How did Bruno Mars become the 24K magician?
When it was announced in October 2017 that Bruno Mars would be performing at the Cotai Arena on April 28, tickets sold out in minutes. This versatile, genre-blending artist has amassed the sort of global following that was previously reserved for a select few – such as the King of Pop himself,
Mars got his first five number one singles in a shorter span of time than any male artist since Elvis Presley – another performer with whom he is often compared. He’s probably won more awards than any musician you’ve heard of – there’s a lengthy Wikipedia page dedicated just to the prizes he’s picked up, and it’s
growing fast. In January this year, Mars did it again: he swept the 2018 Grammy Awards, taking six of the top prizes for his latest album “24K Magic”, giving him a total of 11 Grammys. At the ceremony, he belted out an electrifying performance of Finesse alongside Cardi B, and in his acceptance speech for the Best Album prize, Mars paid homage to the other nominees – contemporaries such as Childish Gambino, Lorde, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar, saying: “You guys are the reason why I’m in the studio pulling my hair out, man, because I know you guys are only going to come with the top-shelf artistry.”
Mars is equally at home on the guitar, keyboards and drums as he is on the mic. Unlike many of today’s top pop artists, Mars’ big break didn’t come from being a YouTube star or winning a reality TV competition. In fact, luck doesn’t seem to have factored into his climb at all: his success has come through sheer hard work.
While he was growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii, Mars’s parents were both musicians in a band called the Love Notes. Born into such a household, it wasn’t long before the young Mars was impersonating Presley (videos still exist of a four-year-old Mars on stage performing in an Elvis costume), going on to become known around Honolulu as an excellent impersonator. “It was always
cover songs,” he told Rap-Up magazine. “Everything from Chuck Berry to Usher.”
But it wasn’t an entirely happy upbringing. Mars’s parents separated when he was 11, and the Love Notes broke up, leaving the family with little to live on. College was out of the question, and at the age of 17 Mars left Hawaii for Los Angeles. There, he struggled for recognition. He signed to Motown Records in 2004 but was dropped after just a year – the label simply didn’t know how to brand his
eclectic style. Yet looking back on this stage in his career, he takes the blame himself, saying he was “too young” for the deal and that he lacked songwriting experience. To E! Online he explained, poignantly, “Those days [were bad], but in a beautiful way. Without getting dropped, I might not be here … If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.”
Ultimately, it was his music that would do the talking: he began writing songs for better-known artists, including Flo Rida, Travie McCoy, Adam Levine, Brandy and Sean Kingston. This gave him the resources and experience he needed to push his own first album, “Doo-Wops and & Hooligans”, in 2010.
As the title suggests, for this debut he retained much of his 1950s aesthetic,
but the sound was an apparently effortless combination of rock, dance, hip-hop
and Latin dynamics that defied convention. The album also featured the single that finally gave Mars the recognition that had long eluded him: the up-tempo love song Just the Way You Are. The single hit the US Billboard chart in October 2010, spent an incredible 48 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, and sold more than 12.2 million copies worldwide.
Eight years and three albums after his solo debut, Mars has maintained his
pre-eminence as a creative artist. He’s now touring on the back of his 2016 hit
album “24K Magic”, tickets for which are hot property. If you’re one of the lucky
people who reserved a seat for his April 27 and 28 concerts at Cotai Arena,
The Venetian Macao, you’re in for a treat: Bruno Mars is a consummate performer
at the height of his powers – and he’s on an upward trajectory.
For all his studio prowess, it’s on stage that Mars really shines. Here are a
few stand-out performances that captured his energy.
At the Super Bowl XLVIII half-time show in 2014, Mars introduced himself
– and another of his talents – by playing a blistering drum solo, before
jumping up and rolling into an all-the-stops-out performance of Locked
Out of Heaven.
Compassion to spare
At a concert in Cleveland in 2014, he serenaded 11-year-old fan Zumyah
Thorpe, who lost her mother and two sisters in a car crash, and herself
sustained severe head injuries. Her doctors told reporters that singing
along to Mars’s songs had helped the girl to recover.
The stars’ star
Another great 2014 performance: when Sting was recognised at the
Kennedy Center Honours ceremony, Mars performed Sting’s own hits
So Lonely and Message in a Bottle to an audience that included Barack
Obama and Tom Hanks.
Returning to the field for the Super Bowl 50 half-time show, he appeared
on the pitch with Mark Ronson opposite Beyoncé for an explosive
performance of his biggest hit yet, Uptown Funk.
Making them dance
For a tribute to his late idol Prince at the 2017 Grammys, Mars’s
performance had the packed auditorium on its feet and dancing away to
his cover of the rock legend’s Let’s Go Crazy.
Tickets for Bruno Mars' show on April 27 are still availble. Go to www.cotaiticketing.com to reserve yours now!