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Silk Sonic 2021
Silk Sonic

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7 Things To Know About Silk Sonic's Dazzling, Nostalgic Las Vegas Residency

Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak bring their funk-pop project to life in their newly minted Las Vegas residency, a transportive and soulful experience that kicked off on Feb. 25

GRAMMYs/Feb 28, 2022 - 11:17 pm

"Silk Sonic believes that what happens in Vegas stays in Las Vegas," Bruno Mars informed the crowd in Sin City over the weekend.

Though it's a bit of a cliché, the saying was actually quite fit for the occasion. Silk Sonic — Mars' '70s-inspired joint project with Anderson .Paak — is, at least for the time being, only doing performances in the form of a Las Vegas residency. And with Yondr bags keeping fans from capturing any footage of the show, it really felt like those in the 5,000-cap room were meant to share the experience — exclusively.

The 90-minute show, which is held at Park MGM's Dolby Live, was as much of a disco-tinged affair as one would imagine upon listening to the duo's album, An Evening With Silk Sonic. Complete with sparkly (and, of course, silky) getups and retro choreography, Mars and .Paak crafted a night to remember — even if it couldn't be documented on camera.

Whether you're planning to catch the show yourself or just want a taste of the action, check out some of the takeaways from Silk Sonic's Las Vegas residency.

Bootsy Collins Made An Appearance

Well, virtually. The funk legend — who bestowed the band name on the pair — features on the intro for An Evening With Silk Sonic, which also served as the show opener.

Sporting his signature bedazzled top hat and sunglasses, Collins appeared on an oversized screen to get the party started. "Fellas, I hope you got somethin' in your cup," he said. "And ladies? Don't be afraid to make your way to the stage."

They Relished A Phoneless Experience

After opening with the Vegas-nodding "777" and the gliding groove of "Skate," Mars and .Paak took visible glee in reminding the crowd that they were phoneless — in song form, naturally.

"We took your phones away, we took your phones away," they sang over an R&B melody that fit right in with the Silk Sonic sound. "Some of them look mad," .Paak joked.

Sure, it was a bummer to not be able to snap a photo of the awe-inspiring staging or capture a video of their smooth moves. Yet in reality, the no-phone policy resulted in an electric atmosphere, one that Mars said he and .Paak envisioned upon creating Silk Sonic: "You made me and Andy's dream come true tonight."

It Felt Like A Giant Dance Party

Silk Sonic's infectious energy and upbeat rhythms are enough to get people grooving. But without phones as a major distraction, all there was to do was dance.

From the second Silk Sonic took the stage, everyone from the front to the back row was on their feet. The dancing never stopped on stage or in the crowd, and it made for a full-on party.

The Production Was Transportive

As Silk Sonic had teased with performances on the American Music Awards and the BET Soul Train Awards last year, they bring as much soul to their aesthetic as they do in their music. Between the disco ball that hung over the audience and the velvet suits — capped off by .Paak's fitting mushroom-cut wig — the entire setup was as retro as it could be.

Yes, They Help Sing Each Other's Songs

With only 10 songs in the Silk Sonic songbook thus far, Mars and .Paak added a few of their own singles to the set list. .Paak assisted Mars on the bridge of "Treasure," and Mars played drums on .Paak's "Come Down" — something the "That's What I Like" singer claimed he's been wanting to since .Paak's first album in 2014. "Tonight's your lucky night," .Paak quipped.

They Sound Even Better Together In Person

No matter what they were singing, .Paak and Mars' harmonies were even more unbelievable live than on record. Along with ad-libbing several vocal breakdowns during "Fly As Me" and "Smokin' Out the Window," they sang portions of "Put On a Smile" and "Blast Off" a cappella.

It was the night's finale, the GRAMMY-nominated "Leave the Door Open," that really showed just how well they mesh both vocally and personally. It was evident that they not only love singing it, but they have been working hard at perfecting the delivery — and it certainly paid off.

Bruno Mars Seems Happier Than He's Ever Been

When you have a singing partner like the ever-so-smiley Anderson .Paak, it's hard not to be happy. But Mars' ear-to-ear grin throughout the show felt like more than just feeding off of .Paak's good energy.

