Gloriously coiffed mega-producer Mark Ronson’s spotty solo career has yielded the throwback classic Valerie, hip-hop party starter Ooh Wee and cult gay anthem Somebody To Love Me. At last, with latest single Uptown Funk, he has a number-one hit in North America.
The horn-y ode to early 80s Minneapolis funk is the perfect vehicle for twinkle-toed pop star Bruno Mars, and the album surrounding it is Ronson’s most cohesive. Like Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories, Uptown Special mostly fetishes the SoCal sounds of the late 70s/early 80s – specifically beach-funk and R&B – with help from an expertly curated guest list that includes Stevie Wonder, rapper Mystikal, Kanye West’s producer Jeff Bhasker, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and author Michael Chabon, who penned most of the lyrics.
In particular, Parker’s boyish falsetto fits nicely into Ronson’s dreamy funk and drug-addled narratives. Despite the production and star power, no one element outstrips the others, except perhaps for Mystikal, who continues his reinvention as James Brown’s heir apparent on the raunchy Feel Right.
Top track: Feel Right