Pop’s new year has brought its first fresh No. 1 — and “fresh” is an apt term for “Uptown Funk,” the collaboration between pop powerhouse Bruno Mars and the British producer Mark Ronson that now tops the “Billboard” Hot 100.
“Funk,” the lead single from Ronson’s album “Uptown Special” (out Tuesday), borrows heavily from the swaggering, horn-heavy jams that dominated R&B in the 1980s. It brings to mind acts like the brotherly funk outfit the Gap Band and the spaced-out Zapp, while in the eye-popping video, Mars channels Morris Day, frontman of the Minneapolis Sound standard-bearers the Time, with his guilelessness and blazered cool. (The song’s exuberant pre-chorus exclamation, “Don’t believe me, just watch,” has a more recent source; it’s nicked from “All Gold Everything,” the breakout single by the Atlanta MC Trinidad James.)
Ronson has become well-known for alchemizing pop’s past into chart gold. He collaborated with Mars on “Locked Out of Heaven,” the 2012 chart-topper that called back to Dire Straits and the Police; he’s also worked with the likes of Paul McCartney, Lily Allen, and Duran Duran. In 2008 he nabbed a Record of the Year Grammy for his work on Amy Winehouse’s lament “Rehab.” Members of Brooklyn-based soul revivalists the Dap-Kings, who provided horns on that track and Ronson’s other work with Winehouse, provide the brass on “Funk,” as do members of the Brooklyn afrobeat outfit Antibalas.
“Funk” shimmies past Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” which was No. 1 for seven weeks, on the strength of 382,000 downloads and 10 million streams among U.S. listeners.