Throwback pop sensation Bruno Mars captured the Grammys’ top award Sunday, taking home Album of the Year for his exceptionally popular third album 24K Magic. The win capped an evening where the 32-year-old star won all six of the six awards for which he was nominated.
Mars began his speech thanking his fellow nominees for their “top-shelf artistry” and “blessing the world with your music,” before offering a story about his teenage years: “So I’m 15 years old and I’m opening up a show in Hawaii called The Magic of Polynesia… My job is to entertain 1,000 people, 1,000 tourists from all over the world. I would put together a set list of like 10-12 songs, and I’ll be honest, I was incredible at 15…. Later on in life, I found those songs that I was singing were either written by either Babyface, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, or Teddy Riley.”
“And with those songs, I remember seeing it,” he continued. “I remember seeing it firsthand people dancing that had never met each other from two sides of the globe, dancing with each other, toasting with each other, celebrating together. All I wanted to do with this album was that. Those songs were written with nothing but joy and for one reason and one reason only and that’s love. That’s all I wanted to bring with this album…. I’d like to dedicate this award to them. They are my heroes. They are my teachers. They laid the foundation. This album wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for these guys.”
Of course, he also added, “Ya know, I had to sprinkle a little Mars sauce on it.”
Though he’s taken home significant Grammys in the past — Best Pop Vocal Album for Unorthodox Jukebox, Record of the Year for “Uptown Funk” — Mars’ win marked his first in the Album of the Year category. 24K Magic was a bona fide commercial smash, with “That’s What I Like” reaching No. 1 on the Hot 100 and “Finesse” and the title track both cracking the chart’s top five.
Mars’ victory also ended a streak where the Recording Academy failed to award Album of the Year to non-white artists; prior to 24K Magic‘s win, the last artist of color to win the prize was Herbie Hancock, for his 2008 album of Joni Mitchell covers. The controversy flared up again last year when Adele criticized the Grammys after her album 25 beat out Beyoncé’s Lemonade. “My album of the year is Lemonade,” she said. “What the f— does [Beyoncé] have to do to win Album of the Year?”
See the complete list of winners at the 2018 Grammy Awards here.