The meaning of "Uptown Funk"

  • I have heard this new song titled Uptown Funk. I was interested in the line "Uptown funk you up".

    I tried Google Translate and did not get a meaningful translation.

    What does this line mean? And what is the music about? Is it a love song? A funny song?

    The answers are all correct, but we've all focused on different aspects of your question. You can vote them all up if you choose.

  • Uptown Funk is from Ronson's album Uptown Special. "Uptown" is a term used for areas of certain cities, including New York; Mark Ronson spent some time studying in New York and also worked as a DJ there. I'm guessing that that may have been in his mind with the "Uptown" reference. (The video for the song was shot in New York).

    Many of the lyrics in this particular song appear to be chosen primarily to fit the music - and Ronson says that this was part of the writing process of the album:

    Lots of times, we had a melody already—and sometimes [Grammy-winning producer, Uptown Special co-producer] Jeff [Bhasker] would record a sketch vocal with nonsense words but very specific vowel sounds, because certain melodies work better when they’re sung with certain sounds. This meant that, when Michael came in to write lyrics, his words had to match the number of syllables in our melody and the vowels we had in mind. He just did it. I sometimes felt like we were feeding melodies into a supercomputer that was just spitting back these great, great words.

    They lyrics as a whole do not tell a story, but if you look at individual lines and sections, they make more sense.

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

    This section is talking about looking good, and wearing jewellery and expensive branded shoes. ('Chucks' = training shoes; Saint Laurent = the Yves Saint Laurent brand)

    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

    Here he is talking about how "hot" (talented/desirable etc) he is, and how he has a lot of money.

    Girls hit your hallelujah

    (here, "hitting a hallelujah" is a figure of speech meaning "sing"...)

    Saturday night and we in the spot

    A "spot" is a night club. So they are at the night club on Saturday night.

    So although there's no story to the lyrics, there is a definite theme : being attractive, rich, talented and having an exciting social life.

    Wow, thanks a lot. And yes, not meaningful but still entertaining melody.

    Stylin'... wilin' .. not while in.. like wilin' as in going crazy. ie. I was wilin' at that party last night and livin' it up.

    MJ did that a lot. Created nonsense lyrics to match the music instead of doing it the other way around, writing the music to match the syllables of the lyrics. Genius. MJ

  • This song is an example of what one might call "effectively instrumental" in that the song has no lyrics that are particularly meaningful. The vocal elements are, for the most part, just another instrument. Such songs are happy, often danceable songs meant to be fun and entertaining.

    The line that you were interested in "Uptown funk you up" is mostly a pun, a play on words, where the word "funk" has replaced a similar word (change the 'n' to a 'c') in a commonly used expression that means essentially the same thing as "mess you up".

    If you're looking for songs that are specifically like "Uptown Funk", you should just look into the "funk" genre, since the song itself is a loving tribute that includes as many of the genre's standard elements as possible.

  • The literal meaning of uptown is usually the more northward part of the center city, but it has connotations (via New York City) of an urban area that is more "upscale", wealthy, classy and sophisticated. Funk is a style of music pioneered by black American artists such as James Brown and George Clinton, it was most popular in the 1970's and features a strong percussive effect from a variety of instruments, together creating a strong driving beat. Typically funk is a messy, dissonant sound played at loud volumes with a strong visceral impact. It is often used as a dance music. The word itself is potentially related to the other meaning of funk as a strong, somewhat unpleasant organic odor (typically body odor). As a united phrase, Uptown Funk promises a sophisticated, urbane variation on a raw and powerful musical genre.

    The specific lyric "funk you up" is a stock phrase in the genre, probably originating with Clinton's influential band Parliament Funkadelic, which used variations on it in several of their songs (including one that includes the phrase "funked up" in the title). It's a play on the phrase "f* you up," primarily meaning to beat someone up, and has the connotation that the music is going to physically attack you, with secondary connotations of sexual satisfaction.

    The song as a whole is a tribute to a 1970's era image of macho sophistication. The lyrical structure recalls funk hits such as Brown's Sex Machine and Clinton's We Want the Funk, with a series of call-and-response style boasts, toasts and exhortations, deployed towards the goal of increasing audience engagement and working audience members into a funk-inspired frenzy.

    Although *uptown* can have that connotation, I think *uptown New York* is the traditionally more "affordable" bit of Manhattan...

    @topomorto It's a bit ambiguous. I personally associate Uptown with the affluent Upper East Side and Upper West Side neighborhoods around Central Park, but it can also potentially include the traditionally poorer Harlem, and maybe even Washington Heights.

    A song for all types then :) I was trying to find out where the video was filmed location-wise, but shouldn't really watch at work!

  • The Michelle Pfeiffer reference is important... white gold i.e. cocaine in Scar Face! Uptown Funk = screwed up by drugs purchased by inexperienced uptowners who don't know what they're buying!

  • In the context of this song, I always took "Uptown funk you up" to mean, being "uptown"; rich, haughty, and only interested in things that money can buy will, in the end steal your soul ... it will "funk you up". I think this is borne out by the first part of the song which focuses on jewelry, clothes ... "gotta kiss myself I'm so pretty". The middle part of the song, "I'm so hot" is completely self-indulgent. Nevertheless, I love the song. It's so catchy. Love Bruno Mars. He's great.

  • If you remember the Motown hits, they were funky and almost similar to these song. I think it refers to that area in a city known as Uptown and the funk it brings to people or what simply people see as funk in the Uptown. It might also be a metaphor referring to what people do when they've got money.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM