Mars rose to fame in 2010 with the release of the successful singles "Nothin' on You" by B.o.B and "Billionaire" by Travie McCoy, both of which featured his vocals on the hooks. His debut studio album Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010) peaked at number three on the US Billboard 200 and reached the top in Canada, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and in the United Kingdom albums charts. It spawned the international number-one singles "Just the Way You Are", "Grenade" and "The Lazy Song". The former won a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In 2011, Mars recorded the thriving single "It Will Rain" for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.
Mars' second album, Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and in the UK, winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album. Its singles "Locked Out of Heaven" and "When I Was Your Man" reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2014, Mars collaborated with Mark Ronson on "Uptown Funk", which topped many music charts worldwide, including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and UK. It won two Grammys, including Record of the Year. His third studio album, the R&B-focused 24K Magic (2016), debuted at number two in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand. It received seven Grammys, in conjunction with major categories Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year and yielded the successful singles "24K Magic", "That's What I Like" and "Finesse".
Mars has sold over 130 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time. He has released seven number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since his career launched in 2010, attaining his first five faster than any male artist since Elvis Presley. Mars has received many awards and nominations, including eleven Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three Guinness World Records, and was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in the world in 2011. In December 2013, he ranked number one on the Forbes 30 under 30 list. Mars is known for his stage performances and retro showmanship. He is accompanied by his band, The Hooligans, who play a variety of instruments such as electric guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, drums and horns, and also serve as backup singers and dancers. Mars performs in a wide range of musical styles.
Life and career
1985–2003: Early life and musical beginnings
Peter Gene Hernandez was born on October 8, 1985, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Peter Hernandez and Bernadette San Pedro Bayot, and was raised in the Waikiki neighborhood of Honolulu.
His father is of half Puerto Rican and half Ashkenazi Jewish descent (from Ukraine and Hungary), and is originally from Brooklyn, New York. His mother emigrated from the Philippines to Hawaii as a child, and was of Filipino, and some Spanish, ancestry. His parents met while performing in a show in which 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 professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.
Mars is one of six children and came from a musical family which exposed him to a diverse mix of genres including: reggae, rock, hip hop, and R&B. His mother was both a singer and a dancer, and his father performed Little Richard rock and roll music. Mars' uncle was an Elvis impersonator, and also encouraged three-year-old Mars to perform on stage. Mars performed songs by artists such as Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, and The Temptations. At the age of four, Mars began performing five days a week with his family's band, The Love Notes, and became known on the island for his impersonation of Presley. In 1990, Mars was featured in MidWeek as "Little Elvis", and later appeared in a cameo role in the film Honeymoon in Vegas (1992), and performed in the halftime show of the 1990 Aloha Bowl.
The time Mars spent impersonating Presley had a major impact on his musical evolution and performing techniques. He later began playing guitar after being inspired by 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." When he attended President Theodore Roosevelt High School he performed in a group called The School Boys.
After Mars' sister in Los Angeles played Mars' demo for Mike Lynn, (the A&R at Dr. Dre's Aftermath Entertainment), Lynn summoned Mars to Los Angeles. In 2003, shortly after graduating from 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." Moreover, the adoption of his stage name was also due to "the music industry tried to pigeonhole him as another Latino artist, and even convinced him to sing in Spanish."
2004–2010: Production work and It's Better If You Don't Understand
Shortly after moving to Los Angeles, Mars signed with Motown Records in 2004, in a deal that "went nowhere", and had a conversation with Will.i.am's management which turned out to be fruitless. 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 the label less than a year after being signed, he stayed in Los Angeles and landed a music publishing deal in 2005 with Steve Lindsey and Cameron Strang at Westside Independent.
Lindsey showed Mars and Jeff Bhasker (who Mars met through Mike Lynn) the ins and outs of writing pop music, and acted as a mentor helping them to hone their craft. Bhasker explained that Lindsey would "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." Mars played cover songsaround Los Angeles in a band with Bhasker and Eric Hernandez, (Mars' brother), who is now The Hooligans' drummer.
