Uptown Funk

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"Uptown Funk"
Capitalised words "Mark Ronson FEAT. Bruno Mars" stylised as "UpTown Funk!" with capital T and exclamation point. A black and white speaker box in the middle of the image.
Single by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars
from the album Uptown Special
B-side
Released10 November 2014 (2014-11-10)
Format
Recorded2014
Studio
Genre
Length
  • 4:30 (album version)
  • 3:55 (radio edit)
Label
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Mark Ronson
  • Jeff Bhasker
  • Bruno Mars
Mark Ronson singles chronology
"Anywhere in the World"
(2012)
"Uptown Funk"
(2014)
"Daffodils"
(2015)
Bruno Mars singles chronology
"Young Girls"
(2013)
"Uptown Funk"
(2014)
"24K Magic"
(2016)
Music video
"Uptown Funk" on YouTube

"Uptown Funk" is a song by British record producer Mark Ronson from his fourth studio album, Uptown Special (2015) featuring American singer and songwriter Bruno Mars. It was released as the album's lead single on 10 November 2014 via digital download in several countries. "Uptown Funk" was written by Ronson, Mars, Philip Lawrence and Jeff Bhasker. Produced by Ronson, Mars, and Bhasker, its composition began during a freestyle studio session when they worked on a jam Mars and his band played on tour. Copyright controversies arose after the song's release resulting in multiple lawsuits and amendments to its songwriting credits.

The song is a funk-pop, soul, boogie, disco-pop and Minneapolis sound track. It has a spirit akin to the 1980s-era funk music. Its lyrics address fashion, self-love and "traditional masculine bravado", performed in a sing-rapping style filled with metaphors, arrogance, charisma, and fun. Upon its release, the single received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised the instrumental, style and influences of the track. Others criticised it for not being innovative as it tried to emulate 1980s funk music.

Commercially, the song topped the charts of 19 countries and reached the top 10 of 15 others, making it both Ronson's and Mars' most successful single to date. In the United States, "Uptown Funk" topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 14 weeks and spent seven weeks on the top of the UK Singles Chart. It was certified 11 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and four times platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). Uptown Funk" peaked at number one on the Canadian Hot 100, and topped the Irish Singles Chart, taking the Christmas number one spot. The song also reached the top spot on France's Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) number one in both Australia for a total of six weeks and in New Zealand for nine consecutive weeks. It also broke its own streaming record three times in the United Kingdom, while breaking the streaming record in the United States and Worldwide at that time.

Director Cameron Duddy and Mars shot the song's music video depicting Ronson, Mars and The Hooligans singing, walking and dancing in a city street. In March 2019, the official music video for "Uptown Funk" became the fifth most viewed YouTube video, of all-time after receiving 3.6 billion views. "Uptown Funk" was performed on television shows such as Saturday Night Live, The Ellen DeGeneres Show and the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. It received several awards and nominations, winning British Single of the Year at the 2015 Brit Awards, International Work of the Year at the APRA Music Awards of 2016 and Record of the Year at the 2016 Grammy Awards. The television show soundtracks of Glee, Family Guy and a commercial for Skippy peanut butter used the song. Not only has it been parodied several times, but it also became a worldwide phenomenon with a major impact on pop culture.

Background[edit]

Mark Ronson (pictured) is the lead artist and one of the composers of "Uptown Funk".

After producing three songs for Bruno Mars' second studio album Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), Mark Ronson said in June 2014, that he and Mars planned on working together again.[1][2] Ronson ended up working on "Uptown Funk" for seven months, recording it in various locations, in a number of grueling, stressful sessions.[3][4] Its earliest version was a jam that Bruno Mars and his band played on tour.[4][5] When Ronson joined Mars and Jeff Bhasker for a jam session at Mars' studio, he wanted to finish leftover demos from Unorthodox Jukebox (2012), however, Mars wanted to do something different. He started playing on a drum kit in the studio, while Bhasker and Ronson played keyboard and guitar, respectively. They decided to work on the tour jam and thought it would be "cool" to fit in the Trinidad James song, "Don’t believe me, just watch. Don’t believe me, just watch", played during the tour's soundcheck. At this point, they found the opening line: "This hit, that ice cold/Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold", which led them to believe they had an "exciting idea". However, both Ronson and Mars had busy schedules and could not complete the single. They spent the next several months working on the song[3][4][5] fighting over which sections of the track would fit better. Mars was not a fan of early versions of the song.[6]

