Bruno Mars: The Billboard Cover Story


The 10-song set is the follow-up to his     closing-in-on-double-platinum 2010 debut, "Doo-Wops &     Hooligans" (Elektra), which produced two Billboard Hot 100 No.     1 singles, "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade." The indelible     and dramatic pop hooks of those songs, along with his preceding     vocal features on two Hot 100 top five singles-B.o.B's "Nothin'     on You" and Travie McCoy's "Billionaire" (which he also     co-wrote)-helped rocket Mars into global superstardom.

He's anxious for the imminent release of his energetic new     single, "Locked Out of Heaven." It debuts digitally and on     radio on Oct. 1 and becomes available for purchase the     following day. With production by Mark Ronson, Jeff Bhasker,     Emile Haynie and songwriting/production team the Smeezingtons     (Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine), the track recalls the     upbeat grooves of the Police. It's unlike anything heard from     Mars to date. A music video was being shot at press time, but a     premiere date hadn't been set.

This is a rare sighting of Mars (real name: Peter     Hernandez), who's just two weeks away from his 27th birthday.     For the past six months the Hawaiian native, who moved to Los     Angeles about a decade ago, has been holed up in Levcon     Studios. It's a cozy Hollywood recording spot he shares with     Lawrence and Levine. Since hooking up six years ago, the     Smeezingtons have not only written or produced solo hits for     Mars, but also worked on an impressive list of breakout hits     for Flo Rida ("Right Round"), K'naan ("Wavin' Flag"), Cee Lo     Green ("Fuck You"), B.o.B ("Nothin' on You"), McCoy     ("Billionaire"), Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa ("Young Wild     & Free") and Bad Meets Evil ("Lighters").

On Sept. 19, Mars announced the completion of "Unorthodox     Jukebox" to his 12 million Twitter followers. The message     included a link to a hilarious video featuring     Mars as everything from a dancer clad in gold hot pants to     James Bond to the Brawny Paper Towel man, set to Salt-N-Pepa's     "Whatta Man." Today is Mars' first interview about his new     album, thus officially launching a still-developing promotional     campaign that will dominate the next couple years of his     life.

It's been a while since Mars last spoke to the press and     beads of sweat are forming on his forehead. He's admittedly a     bit rusty. "I don't know what to talk about because no one has     heard anything," Mars says, pulling off his navy blue captain's     hat and running his hands through his thick, uncoifed hair.     "This is rough for me."

"I've had big record label       presidents look me in the face and say, 'Your music sucks,       you don't know who you are. Pick a lane and come back to us'       … That was disgusting to me, because I'm not trying to       be a circus act."

His thoughts could be muddled from lack of sleep. He was     texting with Marroquin about fine-tuning some track mixes until     5 a.m. The singer recalls having to literally turn off the     radio when hearing his song "It Will Rain" (written for 2011's     "Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1") because of his     displeasure with the track's final mix. "I felt like I was a     mosquito singing," Mars says with noticeable agitation. "I     don't want that to happen again."

It's a special day for      Bruno     Mars. In a few moments, he'll divulge details about his     eagerly awaited sophomore album and declare his musical     independence.

The heat is blistering this late September afternoon outside     Larrabee Sound Studios in North Hollywood, Calif. Mars strolls     in with carefree swagger, removes his gold-framed Aviators and     pours a glass of orange juice. He plops into a chair in the     lounge area that leads into the studio of engineer Manny     Marroquin, the five-time Grammy Award winner who's mixing the     retro-pop artist's edgy new album,      "Unorthodox     Jukebox," due Dec. 11 on Atlantic Records.

As the annoyance fades, a devilish grin creeps across Mars'     face. He's finally found the proper words to describe the     growth that's come with writing "Unorthodox Jukebox." He sits     up from a slouched position and reaches for his American     Spirits that sit on the coffee table. Pulling a cigarette from     the half-empty pack, the artist begins to explain his musical     liberation.

"This is me going into the studio and recording and writing     whatever I want," Mars says confidently. "This album represents     my freedom."

Mars isn't a stranger to rejection. Early in his career, he     was signed to Universal Motown and quickly dropped after studio     time yielded disappointing results. Since then, he's learned a     few lessons and proved himself an undeniably talented singer,     songwriter, producer and performer. A quadruple threat, Mars     has earned the respect of his music industry peers and is now     ready to unleash his full potential and blow some minds.

"I've had big record label presidents look me in the face     and say, 'Your music sucks, you don't know who you are, your     music is all over the place, and we don't know how to market     this stuff. Pick a lane and come back to us,'" Mars says. "That     was disgusting to me, because I'm not trying to be a circus     act. I listen to a lot of music and 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.'"

Source: Billboard


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