When Bruno Mars hit the stage for his first TV special, he could feel the music — in his bones and his veins — and it shows.
Mars' energetic and slick dance moves and smooth vocals are at the forefront of "Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo,'' which debuts Wednesday on CBS at 10 p.m. Eastern. He recorded the special at the Apollo Theater in New York's Harlem, performing the majority of his third album, "24K Magic.''
"You got to perform it a few times to get it in your bones, to get it right, to work out all the kinks ... it's never going to be right the first time to do it,'' Mars said in a phone interview from South America, where he is on tour. "By the time we got to film at the Apollo, we were already a well-oiled machine.''
"People are going to get the best that I got,'' he added.
Mars said he chose to film the one-hour special at the Apollo — which he calls "a magical place'' — because of the venue's rich history in music and pop culture.
"I remember growing up watching 'Showtime at the Apollo' before 'X Factor' and 'American Idol' — that was the singing competition show. It was pretty cut-throat. Either you got it and they would cheer you on, or you don't and they'll boo you off the stage,'' he said. "And that's just Entertainment 101, and you feel that when you get into that theater. This is where it all begins it feels like.''
Mars performed the song "24K Magic'' on top of the Apollo marquee in the special. He also filmed various scenes throughout New York City, from eating at hot spots to meeting his fans: "The coolest part about that was the locals in Harlem, holding their arms out for you, (saying), 'Yo Bruno, welcome to Harlem.'''
The last year for the 32-year-old has continued to push him to superstardom: "24K Magic'' reached double platinum status, while the song "That's What I Like'' hit the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It's the year's top R&B song.
This month he won five Soul Train Awards and seven American Music Awards, including artist of the year. Mars picked up video of the year at the BET Awards, shared with Beyonce, and won his fifth Grammy Award earlier this year.
"Awards show — I don't know where it's going to swing,'' he said. "It's awesome ... I feel like people understand what I'm doing and what I'm trying to do and what I stand for when it comes to everything — the music, the videos, I work hard for this (expletive).''
Mars said as he reflects a year after releasing the album that he feels good about the work he put in to create the '90s R&B-inspired album.
"You can go crazy in the studio (and) start second- guessing,'' he said. "'That's What I Like' — I'm listening to it for over a year to make sure it's all right and then we put it out and luckily it did what it did. It just confirms that I'm not crazy, maybe. It's just nice that the work I put in the studio, it translated and I just got to remember that going into the next project.''