The trio recorded the song in Los Angeles, London, Memphis, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver.[3][5][7] The horn parts were recorded at Daptone Records in Brooklyn with the horn sections of The Dap-Kings, Antibalas and The Hooligans playing the final version of the track.[4][5][7] The drum section was first recorded at Mars' studio, in Los Angeles and later rearranged in Memphis. The track took over 100 takes before it was finished at Ronson's studio in London.[8] There were a number of drastic changes made to the track.[4] One iteration featured a hard rock breakdown in the middle and a chorus in which Mars shouted, "Burn this motherfucker down!" At one point, the song was nearly scrapped entirely.[9] They spent months working on a chorus, only to decide not to use it.[9] After a show on the Moonshine Jungle Tour (2013–14), songwriter Philip Lawrence suggested using an opening bassline, however, he couldn't play the bass so engineer Charles Moniz asked him to sing it. The "doh" vocal bassline ended up on the album. Some of the most progressive parts of the track were done in improvised studios set up by Moniz.[10]

The stress over "Uptown Funk" was so high, that Ronson passed out during one session trying to nail the guitar part. Two days later in Toronto they figured out the guitar part when Ronson was playing it in front of The Hooligans after 82 takes.[3][5][8] Ronson explained on NPR's Fresh Air why he was so determined to make the song perfect: "When you're doing something that doesn't sound like anything else on the radio at the time, you almost need to like, iron-clad it, to make sure it gets through. You have to put these hooks in it. You've got to make sure you've got all that ear candy in it to get it through the gate."[3] The record label was hesitant to release the song under the title "Uptown Funk" suggesting the alternative "Just Watch".[11] In 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 complemented Mars' vocals, "Bruno simply wails".[12] Ronson feels that the song belongs more to Mars than himself.[13]

Production and release[edit]

"Uptown Funk" was initially written by Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, and Jeff Bhasker. Since the song embodies some of "All Gold Everything" (2012), Nicholas Williams and Devon Gallaspy were credited as songwriters.[7] In May 2015, the track was re-registered as it also contains portions of "Oops Upside Your Head" (1979). Additional writing credit was given to Charlie Wilson, Robert Wilson, Ronnie Wilson, Rudy Taylor, and Lonnie Simmons.[14] The single was produced by Ronson, Bhasker, and Mars. Ronson was in charge of the guitars, linn drum and programming, while the keyboards and talk box were handled by Bhasker. Mars sang the vocals and played drums. Ronson and several others engineered the song. The track was recorded at six studios. Serban Ghenea and John Hanes, who served as the mix engineer, mixed "Uptown Funk" at MixStar Studios in Virginia Beach. It was mastered by Tom Coyne at Sterling Sound, NYC.[7]

"Uptown Funk"'s release was first announced by Mark Ronson on 30 October 2014, via Twitter. The date 10 November 2014 appeared on the poster image Ronson included in the tweet.[15] Columbia Records and Sony Music Entertainment released the single on 10 November 2014 for digital download in various countries.[16][17][18] RCA Records sent the track to be added to US contemporary hit radio the following day, while Sony released it to Italian contemporary hit radio stations on 14 November 2014.[19][20] In the United Kingdom, "Uptown Funk" was released before its scheduled date, 11 January 2015, because it had been performed earlier on The X Factor as a cover by Fleur East.[21][22][23] On 8 December 2014 the song released on the UK via digital download and radio stations began adding the track to their playlists.[24][25] On 9 January 2015, a CD Single was released in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It included the album version of "Uptown Funk", as well as the Ronson and Mystikal single, "Feel Right".[26] On 16 and 24 February 2015, the recording and one of its remixes, the BB Disco Dub Mix remixed by Benji B, were released on vinyl in the UK and the US.[27][28] An EP of four different remixes of the original version of the song was released via digital download On 13 April 2015.[29] On 29 June 2015, a remix featuring Trinidad James was made available for purchase on iTunes.[30] On 18 July 2018 the radio edition of the track was available for sale.[31]

Composition and influences[edit]

"Uptown Funk" is a funk-pop,[32] soul,[22] boogie,[33] disco-pop,[34] Minneapolis sound track, with a light EDM influence.[35] It is composed in the key of D minor at a tempo of 115 beats per minute. Mars' vocal range spans from the low note of B2 to the high note of D6.[36] It has been described as a "joyous, energetic and feel-good" song.[22][37] The Guardian's music critic noted influences of Cameo, Earth, Wind & Fire, Chaka Khan, New Edition, Prince, Sugarhill Gang and The Gap Band on the track.[22][38] Billboard's music critic compared the song to George Kranz's "Trommeltanz (Din Daa Daa)" (1983), Earth, Wind & Fire's "Getaway" (1976), One Way's "Cutie Pie" (1982), Sugarhill Gang's "Apache" (1981), The Gap Band's "Oops Up Side Your Head" (1979) and "Early in the Morning" (1982), The Sequence's "Funk You Up" (1979), Morris Day & The Time's "Cool" (1981) and "Jungle Love" (1984), as well as, Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce" (1980).[38] Matt James of PopMatters felt Morris Day & The Time's "The Bird" (1984), Kool & the Gang's "Get Down on It" (1981) and Was (Not Was)' "Walk the Dinosaur" (1987) to have influenced "Uptown Funk".[39] Various critics noticed the pastiche on "Uptown Funk", from the "electric purple texture of the synths and the loose slap of the rhythms" to the "Prince-backed 80's funkateers Morris Day & The Time".[40][41][42]

