Uptown Funk

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"Uptown Funk"
Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk (feat. Bruno Mars) (Official Single Cover).png
Single by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
from the album Uptown Special
B-side
Released 10 November 2014 (2014-11-10)
Format
Recorded 2014[1]
Studio
Genre
Length
  • 4:30 (album version)
  • 3:58 (radio edit)
Label RCA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
Mark Ronson singles chronology
"Anywhere in the World"
(2012)
"Uptown Funk"
(2014)
"Daffodils"
(2015)
"Anywhere in the World"
(2012)
"Uptown Funk"
(2014)
"Daffodils"
(2015)
Bruno Mars singles chronology
"Young Girls"
(2013) Young Girls2013
"Uptown Funk"
(2014) Uptown Funk2014
"24K Magic"
(2016) 24K Magic2016
Music video
"Uptown Funk" on YouTube
Audio sample

"Uptown Funk" (stylised as "UpTown Funk!")[6][7] is a song recorded by British record producer Mark Ronson and American singer and songwriter Bruno Mars, for Ronson's fourth studio album, Uptown Special (2015). RCA Records released the song as the album's lead single on 10 November 2014.[8] Jeff Bhasker assisted the artists in co-writing and co-producing the track, with additional writing from Philip Lawrence. The song became a worldwide phenomenon with its major impact on pop culture.[9]

The song went through many different incarnations, and was worked on for months. Ronson and Mars recorded it at multiple different locations worldwide, ranging from recording studios to dressing rooms. American bands Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Antibalas perform horn parts on the song, while the song's lyrics interpolate a line from rapper Trinidad James' song "All Gold Everything" (2012). Several music critics noted its similarity with popular music from the 1980s. The song features heavy inspiration from the Minneapolis sound of 1980s-era funk music, having a spirit akin to works by Prince as well as Morris Day and The Time. Copyright controversies arose after the song's release, with multiple lawsuits and amendments to its songwriting credits.

"Uptown Funk" spent 14 consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US, seven non-consecutive weeks at number one on the UK Singles Chart, and topped the charts in several other countries including Australia, Canada, France, Ireland and New Zealand. It became the second best-selling single of 2015 and one of the best-selling of all-time. The song won two Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, and the Brit Award for British Single of the Year. Its music video stars Ronson, Mars, and Mars' backing band the Hooligans dancing in a city street, and accumulated 3.0 billion views on video sharing website YouTube as of June 2018, making it the sixth most viewed YouTube video of all time.

Background[edit]

Bruno Mars, seen here performing "Uptown Funk" at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.

In 2012, Ronson produced songs for Bruno Mars' second studio album Unorthodox Jukebox, including the singles "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Gorilla".[10][11] In June 2014, Ronson told Capital FM that he and Mars planned on working together again: "He's had a [sic] incredible run and it was great to be able to work on that record with him and hopefully we'll be making music for a while. [He puts on an] amazing live show."[12] Ronson and Uptown Special co-producer Jeff Bhasker would set up shop whenever and wherever they found time with Mars, eventually recording in Los Angeles, Toronto, London, Vancouver, Memphis and New York City. Mars wound up playing drums throughout the album, as well as co-writing "Uptown Funk".[11] Part of the track was recorded at Cherry Beach Sound in Toronto.

On 9 October 2014, Mike Mullaney (Music Director/Assistant Program Director at CBS Radio/WBMX), listened to the song, which was sent to CBS Radio for testing, and called it "the greatest song of all time". He added "The Ronson/Bruno tune is like JamesBrown/RickJames/TheTime jamming w/ badass brass band", describing it as "Filthy, funky" and complementing Bruno's vocals, "Bruno simply wails".[13]

In April 2015, it was revealed that a settlement had been reached with The Gap Band's publishing company, Minder Music, to add core group members Charlie Wilson, Robert Wilson, Ronnie Wilson, keyboardist Rudolph Taylor and producer Lonnie Simmons as co-writers, due to the song's similarities to "Oops Up Side Your Head", and that they would receive a 17% songwriting credit.[14] Minder Music filed a claim into YouTube's content management system, which prevented publishers from receiving their payment.[15][16]

An early version of the song had "an inexplicable hard-rock breakdown and a chorus, in which Bruno Mars shouted, "Burn this motherfucker down!". They spent months working on the chorus until they came up the idea of not having one.[17] The song almost didn't see the light of the day due to its early versions.[17] The record label was hesitant on releasing the song under its current title, suggesting the alternative name "Just Watch".[18]

Composition and influences[edit]

