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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Uptown Funk: How Mark Ronson Created an Instant Classic

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If you were anywhere, and I mean anywhere in 2015

You probably heard Uptown Funk

The song was a fresh, nostalgic take that dominated an already crowded pop environment

And to me at least, Uptown Funk is one of those songs that I feel like I've always known

Even when it was brand-new it felt familiar

And that's because it was meticulously crafted to sound this way

Mark Ronson worked on the song for months, recording it across the globe

In a number of gruelling, stressful sessions

By devoting himself to this track, Ronson was able to create something timeless

Let's take a closer look at how he made this happen...

In its earliest conception, Uptown Funk was just a jam that Bruno Mars and his band would fiddle with on tour

When Mark Ronson joined Mars and keyboardist Jeff Bhasker

For a jam session at Bruno's studio, the song really started to get legs

However, both Ronson and Mars had busy schedules so they couldn't complete the song then and there.

Instead they spent the next several months chipping away at the song

In this time Ronson and company recorded parts in Los Angeles

Toronto

London

Vancouver

Memphis

New York

Bouncing around the world caused a number of drastic changes in the song

One iteration featured a hard rock breakdown in the middle

And at one point, the song was nearly scrapped entirely

The stress over Uptown Funk was so high, that Mark Ronson even passed out during one session

In an interview with Billboard

Ronson recounted a session

Where Bhaskar was leaving town at the end of the day and he wanted to

Get the guitar part nailed before he left

Having not figured it out by lunch, they went out for a break

And Ronson fainted in the restaurant, vomiting three times

They wouldn't call It there, though...

Bhaskar carried Ronson back to the studio, and together, they figured out the guitar part

After 82 takes

Ronson told NPR's Fresh Air why he was so determined to make the song perfect

In order to make that ear candy

Ronson and Mars drew from something called the Minneapolis sound

The Minneapolis sound was a spin-off from funk music

Created in Minneapolis in the late 1970s and early 1980s

It was pioneered by Prince

This new sound pulled aspects of rock, new wave and R&B

Into the funk genre

And the result is music that plays less with syncopation and the rhythms.

This allows for a more straightforward groove

That gels better with pop music

The Minneapolis sound also used more synthesizers in the music and boosted the guitar sounds

This style carried on throughout the 1980s

And eventually, its influence reached across a number of genres

Including R&B, pop, and especially, early electro house and techno music

And that's why Uptown Funk has such a timeless feel.

It's rooted in a classic sound that has disseminated Itself across popular music for the last three decades

However that very same influence that helps Uptown Funk feel so timeless

Has also given it a number of issues.

Ever since its release Uptown Funk has been compared to a number of other songs

And faced lawsuits for this

The funk group Collage claimed that Uptown Funk, and their 1983 song, Young Girls, were

"almost indistinguishable"

A Serbian pop artist by the name of Victoria also claimed that the song

"contained 80% of" one of her tracks

Ronson even settled one of these lawsuits giving some publishing royalties to The Gap Band

After the band pointed out that Ronson had used a rhythm from their 1979 funk track

Oops Upside Your Head, in the bridge

Personally, while I recognize the similarities to a lot of these tracks

I don't think it means that Mark Ronson is a thief

Instead I think it speaks more to the strength of Uptown Funk as a track

It was carefully crafted to distill a certain funk and it did it to a tee

In one interview Ronson addressed as much

When asked if he heard similarities between Uptown Funk and the theme to

The Really Wild Show, this was his response

"Oh, then the horns, I understand what they're saying, yeah, we owe a little bit a..."

In the end, copyright infringement or not

It's hard to deny the catchiness of Uptown Funk

And I think it's not just a summer sensation from a few years back

Or even just a wildly successful throwback single

I think Uptown Funk is a timeless classic pop song

And it's one that you'll probably be hearing on the airwaves for the rest of your life

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The Description of Uptown Funk: How Mark Ronson Created an Instant Classic