UPTOWN FUNK

I hate songs about songs. Just as you aren’t allowed to use a word to define itself, your song should not be allowed to be about how great the song itself is.

Can you imagine any other art form using this strategy? When was the last time you read a book that was all about how fascinating and enjoyable that book was? Has there ever been a movie about itself, where the characters stand around and talk about what an amazing film they’re in (Quentin Tarantino movies don’t count)? Why, then, do we allow musical artists to write songs like this?

“Uptown Funk” is a song about an amazing song called “Uptown Funk.” This song is the song you’re listening to when you’re listening to “Uptown Funk.” Do you see my confusion? Are we listening to the song they’re singing about, or are we listening to a song about the song they’re singing about? I can only hope that this much-hyped-but-unheard version of “Uptown Funk” is better than the one we actually hear. Because it sucks.

There are very few tunes that make me change the radio station as soon as they come on. This is one of them. From the annoyingly repetitive lyrics to Bruno Mars screeching like a 14-year old girl with a 2-pack-a-day habit, it grates on me in a way nothing has since “Blurred Lines.”  Why? I’ll attempt to explain.

This hit, that ice cold
Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold
This one for them hood girls
Them good girls straight masterpieces
Stylin’, whilen, livin’ it up in the city
Got Chucks on with Saint Laurent
Got kiss myself, I’m so pretty

The very first line declares the song to be “a hit.” How dare it?!? It’s like having your characters announce how they feel. I’m going to interpret the next line as implying that the song will “go gold” – as gold as Michelle Pfeiffer. Is Michelle Pfeiffer having a career resurgence that I completely missed out on?  Vance Joy’s “Riptide” states, “I swear she’s destined for the screen, closest thing to Michelle Pfeiffer that you’ve ever seen.” There has to be some reason for all the Pfeiffer hype, but I’m missing it.

The verse closes with the singer describing his attire (which apparently involves wearing shoes along with clothes). What that has to do with the song being a hit is unclear.

I’m too hot (hot damn)
Called a police and a fireman
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire man
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Am I bad ’bout that money, break it down

Alright, so the song is good. We got that already.

Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo)
Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo)
Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo)
‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to you
‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to you
‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to you
Saturday night and we in the spot
Don’t believe me just watch (come on)

How can these girls “hit” their “hallelujah”? I’d assume that’s the singer urging his chorus to sing “hallelujah” effectively, but instead they just sing “whoo.” The singer then repeats his previous assertion that the song will be great. And why would I not believe that they’re in the spot on Saturday night? Why would I doubt that statement? I’m sure they’re in the spot. What does this have to do with the song?

Don’t believe me just watch uh

Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Don’t believe me just watch
Hey, hey, hey, oh

I BELIEVE YOU! JE-zus!

Stop, wait a minute
Fill my cup, put some liquor in it
Take a sip, sign a check
Julio, get the stretch
Ride to Harlem, Hollywood
Jackson, Mississippi
If we show up, we gon’ show out
Smoother than a fresh dry skippy

What? What’s this? Now we’re literally stopping the song so he can have a drink and get in his car? What is going on here? Is the singer inside the song as he sings it/about it? Should I know what a “fresh dry skippy” is and why it’s assumed to be smooth?  At this point, lyrically, it’s basically over. “Hey we got a great song here, it’s SUPER great – oh hang on let me drink this real quick – ok here’s the song, it’s great!”

I’m a nerd – I made a pivot table to break down just how insufferable and repetitive this tune is. Don’t believe me? JUST WATCH.

There are 102 lines in this song.

‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to you: 6 lines

Girls hit your hallelujah (whoo): 6 lines

Hey hey hey oh: 3 lines

I’m too hot (hot damn): 8 lines

Uptown funk you up: 23 lines

Don’t believe me just watch: 18 lines

These six phrases constitute 63% of “Uptown Funk”. The title of the song itself accounts for 23% of the lyrics. That’s lazy. That’s REALLY lazy. That’s like reading a version of A Tale of Two Cities where “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” makes up 31,147 of the words. I’m not even addressing the fact that they’re basically saying “fuck you up” 23 times.

No punishment is enough for composing this lyrical compost heap. Mark Ronson should have his eyes put out, his ears sealed, and his fingers cut off, and I’d suggest castrating Bruno Mars if I didn’t think it would maybe make him a better singer.

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