Three years ago, Bruno Mars became a worldwide superstar with a string of smash hits. But before that, he struggled for years to make it, and reveals that one of the barriers to his becoming a pop star was his race.
Bruno is Puerto Rican, Jewish and Filipino. In the cover story of the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, he says that when he and his songwriting partners came up with a song called “Nothin’ on You,” Bruno figured it was his ticket to the big time. But when he brought it to a music industry decision-maker — a guy he won’t name — the reaction shocked him.
“He goes, ‘Oh man, oh man, what a song,’” recalls Bruno. But then, he says the guy told him, “You know what kind of white artist we could break with this? Blond hair, blue eyes, we could make this kid the next thing!”
“It was just kinda sad,” Bruno tells EW. “It was like, ‘Man, what about the kid that played you the song and wrote it and produced it…what about that guy?’”
That experience, Bruno said, made him feel like a “mutant,” and he says that was his lowest point. “Even with that song in my back pocket to seal the deal, things like that are coming out of people’s mouths. It made me feel like I wasn’t even in the room.”
Thankfully, the story has a happy ending. “Nothin’ on You” went on to become a #1 hit for Bruno and rapper B.o.B. It was nominated for three Grammys, and it launched Bruno on what’s became one of the hottest pop careers of the decade.