Jamieson Cox of Time, Chris Molanphy of Slate and Stuart Berman of Pitchfork found the song heavily influenced by 1980s funk.[40][43][44] Neil McCormick writing for The Telegraph called it an "evocation of the kind of Eighties funk that was already ripe with nostalgia".[42] Robbie Daw of Idolator found the single closer to the "70's groove", filling "the hearts of Stax- and James Brown music fans".[45] Likewise, Rap-Up dubbed it a "70's jam", a mash-up of "the best of Morris Day & The Time, James Brown, and The Jackson 5".[37] AXS's Lucas Villa compared the funk sound of the recording to George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" (1982).[46] Andy Kellman's AllMusic said the recording "aimed for early Time", but it sounded more like One Way's "Let's Talk"(1985).[47] Annie Galvin of Slant Magazine found Mars "channeling Little Richard's raspier inflections."[48] Critics noticed the influence of Cameo on the horns, Morris Day & The Time on the keyboards, and "Party Train" (1983) by The Gap Band on the drums.[38] All the verses are designed with a "call-and-response structure", a signature of Morris Day & The Time.[49] The song is performed in a more arrogant and charismatic way than Mars' previous tracks.[44][50] The lyrics have "well-placed references to Michelle Pfeiffer and Trinidad James", as the hook samples portions of James' "All Gold Everything" (2012).[38][50] On the song, Mars shows not only "soul and swagger" in the sing-rapping verses, "I'm too hot / Call the police and the fireman", but he also jokes around, "Got Chucks on / With Saint Laurent / Gotta catch myself / So pretty".[40][46][51] The lyrics make fun of "traditional masculine bravado" using "silly metaphors", "I’m too hot, hot damn / Make a dragon wanna retire man".[48]

Reception[edit]

"Uptown Funk" received positive reviews from most music critics. Nick Murray of Rolling Stone gave the song a rating of four out of five stars, praising the "George Kranz scatting and Nile Rodgers guitar riff." He noted that Mars, Ronson and The Hooligans "channel the days when brags weren't humble and disco wasn't retro."[52] Spin's Brennan Carley noticed the resemblance between Mars' sing-rapping style and Nelly's vocals. He praised Mars' voice for keeping things "light and bubbly". Carley compared the bass line to something that Prince would use. He felt "Uptown Funk" would be all over the radio in a short time.[51] Danielle Janota writing for Consequence of Sound praised the single calling it the "crown jewel" of the album.[53] Lucas Villa of AXS dubbed Ronson's latest approach to Funk "his freakiest, freshest and most fun release yet".[46] Pop Matters's Matt James called the track a "deftly daft, delirious and incessant, booty-shaking blast of brass 'n' bravado", finding it a standout on the album.[39] John Parker from Drowned in Sound called the recording "inescapable, a bona fide modern day mega hit".[54] Neil McCormick from The Telegraph enjoyed the track because he "liked all the records it was built out of, by James Brown, Earth Wind & Fire and The Gap Band".[42] Stereogum's Tom Breihan wrote, "It’s the best American #1 we’ve had in more than a year, easily, and maybe much more". However, he noticed it copied the work of Morris Day & The Time and "takes these old sounds, but it presents them with energy and inventiveness and charm and balls".[41] Robbie Daw of Idolator called the single "a straight-up ass-kicker" and not a "half-hearted stab" at recreating the "70's groove". He also praised the song's lyrics like "Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold" and "gotta kiss myself, so pretty".[45]

Jim Farber of the New York Daily News said the recording "isn't even a song", adding "[i]t's a vamp, a rush of 'hit me' rhythms of the style patented by James Brown". Farber added, that Mars' vocals have "zip", but they "lack soul, not to mention an ounce of individuality". He called "Uptown Funk" the only "lazy track" on the album.[55] Nick Messitte writing for Forbes criticised the song for "borrowing" from Morris Day & The Time's "Jungle Love" (1984), having the "same beat, instrumentation, call-and-response structure" and the key being "half-step apart". Messitte criticised Mars for mimicking other artists throughout the entire article.[49]

