Home » Metallica’s James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo Reflect on 2023 and Unveil Plans for the New Year

Metallica’s James Hetfield and Robert Trujillo Reflect on 2023 and Unveil Plans for the New Year

When Bruno Mars collaborated with renowned songwriter Claude Kelly, he was a budding artist eager to pour his emotions into his music. This sentiment was evident in his debut single, “Just the Way You Are.” The willingness to be vulnerable carried over into the writing session with Kelly, Philip Lawrence, Brody Brown, Andrew Wyatt, and Ari Levine, resulting in the creation of “Grenade.” This poignant pop ballad sees Mars navigating a world of pain for the sake of love, expressing sentiments like: “I’d catch a grenade for ya / Throw my hand on a blade for ya / I’d jump in front of a train for ya.”

The song played a pivotal role in establishing Mars as a music superstar. In 2011, it achieved global chart success, including reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earning diamond certification for exceeding 10 million copies in sales. Below, Kelly shares insights with American Songwriter about the song’s essence and its notable vulnerability.

The Story Behind “Grenade”

“Funny thing about ‘Grenade’ is that it was somewhat of a shot in the dark because no one knew who Bruno was as an artist. I didn’t really know who he was as an artist either. It’s different when they’ve defined themselves, and now you’re just giving them what they do. So I approached it as a songwriter who had a lot of respect for another songwriter because he was a pretty well-known songwriter before he became Bruno, the artist that the world knows. We had one afternoon in LA in a studio that he and Philip Lawrence were working in together, and we came up with it really quickly.

“It delved into the extreme sacrifices one would make for a love that goes unreciprocated. It captured the universal experience of feeling played in love, a sentiment many can relate to but may hesitate to acknowledge. Ne-Yo’s influence taught me the importance of creating space for vulnerability in male artists, especially singers, a space often underutilized. Bruno, with his heartfelt declaration of “I love you just the way you are,” embodied vulnerability.

The visual of him hauling a piano in the music video added a powerful layer, depicting the effort he’s putting into the relationship. It stood in stark contrast to the bravado and boasting prevalent in the industry. When it was released, I had no inkling of its potential impact, given Bruno’s status as a new artist. The song’s success took me by surprise, and these stories may sound more glamorous in retrospect, but often, the journey to success is serendipitous.

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