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|Single by Bruno Mars|
|from the album Doo-Wops & Hooligans|
|Bruno Mars singles chronology|
'Grenade' is a song by American singer and songwriter Bruno Mars from his debut studio album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans (2010). A pop and R&Bballad, 'Grenade' was written and produced by The Smeezingtons (Mars, Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine) with additional songwriting by Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, and Andrew Wyatt. The song was developed from an unreleased track with similar lyrical themes played by record producer Benny Blanco to Mars. 'Grenade' was completely rearranged and re‑recorded two days before the album's release. The song's lyrics carry a message of unrequited love and how Mars' heart was broken, despite his best efforts to show her his love. Initially released as a promotional single on September 28, 2010, it was later announced as the album's second single, released by Atlantic and Elektra Records.
'Grenade' was well received by critics, praising the vocals and emotional lyrics of the song and also considered it as one of the stand-out tracks on Doo-Wops & Hooligans. The single reached number one in fifteen different countries, giving Mars his third number one single on the Billboard Hot 100, and topping the Canadian Hot 100 for three non-consecutive weeks. 'Grenade' was certified eight times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and seven Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA), as well as six times by Music Canada (MC). Worldwide, it was the second best selling digital single of 2011 with 10.2 million copies.
A music video for the single, directed by Nabil Elderkin, was released on November 19, 2010. In the video, Mars is seen dragging an upright piano through Los Angeles, by the time he arrives at the home of his beloved, he discovers she is with another man, so he decides to leave and ends up by killing himself. Mars performed 'Grenade' on The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour (2010–12), the Moonshine Jungle Tour (2013–14) and 24K Magic World Tour (2017–18). The song has been covered by a variety of performers. It was nominated for both Song of the Year and Record of the Year at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards.
- 6Commercial performance
- 7Music video
- 14Release history
Background and writing
In an interview with Idolator, Mars revealed the song's conception and inspiration, saying that he was with his friend Benny Blanco and he was playing a couple of songs to Mars, including one which lyrics were similar to the ones in 'Grenade'. Blanco added that the band to which the song belonged was not signed, and that the CD was not released. Mars replied 'I can relate to that so much, I want to take that and make it my own'. Mars confessed that the song was inspired by 'his love for a girl who did not love him back'. He admitted to be 'a bit of a drama queen in that song' and that the track was therapeutic to him. Afterwards, Blanco contacted the dude, and Mars started writing his version.
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?'
In the same interview, the singer expressed desire to release the song as a single, claiming it was a 'personal favorite'. Levine said the writing of 'Grenade' was among the most difficult songs in album since it took several months to complete. Later, on April 21, 2012, the team said that the last line of the song was the conflict, since it took two months for them to come up with 'but you won't do the same'. In May 2018, Kelly conceded an interview where stated, he was invited to the studio by Mars, as the singer wanted to collaborate with him. Once in the studio, he noticed Mars giving a hard time to one of his music partners, Lawrence. The latter was once on a relationship with a girl that 'he would do everything for' and received nothing in return. Upon this time, they started to throw extreme examples such as 'you jump out of a plane' or 'a shark would eat you' which they found amusing and started to write them on a list, 'I'd jump out in front of a train, throw my hand on a blade, get hit by a bus...' Eventually, they realized it was 'catchy'.
Development and conception
The original version of 'Grenade' had an 'uptempo 1960's surf-style sound with jangle pop' and before a live show in New York, Mars 'slowed and stripped it down'. The reworked song was the last track added to the album. In an interview with Sound on Sound, Ari Levine from The Smeezingtons, who carried out the recording and instrumentation on 'Grenade', explained that the song was original recorded with 'a more guitar‑based arrangement', 15bpm faster. According to Mars, the record was much happier. Mars ended up by playing the song live in showcase for the label and to several booking agents in a slower tempo. The singer and his bandmates rehearsed a lot to that show, yet 'Grenade' 'sounded terrible'. Mars decided to do a 'stripped down' version by playing the guitar, while Brody Brown played the piano. The single received praise from the label. The song was reproduced in the way you hear it. To do so, The Smeezingtons completely rearranged and re‑recorded it, including the vocals, 'two days before the album was supposed to be handed in'. Levine, added, 'There was quite a bit of deadline stress involved in that.' The latter explained which instruments and software were involved in the song:
The drums in ‘Grenade’ came from a combination of my MPC and some software drums, and I created the piano sound in the Fantom. The rest of the synth sounds came from the Virus, and I use the V‑synth and the MicroKorg on pretty much everything. Bruno and I played the keyboards and Brody Brown played the bass. He’s an incredible musician who has a great feel and he can play everything.
