World’s Worst Records – Bruno Mars

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1001 Albums You Must Die Before You Hear

#108: Bruno Mars – Tomorrow’s King (1990)

MATT KELLY digs up a record that Bruno Mars might just want to forget in which the pop phenomenon is caught literally taking his baby steps in song.

TLDR: We don’t talk about Bruno. Or his first release at least.

Hey kids! Would you like to hear a four-year-old Peter “Bruno Mars” Hernandez singing an album of Elvis covers which includes an absolutely inexplicable version of the Strauss piece ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’? Well, it’s your lucky day!

Born into a musical family, Mars took to imitating his Elvis impersonator uncle when he was only three. Judged to be adorable by dad Peter Hernandez Sr, Mars was soon performing Elvis songs on stage with family band The Love Notes. As a souvenir, Hernandez Sr booked some time in a studio in their hometown of Honolulu and Tomorrow’s King was the result, 16 minutes of a ludicrously confident toddler squeaking his little heart out.

As Baby Bruno chirps away, his lack of vocal control or melody is somewhat made up for by his adorable attitude. He barely enunciates the lyrics but neither did The King, so that may be part of the impersonation. If anyone knows what language Mars is singing ‘Burning Love’ in, please let me know. I’m also having trouble understanding what the microphone situation was for ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love With You’, as Mars appears to have both a peg on his nose and a towel held over his mouth.

The musical backing varies between the incredibly cheap keyboard preset sounds of ‘All Shook Up’ which sounds like it has been recorded over the phone, to ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ which features some surprisingly good live bass and someone having fun on their electric piano. A real standout is the aforementioned ‘Also Spach Zarathrusta’, disco synths stumbling through the famous tone poem before it suddenly erupts into a ridiculously cheesy ‘See See Rider’ featuring the campest backing vocals I’ve ever heard. Elvis fans may quake in terror to find that YES – they attempted ‘American Trilogy’ here but it’s an instrumental so we are denied experiencing a four-year-old handling the “glory-glory hallelujah” finale. The cowards.

Mars of course went on to have the last laugh, emerging as one of the most commercially successful pop acts of the 2010s, churning out worldwide top 10 hits like nobody’s business. However, this remains a great “I can’t believe this exists” pop music moment, showing that the charisma that made him a star was there from birth.

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Matthew Kelly is the most important person in the music industry – the type of obsessive nerd without whom it would have no reason to produce box sets and nine-hour long documentaries.

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