100 Best Songs of the 2010s – #8: “Uptown Funk!” by Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars

The song at #8 on my list of 100 Best Songs of the 2010s needs no introduction. From the moment “Uptown Funk!“, by British music producer Mark Ronson and featuring vocals by Bruno Mars, was released in November 2014 with its terrific accompanying video, the feel-good ear worm went viral, becoming an international hit. It reached #1 in 18 countries ranging from Australia, Canada and France to Mexico, Israel and South Africa, and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 14 weeks, where it was also named both the #1 song of 2015 and of the decade.

Written by Ronson, Mars, Phillip Lawrence and Jeff Bhasker, the exhilarating song incorporates elements of funk, soul, boogie and what is referred to as Minneapolis sound, a subgenre of funk rock pioneered by Prince. Accordingly, it seems to pay homage not only to Prince, but to the master of funk himself James Brown, as well as Rick James and Morris Day & The Time.

A cast of characters were ultimately involved in the song’s production; besides the people listed above, additional collaborators and musicians included Mars’ backup band The Hooligans, afrobeat band Antibalas, the horn section of The Dap-Kings, and sound engineer Charles Moniz, among others. And what’s mind-boggling to me is that the song involved recording sessions in Los Angeles, London, Memphis, New York, Toronto, and Vancouver! The stress over the recording and production of “Uptown Funk” was so intense that Ronson passed out during one session while trying to perfect the guitar part. Two days later in Toronto, he finally got what he was looking for after 82 takes! (Wikipedia)

The song received critical praise and garnered numerous accolades, including Brit, Grammy and American Music awards, but also generated some blowback by artists who accused the writers of plagiarism. Copyright infringement lawsuits were filed by The Gap Band, Collage, The Sequence and Zapp. The Collage and Zapp lawsuits were later dropped, but the one from The Gap Band resulted in the writers and producers of “Oops Up Side Your Head” being added as songwriters and awarded 17% of publishing royalties. 

The entertaining official video, showing the infinitely cool Bruno Mars singing the song and dancing in the streets along with Ronson and their back-up singers, has been viewed more than four billion times.

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