The song made the cut on several lists of best songs. In June 2015, Spin complied a list of The 63 Best Songs of 2015 So Far with "Uptown Funk" at number 51. Andrew Unterberger wrote, the song enters "the canon of "September", "Celebration", and "I Gotta Feeling", jams to be played at every wedding from now until the end of time".[56] On the list of the 101 best songs of 2015 compiled by Spin, Dan Weiss ranked the song at number 87 saying it emulates "Morris Day-esque funk ditty" and each one of us contributed to its success.[57] Rolling Stone ranked "Uptown Funk" at number 25 on its 100 Greatest Songs of the Century – So Far in 2018. The magazine's writers described it as a "perfect Eighties funk-pop nostalgia bomb", praising the singer's "sparkling showmanship", and dubbing it "one of a kind".[32] The Village Voice's annual year-end Pazz & Jop critics' poll selected it as the 23rd best song of 2014, tied with Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass". The same critics selected "Uptown Funk" as the eighth best track of 2015.[58] NPR included on their list of favorite songs Of 2015. Stephen Thompson wrote, "If you're going to hear a song on the radio 15,000 times in a single summer, it might as well be this one".[59] On 26 January 2015, the song was voted number six on radio station Triple J's Hottest 100 of 2014.[60]

Accolades[edit]

"Uptown Funk" has received various awards and nominations following its commercial success. In 2015, the song won British Single of the Year at the Brit Awards, Best Pop at MelOn Music Awards and was one of the Top 10 Gold International Gold Songs at RTHK International Pop Poll Awards.[61][62][63] The track also won BMI Pop Song of the Year at the BMI Awards, Song of the Year at Telehit Awards and Song of the Year at Soul Train Music Awards.[64][65][66] It also received Soul Train nominations for The Ashford & Simpson Songwriter's Award and Best Collaboration.[67] The single was nominated for Single of the Year and Collaboration of the Year at the 2015 American Music Awards, International Hit of the Year at the Danish GAFFA Awards and Best International Song at the Los Premios 40 Principales.[68][69][70] It was also nominated for Best Collaboration and Centric Award at the BET Awards, Best Song and Best Collaboration at the MTV Europe Music Awards and Dancefloor Filler at the NME Awards.[71][72][73]

In 2016, "Uptown Funk" received Grammy awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance at the 58th Grammy Awards.[74] It also won International Work of the Year at the APRA Music Awards, Best Collaboration at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, while it was nominated for Song of the Year.[75][76] The song was also nominated for Top Radio Song and Top Streaming Song (Video) at the Billboard Music Awards.[77] "Uptown Funk " was inducted to the 2017 edition of the Guinness World Records for achieving the most weeks at number one on Billboard's Digital Song Sales chart.[78] This record was later broken by "Despacito" (2017).[79] "Uptown Funk" is the fourth biggest song of all-time to have charted on the Billboard Hot 100.[80]

Controversies and lawsuits[edit]

"Uptown Funk" was the subject of several lawsuits over copyright infringement. In 2015, similarities with "Oops Up Side Your Head" (1979) by The Gap Band led them, along with keyboardist Rudolph Taylor, and producer Lonnie Simmons to be added as co-writers of "Uptown Funk" receiving 17% of the publishing royalties.[14][81] In the same year, Serbian artist Viktorija argued that "Uptown Funk" infringed on her track "Ulice mračne nisu za devojke". She decided not to sue Mars and Ronson.[82] In 2016, electro-funk band Collage sued Ronson and Mars for copying their single, "Young Girls" (1983), while The Sequence, a rap group, claimed it infringed their single "Funk You Up" (1979) and sued a year later.[83][84] In 2017, Lastrada Entertainment filed a lawsuit citing similarities with "More Bounce to the Ounce" (1980) by Zapp.[85] In 2018, the lawsuit was dropped with no word if there was a financial settlement.[86][87] The track drew comparisons with the theme song of The Really Wild Show, a BBC children's nature program.[88] When Ronson was asked if he heard similarities between "Uptown Funk" and the theme he said "Oh, then the horns, I understand what they're saying, yeah, we owe a little bit ... all equally influenced by Quincy Jones".[89]

Commercial performance[edit]

United States[edit]

The single debuted at number 65 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on 21 November 2014 due to digital sales, making it Ronson's first entry on the Hot 100.[90] Due to the release of the official video and a performance on Saturday Night Live, it subsequently sold 110,000 digital copies. The song became the Hot 100's top Digital Gainer of the week and peaked at number 18 on 28 November 2014.[91] In its third week, the track rose to number eight on the Billboard Hot 100, after the video's first full tracking week. It became Ronson's first top 10 as an artist. It debuted on the component charts of Streaming Songs and Radio Songs at number 26 and 46, respectively.[92] On the week of 10 December 2014, "Uptown Funk" ascended to number five, with sales of 152,000 copies. It marked Mars' eleventh top five on the Billboard Hot 100.[93] In its fourth week, the single peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 170,000 copies and achieving a 49 million airplay audience, thus receiving Airplay Gainer honors.[94] The following week after The Voice performance, the recording stayed at number three for the second consecutive week. It was the biggest gainer in Digital Songs (244,000) , Streaming (7.9 million), Airplay Audience (63 million), becoming the fifth song to top all three "categories". Ronson became the second lead male artist to top Digital Songs with a debut single, since Sam Smith's "Stay with Me" (2014).[95] On 31 December 2014, the track rose to number two on the Billboard Hot 100 with 432,000 copies sold, 8.8 million streams and reached the top ten on Radio Songs with a 68 million audience.[96] In its seventh week, "Uptown Funk" topped the Billboard Hot 100, with 382,000 downloads sold, 10 million U.S. streams and a 76 million airplay audience. It became Ronson's first and only number-one single in the country and Mars' sixth.[97] It became one of the longest running number-one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 and the second longest-running number-one single of the 2010s decade topping the chart for 14 consecutive weeks. It is also Ronson and Mars' longest single to hold the top position. It was replaced by Wiz Khalifa's "See You Again" (2015) featuring Charlie Puth.[98][99][100] It topped the Billboard Hot 100 year-end chart.[101]