When Lawrence was first told he should meet Mars he was reluctant to do so since he did not even have money for bus fare. 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." The pair began collaborating, writing songs for Mars, but they received many rejections from labels. On the verge of giving up, they received a call from Brandon Creed, who was looking for songs for a reunited Menudo. He liked their song "Lost", which was written for Mars. The duo did not want to give the song away, but when they were offered $20,000 for it they agreed. The sale of this song allowed them to continue working, and Mars and Lawrence decided that they would write and produce songs together for other artists. Eventually, Creed became Mars' manager for nine years.
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 roughly three years for Atlantic records to finally sign Mars to the label, because they felt it was too early and that he still needed to develop as an artist.
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 recorded appearance as a singer was on Far East Movement's second studio album Animal, 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 composing, under The Smeezingtons, B.o.B's "Nothin' on You" and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire"; both songs peaked within the top ten on many charts worldwide, with the former charting at number one in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and in the UK single charts.
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 number 99 on the Billboard 200 and a music video was released for the song "The Other Side" featuring singers CeeLo Green and B.o.B. Mars, under The Smeezingtons, collaborated with Green once more composing the single "Fuck You".
2010–2012: Doo-Wops & Hooligans
After serving as guest vocalist on B.o.B's and Travie McCoy's singles, Mars released "Just the Way You Are" on July
19, 2010. The song was the lead single from his debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Canada and in the UK, as well as several other charts worldwide. The song holds the record as the longest-reigning debut format hit, spending twenty weeks atop Adult Contemporary. He also released two promotional singles, "Liquor Store Blues" featuring Damian Marley and "Grenade", before confirming the latter as the album's second single on October 21, 2010. "Grenade" reached number one on the Hot 100, Canada and in the UK. It was also successful on other international charts. The album, released on October 5, 2010, debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 55,000 copies. It charted number one in Canada, Switzerland, in the United Kingdom and other international album charts. Doo-Wops & Hooligans received generally positive reviews from music critics and has since sold six million copies worldwide. In February 2011, "The Lazy Song" was released as the third single becoming the album's third consecutive top five on the Hot 100, peaking at number four and reaching the top spot in Denmark and UK.
"Talking to the Moon" became the fourth official single, only in Brazil, following its appearance on the soundtrack of the Brazilian telenovela Insensato Coração (Irrational Heart) from 2011. It reached the top position on BillboardBrasil Hot Pop Songs and the Hot 100 Airplay, spending several weeks on the top of both charts. "Marry You" was first released as a single on August 22, 2011. Although it was not released as a single in the US, it peaked at number 85 on the Hot 100 on January 15, 2011, due to strong digital sales, 2.2 million as of 2015, and entered in several charts worldwide. In November, "Count On Me" was released as the album's overall sixth single in Australia, but charted in various regions. Additionally, Mars recorded and composed with the Smeezingtons a song titled "It Will Rain", the first single for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. The song was released on iTunes on September 27, 2011. It peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number two in New Zealand. During this period, he appeared on a number of collaborative singles, including "Lighters", with Bad Meets Evil issued on July 5, 2011, "Mirror", released on September 13, 2011, with Lil Wayne, and "Young, Wild & Free" with Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, available for purchase on October 11, 2011. The songs peaked at number four, sixteen and seven on the Billboard Hot 100, respectively and reached the top twenty of various music charts worldwide.
On September 19, 2010, Mars was arrested in Las Vegas at the Hard Rock Casino for possession of cocaine. While talking to a police officer, Mars reportedly declared that what he did was "foolish" and that "he has never used drugs before." Mars pleaded guilty to felony drug possession and in return was told that the charges would be erased from his criminal record as long as he stayed out of trouble for a year. He paid a $2,000 fine, did 200 hours of community service, and completed a drug counseling course. Nevertheless, in a cover story for GQ magazine in 2013, Mars said "I was young, man! I was in f---ing Vegas...I wasn't thinking", he added: "I was given a number one record and I'm out doing dumb sh--." Mars confessed that he lied to the authorities about having done cocaine before, saying "I don't know where that came from", adding: "I was really intoxicated. I was really drunk. So a lot of that is a big blur, and I try every day to forget and keep pushing."
