Bruno Mars showed he was more than just B.o.B and Travie McCoy’s hook guy when he dropped Doo-Wops & Hooligans back in October 2010 — and he’s got an Album of the Year nomination at Sunday’s Grammys to prove it.
With an ear for vintage-sounding details and a love for a good melody, Mars unleashed an album that would spawn megahits and make the Hawaii native (and former Elvis Presley impersonator) a household name, not to mention the go-to guy for the likes of hip-hop legends Eminem and Lil Wayne.
For the smash debut, Mars hooked up with his production team, the Smeezingtons (Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine), as well as A-list talent like songwriter Claude Kelley, producer and collaborator Damian Marley and former Fall Out Boy leading man Patrick Stump. The
result: an album that paid homage to Mars’ love of, you guessed it, doo-wop and proved that he has a talent for crafting modern-day pop songs that could connect with a wide-ranging audience. Never forgetting his roots, he also worked with “F— You” collaborator Cee Lo Green and brought B.o.B on the album.
“I want the world to fall in love with my music, that’s what I’m doing music for. I want to be able to do shows and have people come and see me do my thing,” Mars explained to MTV News back in 2010 about the album.
His wish certainly came true. When it dropped, Doo-Wops & Hooligans debuted at #3 on the Billboard albums chart and has since sold nearly 1.5 million copies. The love didn’t end there: “Just the Way You Are” and “Grenade” topped the charts, and “The Lazy Song” peaked at #4.
Mars found a way to keep everyone talking, displaying his creativity not only in song, but also in videos. The clips for those tracks were almost as buzzworthy as the songs themselves. The VMA-nominated video for “Grenade” managed to capture the sadness of the song, with Mars dragging a piano through the streets of Los Angeles only to find that his lady love no longer loves him.
“It was my concept,” the singer explained about the video. “I said, ’I want to drag a piano.’ I got my friend Nabil to come direct it, and it was a risk, because I still hear jokes to this day like, ’What the hell you doing dragging a piano?’ ” he said. “But it’s my art, so shut up!”
He also had everyone buzzing when he dropped his video for “The Lazy Song.” Where “Grenade” relied on heart, the “Lazy” video was all about making everyone laugh. It featured dance crew Poreotics (from “America’s Best Dance Crew”) done up in monkey masks dancing alongside Mars. In fact, it even got a Best Choreography nod at the VMAs .
“We worked really hard on it, and we wanted to give people something to laugh at and show personality in the song and what we’re talking about,” he said. ” ’The Lazy Song’ is not necessarily the song you want to hear in the club, but we put our monkey dance to it.”
Now his focus is on trying to take home a shining Grammy statue come February 12. And it’s not just his album the Grammys have recognized, but also his heartbreaking ballad “Grenade,” which is up for three awards at the show including Record of the Year, Song of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance.
“Worked extremely hard on ’Grenade.’ That was the hardest song on the whole album to finish, because we knew we had something and to get all that emotion out,” he explained. “I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re really happy that that song is being recognized, because that’s like our trophy song.
“Incredible. We worked really hard,” he added about all the recognition the album has received. “We worked hard in the studio right down the street, actually. And it’s a little tiny shack, but for the two years we were in there, we just locked ourselves in that room and came up with Doo-Wops & Hooligans.”
Chaos! Profanity! Wardrobe malfunctions! Don’t miss Sway and James Montgomery live from the Grammys red carpet this Sunday, February 12, for a full three hours of mayhem, starting at 5 p.m. ET on MTV.com. And the fun doesn’t end Sunday: MTV News has you covered until the Grammy hangover wears off!