Production and release
'Grenade' was written and produced by The Smeezingtons (Mars, Phillip Lawrence, Ari Levine) with additional songwriting by Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, and Andrew Wyatt. The song was mixed at Larrabee Recording Studios Los Angeles by Manny Marroquin, with Christian Plata and Erik Madrid serving as the assistants. It was engineered at Levcon Studios in Los Angeles, California by Levine. The latter along with Mars and Brown played all the instruments on the track and recorded them. It was mastered by Stephen Marcussen at Marcussen Mastering in Hollywood, California.
Before the official release of the song as a single, it was issued on September 28, 2010, as a promotional single by Elektra Records along with 'Liquor Store Blues', which features Damian Marley, an iTunes Store-exclusive prior to Doo-Wops & Hooligans album release in October 2010. On October 21, 2010, in an interview with Digital Spy, Mars revealed the intention to follow the hit single 'Just the Way You Are' with 'Grenade'. On November 29, 2010, a CD Single was released on Europe to promote the song, 'Grenade'. Later, on January 10, 2011, the track on was released via digital download in the United Kingdom. On February 4, 2011, it was released a CD single on Germany and on the UK, which included a Carl Louis & Martin Danielle Classic Mix of 'Just the Way You Are' and the single 'Grenade'. An EP with different versions of Grenade, including the music video for the song was released on May 8, 2011, on iTunes.
Composition and lyrics
An 18-second sample of the chorus of 'Grenade', where Mars sings what he would do for the girl he loves.
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'Grenade' is a pop and R&B ballad with an instrumentation that features piano, keyboards, drums and bass. The song contains elements of Wilco's 'I'll Fight'. Mike Senior of Sound on Sound said that the 'piano riff sounded like Coldplay's 'Clocks', adding the idea of a 'powerful kick/bass combination and good vocal intelligibility is audible when the chorus hits' and a 'snare only added at the start of the second verse'. According to The New York Times music reviewer, Jon Caramanica, the song contains elements of 1980s pop and is accompanied by drums similar to those used by Kanye West. It has been described by critics as 'pure and clean vocals over a pounding drum beat'.
According to Sony/ATV Music Publishing 'Grenade' is set in the key of D minor and was published in common time, with a moderate tempo of 108 beats per minute. Mars' vocals span from A3 to D5 and background vocals are heard throughout.The New Zealand Herald's Scott Kara described its beats as 'Shakira-esque'. Both Roberto Mucciacciaro for MTV and Robert Copsey from Digital Spy noticed the similarities with Michael Jackson's 'Dirty Diana'. The later describe it as an 'haunting piano melody and thunderous drum claps'. Spencer Hawk from Little Village notice that the song 'doesn't rely on a hook, and its mostly Mars’ voice with a simple piano riff and a pulsing drum beat'. On the other hand, Aamir Yaqub of Soul Culture believes that the production of 'Grenade' resembles the one in 'Just The Way You Are'.
Lyrically, the song contains masochistic themes and tells the story of heartbreak caused by a failed relationship: 'Gave you all I had / And you tossed it in the trash'. The chorus has Mars singing, 'I'd catch a grenade for ya,' and speaks of unrequited love when the subject girl of his affections 'won't do the same'. Tim Byron, writer for The Vine, 'Grenade' is about the feeling of withdrawal'. The critic added, 'Mars knows she is bad for him, that's she's preventing him from thinking straight, that he can't actually have her the way he wants, but he still nonetheless has crazy desires for that rush of romantic cocaine that he gets from her.' As Mars commented in an interview to Blues & Soul: 'Grenade' represents the OTHER side of love – where you're in love with a woman and you know for a fact that she doesn't love you the way you love HER.'
The song received generally positive reviews from most music critics. Robert Copsey of Digital Spy gave a review of four stars out of five, praising Mars' vocals, 'Mars has the vocal chops...to carry that off', and emotional lyrics on a track that has a strong influence and similarity to Michael Jackson's 'Dirty Diana'. The latter reminiscent was also noted by Roberto Mucciacciaro for MTV, who added that the song was coincidentally covered on several occasions by Mars.CBBC (a division of BBC) gave it four stars in their review, praising the 'epic chorus' of the song.Entertainment Weekly's Leah Greenblatt called 'Grenade' the 'atmospheric opener' of Mars' debut studio album, adding that is a 'captivating masochist’s anthem', enjoying it as one of the album's highlights, as did The Washington Post's Sean Fennessey.Rolling Stone's Jody Rosen recommended it as proof of Mars' capabilities as a 'lavishly gifted melodist'. Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski of The Daily Telegraph complimented 'the Kanye West-style genre-bending on Grenade and other tracks that joins the dots between Michael Jackson and Bob Marley.'
Consequence of Sound's Kevin Barber praised the track and Mars, since it 'showcases his Michael Jackson-esque vocal range' and it's 'heavy, heartbreaking lyrics'. Ken Tucker for NPR noticed that 'It's hard to resist the clever come-on refrain of 'Grenade' — 'I'd catch a grenade for ya', adding that the song had a 'creamy melody'. Reviewers, Meredith Whitmore and Adam R. Holz, for Pluggedin, think that 'Grenade' is the reverse side of 'Just The Way You Are', commenting that the song 'ponders what happens when that flower fades and dies'. However, Slant's Eric Henderson dismissed its unrealistic lyrics, while AllMusic's Tim Sendra thought the song was 'over-the-top'—one of the weaker ones on the album. Spencer Hawk from Little Village criticized the song by calling it 'fairly innovative' and notice that the shouting of the lyrics 'doesn’t feel genuine', however he felt that 'It’s very safe while being a little risky, and Mars is a solid singer'. Music-News.com, reviewer David Spencer, stated 'great pop but little in way of surprise'.
'Grenade' received several nominations. In 2011, it was nominated for Choice Music: Break-Up Song at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards and at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards the song received a nomination in the category of Best Song. In the same year, it received a nomination for The Record of the Year ceremony. In 2012, 'Grenade' was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including: Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and the newly introduced Best Pop Solo Performance, losing all of them to British singer Adele. In the same year, the single received a nomination for 'Best Hit International' at the Swiss Music Awards. At the 2012 ASCAP Pop Music Awards the song was able to win the title of 'Most Performed Song'
'Grenade' debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of October 16, 2010 at number 81 and climbed the chart to number five for the week ending December 18, 2010. On January 8, 2011, it peaked at number 1, making it Bruno Mars' third number one single on the chart, the others being B.o.B's 'Nothin' on You', on which he was featured, and 'Just the Way You Are'. The peak position was reached due to 559 000 downloads and 89 million listener impressions, taking Digital Gainer and Airplay Gainer awards. Around this time, the song had become his second solo single to top the 2 million mark in downloads. The song dropped and rose back to the top spot two more times, making it one of only six singles in Billboard history to have three distinct runs at number one. In February, it topped the 3 million mark. The song spent 36 weeks on the Hot 100. As of October 2015, the song has sold 6.1 million digital copies in the United States. On November 19, 2018, the single was certified eight times platinum by Recording Industry Association of America RIAA. It was Mars' second single to sell over 5 million, just a week after 'Just the Way You Are' achieved that feat, and it was only the third time in Billboard history that back-to-back singles have both sold 5 million copies in the digital era. The song has peaked at number one in the Canada. It replaced 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' by The Black Eyed Peas, before being dethroned by 'Hold It Against Me' by Britney Spears. On February 12, 2011, it took the top spot from Usher's song 'More'. Two weeks later it was replaced by Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way'.
