Photos: Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae Hanging Proudly Together

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I spent some time at the Atlantic Records headquarters in New York City last week. Good to see all of their great talent prominently featured everywhere around the office, including my faves Bruno Mars and Janelle Monae who were hanging proudly together. Makes me hope that a collaboration will happen one day soon.

September 2, 2010 in Arjan, Bruno Mars, Janelle Monae | Permalink

Bravo Bruno! Rising Star Bruno Mars Triumphs In New York City

Bruno Mars - Bowery Ballroom - Photo 2b

It was only up until a few months ago that Bruno Mars and his pals played bars and small clubs across California for "a dollar and a slice of pizza." But his life as a vagabond troubadour was instantly turned up side down when he recorded "Nothin' On You" with B.o.B. and shot straight to the top of the global pop charts.

His success with "Nothin' On You" was followed by "Billionaire," another smash collaboration that Mars recorded with Travie McCoy. His appearance on these two hit tracks also spotlighted his achievements as a songwriter, including tracks that he wrote for Flo Rida, K'Naan, Adam Levine, Sugababes and Mike Posner. More recently, the Hawaii-born crooner co-wrote Cee Lo Green's phenomenal "F**k You."

After being featured on other people's songs, Mars recently stepped into the limelight as the lead singer of his own material. On Wednesday evening, all of Mars' hard work, hopes and dreams finally led to his first-ever headlining show in New York City.

His gig at Bowery Ballroom kicked off a series of shows in the U.S. and overseas to promote his much-anticipated debut LP "Doo-Wops & Hooligans" that will be available October 5 on Atlantic/Elektra Records

Combining style, soul and swagger (and freshly coiffed as a modern-day Elvis), Bruno Mars truly impressed by showing that he is not only a gifted songwriter, but also a charming, charismatic showman. He owned the stage, had the crowd cheering along and he visibly enjoyed every single second of it.

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Mars and his bandmates played a mix of new songs from his forthcoming debut, tracks from his "It's Better If You Don't Understand" EP and savvy remakes of his hit collaborations.

He started his with a downtempo version of "The Other Side," which was by followed by "On Top" (the first song Mars wrote with his Smeezington partner Philip Lawrence) and  "Marry U." He then played a special version of "Billionaire," his collaboration with Travie McCoy that was introduced by a remake of '80s smash "Money (That's What I Want)" by the Flying Lizards and first performed by Barrett Strong.

Impressive was his performance of the gritty "Grenades" that is slated to be a single track, and is very good.

The crowd sang along when he performed his current single, "Just The Way You Are," which is currently racing up the charts.

Mars gave a special introduction to "Nothin' On You," the song that turned him into a bonafide pop star. "These four chords changed my life," he smiled, while also giving a shout to his Atlantic team up in the VIP section and thanking them for signing him.

The singer encored with a rocking version of Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana," which underlined his versatility as a singer and performer who can easily move from soulful ballads to hard-rocking pop tunes.

Bruno Mars' very first headlining gig in New York City demonstrated that this rising star is a fresh new voice to be reckoned with. In a crowded pop scene that tends to favor style over substance, his music emphasizes what truly defines great pop music - a strong melody combined with a heartfelt message that is universally understood. 

Bravo Bruno!

August 30, 2010 in Bruno Mars | Permalink

Listen to Bruno Mars Debut Single "Just The Way You Are"

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Today, emerging pop crooner Bruno Mars unveiled his official debut single, "Just The Way You," which is taken from his forthcoming debut album that is slated for release later this year. This new track incorporates a style and sound that is signature Bruno Mars - combining capitvating, chart-savvy melodies with a heartfelt delivery this is filled with soul and meaning. In other words: Bruno Mars likes to "sing his face off." Listen to the song after the jump

July 19, 2010 in Bruno Mars | Permalink | Comments (0)

Watch Bruno Mars featuring Cee-lo Green & B.oB. "The Other Side"

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After my fun little chat with Bruno Mars the other day, I'm convinced that he has what it takes to hit the big time and stay around for a good long while. The Hawaiian-born singer/songwriter is one of pop's brightest new stars who not only stands out from the pack for his soulful vocals and heartfelt delivery. He is also a gifted songwriter with an immaculate knack for melody. 