In its thirteenth week at number one, "Uptown Funk" became the first song to top the Billboard Hot 100 and its three main component charts for nine non-consecutive weeks.[102] The recording spent 31 weeks in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and 21 weeks on the top three of the Hot 100, a record previously held by Santana featuring Rob Thomas's "Smooth" (1999), with 19 weeks.[103][104] After spending 25 weeks on the Hot 100's top five, it matched the record set by LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live" (1997). This record was broken by The Chainsmokers "Closer" (2016) featuring Halsey which spent 26 weeks on the Hot 100's top five.[105] "Uptown Funk" sold at least 300,000 copies for eight consecutive weeks. Only "Blurred Lines" (2013) by Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I. surpassed it by selling the same number ten weeks in a row.[106] "Uptown Funk" tied the record for most weeks spent at the top of the Digital Song Sales chart (13 weeks) with Flo Rida's "Low" featuring T-Pain.[107] The recording reached its highest peak on Streaming Songs with 24.5 million streams and 5.7 million subscription-services-based On-Demand Songs in one week.[108] "Uptown Funk" spent 12 weeks on the top position of Streaming Songs, it was the second best run at the time, only surpassed by the thirteen weeks of Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX's "Fancy" (2014).[109] It spent 12 weeks at number one on the Radio Songs chart, reaching a peak of 181 million in all-format audience.[98][106] It was Ronson's first single to reach number one in the radio songs charts and it was Mars' sixth.[110] "Uptown Funk" topped several component charts in the United States, such as Adult Pop Songs, Dance Club Songs, Dance/Mix Show Airplay, Pop Songs and Rhythmic Songs.[111][112][113] It topped the year-end chart Mainstream Top 40.[114] In the United States, the single sold 7.8 million downloads as of 28 September 2017.[115] It was certified eleven times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on 18 October 2016, for units of over 11 million sales plus track-equivalent streams.[116]

International[edit]

On 29 November 2014, "Uptown Funk" debuted at number 63 on the Canadian Hot 100.[117] The following week it reached the top ten, in the third week entered the top five[118][119] peaking at number two in the fourth week.[120] On the issue date of 10 January 2015, the song reached number one, a position it held for fifteen consecutive weeks. It became the second longest-running number-one single on the Canadian Hot 100, behind The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" (2009), which spent sixteen weeks at number one.[121][122] On the issue date of 25 April 2015, the song was replaced by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's "See You Again" (2015).[123] It was certified diamond by Music Canada (MC) for shipments over 800,000 copies.[124] It finished at number one on the Canada Hot 100.[125] In the United Kingdom, "Uptown Funk" was covered by Fleur East on The X Factor before its official release date, the cover reached number one on iTunes. This led the original version being released five weeks earlier than originally planned.[126] Nevertheless, it debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on 14 December 2014, giving Ronson his first UK number one as a producer and artist.[127][128] The following week, the song was replaced in the top spot by the X Factor winner Ben Haenow's single, "Something I Need" (2014), making it the Christmas number one.[129] It spent seven non-consecutive weeks at number one, before finally being knocked off from the top on 8 February 2015 by Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do" (2015).[130] The track was certified five times platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), for combined unit sales equivalent to 3,000,000.[131] "Uptown Funk" was the best-selling song of 2015 in the UK, with combined sales of 1.76 million during the year (total 2.25 million).[132] As of September 2017, the song had 2,723,470 combining units, making the list of best-selling singles of the 21st century in the United Kingdom as the fourth best-selling single based on paid-for sales and the second best-selling song based on combined sales.[133] It made the year-end charts in 2014 and 2015, topping the latter.[134][135] "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.[136] It became the first song not released by The X Factor winner to reach this position in nine years.[137][138] It spent seven weeks at number one on the Irish Charts, before being knocked off the top by Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do" (2015).[139]

