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Atlanta songwriters helped with top Atlanta radio song ‘Just the Way You Are’

Bruno Mars, vocalist on "Just the Way You Are"

Bruno Mars, vocalist on "Just the Way You Are"

For the second week, Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way You Are” is tops on Atlanta radio – and nationwide. It possesses a beautiful timelessness and a universal sentiment largely lacking on the current top 40 charts packed with more throwaway songs such as “Dynamite,” “Cooler Than Me” and “Like a G6.”

I also found out two of the songwriters are from Atlanta: Cassius D. Kalb (Khalil Walton) and Needlz (Khari Cain), who is behind Lil Wayne and Drake’s “I’m Goin’ In.” (The others were the Smeezingtons, which is Bruno’s team, which also helped write “Nothin’ on You” for Atlanta’s B.o.B. and Travie McCoy’s “Billionaire.”)

On Wednesday, I spoke with Walton, whose dad played with the Knicks legend Earl “The Pearl” Monroe, also a saxophonist and keyboardist. “I came out of the womb playing the keys,” he said, noting he’s a classically trained pianist. He moved to Atlanta at age 13 and graduated from Southwest DeKalb  High School. (You’ll be able to see him in the movie “Drumline,” where he put together some of the choreography.)

He immersed himself in the music business early but decided at age 20 to learn marketing and started his own fir soon after. “I didn’t necessarily know how to market myself, how to be a more charismatic individual,” he said. At age 26, he said he returned to the business recently and began composing songs.

What he did for “Just the Way You Are”: “I came with the progression. I wanted something people would respond to and evokes a certain emotion… I wrote the hook and the bridge.”

How it came to be: “One day, I was playing it on my condo baby grand. Needlz was there. Let’s put some drums in. Then we had the record. We were looking for something for Lupe [Fiasco.] We sent it to the label for Lupe. They liked the record. They put Bruno Mars on it. At first, it was going to be Lupe featuring Bruno Mars. Next thing you know, it’s going to be Bruno’s first single.”

His inspiration:Russell Simmons said people respond to the truth. Some songs are here today. They work right now but when you write a truth, it will always be around. It will hit you in the future. I felt like with all the party tracks in Atlanta, someone had to say something like, ‘You’re amazing just the way you are.’ It could be your daughter, your wife, your mom. I felt like that message would carry over. Hopefully, people would enjoy it. Little did I know, people would really enjoy it!”

When did he hear it on the radio for the first time? “I don’t listen to the radio that much… People would call me adn tell me it was on the radio. It wasn’ t until maybe a month afterwards when I heard it on Sirius/XM. It was cool.”

What he is more excited about: “Someone called me from London. He told me the song was on ‘X Factor’ and 16 million households heard it. And Simon Cowell said it was one of his favorite songs. That’s when I realized the reach of the song was so great.”

Does he even know Bruno Mars? “We have mutual friends, but no. We have never physically met or even gotten a chance to talk!”

Billy Joel’s 1977 hit “Just the Way You Are”: “My dad told me about that song after the fact. No idea is original… I hit on a universal truth. Billy came up with the same instinctive idea. You can be wonderful as you are. In modern society, we try to augment ourselves or fit in the social rigmarole. And often times, we don’t just appreciate where we are in the moment. That’s what the record is about.”

Here are the top 10 songs in Atlanta this past week:
1. Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are’ 254 (+18)
2. Katy Perry “Teenage Dream” 212 (same)
3. Usher “DJ Got Us Fallin’ in Love”211 (-1)
4. Nelly “Just a Dream” 208 (+67)
5. Chris Brown “Deuces” 200 (+10)
6. Waka Flocka Flame ” No Hands” 176 (+7)
7. Eminem “Love the Way You Lie” 175 (+10)
8. Trey Songz “Bottoms Up” 161 (+36)
9. B.o.B. “Airplanes” 154 (-17)
10. Taylor Swift 152 (+1)

Top 5 songs for pop and country stations in Atlanta

Star 94
1. Mike Posner – Cooler Than Me
2. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
3. Train – If It’s Love
4. OneRepublic – Secrets
5. John Mayer – Half of My Heart

1. Usher – Dj Got Us Fallin’ In Love
2. Katy Perry – Teenage Dream
3. Taio Cruz – Dynamite
4. Bruno Mars – Just the Way You Are
5. Nelly – Just a Dream

Groove 105.7
1. B.o.B. – Airplanes
2. Nelly – Just a Dream
3. Eminem – Love the Way You Lie
4. Bruno Mars – Just the Way You Are
5. Usher – Dj Got Us Fallin’ In Love

B98.5 (Yes. B98.5 added some songs, including those by Train, Lady Antebellum, Uncle Kracker and Matt Nathanson!)
1. Lady Antebellum – Need You Now
2. Train – Hey Soul Sister
3. Uncle Kracker – Smile
4. Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling
5. Taylor Swift – You Belong With Me

Fish 104.7
1. TobyMac – Get Back Up
2. Fee – Everything Falls
3. Chris Tomlin – Our God
4. The Newsboys – Born Again
5. Matt Maher – Hold Us Together

94.9/The Bull
1. Sugarland – Sugar Like Glue
2. Darius Rucker – Come Back Song
3. Kenny Chesney – The Boys of Fall
4. Zac Brown Band – As She’s Walking Away
5. Josh Turner – All Over Me

Kicks 101.5
1. Darius Rucker – Come Back Song
2. Sugarland – Stuck Like Glue
3. Taylor Swift – Mine
4. Jason Aldean – My Kind of Party
5. Miranda Lambert – Only Prettier

9 comments Add your comment


October 21st, 2010
9:53 am

Is this the kinda music( I use that term loosely) being played on the radio now? So sad. Sorry Bruno, but after all these years Billy’s music is much better.


October 21st, 2010
12:12 pm

Wow Brock. Your parents said the exact same thing about Frank Sinatra when the Beatles came around. How does it feel to be old and completely out of touch with 2010. Can’t you just hear your dad saying, “Now that was REAL music!” You became your parents. Congrats.


October 21st, 2010
1:36 pm

I’m not old and I’m a musician who knows when I hear crap or good music. Sorry but I don’t listen to the archaic radio anymore. Too many more outlets if you didn’t know. Welcome to 2010 your damn self. Didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to form my own opinion ahole.


October 21st, 2010
1:39 pm

and if I’m lucky to become half the parent mine are then I’m more than pleased with that dumbass.


October 22nd, 2010
12:47 pm

Brock: Not questioning your music knowlege or skills, nor am I attempting to guess your age, but you sound like and angry, bitter old man….just my opinion…..Thx…

Mary Jane

October 22nd, 2010
1:05 pm

Well I am old and I see nothing wrong with the song. I like it. :)


October 22nd, 2010
1:12 pm

tbp- I’m not angry and I’m not bitter. I gave my opinion and someone questioned it. This is an open forum where you can say whatever you want. I was attacked (for lack of a better term)by some pissant so I gave it back to him. Thanks for your opinion but I couldn’t care less what you think of me. You are dismissed


October 22nd, 2010
1:42 pm

Brock: WOW…now you sound even older and more bitter…Thx for the early dismissal though…Happy Friday to you too….


October 25th, 2010
2:05 pm

Nothing is the same as back in the day. peopel evolves such as music. I think we should embrace our positive young musicians artist and songwriters whom want to send positive influential messages through our airwaves. I enjoy the song.