Mars is already ruling the charts around the world together with Travie McCoy ("Billionaire") and B.o.B. ("Nothin' On You"), and in May he released his debut EP ("It's Better If You Don't Understand") to test the waters with his own artist material. This excellent collection of songs is a tastemaker of much more that he is about to unleash on the masses very soon. 

Taken from his EP is his new single "The Other Side" that features his pals Cee-lo Green and B.o.B. Mars expressed his utmost respect for Cee-lo when we met. "I'm learning so much from him. He has that thing," the singer explained to me. "There's people that can sing and there's people that can sang, if you know what I mean. He's that guy. I'm sure he's never had training. He just has that thing in his voice that you can hear his soul and feel that shit. I'm a big fan."

Directed by Nick Bilardello and Cameron Duddy, the video for "The Other Side" was filmed during a recent photoshoot in Los Angeles. Nice to finally see Mars do his own thing after appearing with others. Mars is the real deal. You better take notice. Make sure to get tickets for his New York show on August 25. Watch the video for "The Other Side" after the jump

July 14, 2010 in Bruno Mars | Permalink | Comments (0)

On the Couch With... Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars - Pub 4 - Harper Smith - 400

Bruno Mars is one pop's brightest new stars. Most of you will know him from his chart-topping collaborations with B.o.B ("Nothin' On You") and Travie McCoy ("Billionaire"), but this Hawaii-born wonder boy has a lot more on his sleeves. After focusing primarily on writing and producing for other artists (including Flo Rida’s "Right Round," and K’Naan’s "Waving Flags") together with his pals of the Smeezingtons, he recently stepped into the spotlight as the lead singer of his own material. 

You must check out his debut EP "It's Better If You Don't Understand" that showcases his genuine talent for delivering a soulful, contemporary pop sound with irresistible hooks. But don't expect him to "ride unicorns" any time soon to get attention. Currently in the studio with Cee-Lo and Mike Posner, his full-length effort will focus on quality songwriting, mashing high-energy tracks with sweet balladry. He is ready to "blow some faces off" with his forthcoming debut outing that he considers a "I told ya so" after nay-sayers discouraged him from trying for years.

Bruno and I recently met up to talk about his rise to fame and his songwriting chops. His ultimate goal is to write and perform songs that are timeless and still sound good twenty years from now. "I don't want the audience to feel embarrassed that they liked the song back in the day," he explains. Check out our entire chat after the jump.

Congrats with the release of your EP.
Yeah, thanks man. We just put it out. It is no big release or anything. I hope people enjoy to hear me sing a full song for change [smiles]

Most people are getting to know you for the first time as a singer, but you have been writing hit songs for a long time. Love to chat with you more about writing songs. You know how to write a solid hook. Who are people that inspired you as a young songwriter?
I'm inspired by people ranging from The Beatles to T-Pain and Kanye West. The Beatles especially - the songs they had were so simple. Or take John Lennon's "Imagine" for example - it is such a simple song but his performance on it is amazing and every single word on that song is accounted for. I can't help to not feel it. That's what I want to do with my music, I really want to make people feel something. Like with "Nothing On You" I wanted to touch the hearts of people all over the world. I also wanted to do something different, I mean how often have people put "girls" and "world" in a song, but it is the words that come after you it, like "I could be chasing, but my time would be wasted, because they got nothing on you," so it's already coming from an honest, genuine perspective and you're telling the truth to this woman.

