Although outside collaborators can be found here and there, the majority of Bruno Mars’ debut album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans, was created by The Smeezingtons. A song-writing and producing team composed of Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Mars himself, The Smeezingtons’ most famous outside work is B.o.B’s Nothin’ on You, Travie McCoy’s Billionaire, Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa’s Young, Wild & Free (all of which also feature Mars) and Cee Lo Green’s Fuck You. Besides this, the three also contributed to album tracks for artists such as Flo Rida, Lil Wayne and most recently, Adele.
Grenade is the second number one they wrote and produced for Bruno Mars, though its initial inspiration came from another place. Benny Blanco, another famous song-writer behind many worldwide hits, was playing Mars a demo that he had just produced for an upcoming, unsigned-yet band. Upon hearing it, the R&B singer related so much that he immediately wanted to make it his own. Mars described the resulting song as well as the message behind it: “It’s a heartbreaking, heartbreak song, and I think everyone can relate to that. You’re so in love with this woman and you don’t understand, “ What am I doing wrong? What am I not giving to you? I’ll go as far as putting a bullet in my brain for you, and why can’t I get that kind of love in return?”
Although its success was immediate, Grenade went through multiple transformations and was the last song to be added to the album. Smeezingtons member Philip Lawrence described an early version as having an “uptempo 1960s surf-style sound”. Ari Levine elaborated on the process: “We had recorded the song with a more guitar‑based arrangement that was 15bpm faster. Bruno played the song slower live, and the label was like, ‘Oh, that’s incredible.’ So we had to reproduce it in the way you hear it now on the radio, two days before the album was supposed to be handed in.”
Grenade spent 4 non-consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100, first time being dethroned by Katy Perry’s Firework, second by Britney Spears’ Hold It Against Me and third by Wiz Khalifa’s Black and Yellow.