Mars started to promote his debut album, as the opening act for Maroon 5 and One Republic, on the fall leg of Hands All Over Tour. Later, on October 18, 2010, the singer begun a co-headline European tour with Travis McCoy that lasted until early November. Doo-Wops & Hooligans received further promotion, when the singer embarked on his first concert tour, The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour, that ran from November 2010 to January 2012. Most shows took place on smaller venues, such as theaters and ballrooms, which narrowed down his income in the short term, since he rejected various offers to open for notable artists on arena tours, but led to create a substantial fan base.
At the 2011 Grammy Awards, Mars won his first Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Just the Way You Are" and received other six nominations for his work. Best Rap Song, Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Record of the Year for "Nothin' on You", the latter category along with Song of the Year for "Fuck You", and Producer of the Year, Non-Classical as The Smeezingtons. At the 2012 Grammy Awards, Mars lost all the six categories in which he was nominated including, 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 as The Smeezingtons. During this time, he also won the American Music Award for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist, International Male Solo Artist at the Brit Awards and the Echo Award for Best International Male.
2012–2014: Unorthodox Jukebox and Super Bowl XLVIII Halftime Show
On March 22, 2012, it was announced that Mars had signed a worldwide publishing deal with BMG Chrysalis US. In September 2012, when interviewed by Billboard, Mars stated that his album would be more musically varied and refused to "pick a lane", adding: "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' ". He announced the album title Unorthodox Jukebox along with the ten songs which would make the final cut, and the title of the first single, "Locked out of Heaven", released on October 1, 2012. The lead single from Unorthodox Jukebox reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, Canada and number two on the UK single charts. It charted within the top ten in fifteen countries worldwide.
Unorthodox Jukebox, produced mainly by The Smeezingtons, was released on December 11, 2012, and debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 with sales of 192,000 units. The album eventually peaked at number one on the Billboard 200, almost three months after its release. It also charted number one in Australia, Canada, Switzerland and in the United Kingdom, becoming the fastest selling album by a solo artist in 2012 in the UK and has since sold six million copies worldwide. "When I Was Your Man", was released as the second single from Unorthodox Jukebox on January 15, 2013, and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, making Elvis Presley the only male who has achieved five number one singles on the Hot 100 more quickly than Mars. It reached number two on the UK single charts and was top ten in several countries. The third single "Treasure" peaked at number five in the United States, but had less commercial success worldwide than the previous two. On May 24, 2013, Major Lazer issued a remix of "Bubble Butt", as the fourth single from their album Free the Universe, featuring Tyga, 2 Chainz, Mystic, and Mars on vocals. In late 2013, "Gorilla" and "Young Girls" followed as the album's fourth and fifth singles, and reached the top 35 on the Hot 100.
Mars ran his second headlining tour, The Moonshine Jungle Tour, from June 2013 to October 2014. The tour grossed $156,4 million globally. On September 8, 2013, Mars was announced as the headline performer at the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show on February 2, 2014. The Red Hot Chili Peppers served as special guests for the show. It was the first Super Bowl halftime headlined by a performer under 30, and of Puerto Rican descent. The show was the most watched halftime show in the history of the Super Bowl, drawing a rating of 115.3 million viewers. The viewership was higher than the game itself. However, it was surpassed the following year by Katy Perry's halftime show. He also performed at the 2015 Rock in Rio festival on May 16, 2015.
At the 2014 Grammy Awards, Mars won the award for Best Pop Vocal Album for Unorthodox Jukebox, nominated with "Locked Out of Heaven" for Record of the Year and Song of the Year, while "When I Was Your Man" earned a nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance. In the same year, the album was recognized with the Juno Award for International Album of the Year. Aside from his music career, Mars played the role of Roberto in the movie Rio 2 which was released in theaters on March 20, 2014. He also contributed to the soundtrack with "Welcome Back". In October, 2014, Mark Ronson announced that he would release a new single on November 10, 2014, titled "Uptown Funk", featuring Mars' vocals. The song was a commercial success reaching number one in several countries, including the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the UK. In December 2013, he was named Artist of the Year by Billboard and was the twelfth highest paid musician of 2013, with earnings of $18,839,681. In 2014, Mars ranked number one on the Forbes list 30 Under 30, a tally of the brightest stars in 15 different fields under the age of 30 and was thirteenth on the list of The World's Most Powerful Celebrities with estimated earnings of $60 million.
