Love and an affinity for music can be genetic. There have been many artists I’ve listened to in my time that were born into performing families, and that talent seems to almost always be passed on. No different than Archie Manning giving football talents to his three sons, today’s artist came from parents that were certainly no slouches when it came to putting on a show.
Peter Hernandez was born in October of 1985 in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the age of 2, Peter was given the nickname of Bruno because of a striking resemblance to professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino. Bruno’s mother and father met while at a hula show—she was a dancer and he was playing percussion. His mom was also was a singer and his father had a complete package, often covering Little Richard music at shows. Bruno’s uncle also was an Elvis impersonator, often asking Bruno to attend his shows and joining him on stage. At age four Bruno began performing with the family band, becoming well known on the island for his own Elvis impersonations. The Mars surname was added later, as a differentiator between him and other Hispanic pop artists.
In spite of making good money and being well known in Hawaii, Bruno Mars decided to try his talents on the mainland. He moved to Los Angeles and, to put it lightly, he struggled to find any work. He was signed to Motown quickly but he never put out a record—they didn’t have faith in him. Mars then met an A&R man who saw the raw talent and decided to be a mentor. He got Mars writing and producing some of the biggest pop songs in the world. But, the entire time, Mars was still playing local shows doing covers with a band, hoping to get noticed as an artist. It wasn’t until co-writing and singing on a couple top Billboard tracks that he really caught a major label’s attention.
That label ended up being Atlantic Records, and the debut album for Bruno Mars was Doo-Wops and Hooligans, released on October 4th of 2010. Based on current sales of roughly 7 million copies, it seems his own release was long overdue. This album is an amazing blend of pop, rock, R&B, reggae and blues. It’s easy to see the Michael Jackson style coming through, and the influence his music had on Bruno Mars. The tracks aren’t nearly as dancy as any Jackson works, but the vocal style is spot on. Most of this album is ballady and slowed down, but it’s got a very unique vibe to it. I’d almost describe it as Michael Jackson and Coldplay combined.
Lyrically, this album is all over the place. At times it feels very carefree and feel-good. There are love songs, friendship songs, and one track about loving the idea of a spontaneous marriage. But then you have darker heartbreak songs, one track is about never finding true love and one is about simply being down in the dumps. Personally, I feel that’s part of the charm of this record. It’s clear he’s a phenomenal vocal talent, and the fact his writing is so diverse is the icing on the cake. And the darker stuff is what makes this not just another pop album.
In this generation of music, it can be hard to find artists with true talent. Even if this album isn’t for you, there is no doubt Bruno Mars can write and sing. And a guy with his pedigree in the industry is worth a shot, especially for five Washington’s.
Top 3 Tracks: