The song was recorded at Larrabee Recording Studios and Levcon Studios in Los Angeles, while the mixing of the track was finished at Larrabee Sound Studios, in North Hollywood. Sound engineer Ari Levine first worked on the beats and the synths composed by himself and later on the vocals of the track, however two days before the album was supposed to be handed in, they completely rearranged and re‑recorded the song, including the vocals. A pop song with a R&B style, "Grenade" incorporates The Smeezingtons characteristic beats and shynts, the instrumentation used in the song includes keyboards, bass and software drums. The song's lyrics carry a message of unrequited love, Mars was inspired by a song with simillar lyrical themes played by Benny Blanco to him.
Critical reception has been mostly positive, with reviewers praising the vocals and emotional lyrics of the heartbreak song. It has peaked at number one in Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his third number-one single both in the United States and on the United Kingdom. Worldwide, it was the ninth best selling digital single of 2011 with sales of 12.2 million copies. So far, it has sold over 10.6 million copies worldwide becoming one of the best selling digital singles of all time.
"I was with my friend Benny Blanco and he was playing me some songs, and he played me this song that had a lyric like [the one in "Grenade"]... he said, this band is not signed, this is a CD that wasn’t released. I said to Benny, I can relate to that so much, I want to take that and make it my own. He was in contact with the dude, and I started writing my version, basically. It's a heartbreaking, heartbreak song, and I think everyone can relate to that. You're so in love with this woman and you don’t understand, 'What am I doing wrong? What am I not giving to you? I'll go as far as putting a bullet in my brain for you, and why can't I get that kind of love in return?'"
—Bruno Mars on writing and the meaning of "Grenade"
Doo-Wops & Hooligans spawned two iTunes Store-exclusive promotional singles prior to its release in October 2010—"Liquor Store Blues", which features Damian Marley, and "Grenade". The song was released on September 28, 2010. In an interview with Idolator, Mars revealed songwriter-producer Benny Blanco played him an unreleased track with similar lyrical themes, which served as the song's inspiration. He also expressed desire to release the song as a single, being his "personal favorite". Ari Levine from The Smeezingtons said that "Grenade took several months to write, regardless even of doing the actual production" adding that "We had recorded the song with a more guitar‑based arrangement that was 15bpm faster. Bruno played the song slower live, and the label was like, ‘Oh, that’s incredible.’ So we had to reproduce it in the way you hear it now on the radio, two days before the album was supposed to be handed in. There was quite a bit of deadline stress involved in that. We completely rearranged and re‑recorded the song, including the vocals. In an interview with Digital Spy, Mars revealed plans to follow hit single "Just the Way You Are" with "Grenade". The original version of "Grenade", coasted along an uptempo 1960's surf-style sound. Mars slowed and stripped it down just before a key live show in New York and the reworked tune became the last track added to "Doo-Wops".
"Grenade" is a pop and R&B ballad, co-written by Mars with songwriting-production team The Smeezingtons, Brody Brown, Claude Kelly, and Andrew Wyatt. Sheet music published by Sony/ATV Music Publishing shows that "Grenade" is set in the key of D minor and was published in common time, with a moderate tempo of 108 beats per minute. Mars' vocals span from A3 to D5 and background vocals are heard throughout. The song starts softly but crescendoes both musically and lyrically toward the climax of the song, backed by "pulsating, synthesized beats". Levine explained which instruments and software was involved in the song "The drums in ‘Grenade’ came from a combination of my MPC and some software drums, and I created the piano sound in the Fantom. The rest of the synth sounds came from the Virus, and I use the V‑synth and the MicroKorg on pretty much everything. Bruno and I played the keyboards and Brody Brown played the bass. He’s an incredible musician who has a great feel and he can play everything".
The Smeezingtons said the last line of the song "Grenade" was the conflict. "but you won't do the same." It took two months for them to come up with that last line.
Lyrically, the "Grenade" contains masochistic themes and tells the story of heartbreak caused by a failed relationship: "Gave you all I had / And you tossed it in the trash". The chorus has Mars singing, "I'd catch a grenade for ya," and speaks of unrequited love when the subject girl of his affections "won't do the same". As Mars himself simply told Blues & Soul: "'Grenade' represents the OTHER side of love - where you're in love with a woman and you know for a fact that she doesn't love you the way you love HER."
Grenade has been well received by critics. Lamb gave a review of four-and-a-half stars out of five, praising Mars' vocals and emotional lyrics on a track that "cements his position as the top new artist of 2010".Entertainment Weekly 's Leah Greenblatt called "Grenade" the "atmospheric opener" of Mars' debut studio album, and enjoyed it as one of the album's highlights, as did The Washington Post 's Sean Fennessey. Roberto Mucciacciaro for MTV noted its strong influence and similarity to Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana", a song which Mars has coincidentally covered on several occasions.AOL Radio's Amar Toor praised the song, calling it "nothing short of explosive", and Rolling Stone 's Jody Rosen recommended it as proof of Mars' capabilities as a "lavishly gifted melodist". However, Slant's Eric Henderson dismissed its unrealistic lyrics and Allmusic's Tim Sendra thought the song was "over-the-top"—one of the weaker ones on the album.CBBC (a division of BBC) gave it four stars in their review, prasing the "epic chorus" of the song.
"Grenade" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of October 16, 2010 at number 81 and climbed the chart to number five for the week ending December 18, 2010. On January 8, 2011, it peaked at number 1, making it Bruno Mars' third number one single on the chart, the others being B.o.B's "Nothin' on You", on which he was featured, and "Just the Way You Are". (It later dropped and rose back to No. 1 two more times, making it one of only five singles in Billboard history to have three distinct runs at #1.) In January, 2011, it became his second solo single to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads. In February, it topped the 3 million mark taking only 19 weeks, 4 weeks faster than "Just the Way You Are". As of November 2013, the song has sold 5,701,000 digital copies in the United States. It was Mars' second single to sell over 5 million, just a week after "Just the Way You Are" achieved that feat, and it was only the third time in Billboard history that back-to-back singles have both sold 5 million copies in the digital era. The song spent 36 weeks on the Hot 100.
In Australia, the song debuted at number 48 in the ARIA Singles Chart, after five weeks the song reached number one. The song has peaked at number one in the Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and Sweden. As of February 4, it has spent a total of 4 weeks at the top of the Irish Singles Chart.
The Australian NABIL, who previously worked with artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West and John Legend, directed the music video for the song. In a behind-the-scenes video, Mars explained, "The concept of the video is my struggle, to tell this girl I'd do anything for her, so I'm going as far as dragging a piano to get to her just so I can sing my heart out." Mars, sarcastically, replied to rumors related to the use of special effects: "A lot of people think this is a camera trick, but that is a heavy piano. Luckily, I’ve been doing about, you know, 800 to 967 push-ups every day, so it’s not a big deal, I can handle it." Regardless, this achievement, Mars was cautious: "The actions in this video serve as a metaphor, and should not be taken literally. I am aware of the power of visual media, and I encourage everyone who watches this video to understand that it is an artistic interpretation of the song, and not something to imitate."
The music video was released on November 19, 2010 and it involves Mars's efforts to sing to a woman he loves after dragging an upright piano with a rope tied to it through Los Angeles. He wears a suit and encounters a gang and a pit bull along the way. When he reaches the woman's house and finds out she is with another man, he drags himself and the piano in front of a train to attempt suicide. As the train approaches Bruno, the video cuts to black. Scenes also feature the singer singing in a dark bedroom, looking out of a rainy window.
Lil Wayne created an unofficial remix to the single. The song is identical except that Lil Wayne provides a 16-bar introduction verse to the song. When Mars heard it he called it "Awesome and was really excited about it." MTV described it as "Lil Wayne delivering a spoken word-style flow, expressing devotion for his love interest."The Source described his bars as "clever and appropriately emo."R&Bgirl groupRichGirl created a remix to the song, released on their Fall in Love with RichGirl mixtape. American metalcore band, Memphis May Fire covered the track for the compilation albumPunk Goes Pop 5, which was released on November 6, 2012. The song was officially released for digital download on October 2, 2012. Dutch symphonic rock band Within Temptation covered the song during a special program on the Belgian radio station Q music during their special program Within Temptation Friday, where the band choose some songs to cover not related to their kind of music and they chose Grenade because, in lead vocalist Sharon den Adel words, "it's a really good song and instead of making a grenade go off on stage, we figured we’d make a bomb of astonishment go off in the studio." Later, they released the song as a single and available for download. The song was then released on their cover album The Q-Music Sessions, released in April 2013. It was also released as a single by the band in their home country, peaking at number 73 on the Dutch Charts.
Mars performed the song during a performance at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on August 25, 2010, with him and his four-piece band dressed in blue tuxedos and black skinny ties. The song was also performed in a similar manner on the October 9, 2010 episode of Saturday Night Live, as part of a segue from "Nothin' on You". A soulful arrangement of the song was sung for a Billboard Tastemakers video session. Additionally, Mars made a musical appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman with "Grenade" accompanied by an all-female string section. The song was performed at the 2010 Soul Train Music Awards on November 28, 2010, where Mars also shared a win for Song of the Year with "Nothin' on You. He also performed the song on the Dutch television show The Voice of Holland on January 21, 2011. On February 13, he performed the song live at the 2011 Grammy Awards. Recently Mars has become apprehensive about performing the song because fans have been throwing dummy grenades on stage, some of which are metal and have posed a safety hazard.
Elektra Records released the song on September 28, 2010 through iTunes. Later, on February 4, 2011, it was released a CD Single on Germany, which included a Carl Louis & Martin Danielle Classic Mix of "Just the Way You Are" and the single "Grenade". An EP with different versions of Grenade, including the music video for the song was released on May 8, 2011, on iTunes.
^Rutherford, Kevin; Jason Lipshutz, Ricardo Gomez, Kadeem Lundy and Gary Graff (11 February 2011). "Lil Wayne remixes Grenade". www.Billboard.com. Retrieved 16 February 2011.Cite uses deprecated parameters (help)