this type of song. On September 22, 2011, it was announced on Mars' website that his new song "It Will Rain" will appear on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack which was released on November 8. On October 30, 2011, Mars gave an exclusive performance of "Runaway Baby" on the results show of The X Factor UK, the same day that Mars received six nominations for aGrammy Award; Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album for Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance for "Grenade", and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical at the 54th Grammy Awards. During the ceremony, Mars performed "Runaway Baby" but he did not win any awards as Adele won in all the categories he was nominated in and also lost to Paul Epworth for Producer of the Year.
2012–present: Unorthodox Jukebox
On March 22, 2012, it was announced that Mars had signed a worldwide publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis US. Mars announced that the lead single from his upcoming album would be called "Locked Out of Heaven", which was released on October 1, 2012. On December 11, 2012, Mars released his second studio album, entitled Unorthodox Jukebox. Along with announcing the album title and lead single, Mars announced the other 9 songs of the album. He noted that the album would be more musically varied and refuses to "pick a lane", explaining that "I listen to a lot of music, and I want to have the freedom and luxury to walk into a studio and say, 'Today I want to do a hip-hop, R&B, soul or rock record.'" In the United States, the album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with sales of 187,000. The album also charted number one album in Switzerland and in United Kingdom. It was the fastest selling album by a solo artist in 2012. The lead single from the album, "Locked Out of Heaven", has reached number one in the US Billboard Hot 100 and Canada and the top ten in several countries worldwide. The album's second single, "When I Was Your Man", has reached the top ten of fifteen countries, including number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
In February 2013, Mars was nominated for Best Rap Song at the 55th Grammy Awards, as producer and writer of "Young, Wild & Free", however he lost to "Niggas in Paris". During the ceremony, he performed with Sting, Rihanna,Ziggy Marley and Damian Marley in a tribute to Bob Marley.
The third single "Treasure" reached the top five spot in US and had less commercial success worldwide than the previous two. Mars unveiled the next single, "Gorilla", which was only able to peak at No.22 on Hot 100 and was unsuccessful worldwide, from Unorthodox Jukebox on August 25, 2013 at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. "Locked Out of Heaven" won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Male Video and "Treasure" was named "Best Choreography".
According to the Los Angeles Times, Mars is expected to be the headline performance at the half time show of the Super Bowl XLVIII in February 2014. On September 8, 2013, Mars was confirmed as the Super Bowl half time performer. Sarah Moll, NFL’s director of entertainment television and programming, believes they are going to announce another act before the performance, since Bruno has been making "some phone calls to some friends". Later, on October 24, B.o.B confirmed he would like to be invited to join Mars at the halftime Super Bowl XLVIII show. The NFL's entertainment team started working with Mars and his management on the halftime set list around Thanksgiving week and will spend the remainder of 2013 mapping out the production and staging, not to mention the guest list. On September 25, Bruno Mars was announced to perform eight shows at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas between December 2013 and August 2014. It was announced on January 10, 2014, that the Red Hot Chili Peppers would be joining Mars for the Super Bowl halftime performance.
He was nominated for five Grammy Awards at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year (Locked Out of Heaven), and Best Pop Vocal Album (Unorthodox Jukebox), winning the latter.
Mars' time spent impersonating Elvis Presley as a child had a major impact on his musical evolution; he later reflected: "I watch the best. I'm a big fan of Elvis. I'm a big fan of 1950s Elvis when he would go on stage and scare people because he was a force and girls would go nuts! You can say the same thing for Prince or The Police. It's just guys who know that people are here to see a show, so I watch those guys and I love studying them because I'm a fan." He also impersonated Michael Jackson and Little Richard who played a lead role as his influences. Mars was initially influenced by R&B artists such as Keith Sweat, Jodeci and R. Kelly, as well as 1950s rock 'n' roll and Motown. In high school, he began listening to classic rock groups such as The Police, Led Zeppelin, and the Beatles. All of these genres of music have influenced Mars' musical style; he observed that "It's not easy to [create] songs with that mixture of rock and soul and hip-hop, and there's only a handful of them." The local bands are heavily influenced by Bob Marley. Mars also stated that he is a fan of Alicia Keys, Jessie J, Jack White, Kanye West, The Saturdays and Kings of Leon.
Voice and music
|Problems playing this file? See media help.|
Mars possesses a tenor 3 octave vocal range. Jim Farber of New York Daily News praised his voice by saying that "has the purity, cream and range of mid-period Michael Jackson, right before the fall. Like the King of Pop, Mars pines for the prerock-era role of the pure entertainer, a classic song-and-dance man." Jon Caramanica of The New York Times called him "one of the most versatile and accessible singers in pop, with a light, soul-influenced voice that's an easy fit in a range of styles, a universal donor."
