The first bonafide big hit of 2015 is without a doubt ‘Uptown Funk’ by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. It’s currently on its 8th week at Number 1 in the UK charts, it’s been Number 1 all over the world and inspired many viral videos. It might come as a surprise to some that such a retro song has been so successful, but clearly some things just never go out of style.
‘Uptown Funk’ is a midtempo song in 4/4 with heavy influences of funk, soul and disco. It’s in D minor with an interesting lengthy structure of Intro/Verse/PreChorus/Chorus/Hook/Verse/PreChorus/Chorus/Hook/Breakdown/Chorus/Hook/Outro. Although there is a sung chorus, the real chorus of the song is the instrumental disco-like horn hook. The song is absolutely laden with hooks, from the funk bassline and guitar riff, to the bass vocal ‘do do’ hook. The verses are quite bare, with just the vocals over a beat, with the instrumentation gradually building up until the climax of the hook, adding guitar, bass, brass section, synth and backing vocals. The call-and-response backing vocals are also quite a funk/soul influence. You can really hear the influence of 70s and 80s artists such as Prince, James Brown, and Sugarhill Gang. Lyrically the song is about feeling confident and partying in the city.
Mark Ronson is known for his retro productions, such as his work with Amy Winehouse, so his arrangement and production is really what brings this song to life. Bruno Mars also pulls it off very well, his voice and attitude suiting this retro style. It’s very hard to resist the energy of this song, and I think people have been attracted to its nostalgic style in a music scene that’s increasingly experimental and electronic – it really stands out when not many big artists are making this sort of sound at the moment. And I say long may it continue!
Favourite lyric – ‘Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent, gotta kiss myself, I’m so pretty’