Did monster hit "Uptown Funk" steal from The Gap Band?

(March 12, 2015) In light of the verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams - in favor of Marvin Gaye's heirs - in the "Blurred Lines" case, there has been a lot of hand-wringing in the music business about whether this case will open the floodgates for other claims of uncredited song appropriation. Well, Charlie Wilson, co-founder of The Gap Band, fueled some unexpected new fires during an interview this week with WBLS in New York. The biggest hit of 2015 has been the 80s-style funk hit "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. And music fans immediately recognized the similarities between that song and a number of classic tracks by The Time, particularly "Jungle Love."  Others have compared it to Zapp's "More Bounce To The Ounce."

(March 12, 2015) In light of the verdict against Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams - in favor of Marvin Gaye's heirs - in the "Blurred Lines" case, there has been a lot of hand-wringing in the music business about whether this case will open the floodgates for other claims of uncredited song appropriation. Well, Charlie Wilson, co-founder of The Gap Band, fueled some unexpected new fires during an interview this week with WBLS in New York. The biggest hit of 2015 has been the 80s-style funk hit "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. And music fans immediately recognized the similarities between that song and a number of classic tracks by The Time, particularly "Jungle Love."  Others have compared it to Zapp's "More Bounce To The Ounce."

To the audience's surprise, Charlie went an entirely different direction in his interview, first hesitating, then saying about "Uptown Funk," "The musicologist came back and said it was 'Oops Upside The Head' and now they have to pay." Both the opening of "Uptown Funk" and the rap later in the song (around 2:45) do share elements with the 1979 Gap Band smash - though the line between "misappropriated' and "inspired by" here is...umm...kind of blurred (pun intended).

It isn't certain whether Wilson was claiming that the "Uptown Funk" team has agreed to pay or whether a lawsuit will be coming, but this, combined with word that Gaye's heirs also believe the Pharrell's "Happy" bears more than a slight resemblance to Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar," appears to support the speculation that musicologists are going to have a very busy year testifying in courtrooms.

Check out "Oops" and "Uptown Funk" below, and tell us what you think!

 

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