Friday, November 28th, 2014

Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

i.e. the Thievery Corporation


Thomas Inskeep: Greasy like Timberlake wants to be but is afraid to be, this is the best James Brown single since “Unity” – though the best comparison is “Living In America,” with Ronson as the Dan Hartman to Mars’s JB. This is clean but it’s still funky, and Bruno Mars further proves that he might be the baddest motherfucker around right now cuz he can do anything he damn well wants. 

Alfred Soto: Of course it’s Ronson who resurrects one of the last uncelebrated eighties touchstones: the James Brown of “Too Funky in Here” and “Living in America,” the Time of “The Bird” and, more importantly, “Jerk Out.” Now this is how you employ a horn section, slap bass, and time signature shifts. Ronson also did the impossible: he sat this horn section atop Bruno Mars, preventing him from leaping to his higher register. There’s an air of necromancy though.

Crystal Leww: I have no idea when it happened, but at some point I stopped finding Bruno Mars exceedingly dull and started finding him somewhat palatable. But “Uptown Funk” is totally different: Bruno Mars on “Uptown Funk” rules. He’s done it with Mark Ronson, who doesn’t always land but can excel at reveling in the retro, from his legendary work with Amy Winehouse to this underrated jam. This toes the line between fun and excessive so hard, but the image of the girls (or Bruno Mars; the lyrics are unclear) in Chucks and Saint Laurent wins me over.

Edward Okulicz: In truth, this sounds unfinished and in desperate need of an actual chorus. What’s there in its place splits the difference between “Ladies’ Night” and “Le Freak,” which also tells you that we’ve got a wedding party banger on our hands here. I can see it as a global Number One  on what’s there rather than what isn’t. The “Oops Up Side Your Head” bits are deliciously brazen. What’s holding this back from a really high score is that while Mars is loose and funky , Ronson’s production is kind of stiff and laboured, and those guy-gang backing vocals are classicism but they’re not classic.

David Moore: Who’s featuring who here? This kind of retro-fetishist funk has been far more convincing coming from Bruno than Mark. But there are fussy Ronson fingerprints all over the tedious reverence — I can see Ronson high-fiving a bunch of session lifers — that ultimately dulls the spark Bruno Mars got out of “Treasure” and “Locked Out of Heaven.” Which makes this uptight, not uptown. 

Will Adams: I liked it better when deep vocal hooks rumbled the way they do in “Get Low.” I liked it better when Mark Ronson’s Motown signifiers weren’t as sycophantic. I liked it better when Bruno Mars sounded like Bruno Mars. I liked “Oops Up Side Your Head” better.

Micha Cavaseno: This is not the James Brown tribute you need to be hearing from Ronson right now, but tragically that one features The Rapist Right Chyeah, so it will undoubtedly fail as a single for a multitude of reasons. Instead, we get the serial stepfather of records (can always fill a role, but never the person you look up to) Bruno Mars as he turns in a great performance in a Godfather suit with a fake wig and dour Ronson placing the cape on him to lead him away. Terrible chorus, and the overly-poised nature of the record leaves this from embodying the energy it strives for.

Scott Mildenhall: It’s a Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars record, so there are infinite reference points – “Let’s Dance” and “Oops Up Side Your Head”, “Super Freak” and “U Can’t Touch This”, “Rapper’s Delight” and “Apache”, maybe even The Art Of Noise and Scritti Politti – but neither have yet released such a pastiche, and in Mars’ case that’s saying something. Nary an element unwitting, it has something of a sincere insincerity. They know exactly what they’re doing and they know you know it too, but knowing’s half the fun. Even the nonsense title seems an attempt at creating a phrase timeless and unique, and while the song doesn’t quite match up, it’s diverting enough.

Patrick St. Michel: It’s totally a Silly-Putty-ed take on a musical era long gone, but Mark Ronson is a master at these sort of sonic dioramas, able to capture a lot of small details without reducing them to a lecture. “Uptown Funk” is his “Too Many Cooks,” in that it gets all the little things right while also exhausting it’s idea by the two minute mark. 

Katherine St Asaph: A pastiche of a pastiche of a Grammy tribute of a pastiche led by Bruno Mars saying “hot damn.” And no, I don’t hate it. I blame the tryptophan.

Anthony Easton: Mark Ronson’s smart retro lust is grafted onto Mars’ pliable voice. It works better than it should, especially with those James Brown horns, but not enough to be convinced of Mars as a sinner or even that hot. It isn’t even that funky, more of a museum of funk. That said, how he sings “Jackson, Mississippi” is genuinely pleasurable. 

Brad Shoup: As an act of cryptkeeping, it’s fantastic: a cross of Zapp bounce with Kool and the Gang horn charts. Neither of those acts were dumb enough to ever sing “bitch, say my name,” of course. 

Reader average: [7.8] (26 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

12 Responses to “Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk”

  1. I liked this song more when I thought he was saying “Up town funky wub”. FUNKY WUB

  2. I think this song is a bit of a jumble. I’ve just never been able to get into Bruno Mars, and the funk is totally zero low-calorie.

  3. *zero calorie

  4. Isn’t necromancy assumed, when thisgen Lenny Kravitz is involved?

  5. That’s rude, Bruno’s certainly a better songwriter than Kravitz, even if they have the same weaknesses.

  6. this would have killed at the Superbowl.

    it’s a 15 minute jam condensed into a few hooks! Bruno Mars really became something, huh

  7. YYAASSSS shout out to both Bruno and Mark very catchy, upbeat and HAPPY love Bruno he is dynamic and a great frontman for this refreshing song

  8. Thanks to Kat for ensuring I can never hear this without the rendering “funky wub”. It’s the cherry on a cake that’s worth far more than the [7] I gave. (ie [9]).

    Also I’ve just been introduced to the thought-provoking interpretation “don’t believe me Joe Swash”. It just gets better.

  9. This is the “Happy” of 2015. I am doomed to hear it and its repetitive forced cheerfulness thousands of times more before the year is over. It is only February. Help.

  10. [10]:


  12. I was at a conference last weekend where Susan Fast (who wrote the 33 1/3 volume on Michael Jackson) delivered the keynote speech on this song, and she quoted from David’s blurb. Represent!