“Uptown Funk” is one of the most popular songs of 2015. Technically it was released late in 2014, but in 2015 it set the record for reaching the No. 1 largest radio audience in the Top 40 format of all time. The song also broke Spotify’s global and U.S. record for number of streams in one week with over 4.8 million in the U.S. and 14.79 million streams worldwide. It spent 14 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. It’s been streamed on YouTube over 524 million times.
This is “Uptown Funk’s” world, we’re just living in it.
Why is this song so universally adored? Songwriter and producer Mark Ronson told us he has no idea. But he does know the story of how “Uptown Funk” came to be.
“[The song] came from an idea that Jeff Bhasker (producer for fun., Kanye West), who produced my record with me and wrote the album–we went over to Bruno [Mars]’s studio one night,” Ronson recalls. “We had worked on ‘Locked Out of Heaven’ and ‘Gorilla’ together with Bruno and Phil [Lawrence, composer]. I don’t remember how it started exactly. We had this other idea we were kicking around that I thought was cool but we just hit a brick wall with it. We started jamming.”
This jam wasn’t your average waste of time fishing expedition for ideas, Ronson says. First Mars got on the drums and began pounding out a straight beat. Bhasker, who Ronson calls “an amazing keyboard player” got on the synths and his Juno keyboard. Ronson was on bass. And the “Uptown Funk” groove kind of worked itself out. The guys got the basic groove of the song, recording about an hour of themselves playing the music and listening to it on a loop to come up with melody and lyrics. They wrote the first verse then. It was all they would get done for some time.
“It definitely felt more exciting than most things, but we only had a verse and a chorus,” Ronson remembers.