Europe and Oceania
In Australia it debuted at number 48 in the ARIA Singles Chart and five weeks later reached number one, taking 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' by The Black Eyed Peas from the top spot. On its second run in Australia it dethroned 'Who's That Girl' by Guy Sebastian featuring Eve, thus being replaced by the same a week later. After its success in the country, Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) certified it seven times platinum. In the first week in the UK, the song topped the list with a total of 149 834 copies sold, blocking Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way'. Thus, Mars achieved the best opening week of January on the list since 1996 when 'Spaceman' by Babylon Zoo debuted with 383,000 units. The recording has been certified two times platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). According to the Official Charts Company, the single has reached a total of 1,194,000 combined sales (1,000,000 purchases and 194,000 streaming equivalent sales), as of January 2018. In Austria, the song reached the second position and remained there for three non-consecutive weeks. The song was, eventually, certified Platinum by IFPI Austria. In Germany the song debuted at 8, and three weeks later reached the top spot, where it stayed for six non-consecutive weeks. Then, Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BVMI) gave Mars three gold records for the sale of 450 000 downloads. On the Italian chart it entered at ninth place and then ascended into eight where he spent another week before leaving the count. Although it only spent three weeks in the Italian chart, it has received a platinum plaque by the Federazione Industria Musicale Italiana (FIMI).
In New Zealand, the song spent twenty-nine weeks on the chart and it was number one for three consecutive dates, after taking 'The Time (Dirty Bit)' by The Black Eyed Peas from the top spot. Grenade sold 30 000 copies, earning a double platinum certification by the RIANZ. Other countries where the song rose to the top include Norway and Denmark, after taking the top spot from Fallulah's single 'Out of It'. It was certified platinum by IFPI Denmark. As of February 4, the song spent 4 weeks on the top of the Irish Singles Chart, on its first week it has replaced Matt Cardle's 'When We Collide'. On the Swedish music chart, 'Grenade' dethroned 'Born This Way' by Lady Gaga (on its second run at number one). On the Swiss Singles Chart it replaced the duet between Diddy-Dirty Money and Skylar Grey's 'Coming Home'. It was certified three times platinum by the IFPI Switzerland. In the two regions of Belgium the song reached the top ten and received a gold certification in the Ultratop 50 Flanders. In Slovakia and Finland the song peaked at number 3, while on the Dutch Top 40 the song peaked at number 2. Nevertheless, the success of 'Grenade' was lower in other countries; it just spent two weeks on the Japan Hot 100 chart and reached the peak position of 36. Despite its low reception in Spanish territory, it only peaked at number 21, the song was the ninth most played song in the Spotify streaming service in 2011.
'Grenade' reached number one in fourteen different charts and sold a total of 10.2 million digital copies in 2011, making it the second most sold single of that year, after Mars' 'Just the Way You Are'.
Development and synopsis
Nabil Elderkin directed the music video for the song, which was shot in Los Angeles. In a behind-the-scenes video, Mars explained, 'The concept of the video is my struggle, to tell this girl I'd do anything for her, so I'm going as far as dragging a piano to get to her just so I can sing my heart out.' Mars, sarcastically, replied to rumors related to the use of special effects: 'A lot of people think this is a camera trick, but that is a heavy piano. Luckily, I’ve been doing about, you know, 800 to 967 push-ups every day, so it’s not a big deal, I can handle it.' Regardless, this achievement, Mars was cautious: 'The actions in this video serve as a metaphor, and should not be taken literally. I am aware of the power of visual media, and I encourage everyone who watches this video to understand that it is an artistic interpretation of the song, and not something to imitate'.
