Although A&R manager Aaron Bay-Schuck wanted to sign Bruno Mars to Atlantic Records as early as 2006 and as immediate as hearing him play a couple of songs on the guitar, it took 3 more years for the R&B singer to make his solo debut. Atlantic felt he still needed more time to develop as an artist. In that time frame, he co-wrote and co-produced songs for artists such as Sean Kingston, Sugababes and Flo Rida. His breakthrough eventually came with B.o.B.’s Nothin’ on You and Travie McCoy’s Billionaire, both top-10 hits that featured Mars. A solo career would only be a logical next step.
Doo-Wops & Hooligans takes its name from Mars’ exposure as a kid to a lot of 1950s musical styles, including rock ‘n’ roll and doo-wop. Bruno’s appreciation of the genre is not only expressed through his debut album’s name, but also through the ideology: “it’s straight to the point and it’s beautiful”. According to him, another aspect that makes the album stand out is its universal character: “I have records that women are going to relate to and men are going to relate to. So doo-wops are for the girls, and hooligans are for the guys.” Doo-Wops & Hooligans was an immediate success upon release, attaining the #3 position in the Billboard charts.
And besides its success as an album, the debut spawned no less than 3 Top-10 hits: Just the Way You Are, Grenade and The Lazy Song. The first is a love song and the writing credits go to The Smeezingtons (Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and Mars himself), with producers Needlz and Khali Walton responsible for the original idea. In an interview with 4music, Mars described Just the Way You Are as a simple song, without any deep or poetic message, but with a story behind it: “Get ready to fall in love!” In another instance, he put it together with Joe Cocker’s You Are So Beautiful and Eric Clapton’s Wonderful Tonight in the category of love songs that get straight to the point.
Just the Way You Are spent 4 consecutive weeks at number one in Billboard Top 100, before being dethroned by Far East Movement’s Like a G6 (featuring The Cataracs and Dev).