What’s Hot Right Now: Uptown Funk
The #1 song right now is by the ever afamed Mark Ronson.
To be more fair (but not accurate, I should add), Bruno Mars is really the one who is leading the way on this one with the funkalicious hit “Uptown Funk” (In ways, Ronson is like the pitcher who pitches 5 innings, gives up 8 runs, but still gets the win because his team scores 9–no doubt the reason why we shouldn’t care about wins anymore as a statistic; is there a musical equivalent to this? Does Ronson place #1 on these charts without Mars? If so should we be looking at Ronson’s FIP rather than his wins at this point? Or is it Mars that is benefiting from Ronson? We really need to get some advanced stats with which to quantify pop music).
Yes Ronson is atop the charts with the heralded #1 spot on the Billboard Charts. This is something that he will be remembered by forever, Ronson: provider of the #1(!) single “Uptown Funk”. This will be etched out on any album, concert performance, or poster he will ever appear on. The power of Billboard!
Musically, the song is an ode to 70s jams, recalling funk from days past, yet cleansed in a way that Tate Taylor and Chadwick Boseman should be proud of. Taking James Brown, Sly Stone, and George Clinton and putting them through a pop filter so clean, it’s lost all freshness.
Which is of course why America loves it.
Like disco was once turned into a John Travolta and the BeeGee’s hit factory, Ronson has capitalized on making funk even cleaner than Timberlake makes R&B. Who knew this is what America wanted (or that Michelle Pfeiffer still strikes such a note!)?
I suppose lyrically the song does aim for a certain edge. It starts out tame, telling the audience about Mars’ cool, the examples used range from cliched (fire department), to unique (making dragons want to retire) to weird (wanting to kiss oneself).
Ronson & Mars then introduce us to uptown funk, something they declare is going to give it to us (though this us, when thinking about it is probably not referring to me. I’m sure somebody else is the person whom Mars would like to give “it” to).
But lest we doubted, Mars reassures listeners to watch, especially if we don’t quite think that we are gonna get it. In a moment where Mars really goes for it vocally–one that has been catapulted into memory by places such as commercials for NBC’s The Voice, Mars repeats over and over “Don’t believe me just watch” until finally telling himself to “stop, wait a minute”–a moment that can only be said to either be stolen or a tribute to this classic one.
Verse 2 adds some other cliched reasons why Ronson and Mars are cool, least of which is Mars talking about liquor, the best being his comparison to Skippy peanut butter (Ronson & Mars self-proclaimed cool factor rankings:
5. I’m too hot: call the police and the fireman — C’mon guys, you’re not even on fire there’s no need for the fireman, and definitely no need for the police to get involved.
4. Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent — Seems pretty cool, but not that cool.
3. Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty — Hey if that’s what suits you!
2. Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy — Now Skippy is pretty cool and is definitely smooth, but I think they went too far with the fresh. There are so many preservatives in that jar, there’s definitely no reason for it to be fresh; it could be like a 5 year old jar of Skippy and it wouldn’t really make any difference.
1. I’m too hot: make a dragon wanna retire — Dragons are pretty cool with Game of Thrones and all, the idea of making a dragon want to retire because you’re so hot seems pretty legit and creative. I mean, I kinda wish I was that hot.)
The song ends with a sort of play on words, with Mars telling us that he (or uptown funk, rather) will funk us up. It’s cute, cute enough to capture the American public, especially when combined with mild horns in the background. This mantra repeats ad naseum, providing the sort of background perfect for mothers and children alike. The most populist of culture is that which is accessible by many, Ronson & Mars go for broke here, taking familiar beats, smoothing them out, offering a section of lyrics to be easily remembered by children (as “Happy” did last year), and in this pop musical landscape, children reign supreme.