Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s 2014 hit “Uptown Funk” is the subject of a lawsuit from a 1980s funk band that says they copied their work.
TMZ reports that the two artists are being sued by members of Collage, a Minneapolis funk band. In 1983, Collage released a single called “Young Girls” – and the band has alleged that “Uptown Funk” copied it. The complaint, obtained by Pitchfork:
Upon information and belief, many of the main instrumental attributes and themes of “Uptown Funk” are deliberately and clearly copied from “Young Girls,” including, but not limited to, the distinct funky specifically noted and timed consistent guitar riffs present throughout the compositions, virtually if not identical bass notes and sequence, rhythm, structure, crescendo of horns and synthesizers rendering the compositions almost indistinguishable if played over each other and strikingly similar if played in consecutively.
The lawsuit also claims that Mars and Ronson were fans of electro-funk and soul from Minneapolis artists like Collage and Prince during the 1980s, so that there is reason to believe they have heard and drawn influence from the song. Larry White is the only member of Collage that is currently alive; the estates of members Grady Wilkins and Lee Peters are also listed as defendants.
Trinidad James, Jeff Bhasker, Devon Gallaspy, Phillip Lawrence, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner/Chappell Music, Atlantic Records, RCA Records and others are listed alongside Mars and Ronson in the lawsuit.
“Uptown Funk” has sold more than 6.1 million copies in the United States alone. It spent 14 weeks at no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, giving it the title of the second-longest number one single in Billboard history. It also earned two Grammy Awards, for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Before this, the song was the subject of another accusation of stealing. A girl group called The Sequence claimed “Uptown Funk” was similar to their 1979 song “Funk You Up,” but no lawsuit has been filed.
Listen to Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” and Collage’s “Young Girls” below. Do you think Collage has a case?
is a journalist who covers music, pop culture, film/TV, race, culture and social justice. He is an editor at Okayplayer, and his work has appeared in Complex, Billboard, Guardian, NPR, MTV, Ebony, HipHopDX, The Flint Journal-MLive, and other publications.