2015–present: Super Bowl 50 Halftime performance and 24K Magic
After ending the Moonshine Jungle Tour, Mars began working on his third studio album, 24K Magic. He wrote on his Facebook page: "Now it's time to start writing chapter 3". The artist had not come up with a date for the release, stating: "Until it's done ... It's gotta be just as good if not better". In March 2015, the artist provided some details of the new album, on that's Shanghai magazine, confirming Mark Ronson and Jeff Bhasker as producers. He wanted to improve his songwriting, shows, music videos and make a better album than the previous two. In the same year, Mars (as The Smeezingtons) composed "All I Ask", a track from Adele's album 25. Their work with Adele brought Mars a Grammy Award for Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammy Awards.
On December 2, 2015, it was announced that Coldplay would be headlining the Super Bowl 50 halftime show on February 7, 2016. Mars and Beyoncé were guest acts tying, at that time, with Justin Timberlake and Nelly for appearing twice on the Super Bowl halftime. They are only surpassed by Gloria Estefan, with three appearances. It became one of the most watched halftime shows. At the 2016 Grammy Awards, Ronson and Mars' single, "Uptown Funk", won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Record of the Year. In the same year, the singer was in the studio with his band's bass player Jamareo Artis, engineer Charles Moniz, singer-songwriter Andrew Wyatt and EDM producer Skrillex. Moniz confirmed the album was close to being finished and Artis claimed it was set to be released in 2016. The album was to be issued in March, but Mars' appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show led the release to be postponed several months. At that time seven songs were already recorded. On May, the singer not only split with his manager, Brandon Creed, but also starred in the second season of Jane the Virgin as a musical guest. The Guinness World Records recognized him in its 2017 edition as the "First Male Artist to achieve three 10-million-selling-singles".
"24K Magic" was released as the lead single from 24K Magic on October 7, 2016. It was promoted with a performance on Saturday Night Live and peaked at number four in the United States. It reached the top spot in Belgium (Flanders), France and New Zealand. In November, CBS announced an interview segment on "60 Minutes", presented by Lara Logan, in which Mars talked about his new album and humble roots. This was his first television appearance in four years, coinciding with the release of the album. 24K Magic, released on November 18, 2016, debuted number two on the Billboard 200, Canada, France and New Zealand. It received positive reviews from critics and was composed mainly by Shampoo Press & Curl, a production team consisting of Mars, Lawrence and Christopher Brown, who replaced The Smeezingtons. "That's What I Like" was released as the second single on January 30, 2017 and reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100. However, it had less success in international markets. In June, the original version and a remix with David Guetta of "Versace on the Floor" were issued as the album's third single. It reached the top 35 of the Hot 100. In November, "Chunky" was announced as the album's fourth single only in Australia."Finesse" featuring Cardi B was released as the last single from 24k Magic on January 4, 2018. It became a top-three single on the Hot 100 and reached number two in New Zealand.
The singer's third headlining tour, the 24K Magic World Tour, began in March 2017. It has so far grossed $200 million worldwide. In September 2017, Us Weekly announced plans for a TV special by Mars at the Apollo Theater in New York. It was confirmed that Mars would be starring in his first TV concert titled Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo, a one-hour special, aired by CBS on November 29. The show was produced by Fulwell 73 Productions and co-produced by Ben Winston and Mars. Mars received seven awards at the 2017 American Music Awards, including Artist of the Year, two for "That's What I Like" and other two for his album 24K Magic. He also won Album/Mixtape of the Year at the 2017 Soul Train Music Awards, in addition to four other awards. At the 2018 Grammy Awards, Mars won in the six categories for which he was nominated. Album of the Year and Best R&B Album for 24K Magic, Record of the Year for the title track and Song of The Year, Best R&B Performance and Best R&B Song for "That's What I Like". 24K Magic also won a Grammy Award for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical awarding the engineers for their work on the album. In 2016 and 2017, Mars had estimated earnings of $39 and $100 million, respectively, according to Forbes.
