The announcement that Bruno Mars would deliver the halftime show at February's Super Bowl was greeted with a mixed response -- everything from cheers to jeers to huh?
Jersey fans were especially riled up that a performer from the Garden State or nearby New York wasn't chosen to perform at Super Bowl XLVIII, which will be held Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
"Bruno Mars?! You're in Jersey. Haven't you heard of Bon Jovi or Bruce Springsteen? Even Billy Joel or JayZ!!!" Joey Lacus tweeted Sunday.
Others, especially those of a certain generation who don't listen to pop music, were left scratching their heads: Who is Bruno Mars and is that really his name?
If you're wondering who is the guy who will be joining the ranks of Beyonce, Madonna, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Prince, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and U2 as the Super Bowl halftime's headliner, keep reading. Here are five things you need to know about Bruno Mars.
|That's Not His Real Name|
Bruno Mars, 27, was born Peter Gene Hernandez in Hawaii -- hence the comments from Jersey fans. His father, Pete, is half Puerto Rican and half Jewish from Brooklyn. His mother, Bernadette ("Bernie"), emigrated from the Philippines as a child. His older sister Jamie has said he received the nickname Bruno while still a baby because he was "always so confident, independent, really strong-willed and kind of a brute—hence the name Bruno—and it kind of just stuck."
|He's Been Performing Since Childhood|
Mars comes from a musical family. His father was a percussionist and his mother a hula dancer and singer. His family performed a 1950's-style revue that included Motown hits, doo-wop melodies and celebrity impersonations. At 4, Mars' dad brought him up on stage, where he did impersonations of Elvis and Michael Jackson -- an artist he's often compared to. "I haven't left the stage since," Mars told USA Today. "Music is all I got."
|He Kicked Around L.A. Awhile Before He Got Signed|
After graduating from high school and the band he started called The School Boys, Mars moved to Los Angeles to try to make it big. Unfortunately, no one was interested in signing him as a performer but they liked the music he was writing. "It was not my dream to be a producer or songwriter," Mars told USA Today. "I wanted to survive in California and continue to do music, so I started writing for other artists and hoped that one day a label would take a chance on me."
Mars scored hits for Travie McCoy, Adam Levine, Flo Rida and CeeLo Green. He finally broke out as a solo artist, when he was featured vocally on rapper B.o.B's "Nothin' On You," a song he had co-written and produced.
|His Music Is Unorthodox|
In a few short years, Mars has skyrocketed to prominence as a solo performer, earning 14 Grammy nominations and selling over 100 million singles. His 2010 debut album, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans," includes "Just The Way You Are," which won him a Grammy for best male pop vocal performance, and the hit single "Grenade." His second album, "Unorthodox Jukebox," released in 2012, includes the hits "Locked Out of Heaven" and "When I Was Your Man." With quirky lyrics and a myriad of styles, Mars can be hard to categorize and he likes it that way. "I'm unorthodox," he told USA Today. "I love all styles of music. That's what keeps me going. It's a statement of my freedom to be able to try different things."
|He's a Great Performer|
Not only can Mars sing, he can dance and put on a show. Following LL Cool J's somber acknowledgement of Whitney Houston's death at the 2011 Grammy Awards, Mars took the stage and "picked the house up off the floor with his James Brown impersonation," producer Ken Ehrlich told USA Today. The following year, Ehrlich asked Mars to come back for a Bob Marley tribute. His performance with Sting, Rihanna and Ziggy Marley was one of the evening's highlights. Then, there was his 2012 "SNL" appearance as host and musical guest, which showed off his comic chops and earned the show high ratings and raves from fans and critics.