Correction: Pitchfork misreported the origins of Collage; they're an L.A. band, not a Minneapolis band, and this text was updated to reflect that.
On 2014 smash hit "Uptown Funk," Bruno Mars boasts that he's hot. Hot enough, in fact, to force a dragon into retirement.
Fast-forward two years, and we find the pop star and producer/songwriter Mark Ronson associated with a different kind of heat -- litigious hot water!
L.A. funk band Collage recently filed a lawsuit claiming "Uptown Funk" rips off their 1983 song "Young Girls," TMZ reports. The Grammy-winning track -- which spent more time at No. 1 than any other hit of the 2010s -- “is an obvious, strikingly and/or substantially similar copy” of the Collage jam, the complaint states.
The lawsuit asserts that Ronson and Mars have discussed how the "Minneapolis Sound," the very one exhibited on "Young Girls," influenced "Uptown Funk," Pitchfork reports. Spearheaded in the late '70s by Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, the Time, and others, the funk-rock subgenre gained wordwide attention throughout the '80s.
But back to the Collage/Mars/Ronson ordeal. You're a YouTube copyright detective. Click play below to take the case.
Here's the nitty-gritty of the complaint:
"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."
Among the other parties being sued: co-producers Jeff Bhasker and Phillip Lawrence, plus producer Devon Gallaspy and rapper Trinidad James (their "All Gold Everything" is "embodied" on "Uptown Funk"), and Warner/Chappell Music, Atlantic Records, and RCA Records.
Larry White is the only living member of Collage, though the estates of his bandmates -- Grady Wilkins and Lee Peters -- are listed as plaintiffs. They're seeking damages and profits, the latter of which might prove bountiful, considering "Uptown Funk" has been downloaded more than 6 million times. The music video has almost 2 billion YouTube views, good for fourth-most of all time.
This isn't the first time "Uptown Funk" has faced scrutiny over copyright infringement. The Gap Band won songwriting credits last year after making a legal claim that "Uptown Funk" incorporated elements of their 1979 song “Oops Upside Your Head." A group called the Sequence charged that "Uptown Funk" copies their '79 hit "Funk You Up," but never took legal action.