"Uptown Funk" is in the key of D Dorian with a time signature of 4
4
and has a tempo of 115 beats per minute. "Uptown Funk" is also heavily influenced by the Minneapolis sound of the early 1980s, pioneered by Prince, The Time with Morris Day, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis with a touch of boogie of The Gap Band, and Zapp and a slight modern EDM twist. According to Ronson in Rolling Stone, the song "animates a Minneapolis groove."[4] According to Chris Molanphy of Slate, "Uptown Funk" is a "brazen return to the electro-funk of the early ’80s."[19]

According to Billboard writer Sean Ross, the song is widely influenced by funk artists and their songs. This includes Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce", One Way's "Cutie Pie", The Gap Band's "I Don't Believe You Want to Get Up and Dance (Oops Up Side Your Head)" and "Early in the Morning", Earth, Wind & Fire's "Getaway", The Sequence's "Funk You Up", The Sugarhill Gang's "Apache", George Kranz's "Trommeltanz (Din Daa Daa)" and The Time's "Cool" and "Jungle Love". The only song specifically credited on "Uptown Funk" is Trinidad James' 2012 top 10 R&B and rap hit "All Gold Everything". However, many of the songs cited "were released during the worst period of a 'disco backlash' that effectively kept all types of black music, not just disco, off of top 40", while "Uptown Funk" received instant airplay at top 40 radio.[20]

Charles Moniz, one of the several engineers of the song, said that he helped with the "doh" vocal bass line on the track. Philip Lawrence said they needed an opening bassline, however Lawrence couldn't play the bass. Moniz told him to sing it. "That became what stayed on the album", according to Moniz. The team had been stuck on the chorus for a while, came offstage after a show one night and proclaimed: "I got it". Some of the track progressive phases were done on "makeshift studios" set up by Moniz in dressing rooms.[21]

Reception[edit]

Nick Murray of Rolling Stone was positive, giving the song a rating of 4 out of 5 stars, praising "some George Kranz scatting and a Nile Rodgers guitar riff." He also wrote that Mars, Ronson and The Hooligans "channel the days when brags weren't humble and disco wasn't retro."[22] Brennan Carley of Spin noted that "Mars sounds a bit like Nelly on the track, sing-rapping his way through goofy lyrics ("Got Chucks on / With Saint Laurent / Gotta kiss myself / So pretty")", while comparing the bass line to something "taken straight from Prince's playbook." He added that "It's a definite step towards more classic funk for Ronson, who has a history of dabbling in heavy horn sections and walking guitar solos." He finished by saying "Mars' voice keeps things light and bubbly though, making 'Uptown Funk' the kind of song you'll be unable to escape on the radio in a matter of days."[23] Lucas Villa of AXS called Ronson "eternally cool" and added that the producer's "latest foray into 'Funk' is definitely his freakiest, freshest and most fun release yet."[24]

In a mixed review for the parent album Uptown Special, Jim Farber from the New York Daily News gave an overrall 3/5 rating and claimed that Ronson "just got lucky." He particularly criticized "Uptown Funk" for being a "lazy track", unlike the rest of the songs, which "obsess on the past, but most enliven it."[25] Similarly, in Andy Kellman's AllMusic review for the album, he criticized the song as "aiming for early Time and landing closer to a second-tier trifle -- One Way's "Let's Talk," for instance".[26]

In January 2015, "Uptown Funk" was ranked at number 23, tied with Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" on The Village Voice's annual year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll. The same critics' poll ranked "Uptown Funk" at number eight the following year.[27] Later the same month, the song was voted into Triple J's Hottest 100 at number 6.[28]

Ronson won two Grammy Awards in February 2016, including Record of the Year for "Uptown Funk."[29]

Chart performance[edit]

The song is reported to earn $100,000 for the label and composers per week for streaming on Spotify alone[30] and has more than three billion completed views on YouTube.[31][better source needed] The song had sold over twenty million equivalent units as of 2015.[32]

Canada[edit]

On 29 November 2014, "Uptown Funk" debuted at number 63 on the Canadian Hot 100.[33] On the issue dated 10 January 2015, the song reached number one, a position it has held for fifteen consecutive weeks, becoming the second longest-running number-one single on the Canadian Hot 100, only behind The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling", which spent sixteen weeks at number one. On the issue dated 25 April 2015, after fifteen weeks at number one, it was replaced by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's "See You Again".

Ireland[edit]

In Ireland, "Uptown Funk" debuted at number two on 12 December 2014, and the following week peaked at the top of the Irish Singles Chart, taking the Christmas number one spot. In doing this, it became the first song not released by The X Factor winner to reach this position in nine years.[34]

It spent seven weeks at number one in the Irish Charts, before being knocked off the top by Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do".

