5 songs by Mark Ronson that are better than ‘Uptown Funk’

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Mark Ronson has long been a DJ and producer I have admired the work of for many years. But there’s a caveat. Just very occasionally, a record of his will be the most universally loved thing in the world and yet, without wishing to sound like a douchebag, I’ll be completely resistant to its charms. See: ‘Valerie’ with Amy Winehouse (largely because I preferred the Zutons’ original and the fact that every over straining X Factor auditionee for years afterwards labelled it as being a song by ‘Amy Winehouse’), and see also ‘Uptown Funk’.

On paper, his collaboration with Bruno Mars that’s already the biggest selling single of the year in the UK and US should have been something I loved everything about. And that’s the trouble: it is, but it’s just very predictable on both his and Bruno’s counts and for me, a real ‘Wow, that’s a good pop record’ moment should deliver and THEN some, which is what made say, Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ the defining pop record of 2014. And ‘Uptown Funk’ just doesn’t go anywhere after the initial excitement of the first two/three plays, and I’m not just saying that now it’s getting overplayed to hell.

To this end, I felt it my duty to write about some songs by Mark Ronson which I feel are probably amongst his best – in no particular order, rather off the top of my head.

1. SOMEBODY TO LOVE ME

From the album ‘Record Collection’, 2010

For all of his last album campaign five years ago, Mark went under the pseudonym of Mark Ronson and the Business International. It conjured up a grand total of three singles, all of which were total gems (we may come to the other two in question a bit later), but this was the best of the lot by a country mile. Featuring the vocals of both Andrew Wyatt, from indie electro combo Miike Snow, and Culture Club’s Boy George (and uncredited backing vocals from the literally very good Cathy Dennis), this is lush, ambient and just utterly enrapturing with a hint of vulnerability.

2. PRETTY GREEN

From the album ‘Version’, 2007

A single that never was from his million selling feted covers album, The Jam’s original was reworked into this frenetic, breakbeat inspired version featuring the vocals of Santigold prior to the release of her own (brilliant) debut album a year later. It’s a complete audio riot and it’s a shame this didn’t get more of the attention some of the other tracks from its parent album got.

3. OOH WEE

From the album ‘Here Comes the Fuzz’, 2003

Taking it right back now, this was Ronson’s very first single 12 years ago, and though more hip hop oriented then what was to come from him (it sounds not unlike something Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim might have knocked up on his lunch break c. his imperial phase at the end of the 90’s) it’s a deliriously catchy number that features raps from both Ghostface Killah and Nate Dogg.

4. JUST

From the album ‘Version’, 2007

Another cut from the album that was to launch him full scale into the charts, ‘Just’ was a cover of the old Radiohead track that purists and fans of the band seem to hate with every fibre of its being. However, Alex Greenwald, lead singer of US indie kids Phantom Planet put in a vocal turn that’d give Thom Yorke an equally intense, eerie run for his money.

5. THE BIKE SONG

From the album ‘Record Collection’, 2010

My final choice is, I’m aware, probably a bit of an acquired taste, but trust me on this one – once you accept this track as the total uncomplicated joy it really is you realise its genius. Featuring guest rap from Spank Rock and lead vocal from The View’s Kyle Falconer, ‘The Bike Song’ takes what lyrically, is about the mundane and ordinary and turns it into the fabulously quirky.

Click below to listen to my Spotify playlist with all my choices:

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