In early 2018, according to Jackie Jackson, Mars had worked on Michael Jackson's music. However, the singer denied any involvement in Jackson's music. Despite Nile Rodgers stating that Mars would be featured on Chic's studio album It’s About Time (2018), the track didn't made the final cut. Charlie Wilson admitted that he and Mars were working on a collaboration. In the same year, Forbes reported that Mars could have left Creed's management company due to the latter selling half of it. After this, Mars took his business affairs under his own management company, Gorilla Management, which is operated by Aaron Elharar. Mars was featured, along with Kodak Black, on Gucci Mane's single "Wake Up in the Sky" issued in September 2014.
As a child, Mars spent time impersonating Elvis Presley. This playact had a major impact on his musical evolution; he
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, both of whom are major inspirations of his. Mars was raised on his father’s doo-wop collection — "simple four-chord songs that got straight to the point" and on Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis,and Frankie Lymon. The hip-hop productions by The Neptunes and Timbaland, that were played on the radio constantly, also influenced him.
Mars' musical style gravitated initially towards R&B since he was influenced by artists such as Keith Sweat, Jodeci, and R. Kelly. As a child he also took notice of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, New Edition, Bobby Brown, Boyz II Men, Teddy Riley and Babyface. At the same time, he also listened to 1950s rock 'n' roll, doo-wop music, and Motown. In high
school, he listened to classic rock groups such as Led Zeppelin, and The Beatles, whose influences can be heard in Mars' work, as well as singers with high voices, like Stevie Wonder and Freddie Mercury. Bob Marley, and local bands in Hawaii, were a major influence and account for his reggae roots. Hip-hop acts like Jay-Z, The Roots, and Cody Chesnutt were among some of Mars' favourites, and have influenced his composition skills. Each of these musical genres has 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." Mars also admires classical music.
Other artists Mars has said inspired his work include: Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse, Sly Stone, Carlos Santana, George Clinton, Coldplay, and Usher. Mars has also stated that he is a fan of: Alicia Keys, Jessie J, Jack White, The Saturdays, and Kings of Leon.
Musical style and themes
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 debut album Doo-Wops & Hooligans, a pop record, is influence by these genres. His subsequent release, Unorthodox Jukebox, as with his debut album, is infused with different influences including dance, rock reggae and soul, as well as balladry. Lyrically, the album is different than the former, addressing traditional notions of romance, male chauvinism, and sexuality. The explicit content in the song "Gorilla" caused a controversy in Australia. Many of his songs, particularly on Doo-Wops & Hooligans, reflect "feel-good", carefree, and optimistic sentiments. However, darker subjects are addressed in his songs, detailing failed relationships and self-destructive behaviour. Mars' third album, 24K Magic, is significantly influence by R&B, soul music and funk. Lyrically, the album involve themes of money and sex. Mars has explained his writing process: "I don't sit down and think, 'I'm going to write a song', since "You can’t force creativeness" as inspiration comes out of the blue in different places. Ideas occur suddenly to him; and occasionally, he is able to materialize them into lyrics. It can take him one year to come up with something.
Mars claims that his work with other artists has influenced his musical style: "Nothin' on You had a Motown vibe, Billionaire was a reggae acoustic guitar-driven song, though one of my favourites is the CeeLo 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." Mars states that growing up in Hawaii influenced his style, giving the songs a reggae sound. He explains: "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."
Philip Lawrence, one of his music partners from The Smeezingtons, stated: "What people don't know is there's a darker underbelly to Bruno Mars." Nevertheless, most of his music is romantic and Mars himself says: "I blame that on me singing to girls back in high school".
Mars possesses a three octave tenor vocal range. Jon Caramanica of The New York Times commented that he is 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",while Tim Sendra from AllMusic described Mars' vocals on Doo-Wops & Hooligans as "the kind of smooth instrument that slips into your ear like honey." Jody Rosen from Rolling Stone called Mars a "nimble, soulful vocalist" on Unorthodox Jukebox. Jim Farber of the New York Daily News praised Mars' voice due to "the purity, cream and range of mid-period Michael Jackson" in a review of a concert promoting Unorthodox Jukebox. Mars is also able to play drums, guitar, keyboard, bass, and piano. Mars usually plays the instrumentation or part of it, on his albums and on the songs he composes for other artists.
Mars is known for his retro showmanship which is widely acclaimed by tour critics and reviewers. A journalist
from Mirrors Magazine says that, "the showmanship on Bruno’s stage was like none other that I’ve ever seen" comparing him to Michael Jackson. Kevin C. Johnson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called Mars a "consummate performer." The Boston Globe's music critic, Sarah Rodman, said that Mars shows an "indefatigable ecstatic approach to performing" and "classic showmanship." In the same vein, Jim Farber of the Daily News stated of the halftime show at Super Bowl XLVIII that Mars "brings old-school showmanship to dynamic performance."
Rolling Stone magazine placed Mars at number 35 on its list of 50 Best Live Acts Right Now in 2013; he is the youngest act besides Janelle Monàe and Lady Gaga on 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 and talks the sexy talk, 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". Jason Lipshutz of Billboard described Mars' performance as "entertaining ... 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". NFL executives Sarah Moll and Tracy Perlman stated that: "If you go to his concerts, it's 11-year-old girls to 65-year-old women—it's everyone", after seeing The Moonshine Jungle tour several times during the summer of 2013.
At most of his concerts Mars is accompanied by The Hooligans, a band that includes: a guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist, and a horn section. They also serve as dancers and background singers. Mars' shows feature all-band choreographed dancing arrangements, which include "fancy, slick and fantastic" footwork that is inspired by James Brown and the splits. His shows are heavily influenced by the disco era with a soul revue-inspired set. In addition, long, mellow, and soft interludes that echo the smooth contemporary R&B style which was popular during the 1990s are also part of the show. His set list blends several genres of music such as: pop, doo-wop, funk, R&B, soul and reggae. Mars' shows usually feature pyrotechnics, strobe and laser lighting, and he typically plays the drums and guitar.
On May 12, 2013, Mars tweeted a picture of himself using an electronic cigarette. On May 30, 2013, a press release was published reporting Mars' investment in the NJOY Electronic Cigarette Company, "in order to quit smoking for his mother", since the singer "believes in the product and the company's mission."
Mars decided to invest in Chromatik, which makes digital versions of sheet music for the web and iPad. Mars said: "I love that Chromatik will bring better music education into schools" ... "[a]nd I'm happy to be a part of it."
In 2014, Bruno Mars teamed up with three partners to launch the "Selvarey Rum" brand which includes Selvarey White, made of blended three and five-year aged Panamanian rums and the five-year-old rum flavored with chocolate, Selvarey Cacao.
On February 26, 2014, it was announced that Mars had partnered with the Hawai'i Community Foundation and the GRAMMY Foundation to establish a GRAMMY Camp Scholarship Fund, in order to support the next generation of music makers with funds to provide financial assistance for qualified needs-based applicants from Hawaii. On September 27, 2017, Mars expanded his camp scholarship in order to include applicants from all over the United States. The singer established the partnership in honor of his mother.
Mars' donated $100,000 (US) to the orphans of Bantay Bata, who were among the victims of Typhoon Haiyan, in order to raise the morale of those who lost their families and homes. Mars performed at the Make It Right gala, whose campaign goal is to "help build homes for people in need." He also performed at the Robin Hood Foundation's 2014 annual benefit in New York, whose goal is to "fight poverty in New York City by supporting more than 200 nonprofits with financial and technical assistance." A day before a concert in the Philippines the singer donated $100,000 (US) to the "Typhoon Yolanda" survivors.
In 2017, Mars donated 1 million dollars from the show at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan to help the victims of the Flint water crisis. The singer participated in the "Somos Una Voz" relief initiative, created by Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, in order to help survivors of the Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and Mexico’s 7.1 earthquake.
Bruno Mars has earned numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including eleven Grammy Awards, three Brit Awards, three Guinness World Record nine American and eight Soul Train Music Awards. In 2011, Mars made Timemagazine's 100 list, while his former songwriting and record producing team, The Smeezingtons, earned several accolades. Along with Adele and John Legend, Mars is one of the only artists who has a song that features only piano and vocals to top the Hot 100. He is the first male artist to place two titles as a lead act in the Hot 100's top 10 simultaneously. Mars became the first solo male artist whose first 13 Top 40 hits all reached the Top 10 on the American Top 40. In total, he has had seven number-one singles on the Hot 100 chart. In 2018, Mars matched Beyonce and Mariah Carey as the only artists with three Top Five singles on the Billboard Hot 100 from their first three studio albums. Carey had three singles on the top five from her first four albums. In the same year, Mars became the first solo male artist with nine number ones on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart. At the 2018 Grammys, Mars became the second artist to win Record and Song of the Year with two different songs from the same album. As of 2018, Mars and Ed Sheeran are the only artists with two songs spending at least half an year in Billboard Hot 100's Top 10.
According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI), "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade" are two of the most successful digital singles of all time, with sales of 12.5 million and 10.2 million, respectively. This contributed to Mars becoming the biggest selling artist of 2012. His songs "Just The Way You Are", "Grenade", "Locked Out Of Heaven", and "When I Was Your Man" have each sold over 4 million digital copies, making him the first male artist to do so as a lead singer. Six of his singles are counted among the best-selling singles of all time. As of 2014, Mars has sold over 130 million records worldwide. As of 2017, the singer has sold over 180 million singles worldwide.
Because of the ticket reselling that occurred during the week after the Super Bowl, and in order to limit that kind of profiteering, Hawaii Senate President Donna Mercado Kim introduced Senate Resolution 12, also known as the Bruno Mars Act. It limits all ticket purchases within 48 hours of the on-sale date to the physical box office. This ensures that anyone who comes to the box office to buy tickets for a show should almost certainly be guaranteed a ticket and discourages ticket scalping. The State Senate in Hawaii passed the law.
Family and relationships
Mars's brother, Eric, has continuously served as the drummer for his backup band, The Hooligans. Their sisters, Tiara, Tahiti, and Presley, as well as their cousin Jaime, make up the all-girl music group The Lylas. When she was young, Jamie moved in with the siblings due to parental issues. Mars began dating model Jessica Caban in 2011. The two remain a couple as of 2018, residing together in a mansion in the Hollywood Hills with a Rottweiler named "Geronimo".
Mars returned from an overseas gig in May 2013 when he learned in the Los Angeles airport that his mother was gravely ill. He immediately got on a plane to Hawaii. His mother died the next day. On June 2, 2013, a publicist for Atlantic Records confirmed to the Associated Press that Mars' mother had suffered a brain aneurysm. She had died on Saturday, June 1, 2013, at age 55, at Queens Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. Later, on June 7, 2013, the singer broke his silence concerning the loss of his mother on Twitter writing: "So thankful for all the love during the most difficult time in my life. I'll be back on my feet again soon. That's what mom wants, she told me."
On January 28, 2014, Demetrius Orlandus Proctor filed a lawsuit, claiming he holds the copyright for the Travie McCoy and Mars' track "Billionaire". Proctor claimed he owned the copyright to the music and lyrics of the track since March 31, 2011, though the song was released a year before. As evidence, Proctor has submitted a United States Copyright Office registration certificate for "Frisky Vol. 1 to 30 (Tapes)", issued in 2000. Proctor accused McCoy and Mars of "willful and intentional" infringe copyright, seeking the destruction of all copies of the recording. Proctor claims he has exclusive rights to reproduce and distribute the song.
Ronson and Mars' "Uptown Funk" has received various accusations and lawsuits due to copyright infringement. In 2015, similarities with "Oops Up Side Your Head" by The Gap Band led them, along with keyboardist Rudolph Taylor, and producer Lonnie Simmons to be added as co-writers of "Uptown Funk". In the same year, Serbian artist Viktorija argued that "Uptown Funk" infringed on her track "Ulice mračne nisu za devojke". She decided not to sue Mars and Ronson. In 2016, electro-funk band Collage sued Ronson and Mars for copying their single, "Young Girls", while The Sequence, a rap group, claimed it infringed their single "Funk You Up" and sued a year later. In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment accused and led a lawsuit due to similarities with "More Bounce to the Ounce" by Zapp. The company seeks damage, a jury trial and want to prevent Ronson from profiting with "Uptown Funk". In 2018, the Collage lawsuit was dropped, it was not revealed if there was any financial settlement.
"Treasure" was re-registered in ASCAP with new writing credits, which included Thibaut Jean-Marrie Michel Berland and Irfane Khan Christopher, due to the similarities with Breakbot's "Baby I'm Yours".
Billboard estimated Mars' earnings around $18,839,681, making him the twelfth highest paid musician of 2013. Forbes magazine began reporting on Bruno Mars' earnings in 2014, calculating that the $60 million earned between June 2013 to June 2014, for his music and tour, which made him thirteenth on the list of The World's Most Powerful Celebrities. In June 2017, Mars ranked at sixth on the Forbes World's Highest Paid Celebrities, earning an estimated $39 million throughout June 2016 – June 2017. In July 2018, Forbesannounced that Mars was the America's highest-paid musician of 2017, with an estimated total of $100 million. This, in turn, placed him at number 11 on the Celebrity 100 list as well as being his highest yearly earnings to date.
In a cover story for Entertainment Weekly, Mars stated that the song "Nothin' on You" was rejected by a "music industry decision-maker" (a person he won't name) because of his race. 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." In April 2013, in a cover story for GQ magazine, Mars confessed that he changed his surname because people in the music industry took him as another Latino artist, and even tried to convince him to sing in Spanish saying: "Your last name's Hernandez, maybe you should do the Latin music, this Spanish music... Enrique [Iglesias] is so hot right now”. Nevertheless, Mars used his childhood nickname Bruno and changed his surname to Mars, in an effort to "avoid being stereotyped".
Tyler, The Creator
In the song "Yonkers", Tyler, The Creator disparages numerous artists, including Bruno Mars. Tyler also disparages Mars in The Game's song "Martians vs. Goblins", in which he and Lil Wayne are featured artists. Mars, in response to the verse "stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagus," said "[Tyler] has to wait in line if he wants to stab me...[Tyler's] definitely not the first guy that's said something like that to me and he's not going to be the last". On April 24, 2015, Tyler admitted to being wrong regarding Mars' talent and pointed to Mars performance of "Gorilla" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards as evidence.
During a performance on November 21, 2013, Kanye West gave his opinion regarding the MTV Video Music Awards, that were held on August 25, 2013. West said, "Bruno Mars won all the motherfucking awards and sh*t". He continued, "What I care about is if you’re an artist and you work hard as fuck and the streets say that you deserve that sh*t. Then can’t no motherf***ing networks try to gas everybody up so they can sell some product with the prettiest motherf***er out". Nevertheless, on February 26, 2015, he publicly apologized to Bruno Mars on Twitter while asking him to sing a hook on a song that he co-produced. West asked Tyler, the Creator to direct the music video. Mars confirmed that West called him and apologized.
- Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010)
- Unorthodox Jukebox (2012)
- 24K Magic (2016)
- Honeymoon in Vegas (1992)
- Rio 2 (2014)
Tours and residencies
- The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour (2010–12)
- Moonshine Jungle Tour (2013–14)
- 24K Magic World Tour (2017–18)
- European tour with Travie McCoy (2010) (European select dates)
- Hands All Over Tour (Maroon 5) (2010-11) (North American select dates)
- Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas (2013–14)
- Park MGM (2019)
- "I like that Roberto has a good heart. He’s a genuine dude and he really has love for Jewel – genuine love. They grew up together, so they have a bond that’s pretty special."
- "I think I can speak for Phillip; we're both kind of suckers for animated movies."
- "When we got this phone call, I was kind of, "Awesome!""
- "Roberto's everything that Blu is not."
- "I think... incredible music! That's what made Rio so good."