“Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson (ft. Bruno Mars)
“Uptown Funk” is a dance song, as anyone who has ever seen Bruno Mars perform it can easily attest to. But more specifically it is a party tune, as in the featured narrative being centered on the singer and his homeys going out for a night on the town. And they are in fact headed “uptown”, i.e. the poppin’ part of whatever city they’re in – whether it be New York, L.A. or Jackson, Mississippi – to get their groove and socializing on.
And Bruno gives us three main components which he deems will make the night enjoyable. First is his own preparation, i.e. being dressed to the nines and having an ample amount of dough in his pocket. And relatedly the pre-chorus, all well as parts of the verses, features the vocalist praising his hotness, i.e. his own attractiveness.
Then there are the girls he’s looking forward to hooking up with. The idealized characteristics are described as them being “hood”, “good” and “straight masterpieces”. What all of that fundamentally means is that he likes good-looking women from around the way, not necessarily those from the higher echelons of society.
And the chorus highlights his interactions with them, with Mars basically exclaiming that he himself is the “Uptown Funk”. And his ultimate goal in all of this is to “give it to” the aforementioned ladies. It should be noted that the said phrase may be interpreted as possessing a sexual innuendo. However, overall, “Uptown Funk” is far from what we would conventionally define as a sex song.
And lastly, intoxication is obviously a major fact. There is this line at the beginning of the first verse in which Michelle Pfeiffer’s name is dropped in relation to “white gold”. That, dear reader, is actually a roundabout reference to coke. And as we have noted in the past, having for instance participated on a song entitled “Blow” (2019) and all, Bruno Mars appears to be one of the more-overt advocates, as far as musicians go, of getting his sniff on.
But that is another aspect of “Uptown Funk” that a child isn’t likely to pick up on. However, he also mentions ‘sipping liquor’ is the second verse, which is a lot more obvious in terms of his intention of not being sober this particular night.
What “Uptown Funk” is all about
So at the end of the day, all indications point to this track being one of the most well-received dance songs ever created. There may be allusions to sex, coke and booze contained therein, but all things considered those aren’t the factors which attracted so many people to this song.
In fact it’s pretty obvious that both the audio and video were inspired by the works of Michael Jackson, who was like the master of embedding dance songs with adult innuendos that ultimately no one really cared about due to his overall strength as an entertainer.
So at the end of the day, perhaps you wouldn’t want your youngsters hanging with Mars on a hot Saturday night. But in terms of “Uptown Funk” itself, unless someone is the ultra-sensitive type it is the type of performance that can be enjoyed by all generations.
Writing and Production Credits for “Uptown Funk”
Mark Ronson is first and foremost a producer. So even though he does contribute vocals to “Uptown Funk” it is actually someone more talented in that regard, Bruno Mars, who serves as the lead singer. Mars is also credited as a producer and songwriter of the track, as are Mark Ronson and Jeff Bhasker.
And other individuals who are acknowledged solely as writers are as follows:
- Devon Gallaspy
- Trinidad James
- Philip Lawrence
- Lonnie Simmons (1944-2019)
- Rudolph Taylor
- Charlie Wilson
- Robert Wilson (1956-2010)
- Ronnie Wilson
Devon and Trinidad are actually the authors of another song, entitled “All Gold Everything” by Trinidad James, a rapper who is sort of a one-hit wonder and is in fact from Trinidad. And that track is interpolated into “Uptown Funk”.
Then some readers may recognize the aforementioned Wilson brothers as the trio which comprised an old school funk group known as The Gap Band. And they are credited because one of their songs which they also wrote, “I Don’t Believe You Want to Get and Dance (Oops!)” (1979), is sampled into “Uptown Funk”. And the above-noted Rudolph Taylor and Lonnie Simmons also participated on that song, not “Uptown Funk” directly.
The abovenoted artists affiliated with The Gap Band were only credited as writers of “Uptown Funk” after Mark Ronson and co. were more or less threatened with legal action by them. In fact quite a few artists, from different parts of the world and traversing a number of genres (including a BBC children’s show), have also accused the creators of this hit, some formally, of illegally copying their music.
Amongst them is another 1980s funk group, Zapp, who claims that Bruno and the boys bit from their 1980 single “More Bounce to the Ounce”. And concerning that BBC program, which is called The Really Wild Show, even Mark Ronson admitted there are some similarities between it and “Uptown Funk”.
Release Date of “Uptown Funk”
“Uptown Funk” was released on 10 November 2014. It was the lead single from a Mark Ronson album itself entitled “Uptown Special” (2015). The label that put it out is RCA Records.
Mark and Bruno
Mark Ronson became familiar with Bruno Mars after producing a handful of tracks on the latter’s 2012 album, “Unorthodox Jukebox”. In fact it was while working on that particular project that the two of them, alongside Jeff Bhasker, engaged in a jam session which ultimately led to the creation of “Uptown Funk”. And the entire song originated from the first line of the first verse, i.e. the one that references Michelle Pfeiffer.
Michelle Pfeiffer, who is a popular Hollywood actress, responded somewhat-positively to being namedropped in this song. Perhaps the reason she wasn’t overly thrilled at first is because, as noted earlier, she is mentioned in reference to ‘coke’. Or more specifically, attaching the phrase “white gold” to her name harps back to her performance in the classic mob flick “Scarface” (1983), in which she did in fact portray a coke addict.
Reports vary, but it took somewhere from seven months to double that amount of time for Mark Ronson to put “Uptown Funk” together, which is a pretty lengthy to actually be working on a song. He and Bruno Mars reportedly had their disagreements, and accordingly they had a number of conflicts along the way.
Moreover Ronson had to literally pursue a touring Mars in order to get his vocals laid down. That’s one of the reasons why this song was recorded in six different cities across three different countries and two continents. Indeed putting this track together was a long, harrowing experience that even ended up taking a toll on Ronson’s physical health.
For instance, he passed out after one particular grueling recording session. But he was obsessed with making the song as good as possible.
Ultimately all of these efforts proved worth it, as anyone familiar with the success of “Uptown Funk” can attest to the fact that it was a monumental hit. Indeed it is one of the most-commercially successful songs in history.
Achievements of “Uptown Funk”
For starters, in 2018 Billboard compiled “The Hot 100’s All-Time Top 100 Songs” ranking. In other words, they ranked the biggest hits from the first 60 years of the Billboard Hot 100’s history. And “Uptown Funk” was placed all the way at number four on that list.
That of course implies that it topped the Billboard Hot 100 itself upon first release, which it did. It also scored a number one on five other Billboard lists, in addition to accomplishing the feat on the UK Singles Chart. Additionally it topped the year-end Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles Chart rankings for 2015.
Generally speaking, “Uptown Funk” reached the pinnacle of music charts in over 20 nations around the world. It even achieved this feat in countries as diverse as South Korea, Israel, Lebanon and Mexico. And in terms of all of the countries the song charted in overall, they equal almost 40 in number. This is certainly the type of accomplishment only the biggest hits are able to boast of.
Also concerning Billboard, this track found itself earning a Guinness World Record for tying the most weeks a song stayed on top of the organization’s Digital Song Sales list, doing so for 13 weeks.
Additionally, as to be expected based on what has been noted above, “Uptown Funk” also went multi-platinum in a dozen nations. More specifically, it even went diamond in a handful of them (the United States, Canada, France and Mexico). Also, it should be noted that it has been certified 18 times platinum in Australia.
Even More Success
“Uptown Funk” also received a couple of Grammy Awards in 2016. It won in the following categories
- Best Pop Duo/Group Performance
- The even more-revered Record of the Year
At the 2015 Brit Awards, this track was named British Singles of the Year and that same year took home the Soul Train Music Award for Song of the Year. And generally speaking it was one of those types of songs that received a number of powerful nominations and took home quite a few music awards, being one of the biggest hits in history and all. In fact “Uptown Funk” was also the top-selling song of 2015.
Bruno Mars in particular is an all-around musical entertainer. And the overall success of “Uptown Funk” is highly attributable to the track’s music video. And relatively speaking, the video was just as well-received as the song itself. In the video, Mars exhibited his brilliant dancing skills and received praise for that.
Cameron Duddy, who made a name for himself working alongside Bruno in such a capacity, directed the clip. And it earned four MTV VMA nominations in 2015, besting the Best Male Video category. It also scored its own Soul Train Music Award, being named the 2015 Video of the Year.
But more outstandingly, as far as the information age is concerned, is the fact that as of the writing of this post in mid-2021 this music video is in the top 10 of the most-viewed in YouTube history. And what that means in more specific terms is that it concurrently boasts of approximately 4.2 billion views on the globally-popular streaming platform.
The dudes performing with Bruno Mars on the video are his backup band, who are known as The Hooligans. And it was also they who joined him onstage when this song was performed at the Super Bowl.
The clip features footage from a variety of cities. But the primary shooting location was a replica of a New York City street that is actually found at 20th Century Fox Studios in Los Angeles.
Notable Live Performances and Usage
The first time Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson performed “Uptown Funk” in front of a live audience was during November of 2014, with the venue being Saturday Night Live. Another performance they waged during January of 2015, this time via The Ellen DeGeneres Show, actually resulted in the pair being nominated for a 2016 Daytime Emmy Award.
But the biggest stage “Uptown Funk” ever afforded them was gracing the Hafltime Show of Super Bowl 50 (i.e. the Super Bowl held in 2016). And that time around both Beyoncé and Coldplay’s Chris Martin were part of the overall performance.
This song has been used in advertising campaigns by Cadillac, L’Oreal and Skippy (the peanut butter brand, which is actually namedropped in the lyrics). It also made an appearance on the 2016 Disney film Zootopia, and of course the cast of Glee got their hands on it.