The Real Meaning Behind Uptown Funk! By Bruno Mars

Since bursting onto the music scene in 2004, Bruno Mars has become one of the world’s best selling hit makers. The star, whose real name is Peter Gene Hernandez, can do it all — write, sing, and dance — on top of creating other hits for mega stars like Eminem and Adele. One of his most famous collaborations, though, would have to be the tune “Uptown Funk!” with British-American DJ and producer Mark Ronson.

The song, which was released in 2014 as the lead single off Ronson’s fourth studio album Uptown Special, spent 14 weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and inspired dance challenges on YouTube and other social media platforms. Lyrics like, “I’m too hot (hot damn) / Call the police and fireman” and “Don’t believe me just watch” were delivered with confidence by Mars, who also got his funk on in the video where he danced and inspired a block party.

The sheer charisma and pulsating drum beats of “Uptown Funk!” caught listeners’ attention, but it also went through several variations before it was released. Read on to find out the meaning behind “Uptown Funk!”

'Uptown Funk!' pokes fun at masculinity

Upon looking at the lyrics to “Uptown Funk!”, you would probably be confused about what Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars are singing about. “This hit, that ice cold / Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold” Mars sings in the first verse (via Genius). “This one, for them hood girls / Them good girls, straight masterpieces.”

It’s obvious from the opening verse that there is a sense of cockiness, from saying that the song is cool to referencing Michelle Pfeiffer’s “white girl” past of doing drugs in movies (even though she admitted to being embarrassed by the reference), Ronson and Mars wanted to hype themselves and listeners up.

There’s a sense of raucousness throughout the song, too, and it’s in part due to short lyrics and metaphors that reflect Ronson and Mars’ playful personality; they do not take themselves or the song too seriously. Slate noted that lyrics like “I’m too hot (hot damn) / Make a dragon wanna retire man” poke fun at “a tradition of masculine bravado.” As it turns out, the raucous energy was apparent from the beginning and stayed throughout the recording process.

'Uptown Funk!' was recorded across multiple continents

“Uptown Funk!” was a different recording process for Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson, as they came up with it on a whim. In an interview with NPR in 2015, Ronson said the song “did come out of a jam at Bruno’s studio.” He explained that Mars was playing the drums and another producer, Jeff Bhasker, was on synths when they came up with the initial song structure, but had to finish it across several different countries because of their schedules.

“Bruno was on tour, and we’d keep trying these different arrangements, and I’d send this and he’d send me an idea back, and then he’d be in London to play some festival so we’d get together and start to recut stuff,” Ronson told Entertainment Weekly. “…he was still on tour so I’d borrow a five-string bass from my buddy and go up to Toronto and we’d like get a bass line down, then run back to Dapton in Brooklyn… like whatever it took to finish the song at that time.”

Ronson said the most stressful part of creating the song was coming up with the guitar section, per NPR. In fact, the pressure to finish the song was so intense for Ronson that he actually fainted in a restaurant and “had to be carried out.”

Even Beyoncé performed 'Uptown Funk!' at the Super Bowl

“Uptown Funk!” was so popular that even Beyoncé Knowles could not resist getting her funk on at the Super Bowl on Feb. 7, 2016. The “Formation” singer joined Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson as Coldplay’s guests during the half-time show. Both Knowles and Mars engaged in a dance battle, which has been viewed over 100 million times on YouTube and gave new life to the song. However, Mars was initially not sold on the idea of performing at the Super Bowl so soon after his headlining gig in 2014.

“I told him I don’t think so,” Mars told Rolling Stone in November 2016. “I just felt like I’d done it.” Despite that, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin pitched him to do “Uptown Funk!” with Beyonce but he still was not sure. “You’ve got to be careful with those [multi-artist] performances,” said Mars. “They do it a lot on award shows, where you’ve got so many cameos, but nothing solid.”

However, once Beyoncé agreed, everything else was history and cemented “Uptown Funk!” as one of Billboard’s best songs of the decade.

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