Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars visited Saturday Night Live last night to debut their new track “Uptown Funk,” and the duo – backed by a powerful horn section, a quartet of backup singers and a surprise guest – used their Chic-infused single to turn the SNL stage into a smoky, funky dance club.
The highly stylized performance was reminiscent of the duo’s recent “Uptown Funk” video and the Morris Day and the Time sequences in Purple Rain. The venue in which Mars and Ronson were playing, on one of the most revered stages for the past 40 years, also added an extra dose of meaning to the lyric, “Saturday night and we in the spot, don’t believe me, just watch.”
Throughout the week leading up to the SNL performance, it was reported that Mars and Ronson would be joined by a “very special guest.” That rumor became fact on their second song of the night, the James Brown-inspired rave-up “Feel Right,” when “Shake Ya Ass” rapper Mystikal grabbed the microphone, pushing Mars to backup duty. The track itself grooves like a modern, up-tempo take on the Godfather of Funk’s “I Feel All Right,” and Mystikal does his best Brown impression, delivering each line like a sermon.
“Uptown Funk,” and presumably “Feel Right,” will feature on Ronson’s upcoming fourth LP Uptown Special, out on January 27th. The album features lyrics by writer Michael Chabon as well as significant vocal and instrumental contributions from Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker. Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt, producer Emile Haynie, Simian Mobile Disco’s James Ford, TNGHT’s Hudson Mohawke and DJ Zinc also feature on Ronson’s album.
“Uptown Funk” was co-written and co-produced by Mars, who makes his first vocal appearance since releasing his own Unorthodox Jukebox in 2012. Previously, Mars and Ronson teamed for three tracks on that album, including the Grammy-nominated hit “Locked Out of Heaven.”