Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bruno Mars: A Unique Sound of Hawaii

Bruno Mars (real name Peter Gene Hernandez) is Hawaii's most successful musician to date and music critics seem to have a problem classifying the singer when he first began his music career. What music critics don't understand is that Bruno is from Hawaii, where all music genres are enjoyed by one of the world's most diverse populations and local artists are versatile musicians.

There is no particular genre that anyone can classify Bruno Mars.  He does a little bit of everything from rock, soul, pop music, reggae, and the Motown sound.  When he first started out in the music business, it was his unique sound that turned off some record executives, who did not know what to label him as an artist in pop music or soul or rock. Little did those execs know then that his versatility would be deemed "a strength" now that he has become a successful musician.

Bruno has been compared to other singers but there is no question that he is influenced by many artists growing up. For example, his song "Locked Out of Heaven" shows heavy influence by the popular English band The Police.  The band was popular for fusing ska, reggae, and rock in their songs during the 80s and 90s, which made them a favorite in the islands as well.

The singer showed his versatility by doing a Motown-like version of "Runaway Baby" on last year's Grammy Awards. His recent performance of "Locked Out of Heaven" on this year's Grammy Awards along with the former lead singer of The Police, Sting, may have been the highlight of his career.  The performance was an added twist to the show since Bruno's hit song was often compared to the Police hit "Can't Stand Losing You." 

Being the classy individual he is, Bruno doesn't mind the comparison.    

Growing up in Hawaii, the young musician was influenced by Hawaiian music, especially the reggae sound which is popular on the island radio stations. As a child, this musical prodigy started out impersonating Little Richard, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson but as he grew he couldn't escape the unmistakable sound of Bob Marley.

His first album "Doowops and Hooligans" introduced the pop music side of Bruno while the second album "Unorthodox Jukebox" showed his versatility and a "dark side" of the artist.  The Filipino-Puerto Rican singer said that the second album was a comeuppance towards the record executives, who turned him down and told him to pick a specific genre. "Unorthodox Jukebox" was a defiant record by Bruno, who now says that success has given him the freedom to play whatever genre fits his songs.

At just 27 years-old, Bruno Mars is not only one of the world's top music artists but he is truly a representative of the unique "Sound of Hawaii."


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