By mentioning "Imagine" as an example, you set the bar really high for your own work. When you write a song do automatically strive for that level of perfection?
I think that song is a perfect example of what a combination of melody, chords and words can do. It's a timeless song that you can play today even though it was written a long time ago, and still gives you the exact same feeling. Everybody wants to write a song like that. When I write a song, I just hope I can still perform it 20 years from now and still have the same effect on people. I don't want the audience to feel embarrassed that they liked the song back in the day [laughs]

When you write music, what comes first? Melody or lyrics?
It is always different. Sometimes it can be a phrase, like "Talking To The Moon" on my EP that may make listeners wonder, "why the hell is he talking to moon?" Hopefully, when they listen to the song they know I'm going crazy and I'm basically talking to myself. With "Somewhere In Brooklyn" I just got the melody [he sings the chorus to demonstrate] and made a song out of it. It is always different. That's why I love doing music. I have so many ideas. I never know what melody will hit me today.

Are you constantly "on" getting melodies, lyrics and ideas?
Yeah, I can't turn it off. It's a bit like a blessing and a curse.

After successfully writing hits for other people, you now step out in the spotlight as a singer and performer with your EP. Why did you decide to make that move?
I always wanted to be a singer. That's why I moved to Los Angeles from Hawaii to make a career as a singer and performer. But things were hard initially and I started out in production. At a certain point somebody wanted a song that I wrote for myself for their artist. At the time I was so broke, and as much as I didn't want to sell my songs, it is something I had to do. But looking back it was the smartest thing I could have done. To put the artist thing on the side and just pray that one day somebody is going to hear me sing this demo and say "why don't we have this kid sing it?" And that is exactly what happened.

Do you consider writing Flo'rida and Ke$ha's "Right Round" a turning point for you?
I think you can say that. It was just telling us we were doing something right. We can't take full responsibility for writing that song because it was mostly a cover that we turned into a hip hop version of it. It just showed us we were on the right track and found a sound people enjoyed around the world.

So after giving us a taste with your EP are you planning to work on a full album, and when can we expect that?
Fortunately, "Billionaire" [by Travie McCoy] is really taking off so I have to do shows and travel, so it is postponing some of the writing on my album. but at the end of the month we are locking up some time to work on it. If you see the show, you'll see it is really high energy. That's what we really are going to focus on - to get some high energy songs that I can sing the shit out of [laughs]. The EP features a lot of sweet songs, but there's another side that I really want to explore.

You're really the man of the moment. Are you having a lot of artists knocking on your door to write for them?
Actually, I'm in the studio right now with Cee-Lo and Mike Posner. But moving ahead, I'm really going to focus on my own music. I don't want to put out crap because I have two big songs on the radio right now. This is my first album, you know. I want to blow some faces off! [laughs]

What's is it like to be with Cee-Lo in the studio. Any tips he's giving you?
I'm learning so much from him. He has that thing. There's people that can sing and there's people that can sang, if you know what I mean. He's that guy. I'm sure he's never had training. He just has that thing in his voice that you can hear his soul and feel that shit. I'm a big fan. He does what he wants. If he wants to write a song about being a transformer, and he does it and it is awesome. It's that mentality of I'm going to do what the fuck I'm going to do. I admire that about him.

That may be easier then said that done for most. If you're a young artist, how do you stand your ground with so many people around you telling you what to do?
I'm in a great situation because my team at the label really believes in me and they know that I can do it - I can write a song. They have a lot of faith in me. They are not trying to stylize me, or let me ride unicorns or give me some kind of gimmick. [laughs]

Now that things are taking off for you in a big way, what do you make of the fame that is part of that?
Well, for me it is a "I told you so." I told you I can do it and I told you I can write a song for the world. For a long time, people stopped believing in me or had their doubts about me. I never signed up for this to be famous, all I know to do is music. So that's what I want to do. That these songs are working is justice for me. I got through the fire and living my dream.

June 28, 2010 in Bruno Mars, On The Couch With... | Permalink | Comments (3)