Katy Perry may have had the song of the summer with “California Gurls,” but it was a 25-year-old guy from Hawaii who commanded the spotlight, and he didn’t even have a song of his own at the time.

Katy Perry may have had the song of the summer with “California Gurls,” but it was a 25-year-old guy from Hawaii who commanded the spotlight, and he didn’t even have a song of his own at the time.

Bruno Mars is the breakout artist of 2010. Mars co-penned two of the biggest tracks of the summer - B.o.B.’s “Nothin’ On You” and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.”

His songwriting wasn’t the only thing that perked up people’s ears. Mars’ guest vocal on both smash singles blew away listeners, making them wonder why he didn’t have an album of his own.

The moment I heard the opening lines of “Nothin’ On You,” I thought, “This guy can sing.” He made a lasting impression by singing only the hook. It was only a matter of time before somebody would sign him.

Mars possesses a breezy-feel-good, soulful voice that doesn’t come along very often. Couple that, with his knack for creating infectious hooks and grooves and you’ve got his debut, “Doo-Wops & Hooligans.”

The first single, “Just The Way You Are,” is the No. 1 song in the country. It’s exciting to see his success unfold.

I bought the album because I was almost certain it was going to be good. His track record was pretty amazing thus far. I was right. “Doo-Wops & Hooligans” is worthy of all the accolades.

“Just The Way You Are” is the perfect pop song. I liked it the first time I heard it, and its appeal hasn’t diminished with repeated listens. It’s a great first single for the onetime background player.

The 10-track set of catchy melodies and slick dance-floor fodder opens with “Grenade,” a song I’m sure will explode onto the chart.

“Grenade” follows the recipe of “Just The Way You Are, building on the chorus and hook, taking his feathery tenor vocals to soulful heights.

“Marry You” is another uptempo single-worthy track.

“Runaway Baby” thrives from a ’60s-flavored soul snap, while Mars channels a Jason Mraz reggae-styled vibe on “The Lazy Song.” “Liquor Store Blues” features guest reggae artist Damian Marley.

Mars also scores with two power ballads, “Our First Time” and “Talking To The Moon,” each showcasing his natural talent as a singer.

Mars hasn’t given up writing songs for other artists. His current offering is the hot new track, “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green.

Green also guests with B.o.B. on Mars’ “The Other Side.”

Mars is a brilliant lyricist/melodist. I see him being a strong contender for the Best New Artist Grammy. 

“Doo-Wops & Hooligans” is one of the finest pop albums to emerge this year.
 
 David T. Farr is a Sturgis (Mich.) Journal correspondent. E-mail him at farrboy@hotmail.com.