Mark Ronson on what went into the making of party anthem Uptown Funk

  • Manali Shah, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 27, 2015 17:07 IST
A still from Uptown Funk 2015

When we speak to English musician, DJ and record producer Mark Ronson (40) over the telephone, he’s in a studio in New York doing what he does best — producing records. It’s 10.30 in the morning there, and he’s already at work despite having spent over 12 hours at the studio the previous night. “Sometimes, projects require a lot of time, and you only have three or four days with a band or a singer. So you try and get as much time as possible,” says Ronson, who has worked with musicians like Adele (19, in 2008), Paul McCartney (New, 2013), and extensively with the late Amy Winehouse (Rehab, You Know I’m No Good; both in 2006). “When I’m home in London, I wake up at 8.30am, work out at the gym, and then go to the studio around noon, and stay till midnight.” Ronson says. He will be performing at the NH7 Weekender’s Pune edition, next month.

Ronson had a massive global smash hit — Uptown Funk — with Bruno Mars last year. The song ruled the number one spot on US Billboard Hot 100 for 14 consecutive weeks, apart from topping charts in other countries like the UK, Canada and Australia. The single’s video — featuring Ronson, Mars and his band The Hooligans walking, singing and dancing around on the streets in suits, hats and flashy chains — was nominated for five MTV Video Music Awards this year, and went on to with Best Male Video. It has over 1.14 billion views on YouTube, making it the seventh most viewed YouTube video of all time.

And though both the song and its video are groovy and playful, writing and recording the song was nothing short of a mammoth task for Ronson. “Bruno, Jeff Bhasker (co-producer of Uptown Funk) and I were just jamming. That’s how the song started out. Jamming is easy and a lot of fun because there are no rules — you’re just creating. But to finish something, especially something everyone believes could be quite special, brings added pressure,” he says. It had “caused his hair to fall out”, and once after recording multiple takes, he threw up and fainted. The pressure that he speaks of was to get the guitar part right. “Bruno had already recorded great vocals and Jeff had produced great keyboard tunes. When it was time for me to do the guitar, the pressure was on me and I wanted it to be really good,” he says.

All the hard work has paid off, evidently, but the song’s true mark of success lies in the fact that it has turned into a pop culture reference. Social media memes aside, it has inspired many covers and parodies. “I’ve seen quite a few versions of Uptown Funk. It’s such a great honour,” Ronson says. “One of the first ones I saw was from the family in the American TV show, Duck Dynasty. Then, I especially liked a video a friend sent me of three children in a car lip-syncing every word of the song. The Obama one (an edited video that makes it appear like US President Barack Obama is singing) was hilarious.”

Don’t miss

What: Mark Ronson will perform at Bacardi NH7 Weekender, Pune, on Saturday, December 5.

Tickets: Season passes available from Rs 2,000 onward on

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