It reached the top spot on France's Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique (SNEP) its sixth week, 27 December 2014, spending 11 weeks in the number one position. It charted for a total of 117 weeks, never leaving it from 2014 to 2017.[140] It was certified diamond by the SNEP for sales of 250,000 copies.[141] "Uptown Funk" reached number one on both Belgium charts, Ultratop 50 Wallonia and Flanders, spending six and three weeks on the top of the respective charts.[142][143] The song was certified three times platinum by the Belgian Entertainment Association (BEA), for sales of 90,000 copies.[144] In Italy, the song was certified five times platinum, for combining units equivalent to 250,000, despite only peaking at number three on the FIMI Singles Chart.[145][146] The single debuted at number 11 in Australia on 30 November 2014, jumping to number two the following week. In its third week, it topped the charts, where it stayed for a total of six weeks.[147] It is the best-selling single in Australia of all time and has been certified 17 times platinum for shipments over 1,190,000.[148] The single made the Australian year-end charts in 2014, 2015 and 2016, peaking at number one in 2015.[149][150][151] In New Zealand, the song debuted in the top ten on 1 December 2014, at number seven. In its fourth week on the chart, it peaked at number one, staying there for nine consecutive weeks.[152] The track not only topped the year-end chart, but it was certified five times platinum by Recorded Music NZ (RMNZ) for 75,000 copies sold.[153][154] "Uptown Funk" set a record, achieved by four other songs, as it topped the Billboard Hot 100 and the Official UK Singles chart for at least seven weeks each.[155] The song is reported to earn $100,000 for the label and composers per week streaming on Spotify alone.[156] It had sold over twenty million equivalent units as of 2015.[157]

Impact[edit]

The success of "Uptown Funk" made it a worldwide phenomenon with a major impact on pop culture.[22][13] At one point, the song broke its own streaming record three times in the United Kingdom, with 2.34, 2.49 and 2.56 million streams.[54][158][159] It also broke the record for most streamed track in the United States and worldwide in one week, with 4.8 and 15 million streams, respectively.[160][161] Tom Breihan writing for Stereogum felt the recording had "transcend[ed] hit status" and become "omnipresent". It is "some sort of cultural event", that will be heard at weddings in the next couple of years.[41] Danielle Janota of Consequence of Sound believed the single had a cultural impact. It is "more than infectious: It’s instinctual", as everyone "stampedes furiously to the closest dance floor the second it comes on".[53] Matt James of PopMatters said the recording "incite[s] mass euphoric dancing wherever it is unleashed". It also demonstrates its "global domination", seeming to be "the only song on planet earth right now".[39] In an interview with Time Mark Ronson said the recording was being played in Morocco, Puerto Rico and Nigeria, countries his music had never reached before. He also confessed the track led to people starting to recognise him.[162] Newsweek's Jed Gottlieb explained the reason "Uptown Funk" is an immortal track is because "the song is an increasingly rare phenomenon", since dancing allows us to connect "divergent demographics". "[T]he song creates an ephemeral flash where disparate groups get along because they’ve been spiked with the same euphoria". He believed "for the next quarter-century, it will persist as a choice wedding spin."[163] NME's Barry Nicolson dubbed the single "an insta-phenomenon".[21] Jeremy Allen of BBC said that "the biggest hits of the past few years", such as Ronson's "Uptown Funk" and Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (2013) drew inspiration from the 80s funk/soul works by Prince, Michael Jackson, Nile Rodgers and others, leading the "80s to dominates modern culture".[164] Nevertheless, when Angus Harrison of Vice asked musicologist Dr. John Burgoyne if it would be remembered in twenty years he explained that despite "the melody being sung, the hook is not" and he is unsure if it will be remembered as "the hook is that trumpet drop, whereas the words "Uptown Funk" just sort of disappear."[165] During an episode of The Graham Norton Show, American actress and producer Michelle Pfeiffer said she had no idea why her name was included in the song's lyrics. Pfeiffer added that though it was sometimes embarrassing she was "flattered" and liked the song.[166]

Music video[edit]

Development and synopsis[edit]

The song's official music video was filmed at 20th Century Fox Studios' "New York Street" backlot in Los Angeles.[167] Mars and his frequent collaborator Cameron Duddy directed the video released on 17 November 2014.[168] In it Ronson and Mars are wearing clothing from the late 1970s and 1980s.[169][170] Mars wears a "salmon-colored blazer" and both put on sun glasses.[171] Throughout most of the "retro" video, Ronson, Mars and The Hooligans are singing, walking and dancing in the middle of the streets. Ronson is seen mostly lingering in the background, while Mars takes the spotlight.[168][169][170] At one point, during the video, Ronson and Mars get their hair put in perm curlers at a salon and their shoes shined.[168][170][171] As Mars sings "Fill my cup, put some liquor in it", one of his bandmates does so. The singer also yells at his chauffeur to get the limousine as he, Ronson and the band "jive" next to it.[169][172] Towards the end of the video, Ronson, Mars, The Hooligans and Jeff Bhasker perform the song in a closed set to several people.[173]