United Kingdom[edit]

Following a September 2014 cover by Fleur East on The X Factor reaching number one on iTunes, "Uptown Funk" was released, with its release date being brought forward by five weeks.[35][36] It debuted at number one in the United Kingdom with first-week chart sales of 118,000.[37][38] This gave Ronson his first UK number one as either a producer or artist.[38] The next week, despite selling over 181,000 copies, "Uptown Funk" fell to number two, being denied the coveted Christmas number one by The X Factor winner Ben Haenow's winner's single, "Something I Need".[39] In that same week, "Uptown Funk" made UK chart history by being the first single to be streamed more than 2 million times in a single week, being streamed a total of 2.34 million times. In doing so, the single took the title of being the all-time most streamed track in a single week, replacing Ed Sheeran's "Thinking Out Loud".[40] The following week, "Uptown Funk" returned to number one and improved on its streaming record, being streamed 2.49 million times. It spent seven non-consecutive weeks at number one, before finally being knocked off the top on 8 February 2015 by Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do", which also broke its streaming record for a single week.[41]

The song was certified a 'million-seller' by the Official Charts Company in February 2015,[42] just seven weeks after its release. In May 2015, the song became only the third song released during the 21st century to be certified 3× Platinum.[43] It had combined sales of over 2 million as of September 2017 (1.64 million purchases and 60 million streams).[44][45]

"Uptown Funk" was the best-selling song of 2015 in the UK, with combined sales of 1.76 million during the year (total 2.3 million).[46] On 10 June 2016, "Uptown Funk" became only the second single of the 21st century to go 4× Platinum, after "Happy" by Pharrell Williams.[47]

United States[edit]

On the Billboard Hot 100, the song debuted at number 65 on the week-ending 29 November 2014 due to digital downloads sold, making it Ronson's first entry on the Hot 100.[48][49] During its second week, "Uptown Funk" sold 110,000 digital copies, becoming the Hot 100's top Digital Gainer of the week, and nearing Streaming Songs with a gain of 2.5 million US streams.[50] The song rose to number 18 in its second week on the Hot 100.[50] On its third week the song rose to number eight, after its first full seven-day tracking period after the premiere of the music video, with 4.4 million streams, digital sales of 167,000 copies and debuting at Radio Songs at number 46 (28 million audience).[51] At this point, the song became Ronson's first top 10 as an artist (and in his first visit with such a billing) and his third top 10 as a producer (Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" (No. 9, 2007) and Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" (No. 1, 2012–13).[51] On its fourth week, the song reached number five. This marked Mars' eleventh top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.[52] On its fifth week, it reached a new peak of number 3, where it stayed for two weeks. The song claimed the Hot 100's three top Gainer awards (Digital, Streaming, Airplay), making it just the fifth title to sweep all three categories in the nearly three years of their side-by-side existence, and making Ronson the first male soloist to top Digital Songs with a debut chart entry (as a lead) since Sam Smith's "Stay with Me".[53] The next week the song climbed to number two. The following week, "Uptown Funk" topped the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ronson's first number-one single in the country and Mars' sixth. The song crowned the three major component songs charts (Digital Songs, Streaming Songs and Radio Songs) on the Billboard Hot 100. It also marked Ronson's first single to reach number one in radio songs; for Mars, it became his sixth, reaching fifth among acts with the most number-ones in that area.[54]

The song became the first to crown the Hot 100 and its three main component charts for nine weeks (the previous record was held by Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass", which did so for two weeks).[55] By spending a seventh week at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, it became Mars' longest command at the top position (among his six number-ones).[56] It also became one of the longest running number-one singles in Billboard's Hot 100 history and also the second longest-running number-one single of the 2010s decade, by topping the chart for 14 consecutive weeks, making it the joint third-longest number-one single in Hot 100 history.[55][57] This surpassed the previous record set by Robin Thicke with his 2013 single "Blurred Lines", featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I., which reigned at number one for 12 weeks. After its fourteenth week, it was replaced by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's "See You Again".[58] The song stayed in the top three of the Billboard Hot 100 for 21 weeks, a record previously owned by the 1999 single "Smooth" by Santana and Rob Thomas.[59] On 5 June, "Uptown Funk" spent a 25th consecutive week inside the US top 5, equalling the all-time record set by LeAnn Rimes with "How Do I Live" in 1997 (this was surpassed on March 11, 2017 when "Closer by The Chainsmokers and Halsey ranked in the top five for a twenty-sixth nonconsecutive week). "Uptown Funk" spent 31 weeks in the top-10, with the run ending in the issue dated 11 July 2015, the longest-running top-10 single after aforementioned "How Do I Live" as well as "Closer."[60] As of September 2017, "Uptown Funk" has sold 7.8 million copies in the United States.[61]

