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Grammy Awards: Bruno Mars celebrates his seven nominations at the Smeezingtons party at Bardot

February 13, 2011 | 10:47 am

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One doesn't really appreciate the potential of Bruno Mars until you see him perform in a casual setting -- like Bardot in Hollywood on Friday night, with friends, family and the famous surrounding him in the intimate room. It's here where Mars, 25, shines. Though still young, he has been a music fanatic and performer for more than two decades -- he impersonated Elvis Presley at age 4 -- and it shows from his song selection and his easy interaction with his audience. Over the course of the final 15 minutes of performance, Mars, wearing his trademark fedora, ripped through Prince's "Kiss," Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," slipped in the occasional Bob Marley quote, before landing at Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay." (This reporter arrived late -- Cee Lo Green and Big Boi were performing at Club Nokia across town, and difficult decisions had to be made -- and therefore missed the Far East Movement's performance with Mars.)

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Earlier in the evening, he and his band covered Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," which mid-song, Mars mashed up with "Smells Like Teen Spirit," proving that not only are he and his Smeezingtons partners making some of the most cohesive yet expansive pop music today, they are, at their core, music fanatics who are incredibly well-versed in the language of American music and the ways in which it can still be stretched and molded. It's in Cee Lo's "[Forget] You," it's in "Just the Way You Are," and it's in "Grenade" (which he performed earlier in the evening with Keri Hilson).

Whether Mars and fellow Smeezingtons Phillip Lawrence and Ari Levine manage to take home a handful of trophies on Sunday night is to be determined. But it ultimately doesn't matter. Among many other musical moments to come out of Grammy week 2011, Mars and company confirmed at Bardot that they've found their deep, dynamic groove.

-- Randall Roberts

Top photo: Fellow Smeezingtons Phillip Lawrence, left, and Bruno Mars at Bardot on Friday night. Credit: Johnny Nunez/Atlantic Records.

Bottom photo: Far East Movement performs along with Bruno Mars, Phillip Lawrence and band at Bardot on Friday. Credit: Johnny Nunez/Atlantic Records.

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