Mars' music has been noted for displaying a wide variety of styles, musical genres and influences, including pop, rock, reggae, R&B, soul, and hip hop. His co-producer Philip Lawrence says, "What people don't know is there's a darker underbelly to Bruno Mars." Mars himself says, "I blame that on me singing to girls back in high school." In addition, Mars claims that his work with other artists influenced his musical style, saying that "'Nothin' on You' had a Motown vibe, 'Billionaire' was a reggae acoustic guitar-driven song, though one of my favorites is theCee-Lo Green song. I don't think anyone else could've sung that song. And there's 'Just the Way You Are.' If you know my story, you know I love all different genres of music." He cites doo-wop as a major influence on his music, referring to the genre as "just straightforward love songs – so charming and simple and romantic." In addition, Mars states that growing up in Hawaii influenced his music, giving the songs a reggae sound. He explains that "In Hawaii some of the biggest radio stations are reggae. That music brings people together. It's not urban music or pop music. It's just songs. That's what makes it cross over so well. The song comes first."
Lyrically, many of Mars' songs have been described as "feel-good", carefree, and optimistic, however, darker subjects are addressed in songs such as "Grenade", "Liquor Store Blues", and "Talking to the Moon", which detail failed relationships and self-destructive behavior. In his second album, Mars showed a whole new different lyrical style, going into a more sexual direction that led to a Prince comparison. Songs like "Gorilla" caused him a serious controversy due to the explicit content.
Videos and stage
Since his career began, Mars introduced his all-male band, The Hooligans, a band that includes guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and horn players. They serve also as dancers and background singers.
Mars is known for his eclectic stage presence that incorporates throwback styles from the 70's & 80's, vocally, musically and choreographically. Rolling Stone magazine placed Mars at number 35 on their list of "50 Best Live Acts Right Now"; he's the youngest act besides Janelle Monàe and Lady Gaga to enter the list. They wrote: "Anyone from the age of 5 to 95 can walk out of a Bruno Mars concert feeling like the show was designed just for them. Mars walks the old-school walk (occasionally in James Brown's funky shoes) and talks the sexy talk (sometimes in Prince-like come-ons), but he also nails the hits, leads a super-energetic nine-piece soul band, and rips a mean drum solo", praising the "spectacular version" of "Gorilla" that he performs live. Jason Lipshutz from Billboard said that "Mars' lifeblood is entertaining and keeping smiles plastered on the faces of his onlookers, and he does a better job at it than almost anyone working in music right now." Co-manager, Brandon Creed, says that because Mars had "poured himself into his songwriting, then singing and recording the songs, they flow through his veins-it's his pulse. That's what people want: a connection with someone speaking the words they wish they could say. And on the other side, Bruno and the band are having a blast onstage, so you can't not have a good time. It's an infectious environment, the show you can't miss." Philip Lawrence said that "It harkens back to Earth Wind & Fire and Michael Jackson when people came to a show and got a show". NFL's Sarah Moll and Tracy Perlman realized when they saw the Moonshine Jungle tour several times this summer. "If you go to his concerts, it's 11-year-old girls to 65-year-old women-it's everyone".
Mars has worked with music video director Cameron Duddy on a handful of music videos, the first being "The Other Side" from his debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans. In 2013, Mars released three music videos inspired by 80's/70's style. The first was "Locked Out of Heaven", which Mars described as "old-fashioned fun", adding "It's very VHS-y". The second, "When I Was Your Man", was "a vintage video where Mars stays behind a grand piano and pours his heart out." The third was "Treasure", of which Kyle Anderson from EW said "Bruno Mars has gone full-on Betamax" and "It's all there: The suits, the setting, and the bong-water video effects." Gareth Grundy from The Guardiancommented on his performance at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, saying "He might be keen to announce, during "Runaway Baby", that he's doing his James Brown dance moves, but he may as well be auditioning for The Blues Brothers musical (although he'd be certain to bag the lead role)." and "The final 15 minutes, which takes in biggest hits "Grenade" and "Just the Way You Are", is basically one long, smartphones-in-the-air singalong." At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards he performed a tribute to Amy Winehouse with her song "Valerie" which was considered "one of the award show's high points, both for its emotional resonance and its retro showmanship". In 2013,Entertainment Weekly ranked his performances as the second best of the year, described as "both utterly new-school cool and rushing-home-from-school-to-watch-Soul Train classic".