Reception[edit]

Joe Lynch of Billboard praised the video, finding it to be as "ebullient" as the song, calling Ronson and Mars "impossibly cool".[171] Rap-Up praised Mars' and The Hooligans' dance moves.[170] Tom Breihan of Stereogum said, "I had no idea [Mars] had "ersatz Morris Day" in his arsenal."[172] Ryan Reed from Rolling Stone called the video "goofy".[169] The clip made the cut on several lists of best music videos of the year. Lyndsey Parker, also writing in Rolling Stone felt Ronson and Mars complement Morris Day and The Time's "funky-fresh-to-death tradition well", ranking it number six on the list of 20 videos.[174] On its list of the 20 Best Music Videos of 2014 compiled by Paste, Dacey Orr ranked the video at number 11 saying it "has all of the fun and embellishment and color and choreography to be a real classic".[175] On the Stereogum 40 Best Music Videos of 2014, Breihan placed it at number 25. He wrote, "imagine a world in which circa-1986 Jonathan Demme had directed a movie about Morris Day & The Time".[176] Harriet Gibsone writing for The Guardian found the video has "super-slick, Jackson-like group choreography, glossy production and retro styling".[22]

The video received multiple awards and nominations. In 2015, it was nominated for British Video of the Year at the BRIT Awards.[177] At the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, it received nominations for Video of the Year, Best Pop Video, Best Collaboration and Best Direction and an award for Best Male Video.[178] In the same year, the UK Music Video Awards awarded it Best Pop Video-UK and it was nominated for Best Male Video at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards Japan.[179][180] It received an award for Video of the Year and a nomination for Best Dance Performance at the 2015 Soul Train Music Awards.[66][67] The video has over 3.6 billion views on YouTube as of July 2019, making it the fifth most viewed YouTube video of all time.[173]

Live performances[edit]

Bruno Mars and The Hooligans performing "Uptown Funk" at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show.

"Uptown Funk" was first performed live by Ronson and Mars on Saturday Night Live on 22 November 2016.[181] Mars wore shades and a salmon-coloured blazer.[182] Their performance was well received by critics. Colin Joyce of Spin magazine praised Ronson's "electric guitar performance" describing it as something "that Prince ... could have been proud of". Joyce also commended Mars' effortless singing and rapping skills.[183] The Village Voice's Hillary Hugues praised Mars' vocals, dance moves and the "taut line between cheeky confidence and charm" that he was able to walk.[184] Iyana Robertson of Vibe complimented the "groove" of the song, as well as, the reenactment of "the retro swag" music video.[185] The track was also performed live during the North American version of The Voice final on 16 December 2014. During the show, Mars and his band, The Hooligans, performed a rehearsed choreography, while the singer wore gold rollers in his hair.[186] Critics found Mars' use of rollers in his hair hilarious.[187][188]

Ronson and Mars performed "Uptown Funk" live on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on 13 January 2015. The performance began with Ronson demonstrating some of his DJ skills by scratching and doing hypeman work. Then Mars, dressed in a red blazer, snap back and black shades, and some of his band-mates, led the "audience through some choreography", before making their way to the stage, where Ellen also showed "her little two-step".[189][190] Chris DeVille from Stereogum characterised the performance as a "blast", while NME's Nadia Khomami dubbed it "energetic". In the same vein, Shenequa Golding from Vibe, called the show "dope".[189][190][191] In 2016, this performance earned them a nomination for a Daytime Emmy Award at the 43rd Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.[192]

After Coldplay were announced as the lead performers for the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, Chris Martin asked Mars to join them, but he declined. Martin explained he wanted Mars to perform "Uptown Funk" with Beyoncé. Mars still did not think it was a good idea, but Beyoncé was receptive to the idea.[1] On 7 February 2016, the trio took the stage during the halftime show. Mark Ronson appeared handling DJ duties, while Mars and his dancers performed "Uptown Funk", wearing an all-black Versace outfit with gold chains.[193][194] During the show, Beyoncé, in a Michael Jackson-inspired outfit appeared with a set of backing dancers dressed as Black Panthers. She performed her single "Formation" (2016) in choreography before being challenged by Mars to a dance-off, while singing the track.[194][195][196] At this point, Martin joined Beyoncé and Mars singing the song.[194][195] Jon Caramanica of The New York Times explained that Beyoncé and Mars brought "soul and funk" to the show, while The Guardian's Alex Needham and Caroline Framke of Vox praised Beyonce´s performance and criticised Mars and Coldplay's performance.[194][195][196] During The Late Late Show with James Corden on 13 December 2016, Mars included "Uptown Funk" on the popular segment Carpool Karaoke.[197] On Mars' third worldwide tour, the 24K Magic World Tour (2017–18), "Uptown Funk" was the last track of the setlist, sung as an encore.[198][199]

