What’s Hot Right Now: Uptown Funk


The #1 song right now is by the ever afamed Mark Ronson.

To be more fair (but not accurate, I should add), Bruno Mars is really the one who is leading the way on this one with the funkalicious hit “Uptown Funk” (In ways, Ronson is like the pitcher who pitches 5 innings, gives up 8 runs, but still gets the win because his team scores 9–no doubt the reason why we shouldn’t care about wins anymore as a statistic; is there a musical equivalent to this? Does Ronson place #1 on these charts without Mars? If so should we be looking at Ronson’s FIP rather than his wins at this point? Or is it Mars that is benefiting from Ronson? We really need to get some advanced stats with which to quantify pop music).

Yes Ronson is atop the charts with the heralded #1 spot on the Billboard Charts. This is something that he will be remembered by forever, Ronson: provider of the #1(!) single “Uptown Funk”. This will be etched out on any album, concert performance, or poster he will ever appear on. The power of Billboard!

Musically, the song is an ode to 70s jams, recalling funk from days past, yet cleansed in a way that Tate Taylor and Chadwick Boseman should be proud of. Taking James Brown, Sly Stone, and George Clinton and putting them through a pop filter so clean, it’s lost all freshness.

Which is of course why America loves it.

Like disco was once turned into a John Travolta and the BeeGee’s hit factory, Ronson has capitalized on making funk even cleaner than Timberlake makes R&B. Who knew this is what America wanted (or that Michelle Pfeiffer still strikes such a note!)?

I suppose lyrically the song does aim for a certain edge. It starts out tame, telling the audience about Mars’ cool, the examples used range from cliched (fire department), to unique (making dragons want to retire) to weird (wanting to kiss oneself).

Ronson & Mars then introduce us to uptown funk, something they declare is going to give it to us (though this us, when thinking about it is probably not referring to me. I’m sure somebody else is the person whom Mars would like to give “it” to).

But lest we doubted, Mars reassures listeners to watch, especially if we don’t quite think that we are gonna get it. In a moment where Mars really goes for it vocally–one that has been catapulted into memory by places such as commercials for NBC’s The Voice, Mars repeats over and over “Don’t believe me just watch” until finally telling himself to “stop, wait a minute”–a moment that can only be said to either be stolen or a tribute to this classic one.

Verse 2 adds some other cliched reasons why Ronson and Mars are cool, least of which is Mars talking about liquor, the best being his comparison to Skippy peanut butter (Ronson & Mars self-proclaimed cool factor rankings:

5. I’m too hot: call the police and the fireman — C’mon guys, you’re not even on fire there’s no need for the fireman, and definitely no need for the police to get involved.

4. Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent — Seems pretty cool, but not that cool.

3. Gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty — Hey if that’s what suits you!

2. Smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy — Now Skippy is pretty cool and is definitely smooth, but I think they went too far with the fresh. There are so many preservatives in that jar, there’s definitely no reason for it to be fresh; it could be like a 5 year old jar of Skippy and it wouldn’t really make any difference.

1. I’m too hot: make a dragon wanna retire — Dragons are pretty cool with Game of Thrones and all, the idea of making a dragon want to retire because you’re so hot seems pretty legit and creative. I mean, I kinda wish I was that hot.)

The song ends with a sort of play on words, with Mars telling us that he (or uptown funk, rather) will funk us up. It’s cute, cute enough to capture the American public, especially when combined with mild horns in the background. This mantra repeats ad naseum, providing the sort of background perfect for mothers and children alike. The most populist of culture is that which is accessible by many, Ronson & Mars go for broke here, taking familiar beats, smoothing them out, offering a section of lyrics to be easily remembered by children (as “Happy” did last year), and in this pop musical landscape, children reign supreme.

Top 10 Pop Hits of 2014

taylor swift

Tis the season people! No, not Christmas, for end of the year lists! Yes, the most wonderful time of the year has finally arrived and I am kicking it off as I always do, with the top 10 best pop hits of the year! This year I am planning on releasing 13 best of type lists for you, so you can look forward to that.

A quick note about eligibility, in order to qualify on this list a song had to make it into the top 10 of the Billboard charts at any point during the year. This means that a song could have been released the year prior, but as long as it was in the top 10 this year, it counts. One other note: if a song meets all of the qualifications above, but was on one of my best of lists from last year, it will not make the list.

(Note: Not every song is for every person, there may be some songs that you consider innapropriate; I do not recommend everything that I like for everyone. Proceed with your own discretion.)

Here it is, enjoy!

10. Charli XCX “Boom Clap”

I think Charli XCX will always be someone who is fun to listen to, but I’m not sure she will ever transcend pop or turn into a pop star. She seems to be stuck in between and this songs paints that picture perfectly.

9. Clean Bandit “Rather Be”

Well this group seemed to come out of nowhere and sometimes nowhere can come up with a pretty good song. It’s pleasant, it’s not filled with too much star power or personality which can be a breath of fresh air on the radio.

8. Taylor Swift “Shake it Off”

I’ve been up and down on it all year. At first I wasn’t sure about it, then I got pretty into it, but after the release of another single my head wonders why I ever though this song was good at all? It’s still pretty good though, which is why it lands here.

7. Jessie J w/Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj “Bang Bang”

This is a great song that somehow manages to pull off this sort of 90s female power vibe while fitting in Nicki Minaj and showcasing the young talent of pop today. Jessie J and Grande are both great singers and when given a good song they can really make a gem of it. Same goes with Minaj who is also extremely talented in the right context.

6. SIA “Chandelier”

What starts off as a track that was clearly meant for Rihanna quickly turns into one of the year’s best choruses and perhaps makes SIA a viable threat in the female pop star category. SIA has all the talent and this song proved that she could make a hit on her own merit.

5. Problem – Ariana Grande

Oh Ariana you could have had the number one spot. You were so close! Your voice kills it. This song is an upbeat anthem that doesn’t rely on Calvin Harris to make it something. But you made two mistakes. One, Iggy Azalea. I realize that at first this might seem silly–she was probably THE pop star for most of the year (until Taylor showed up) and I actually liked the verse the first 15 times I heard it, but it already feels outdated. The second is that chorus, how much more anticlimactic can you be? A whispering Big Sean is not the direction you should have taken this song. I’m sure the kids at high school dances will find clever ways to incorporate your miscue into having a good time, but this was even worse than the end to the Lego Movie.

4. Nico and Vinz “Am I Wrong?”

I have the feeling that these types of one-hit wonder indie pop groups will continue to pop up with random singles that become huge only to rarely be heard from again (“Somebody I Used to Know”, “Pumped Up Kicks”). Their songs range from being just good enough you don’t change the radio when it comes on to being good enough that you seek it out and listen to it despite its constant presence on the radio. This one leans toward the latter.

3. Lorde “Team”

A song I actually liked before it became a hit and one that was released last year, but did not peak until this year. Lorde is probably the most independent minded of all the big pop stars today and I might like “Team” better than her biggest hit, “Royals”. How could you not with a line like “I’m kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air”. She has the star power of a cynic, a dirge that graced the tops of the charts despite its glorious apathy and it certainly touched my emotionless heart.

2. Taylor Swift “Blank Space”

The latest song to reach number one solidified itself the moment I watched the music video–a fun and self aware bit with Taylor torturing a lover and later welcoming a new one. Not sure if it has reached the heights of the best Taylor has ever done, but it is close.

1. Beyonce “Drunk In Love”

This song edges the line of being a cheat but does technically qualify under the (strict) guidelines I have set for myself. Released late last year in the middle of all the best of lists, “Drunk In Love” never had a chance to actually make any of these lists. While the song did eventually rise into the top 10, it wasn’t a mainstay and never reached the top spot. Regardless of how many times I actually heard the song on the radio, it was by far my favorite single to reach the top 10 this year. It’s a sort of sequel to Jay and Bey’s “Crazy in Love”, but one that takes on a far more sexual bent, featuring a far more aggressive and modern Beyonce. It’s like a 2014 rendition of Song of Songs, a perhaps too revealing look into the intimacy that a married couple can have. It’s so good.