Due to the second album's accompanying tour, Toronto Sun reported that Mars will wear designs created by embattled fashion gurus from Dolce & Gabbana who "have taken inspiration directly from his work to create looks that were at the same time in line with his very personal taste, as well as with the DNA of Dolce & Gabbana."
Statements on racism
In the cover story for EW Mars stated that the song "Nothin' on You" was rejected because of his race by a "music industry decision-maker – a guy he won't name". That experience made him feel like a "mutant", and he says that was his lowest point. "Even with that song in my back pocket to seal the deal, things like that are coming out of people's mouths. It made me feel like I wasn't even in the room."
The Hooligans – Band members
In 2011, Mars made the Time 100 list, B.o.B wrote "He has a musicality, a presence in his voice that I've never heard from anyone else...When he performs live, nothing is prerecorded or fudged. It's a straight-up, classic performance. That's so rare these days."
Mars' work has influenced numerous artists including Bridgit Mendler, Selena Gomez and Jonas Brothers.
Honors and awards
Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career. He has sold 10 million albums and 58 million singles worldwide as a singer. He has sold over 115 million records worldwide and has a catalog of 22 "Hot 100" hits as a singer, producer and songwriter. Bruno Mars also has the highest total among solo male artists of number one songs on Hot 100 Airplay. He spawned five number one singles in the US; the only male who has reached five leaders more quickly than Bruno Mars was Elvis Presley. In addition, Mars and singer Adele are the only artists to ever have a number-one song that only featured piano and vocals. Due to "When I Was Your Man" obtaining "Airplay Gainer" honors for the seventh week in a row, tying it with Rihanna for the longest streak in that chart's history dating back to 1985. When "Locked Out of Heaven" was at number 2 and "When I Was Your Man" was at number 9, Mars became the first male artist to place two titles as a lead act in the Hot 100's top 10 simultaneously since his own "Grenade" and "Just the Way You Are" doubled up for eight consecutive weeks between December 2010 and January 2011. On October 2013, Amazon.co.uk named Bruno Mars as the 12th best selling digital artist along with Queen, however these share that position for best physical sales. Bruno Mars was the most played artist at pop radio in 2013 according to Mediabase
"Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade" are two of the most sold singles digitally of all time worldwide, with sales of 12.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively. Just the Way You Are" also holds the record of the longest-reigning debut format hit in the chart's 50-year history, being able to spend 20 weeks atop Adult Contemporary. The single "Locked Out of Heaven" spent a third week atop the Billboard chart, also topping the Radio Songs chart for the first time and continuing to lead Digital and On-Demand Songs, becoming the first song to top all four tallies simultaneously. Besides this, "Locked Out of Heaven" made its career-opening streak the longest among male artists in the chart's history. On July 4, 2013, "Treasure" entered the top 10 on Radio Songs; due to this, Mars extended his perfect top 10 streak on Radio Songs, since all 11 of his entries have now reached the top ten. He tied with T-Pain for the longest career-opening top 10 streak among males dating to the list's December 1990 launch and is now within one of tying Mariah Carey for the best start among all acts. After "Treasure" entering the top 5 of Hot 100 Mars is now tied Rihanna for the most top five entries in that span. Mars becomes the first male artist to top the 4 million mark in digital sales with four different songs as lead singer. With “Gorilla” Bruno Mars ties Richard Marx as the only two solo men whose first 12 Top 40 hits all reached the Top 10 of American Top 40. In 2013, he was the 7th most streamed artist according to Spotify.
Bruno Mars has won one Grammy Award in the category of Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Just the Way You Are" at the 53rd Grammy Awards. Besides multiple nominations, achieving a total of 14, he had seven nominations at the 53rd Grammy Awards. He won Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist at the American Music Award in 2012. Mars also won a Brit Awards for International Male Solo Artist at the 2012 BRIT Awards.
On May 12, 2013 Mars tweeted a picture of himself using the electronic cigarette. On May 30, 2013 a press release was published reporting Mars investment on NJOY Electronic Cigarette Company, "in order to quit smoking for his mother", since the singer "believes in the product and the company's mission".
|1992||Honeymoon in Vegas||Little Elvis||as Bruno Hernandez|
|2014||Rio 2||Roberto (voice)||Post-production|
|2010||Saturday Night Live||Himself (musical guest)||Episode: "Jane Lynch/Bruno Mars"|
|2012||The Cleveland Show||Himself (voice)||Episode: "Menace II Secret Society"|
|2012||Saturday Night Live||Himself (host/musical guest)||Episode: "Bruno Mars"|