Music video[edit]

The music video was released on 17 November 2014. It stars Mars, Ronson and the Hooligans walking around a city, wearing brightly colored suits and chains. On 19 November, it was released on Vevo and YouTube. It was directed by Bruno Mars and Cameron Duddy.[62] In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on the Ellen Show, Ronson and Mars stated that it had been filmed in many cities where Mars was touring. Parts were also filmed at 20th Century Fox Studio's "New York street" backlot in Los Angeles.[63] The video has over 3.0 billion views on video sharing website YouTube as of May 2018, making it the sixth most viewed YouTube video of all time.[64]

Usage in media and remixes[edit]

The first of the two remixes was released on 12 February 2015 during Ronson's interview on Hot 97 featuring Mars and a new intro verse by rapper Action Bronson. Ronson also revealed that the final version included rapper Bodega Bamz.[65] The second remix of the song featuring Mars and an intro verse by rapper Trinidad James. It was released by Billboard and uploaded on Bruno Mars' YouTube account on 13 March 2015.[66] Fleur East covered the song during eleventh series of The X Factor UK prior to the single's official release. East later included her live performance of the song on her debut album Love, Sax and Flashbacks.[67][68]

The song was also featured in the sixth-season Glee episode "Child Star", performed by Samantha Marie Ware, Noah Guthrie and Marshall Williams.[69]

Within the UK, a (somewhat humorous) claim has circulated that the song is based on the theme to The Really Wild Show, a BBC children's nature programme.[70][a][72][73]

Copyright controversies and accusations[edit]

Copyright controversies about "Uptown Funk" have dogged Ronson and Mars, with The Gap Band's three core members along with their former manager Lonnie Simmons and keyboard player Rudy Taylor being added on as songwriters as part of a mutually settled agreement given the inspiration given to the track by "Oops Up Side Your Head". Serbian pop artist Viktorija has also argued that "Uptown Funk" infringed on her track "Ulice Mracne Nisu Za Devojke". She stated that she had no hurry to sue as the "processes take a long time" and her life and career don't rely on lawsuits. She also had no idea what to do with the money, if she won, earned from the percentage of the lawsuit.[74] In late 2016, a third and fourth accusation was made. The former by funk group Collage, which sued Ronson and Mars for alleged copyright infringement, claiming "Uptown Funk" and their single "Young Girls" are "indistinguishable", the fourth by rap group, The Sequence they claimed it copied their single "Funk You Up". The latter decided to sue a year later.[75][76] In 2017, Ronson was accused of copying Zapp's funk song "More Bounce to the Ounce" by Lastrada Entertainment Company, Ltd., which holds the copyright of "More Bounce to the Ounce".[77] In 2018, the Collage lawsuit was dropped by both parties, it was not revealed if there was any financial settlement.[78]

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording

Horn section

Although several recorded horn sections were used during the recording process, it was noted in magazine Billboard in November 2014, that Ronson engaged Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Antibalas horns for the final rendering of the track.[83] The horn parts were recorded at Daptone Records in Brooklyn, New York in August 2014. Members of this horn section were reflected in the Saturday Night Live performance of "Uptown Funk" and have been reported in sources such as The New York Times,[84] The Wall Street Journal,[85] The Boston Globe,[86] and more.[19][87][88]

Antibalas and The Hooligans Horn Section

Personnel

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[169] 15× Platinum 1,050,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[170] Gold 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[171] 2× Platinum 60,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[172] Diamond 800,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[173] 2× Platinum 120,000^
France (SNEP)[174] Diamond 233,333*
Germany (BVMI)[175] Platinum 400,000^
Italy (FIMI)[176] 5× Platinum 250,000double-dagger
Japan (RIAJ)[177] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[178] 3× Platinum 180,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[179] 5× Platinum 75,000*
Sweden (GLF)[180] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[181] 4× Platinum 2,509,000[182]
United States (RIAA)[183] 11× Platinum 7,823,237[61]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Cat no. Ref.
Australia 10 November 2014 Digital download None [184]
United States Sony [79]
11 November 2014 Contemporary hit radio
[185]
Italy 14 November 2014 Sony [186]
United Kingdom 8 December 2014 Digital download Columbia [187]
Germany 9 January 2015 CD single Sony [80]
United Kingdom 16 February 2015 12" Columbia [188]
United States 17 February 2015 88875069571 [189]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This is a version of the intro to Ellovee-ee, an obscure 1980s funk record.[71]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]