Unveiling Bruno Mars’ Secret Pen: 6 Untold Hits He Wrote for Other Artists

Bruno Mars is one of the most successful pop artists of the past decade, with an impressive string of hit singles and albums to his name. However, what many fans may not realize is that Mars is also an accomplished songwriter, composing smash hits not just for himself but for other top artists as well. As a songwriter, Mars has shown a knack for crafting infectious melodies and clever, memorable lyrics across a range of genres from pop and R&B to reggae and funk. Let’s take a look at six of the biggest hits that Bruno Mars wrote for other musicians over the years.

“Nothin’ on You” by B.o.B featuring Bruno Mars (2010)

In 2010, Bruno Mars co-wrote this breezy, melodic hip-hop track along with Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine for rapper B.o.B.’s debut album. “Nothin’ on You” became the breakout smash from the album, spending three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Mars also sings the hook and contributes a verse on the song, but B.o.B. was the lead artist. The track’s finger-snapping beat and Mars’ soulful, laidback vocals on the chorus proved irresistible to pop and hip-hop audiences alike. “Nothin’ on You” was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, establishing Mars as a hot new songwriting talent to watch.

“F*ck You” by Cee Lo Green (2010)

In 2010, Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Brody Brown penned this soulful kiss-off anthem for Cee Lo Green. Originally titled “Forget You,” the expletive-laden version became a viral hit. The song’s retro Motown sound, sweeping strings, and Cee Lo’s powerful vocals made it a crossover smash, hitting #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. At the 2011 Grammy Awards, “F*ck You” won Best Urban/Alternative Performance and was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. Mars and his co-writers cleverly crafted a contemporary breakup song with an old-school sound perfectly suited for Cee Lo’s soulful voice.

“Young, Wild & Free” by Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa featuring Bruno Mars (2011)

Mars teamed up with rappers Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa to pen this laidback anthem to the carefree joys of youth. Released as a single from the soundtrack to Snoop and Wiz’s stoner comedy film Mac and Devin Go to High School, “Young, Wild & Free” topped the Billboard Hot 100 thanks to its breezy melodies and Mars’ crooned chorus about living free and having fun. Mars, Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine tailored the song’s vibe and lyrics to suit the two rappers’ smooth West Coast style. The track showed Mars’ versatility as a writer, composing an effortless hip-hop party jam that allowed Snoop and Wiz to play to their strengths. At the 2012 Grammy Awards, “Young, Wild & Free” was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.

“Treasure” by Bruno Mars (2012)

While best known as a performer, Mars also writes and produces his own smash hits. “Treasure,” from his 2012 album Unorthodox Jukebox, is a glittering disco-pop gem crafted by Mars along with Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and Phredley Brown. The song’s funky ’70s and ’80s inspired groove, fluttering strings, and silky falsetto vocals are vintage Bruno Mars. “Treasure” peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and its accompanying music video starring retro roller-skaters was nominated for Video of the Year at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. As both writer and performer, Mars showed he could channel the effervescent pop and funk sound of earlier eras for a contemporary hit.

“When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars (2012)

Mars again wrote for himself on this aching piano ballad from Unorthodox Jukebox. Co-written with Philip Lawrence and Ari Levine, “When I Was Your Man” showcased Mars’ ability to pour emotion into a sincere, melancholy love song. His vulnerable vocals and the stripped-down piano and strings arrangement create an intimate, somber mood. The track reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, proving Mars could write a compelling, chart-topping breakup ballad as skillfully as an upbeat pop banger. At the 2013 Grammy Awards, Mars won Best Pop Vocal Performance for his performance on “When I Was Your Man,” displaying his talent for wringing raw feeling from his own lyrics and melodies.

“Versace on the Floor” by Bruno Mars (2016)

From his smash 2016 album 24K Magic, “Versace on the Floor” is another sensual love ballad written and performed by Mars. Co-written with Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, and Philip Lawrence, the song has a lush, cinematic arrangement of piano, strings, and drums. Mars’ breathy falsetto floats above the music as he sings romantic lyrics inspired by a beautiful woman in a Versace dress. The track peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #4 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. With its combination of R&B groove and pop polish, “Versace on the Floor” demonstrates how Mars can draw on multiple genres when writing a sultry, baby-making ballad for himself.

“That’s What I Like” by Bruno Mars (2016)

Mars earned one of his biggest hits as both a writer and performer with this funky ode to over-the-top luxury and pleasure. From 24K Magic, “That’s What I Like” was co-written by Mars, Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Philip Lawrence, Ray Romulus, Jeremy Reeves, and Ray McCullough. Built around a bouncy, retro R&B rhythm, the song finds Mars serenading a lover with promises of fine gifts like diamonds, trips to Paris, and champagne. “That’s What I Like” spent 30 weeks in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #1. It won Mars major awards at the 2017 Grammys, including Song of the Year, Best R&B Song, and Best R&B Performance. As both songwriter and singer, Mars masterfully updated the lush R&B sound of the 1980s and ’90s for a contemporary pop smash.

“Finesse” by Bruno Mars & Cardi B (2018)

On the remix of this 24K Magic track, Mars joined forces with rapper Cardi B for an energetic blast of old school hip-hop and R&B flavor. Co-written by Mars, Philip Lawrence, Christopher Brody Brown, James Fauntleroy, Ray Romulus, Jeremy Reeves, and Ray McCullough Jr., “Finesse” samples the 1990 new jack swing hit “Finessin’” by Teddy Riley & Guy. Cardi B adds a feisty rap verse, while Mars’ vocals ride the slick, funky beat. The remix reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it Mars’ 13th Top 10 single. With its throwback groove tailored for Mars’ silky voice, “Finesse” showed how well Mars and his team could rework ’90s R&B/hip-hop sounds into a contemporary pop smash.

As these songs demonstrate, Bruno Mars is far more than just a pop hitmaker and dynamic stage performer. He is also an adept songwriter who has penned major hits for other top artists across different genres. Whether crafting earnest love ballads, party anthems, retro pop, or contemporary R&B, Mars has a proven knack for writing catchy melodies, clever hooks, and lyrics that connect with audiences. He often collaborates with a core team including Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, and others to create his hits. Together, they form a songwriting dream team that can churn out pop smashes not only for Mars but for other stars too.

Mars’ skills as a songwriter reveal his versatility and adaptability as an artist. He is able to tailor his writing to complement each artist’s style, whether it’s the soulful vocals of CeeLo Green, the laidback flow of Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, or his own silky pop-R&B sensibility. Mars weaves together diverse influences from pop, rock, R&B, hip-hop, and funk into potential hits. However, he also maintains his own distinctive melodic and lyrical voice as a songwriter. Whether crafting songs for himself or for other stars, Mars’ hallmarks include his evocative falsetto, lush arrangements, clever pop culture references, and a mix of retro and contemporary sounds.

Even when Mars writes for other artists, his contributions as a co-writer, producer, and often featured vocalist are crucial to making the songs click. His writing elevates the work of other artists while still leaving room for their own styles to shine. The commercial and critical success of the songs he has written for other musicians is a testament to Mars’ talents. At just 36 years old, he is already a multi-talented hit machine who can deliver pop smashes for himself as well as songs perfectly tailored for other top artists. With his sharp songwriting instincts, Bruno Mars will surely continue penning chart-toppers for himself and his musical peers for years to come.

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