The music video was released on November 19, 2010 on MTV and MTV.com. and it involves Mars's efforts to sing to a woman he loves after dragging an upright piano with a rope tied to it through Los Angeles. Scenes also feature the singer singing in a dark bedroom, looking out of a rainy window. He wears a suit and encounters a gang and a pit bull along the way. When he reaches the woman's house and finds out she is with another man, he drags himself and the piano in front of a train to attempt suicide. As the train approaches Bruno at full speed, the screen cuts to black, and the video ends.
The video received mixed reviews by critics. Robbie Daw of Idolator complemented the video by saying that the 'standout track from Doo-Wops & Hooligans, and it’s given an extra sheen thanks to a quirky, unconventional video that doesn’t shy away from the dark tone of the song’s lyrics'. Brian Zacher from AXS.com said that the video shares the 'greatness' with the previous one, 'Just the Way You Are'. James Montgomery of MTV News gave a mixed review on the video, in which he said 'after all, it would’ve been easy — and expected — to make something slick, sexy and/or saccharine, a glossy thing where he croons from a rooftop somewhere, removes his shirt, and somehow ends up with the girl. None of that happens here. Rather, we see Mars struggling and sweating, being taunted and tempted, falling and rising again... He ends up alone, unloved. He probably gets flattened by a train'. On another review by Montgomery, the singer redemption is referred because Mars 'distances himself from his smoove-crooning contemporaries, and he does it simply by being real. Really dramatic, really emotional, really clever. This one’s a winner, even if, at the end of it, Mars has lost everything.'
The video itself earned Mars three nominations at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, in Best Male Video, Best Pop Video and Video of the Year. The video was also one of the most seen online in the United Kingdom, in 2011. Mark Graham for VH1 ranked the video as the second best of 2011, the top spot went for 'Rolling in the Deep' by Adele.
Cover versions and remixes
Some artists made their own versions and remixes of the song. The American group Boyce Avenue covered 'Grenade' and included it in their sixth EP, Acoustic Sessions, Vol. 1, released on December 6, 2010.Gavin Mikhail included his version of the song and its instrumental in his album, Grenade. On November 15, 2011, a cover by Trackstarz charted at number 56 on the UK Singles Chart. American rapper Lil Wayne published the first official remix of the song on February 12, 2011. The remix is identical to the song, except for the 16-bar introduction verse that Wayne provides. Mars was so surprised with the remix when he saw it online, he recalls 'I was like, ‘What? Press play'. He called it, 'Awesome'. MTV critique, Jayson Rodriguez, described it as 'Lil Wayne delivering a spoken word-style flow, expressing devotion for his love interest'.RichGirl, a R&B girl group, created a remix to the song, released on their Fall in Love with RichGirl mixtape.
Nathaniel Drew and Salt Lake Pops Orchestra remixed the song, with the vocal collaboration of Alex Boye and Lindsey Stirling, it was released as a single on July 13, 2012. Gerrie van Dijk-Dantuma and Michelle Chamuel, contestants on The Voice of Holland and its US version, respectively, sang the theme for the competition and released it digitally through iTunes. Japanese singer Gille included her version of the track on her debut EP Lead the Way, released on May 16, 2012.Will Chase, who guest starred as Michael Swift in the TV series Smash, sang the song during the episode titled 'Enter Mr. DiMaggio', which originally aired on January 20, 2012.
American metalcore band, Memphis May Fire covered the track for the compilation albumPunk Goes Pop 5, which was released on November 6, 2012. The song was officially released for digital download on October 2, 2012. In order to celebrate its fifteen years in the music industry, Dutch symphonic rock band, Within Temptation covered several songs by other artists, including 'Grenade', during a special program on the Belgian radio station Q music, called Within Temptation Friday. The band chose this song because 'It's a really good song and instead of making a grenade go off on stage, we figured we’d make a bomb of astonishment go off in the studio', in the words of the lead vocalist Sharon den Adel. On April 19, 2013 Within Temptation's cover was released and available for download as part of their cover album The Q-Music Sessions. Nevertheless, the song peaked at number 73, in their home country, on the Dutch Charts.