Use in other media and covers[edit]

Several television shows have used the song, including the thirteenth episode of the first season of The Flash.[200] It also made an appearance on the ninth episode, "Child Star", of the sixth-season of Glee. It was sung by Roderick, Spencer Porter and Jane Hayward.[201] The 22nd episode of Hawaii Five-0's fifth season in 2015 featured "Uptown Funk".[202] The track was part of the pilot episode, season one of Rush Hour (2015), as well as, season 15, episode eighteen of Family Guy.[203][204] The song is also featured in commercials for L'Oreal's Garnier line, Skippy peanut butter and the Cadillac XT4.[205][206][207] It is also featured in the film Zootopia (2016).[208]

The song has been parodied several times. Scot Pankey, a teacher at A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School in Dallas, gave his students a video project using the track. His students came up with an idea and once Pankey heard it, he wanted to join them. After seeing the video, Bruno Mars admitted he cried.[209] Mikey Bolts, who is known for his impressions and parodies, recreated the "Uptown Funk" singing in the voices of Family Guy characters. The voices of Peter Griffin and Stewie Griffin are the most prominent on the track.[210] In September 2015, YouTube channel What’s The Mashup? used 100 dance scenes from various films synchronizing them to the rhythm of "Uptown Funk".[211] Later, the single was mashed up with dance moves of different actors, such as Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Gene Kelly in films from the Golden Age of Hollywood. The speed of the scenes was unchanged.[212] The YouTube channel known as Baracksdubs created the illusion of President Barack Obama singing "Uptown Funk", using snippets of his speeches.[213]

Fleur East covered the track during eleventh series of The X Factor UK before the single's official release in the United Kingdom.[22] East later included the performance on her debut album Love, Sax and Flashbacks.[214] On 6 January 2015, prior to the release of Fifth Harmony's debut studio album, Reflection (2015), the group released a cover of the recording featuring Jasmine V and Jacob Whitesides.[215] Mark Ronson recorded a new version of the song with six unknown musician from YouTube at the Abbey Road Studios. Initially, the group thought they were covering the track for a documentary about Ronson.[216] On 12 February 2015, Ronson premiered the first official remix of "Uptown Funk", a radio-exclusive, during his interview on Hot 97. It includes a new intro verse by rapper Action Bronson; the final version includes a verse by rapper Bodega Bamz.[217] Kidz Bop included their version of the song on their album, Kidz Bop 28 (2015).[218]

Track listing[edit]

Credits and personnel[edit]

Recording

Personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Uptown Special, RCA and Billboard.[7][14]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[148] 17× Platinum 1,190,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[282] Gold 15,000*
Belgium (BEA)[144] 3× Platinum 90,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[124] Diamond 800,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[283] 2× Platinum 120,000^
France (SNEP)[141] Diamond 250,000*
Germany (BVMI)[284] Platinum 400,000^
Italy (FIMI)[146] 5× Platinum 250,000double-dagger
Japan (RIAJ)[285] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[286] 3× Platinum 180,000*
Netherlands (NVPI)[287] Platinum 30,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[154] 5× Platinum 75,000*
Sweden (GLF)[288] Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[131] 5× Platinum 3,000,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[116] 11× Platinum 11,000,000double-dagger

*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 Version Label Ref.
Australia 10 November 2014 Digital download Original [16]
New Zealand Sony [17]
United States [18]
11 November 2014 Contemporary hit radio Unknown RCA [19]
Italy 14 November 2014 Original Sony [20]
United Kingdom 8 December 2014 Digital download Columbia [24]
Contemporary hit radio Unknown Unknown [25]
Austria 9 January 2015 CD single Original Sony [26]
Germany
Switzerland
United Kingdom 16 February 2015 12"
  • Original
  • Remix
Columbia [27]
United States 24 February 2015 [28]
13 April 2015 Digital Download Remixes Sony [29]
29 June 2015 Trindad James remix [30]
Various 19 July 2018 Radio edit Columbia [31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  285. ^ "Japanese single certifications – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Select 2015年07月 on the drop-down menu
  286. ^ "Certificaciones" (in Spanish). Asociación Mexicana de Productores de Fonogramas y Videogramas. Type Mark Ronson in the box under the ARTISTA column heading and Uptown Funk in the box under TÍTULO
  287. ^ "Dutch single certifications – Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. Retrieved 22 August 2018. Enter Uptown Funk in the "Artiest of titel" box.
  288. ^ "Guld- och Platinacertifikat" (in Swedish). IFPI Sweden. Retrieved 7 February 2015. Type Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars in the top right search bar. Click on "Sok" and select "Visa" under Uptown Funk to see certification.

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