Bruno Mars has been acknowledged as an influential singer in the music industry ever since his hit breakthrough in 2009, co-writing and singing the hook on a B.o.B. song. However, many of his listeners are unaware that Bruno writes his own songs.
Mars has written and recorded songs for his own studio albums, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010), Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), and 24K Magic (2016) with many of Mars’ songs being composed by the Smeezingtons (Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine).
Being awarded the title of Biggest Songwriters of 2010 by Music Week and sixth best songwriter of 2013 by Billboard, Mars started out writing successful singles for his own voice and other artists, such as “Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B. and “Billionaire” by Travie McCoy, featuring his vocals on the hook.
Mars made his debut with his studio album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010), which includes several international number-one singles “Grenade”, “The Lazy Song”, and “Just the Way You Are”.
His second album Unorthodox Juke box (2012), ranked first on the US Billboard 200 and won the Grammy Award for the Best Pop Vocal Album. In his third album, 24K magic, the Smeezingtons were replaced on composition by a new team co-founded by Mars, Shampoo Press & Curl, with the album receiving seven Grammy Awards, winning Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year, and including many hits, such as “24K Magic”, “That’s What I Like”, and “Finesse”.
Mars’ style has many influences, which date back to his childhood in Hawaii.
Early Life Influences
Mars was born in Honolulu, Hawaii to an artistic family: a Puerto Rican Jewish percussionist father and a singer and dancer mother from the Philippines. Mars was exposed to a wide range of genres such as reggae, rock, hip hop, and R&B.
Mars started performing from the age of four as an Elvis Presley impersonator named Bruno, covering the King of Rock as well as other famous artists, like Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations. He was heavily influenced by Jimi Hendrix, who inspired him to learn guitar.
Eventually, Mars grew tired making covers and sent a demo tape to his sister, who was in Los Angeles working as a handbag designer. At the age of 17, Mars moved to Los Angeles to pursue his music career further.
Mars tried to find success as a solo artist in the beginning. Unable to gain traction with his singing, Mars was given a different opportunity to sell a song that he had written for himself for $20,000, which led to his fruitful stint as a music producer.
Mars has written songs for artists including Alexandra Burke, Travie McCoy, Adam Levine, Brandy, and Sean Kingston with “Right Round” for American rapper, Flo Rida being Mars’ first commercial success. Mars finally reached the ears of listeners when he was featured on previously mentioned B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ on You” (2009) as solo artist and composer.
Mars draws writing inspiration from his own life, mentioning in the 2010 interview with Midweek, “Every song I write has to do with a real-life experience, whether it’s at the time or me back-tracking to how I felt at another moment.” Mars cannot anticipate if a song will become a hit, however he could tell that “Nothing on You” felt good during the creation process, describing the feeling as an ‘unexplainable high’ and taking ‘air’ and making something.
Mars’ music often includes sexual innuendos and risky lyrics. Mars has described the tension of creating something edgy but still popular, saying “That shit is hard, man. It’s so hard to do. Might be one of the hardest things to ever do. I don’t ever want to come out with something safe and get away with ‘It sounds good!’ It’s got to be more than sounding good. The music I like are events.”
Memorable artists such as Elvis, Prince, and The Police have inspired Mars. He often becomes energized before live performances by watching James Brown’s T.AM.I. performance, James Hendrix at Woodstock, or Prince performing “Purple Rain.”
Although Bruno Mars is well-known for his voice, many listeners are unaware that he also writes his own music, creating many hit singles both from his own albums and other famous artists.