Since January, the Billboard Hot 100 chart has been ruled by one song: “Uptown Funk.” That’s right, the Mark Ronson song featuring the vocals of Bruno Mars has ruled the pop charts for a blistering 13 weeks. Its 13th week on top, announced April 1, made it the longest-running number one hit of the entire decade, surpassing the 12-week stretch of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
“Uptown Funk” becomes just the 10th song to spend 13 weeks or more at number one. The longest reign was in 1995-96 with Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men’s “One Sweet Day,” which topped the charts for 16 weeks. With barely any competition coming in the next few weeks, it looks as though “Uptown Funk” may come close to tying with or even surpassing that record.
Why is this song so popular? The breadth of its popularity is almost staggering. After multiple weeks, it’s still ruling the three components of the Billboard Hot 100 — digital sales, streaming and radio — with no signs of stopping.
Looking at the song solely based on the charts, it really lacks any competition. Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me Like You Do” and Maroon 5’s “Sugar” have all made moves in the past two months to topple “Uptown Funk” from the top, but have since fizzled out. And there aren’t many songs making major moves to the top in the next few weeks, either. The only ones with any hope at all are Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again” (unfortunately not the superior Miley Cyrus song), Fetty Wap’s “Trap Queen” and Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance.” But to be quite honest, it does not seem like any of these songs will really make an impact for another month or so.
The dominance of “Uptown Funk” extends way beyond just the charts, however. It has completely saturated popular culture over the last few months. This song constantly gets played at work and at the gym — literally any place in public that you can think of. It seems America can’t get any other song in its head.
And no cultural hegemonic piece is complete without parodies. Every day, it seems as if five new “Uptown Funk” parodies have been released. There’s been a Passover parody, a Harry Potter parody, a U.S. President Barack Obama parody and a white girl parody, among others. And all of these videos rack up millions of views and dozens of articles in their own right, further contributing to the buzz surrounding “Uptown Funk.”
But why this song? It’s a fun, light song, but it’s nothing that special. Its funky feel certainly is a delightful throwback to the age of Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” disco/funk euphoria, but “Uptown Funk” certainly pales in comparison to that material. Its lyrics are nothing special either — just a dance song about getting your “uptown funk” on at Saturday night party. If Bruno Mars can get a song about how he’s going to “uptown funk” a girl up to rack up 13 weeks at number one, then Christina Aguilera’s Grindr love anthem “Your Body” certainly deserved better.
It’s still a mystery to me as to why this song is so popular. But one thing is certain: we haven’t seen a run as impressive as this in 20 years.