Bruno Mars is one of the hottest pop sensations in recent years; not only because of his own hit songs, but also for the hit songs he's written for some of the most popular acts in music today. His musical style infuses modern pop with rock, hip hop, R&B, and reggae, and a smooth voice and laid-back lyrics have made him a favorite among men and women alike.
Born in Waikiki as Peter Gene Hernandez, Bruno Mars joined his family's band, The Love Notes, as soon as he was able. Performing around the island, the young Bruno Mars first gained recognition as an Elvis impersonator - to the extent that it even earned him a cameo in the Nicholas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker movie, Honeymoon in Vegas. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of 17 to pursue a music career, adopting the moniker of Bruno Mars; the former because his father said he resembled wrestler Bruno Sammartino, the latter a tip of the cap to those girls who told him he was "out of this world."
During a brief stint at Motown Records, Mars met songwriter Philip Lawrence and engineer Ari Levine and the three formed a songwriting group called The Smeezingtons. Lawrence introduced Bruno Mars to Atlantic manager Aaron Bay-Schuck, who hired the Smeezingtons to write for the label. During this period of songwriting, Bruno Mars not only cultivated his personal sound but also co-wrote hit songs including "Right Round" by Flo Rida and "F*** You" by Cee-lo Green.
After releasing his EP, It's Better if You Don't Understand (which received fair reviews), Bruno Mars exploded on the music scene with his debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans. It featured the hit singles "Just the Way You Are" and "Grenade", which can still be heard playing on radios and in commercials. "Just the Way You Are" also earned him a Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance at the 2011 Grammy Awards.
Mars followed up the success of his debut album with Unorthodox Jukebox in 2012. The album featured a similar style to his first, but with tighter and catchier beats. Mars also successfully evolved his own pop style by exploring new territory, leading to the album going double platinum.
Fitz and The Tantrums:
Fitz and The Tantrums is bringing the Motown sound back to modern music. While Fitz and The Tantrums haven't had an all-star concert schedule yet, their fresh sound is garnering attention on tour dates in 2011. The band's frontman, Michael Fitzpatrick, has described his music as "soul-influenced indie pop" and also reiterated that the sound is similar to Motown Records, but that he's not trying to recreate it. In no way is a resemblance to Motown music a bad thing; in fact, it's one of the many reasons that Fitz and The Tantrums have struck a pleasing chord with fans and critics alike. The band's popular sound is also the reason Fitz and The Tantrums have had a full concert schedule since the release of their newest album Pickin' Up The Pieces, including upcoming tour dates for 2011. The remaining concert schedule for 2011 includes tour dates in North America, and even a stop off in Australia.
Michael Fitzpatrick - or Fitz - had been working as a singer and songwriter in Los Angeles for a few years, without any major claim to fame. One fateful day, Fitz received a call from his ex-girlfriend, whose neighbor had to move out quickly and was selling most of his things, including an old church organ. After hiring and pleading a group of people to move it into his living room, Fitz sat down at the organ and was struck by wave after wave of inspiration. "Breakin' The Chains of Love" was the song that first flowed from the organ and became the single off of his first EP, Songs For a Break Up, Vol. 1. While he liked the electric guitar on the track, Fitz felt it was the saxophone that shone through brightest, giving him the idea to create songs without any guitar at all (excluding a funky bass). Before recording, Fitz had to find some Tantrums; he recruited the sultry voice of Noelle Scaggs (former singer for The Rebirth, whom he produced), drummer John Wicks, keyboardist Jeremy Ruzumna (former musical director for Macy Gray), saxophonist James King (who has backed De La Soul), and bassist Joseph Karnes. He recorded all the songs for the EP in his living room in 2009, and the album slowly began to spread to the east coast. It made its way to New York, where the EP found its way into the hands of a tattoo artist who was inking Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine. The artist urged Levine to listen to the album and the singer was immediately impressed, personally inviting Fitz and The Tantrums to open for Maroon 5 on their 2009 tour.
Fitz and The Tantrums was signed to Dangerbird Records in 2010 and shortly after released their first full-length album, Pickin' Up The Pieces. The album has become a huge success, including the single "MoneyGrabber," and brought Fitz and his Tantrums a fair amount of fame and headlining tour dates in 2011. The group is about to experience even more fame this summer as they fill up their concert schedule with even more tour dates in 2011, this time with up-and-comer April Smith and the Great Picture Show. The tour is underway on the west coast of the US and will head to the east coast on April 9. Fitz and the Tantrums will make their way down the east coast and loop through the south until April 23, when they'll head to Europe to play shows in Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, and London in early May. On May 24, Fitz and the Tantrums will return to the US to play the Northwest and Canada before traveling to Australia for tour dates on July 27. The last scheduled 2011 tour date for Fitz and The Tantrums is set for Austin, TX on September 17, with the possibility of an extended concert schedule in the near future. Those interested in seeing Fitz and the Tantrums should check them out on their current concert schedule, as the next time they tour, you might have to pay a lot more for a ticket after they hit the big time.