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Bruno Mars on songwriting: "It has to sound like me"

One of Bruno Mars' most popular music videos on YouTube is "The Lazy Song." It features Mars in a living room, singing to the camera about his desire to do nothing all day. He's surrounded by five guys in monkey masks, and everyone is wearing sunglasses.

It has more than one billion views.

"It was my biggest video for a long time because it was natural," Mars tells 60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan in the video above.

This week on 60 Minutes, Logan profiles Mars, who speaks about his hardscrabble upbringing in Hawaii. He shows her his studio in Burbank, California, where he writes, produces – and obsesses – over every detail of his music.

In Bruno Mars' Burbank studio CBS News

"It has to sound like who I am. It has to sound like me," he says. "I have to be involved in every process. I have to play the instruments that you hear. I have to have my hands on it."

Mars has a collection of instruments that he plays on his albums, including keyboards, drums, and guitars. He looks for the instrument for the exact sound he wants to achieve, and when an element in a song isn't perfect, he tries again.

"I scrap a lot making every single song," he says.


As Mars tells Logan on 60 Minutes, his smash hit "Uptown Funk" – now one of the best-selling singles of all-time – took almost a year to write. "'Uptown Funk' was in the trash can about 10 times," he says.

His video for "The Lazy Song" was no different. As he tells Logan, he watched the video his label had produced shortly before his album was to come out. "And it didn't represent the song the way I wanted to represent the song," Mars says. "And I asked the label, I said, 'Give me a couple thousand dollars. Let me buy some monkey masks, and I'm going to give you a whole 'nother video in two days."

60 Minutes correspondent Lara Logan and Bruno Mars Aaron Tomlinson/60 Minutes

And that's exactly what he did. Mars brainstormed what he says is a silly video for a silly song and did 12 takes. The tenth take was posted online and starting racking up tremendous numbers of views.

His drive for perfection extends to his onstage performance, including what he's wearing and how he's moving. He draws inspiration from artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, and James Brown.

"I just really care about what people see," Mars says. "I want them to know that I'm working hard for this."

The video above was originally published on November 10, 2016, and produced by Will Croxton. It was edited by Will Croxton and Sarah Shafer Prediger. 

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