Mars performed the song at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on August 25, 2010, with him and his four-piece band dressed in blue tuxedos and black skinny ties. John Macdonald for Spin said 'Despite a couple pitch problems here and there, Mars proved to be nearly as good a performer as he is a songwriter'. The song was also performed in a similar manner on the October 9, 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live, as part of a segue from 'Nothin' on You', the debut single was also performed. His performance was well received by critics.Billboard's magazine critique Walter Frazier analysed the performance and commented 'Mars' backing band...dressed as a 1950s rockabilly group, while Mars resembled something of a modern-day Elvis, surely inspiring swoons for the 'SNL' audience.' The performance was also praised by Mawuse Ziegbe, MTV reviewer, who wrote: 'Mars peppered the performance with hip-swaying moves Elvis would be proud of and wrapped up the set in classic rock-star style with an enthusiastic jump in the air.' On October 21, 2010, a soulful arrangement of the song was sung for a Billboard Tastemakers video session. On May 5, 2011 Mars expressed his apprehension about performing the song because fans have been throwing dummy grenades on stage, some of which are metal and have posed a safety hazard.
Additionally, Mars performed on the Late Show with David Letterman, on November 11, 2010, with a soul redemption of 'Grenade' accompanied by an all-female string section. Robbie Draw from website Idolator wrote a positive review, commenting 'Bruno Mars hit up the Late Show With David Letterman last night and left a piece of his heart on the stage after turning out an emotional, bluesy rendition of his new single 'Grenade'. Story Gilmore of Neon Limelight also praised the performance, calling it 'nothing short of awesome' and noticed that Mars 'takes this performing thing seriously. Even when he’s doing something as simple as a late night show performance, he makes sure he’s on his A game'. The song was performed at NBC’s The Today Show on November 22, 2010, as part of the Toyota Concert Series and at the 2010 Soul Train Music Awards on November 28, 2010. On January 6, 2011, Mars performed 'Grenade' on The Ellen DeGeneres Show with a guitar, 'backed by three background singers, a strings section, and pianist'. He also performed the song on the Dutch television show The Voice of Holland on January 21, 2011. On February 13, 2011 he performed the song live at the 2011 Grammy Awards, along with B.o.B. and Janelle Monáe. In Germany, Mars performed 'Grenade' on two different shows Wetten, dass..? and at the Echo Awards, on 19 and 28 March 2011, respectively. It was the eleventh song of his debut worldwide tour, The Doo-Wops & Hooligans Tour (2011–12) and was thirteenth or tenth on the set list of his second tour, Moonshine Jungle Tour (2013–14). During The Late Late Show with James Corden on December 13, 2016, Mars included 'Uptown Funk' on the popular segment Carpool Karaoke. On his third tour, the 24K Magic World Tour (2017–18), it was also the thirteenth item on the setlist.
Credits and personnel
- Engineering and mixing
- Engineered at Levcon Studios and mixed at Larrabee Sound Studios, Los Angeles, California
Credits adapted from the liner notes of Doo-Wops & Hooligans, Elektra Records
|Australia (ARIA)||7× Platinum||490,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Platinum||30,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||6× Platinum||480,000^|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||Platinum||15,000^|
|Germany (BVMI)||3× Gold||450,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||2× Platinum||30,000*|
|Sweden (GLF)||2× Platinum||40,000^|
|Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)||3× Platinum||90,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||1,200,000|
|United States (RIAA)||8× Platinum||8,000,000|
|Denmark (IFPI Denmark)||Gold||450,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
|Various||September 28, 2010||Digital download|
(iTunes countdown single)
|Europe||November 29, 2010||CD single||Warner Music Group|||
|United Kingdom||January 10, 2011||Digital download||Unknown|||
|Germany||February 4, 2011||CD single||Elektra|||
|Various||May 8, 2011||EP|||
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- 'Grenade' music video on YouTube
- Lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics