I might be slightly behind the times, but today I was first alerted to Bruno Mars’ new hit, “Uptown Funk.” It’s a great, revitalized funky hit, that is hard not to dance to. As hip a hit, I can’t help but hear all its similarities to its predecessors. The second I heard it, it immediately occurred to me that I had heard this song before- in all the references and samples and similar pieces that this tune uses from many songs in the past.
Even the Wikipedia article for, “Uptown Funk” takes note of the many influences.
The song has been “catching the allusions to one early ’80s funk/R&B classic after another”. Many fans have been citing the ‘Call Me’ Guitar riff [by New York Skyy], Cameo horns, the Time [keyboards], and ‘Party Train’ [by the Gap Band] drums.”
The first thing that grabbed me was the funky guitar blips for a riff. This kind of use of the electric guitar was found so much in much of the 1970s funk music. And it works great to up the excitement of a less funky rhythm guitar part.
I was then immediately pulled in by the notable horn part. I am still unsure where I have previously heard that horn riff, but it might be most similar to Average White Band’s, “Pick Up The Pieces.”
Also, a notable reference is the guitar part, bass line, and rhythm from potentially, Kool & The Gang’s, “Hollywood Swingers,” which is a pure gold Funky tune:
There are some definite other inspirations this song showcases from 70’s Funk, including the horns and percussion from Earth Wind And Fire’s, “Getaway” and the rhythm from Sugarhill Gang’s, “Apache (Jump On It)”.
[On a separate and related note, I find it interesting that both this song and Vance Joy’s, “Riptide” both have lyrics that mention Michelle Pfeiffer in the lyrics. (2:12 mark)]
So while Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars have put together a fabulously funky new tune, it’s important to remember that all this funk has stemmed from its original source, which is when this true genre was made.