While Mars has never seemed unhappy on stage, he's also never seemed so in his element as he did alongside .Paak. It was apparent that this soulful music and vintage style is where he thrives, and considering how seamlessly his own music fit into the night's lineup, Mars has clearly found his true musical home.

Las Vegas may be the perfect setting for Silk Sonic, but here's hoping they don't only stay in Vegas. The world needs more Silk Sonic — and it seems like both Mars and .Paak do too.

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Usher and Alicia Keys at Super Bowl 2024
(L-R) Usher and Alicia Keys during the Super Bowl LVIII halftime show.

Photo: L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

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17 Love Songs That Have Won GRAMMYs: "I Will Always Love You," "Drunk In Love" & More

Over the GRAMMYs' 66-year history, artists from Frank Sinatra to Ed Sheeran have taken home golden gramophones for their heartfelt tunes. Take a look at some of the love songs that have won GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Feb 14, 2024 - 09:42 pm

Editor's Note: This is an update to a story from 2017.

Without heart-bursting, world-shifting love songs, music wouldn't be the same. There are countless classic and chart-topping hits dedicated to love, and several of them have won GRAMMYs.

We're not looking at tunes that merely deal with shades of love or dwell in heartbreak. We're talking out-and-out, no-holds-barred musical expressions of affection — the kind of love that leaves you wobbly at the knees.

No matter how you're celebrating Valentine's Day (or not), take a look at 18 odes to that feel-good, mushy-gushy love that have taken home golden gramophones over the years.

Frank Sinatra, "Strangers In The Night"

Record Of The Year / Best Vocal Performance, Male, 1967

Ol' Blue Eyes offers but a glimmer of hope for the single crowd on Valentine's Day, gently ruminating about exchanging glances with a stranger and sharing love before the night is through.

Willie Nelson, "Always On My Mind"

Best Country Vocal Performance, Male, 1983

In this cover, Nelson sings to the woman in his life, lamenting over those small things he should have said and done, but never took the time. Don't find yourself in the same position this Valentine's Day.

Lionel Richie, "Truly"

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1983

"Truly" embodies true dedication to a loved one, and it's delivered with sincerity from the king of '80s romantic pop — who gave life to the timeless love-song classics "Endless Love," "Still" and "Three Times A Lady."

Roy Orbison, "Oh, Pretty Woman"

Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male, 1991

Orbison captures the essence of encountering a lovely woman for the first time, and offers helpful one-liners such as "No one could look as good as you" and "I couldn't help but see … you look as lovely as can be." Single men, take notes.

Whitney Houston, "I Will Always Love You"

Record Of The Year, Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, 1994

Houston passionately delivers a message of love, remembrance and forgiveness on her version of this song, which was written by country sweetheart Dolly Parton and first nominated for a GRAMMY in 1982.

Celine Dion, "My Heart Will Go On (Love Theme From Titanic)"  

Record Of The Year, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, 1999

This omnipresent theme song from the 1997 film Titanic was propelled to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 as the story of Jack and Rose (played by Leonardo DiCaprio and GRAMMY winner Kate Winslet) swept the country.

Shania Twain, "You're Still The One"

Best Female Country Vocal Performance, Best Country Song, 1999

Co-written with producer and then-husband Mutt Lange, Twain speaks of beating the odds with love and perseverance in lyrics such as, "I'm so glad we made it/Look how far we've come my baby," offering a fresh coat of optimism for couples of all ages.

Usher & Alicia Keys, "My Boo"

Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals, 2005

"There's always that one person that will always have your heart," sings Usher in this duet with Keys, taking the listener back to that special first love. The chemistry between the longtime friends makes this ode to “My Boo” even more heartfelt, and the love was still palpable even 20 years later when they performed it on the Super Bowl halftime show stage.

Bruno Mars, "Just The Way You Are"

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, 2011

Dating advice from Bruno Mars: If you think someone is beautiful, you should tell them every day. Whether or not it got Mars a date for Valentine's Day, it did get him a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cee Lo Green & Melanie Fiona, "Fool For You" 

Best Traditional R&B Performance, 2012

It's a far cry from his previous GRAMMY-winning song, "F*** You," but "Fool For You" had us yearning for "that deep, that burning/ That amazing unconditional, inseparable love."

Justin Timberlake, "Pusher Love Girl" 

Best R&B Song, 2014

Timberlake is so high on the love drug he's "on the ceiling, baby." Timberlake co-wrote the track with James Fauntleroy, Jerome Harmon and Timbaland, and it's featured on his 2013 album The 20/20 Experience, which flew high to No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

Beyoncé & Jay-Z, "Drunk In Love"

Best R&B Performance / Best R&B Song, 2015

While "Drunk In Love" wasn't the first love song that won Beyoncé and Jay-Z a GRAMMY — they won two GRAMMYs for "Crazy In Love" in 2004 — it is certainly the sexiest. This quintessential 2010s bop from one of music's most formidable couples captures why their alliance set the world's hearts aflame (and so did their steamy GRAMMYs performance of it).

Ed Sheeran, "Thinking Out Loud"

Song Of The Year / Best Pop Solo Performance, 2016

Along with his abundant talent, Sheeran's boy-next-door charm is what rocketed him to the top of the pop ranks. And with swooning lyrics and a waltzing melody, "Thinking Out Loud" is proof that he's a modern-day monarch of the love song.

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper, "Shallow"

Best Pop Duo/Group Performance / Best Song Written For Visual Media, 2019

A Star is Born's cachet has gone up and down with its various remakes, but the 2018 iteration was a smash hit. Not only is that thanks to moving performances from Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, but particularly thanks to their impassioned, belt-along duet "Shallow."

H.E.R. & Daniel Caesar, "Best Part"

Best R&B Performance, 2019

"If life is a movie/ Know you're the best part." Who among us besotted hasn't felt their emotions so widescreen, so thunderous? Clearly, H.E.R. and Daniel Caesar have — and they poured that feeling into the GRAMMY-winning ballad "Best Part."

Kacey Musgraves, "Butterflies"

Best Country Solo Performance, 2019

As Musgraves' Album Of The Year-winning LP Golden Hour shows, the country-pop star can zoom in or out at will, capturing numberless truths about the human experience. With its starry-eyed lyrics and swirling production, "Butterflies" perfectly encapsulates the flutter in your stomach that love can often spark.

Dan + Shay & Justin Bieber, "10,000 Hours"

Best Country Duo/Group Performance, 2021

When country hook-meisters Dan + Shay teamed up with pop phenom Justin Bieber, their love song powers were unstoppable. With more than 1 billion Spotify streams alone, "10,000 Hours" has become far more than an ode to just their respective wives; it's an anthem for any lover.

Lovesick Or Sick Of Love: Listen To GRAMMY.com's Valentine's Day Playlist Featuring Taylor Swift, Doja Cat, Playboi Carti, Olivia Rodrigo, FKA Twigs & More

Producer D'Mile
Producer D'Mile

Photo: Monhand Mathurin

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5 Essential D'Mile Productions: Silk Sonic, Victoria Monét, & Others

Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical GRAMMY nominee D’Mile revisits his career milestones and discusses his work with H.E.R. Victoria Monét, Silk Sonic and more.

GRAMMYs/Jan 22, 2024 - 02:24 pm

Editor’s note: This article has been updated on Monday, Jan. 22 to include mention of Victoria Monét and reflect D’Mile’s 2024 GRAMMY nomination.

"He is a genius. I don’t feel like most people realize how much of a genius he actually is" producer D’Mile asserts when thinking back on his popular project with Bruno Mars.

But prior to the formation of Silk Sonic, longtime friend and bandmate Anderson .Paak implored Mars and D’Mile to come together for a session. "Once we realized we were doing a group project, I think it was easy for all of us to know what kind of vibe it was going to be," D'Mile says. 

"Leave The Door Open,'' the GRAMMY-winning product of the trio’s collaboration, became a hit for its groovy R&B bridges and velvety vocal harmonies — and D’Mile’s career skyrocketed. Now, he is a creative backbone behind many top artists, infusing discographies with blues, jazz and neo-R&B, while engineering for Beyoncé, Jay Z, Lupe Fiasco, H.E.R. and others. Now, D’Mile is nominated for Producer Of The Year, Non-Classical, at the 2024 GRAMMYs, alongside Jack Antonoff, Hit-Boy and more.

 At the66th GRAMMY Awards, D’Mile is nominated forProducer Of The Year, Non-Classical for his work on JAGUAR II. TheVictoria Monét record is nominated for Best R&B Album and Best Engineered Album. Non-Classical.

Long before earning a clutch of awards, D’Mile was disciplined in a musical household. Dernst Emile II, a.k.a. D'Mile was born to two esteemed Haitian musicians —  vocalist Yanick Étienne and Dernst Emile, an established music arranger and instrumentalist —  with a wide global lineage and appreciation of the music of the African diaspora. Coming up in Brooklyn,  D'Mile learned the piano from his father, and would hear his mother sing jazz and Haitian konpa around the house.

"They would always work together," the music producer bashfully remembers over Zoom, chuckling. "My dad [still] gives private lessons to this day. I was just always around instruments my whole life — the jam and recording sessions. I feel like I am just a younger version of him." 

A young D'Mile inherited the musical aptitude of his parents, nurturing his musical roots while keeping his ear close to the ground as his career blossomed. "One of my first [producer] placements ever was actually Mary J. Blige in 2005," D’Mile reflects bashfully. That single was the title track on Blige’s 2005 album, The Breakthrough, which won the GRAMMY Award for Best R&B Record.  

Nearly two decades into producing music, D’Mile applies artists' personal experiences to the music they create together, tailoring their sounds as a reflection of who they are, at the moment he meets them. "I just do what I know when I feel right in my heart," D’Mile says, shrugging his shoulders. "[But] when I do a collab with an artist, I try to speak to who they are through the music."

That insight, and ability to cohere an artist's essence with contemporary culture, has led to many hit-making moments. After having compulsive thoughts of quitting music over the past decade, D’Mile ignited an artistic flare at the beginning of the pandemic and a plethora of gold-plated accolades was on the horizon. 

From 2020 to 2022, D’Mile experienced highs that accelerated career’s trajectory. At the 2020 GRAMMY Awards, D’Mile received seven nominations for his work on Lucky Daye’s debut album, Painted and H.E.R’s second album, I Used To Know Her. Following the police murder of George Floyd, D'Mile channeled racial tensions into H.E.R.'s "I Can’t Breathe"; the song won the coveted GRAMMY Award for Song Of The Year in 2021. That same year, D'Mile won an Academy Award for Best Original Song ("Fight For You") in the motion picture, Judas and the Black Messiah.

D'Mile's star only continued to rise in 2022. At the 64th GRAMMY Awards, the producer took home three golden gramophones for his work on Silk Sonic's "Leave the Door Open" — including Song and Record Of The Year. A testament to his production expertise and wide-ranging ear, D'Mile was also nominated for his efforts on Christian/Contemporary song "Hold Us Together (Hope Mix)."

"I am not saying my first accomplishments haven’t hit me yet, but it is just unbelievable sometimes to think of all of the good things that have been happening in my career recently," D'Mile reflects.

At the
66th GRAMMY Awards, D’Mile is nominated for his work on JAGUAR II; the Victoria Monét record is nominated for Best R&B Album and Best Engineered Album. Non-Classical.

The Los Angeles-based musician is nourishing the nucleic basis of R&B, creating an environment for upcoming and celebrated artists to rejoice and evolve. The producer shared memories from some of his favorite collaborations with GRAMMY.com.

Joyce Wrice - Overgrown

Executive produced by D’Mile, Joyce Wrice's 2021 debut album is an exquisite gift to R&B buffs. The bluesy 14-track Overgrown is a delineation of nostalgic 90’s R&B and hip-hop, with pitched vocal highs and emotional lows.

"The first time Joyce and I met in the studio, I was picking up on who she is as a woman and her vision for Overgrown," says D’Mile. "I got close with her and I would gather information off of what she would play me. I feel like when I make music, that's me kind of examining who you are."

Throughout Overgrown, the San Diego native sings about the pains of healing from heartbreak and unrequited love. The album is also a celebration of womanhood, where a confidently independent Wrice embraces the mental strength she discovered while finding herself. 

Buddy - "Happy Hour"

Compton-raised rapper Buddy released his sophomore album, Superghetto, in 2022 and D’Mile produced one of the most popular tracks from the project. "Happy Hour" is an ode to letting loose and treating life as joyously chaotic as ordering a drink at a crowded bar on a weekend night.

"Buddy and I created this song a couple of years ago," D’Mile recalls, thinking deeply about the track's origins. 

The single can be seen as a sequel to T-Pain’s 2007 anthem, "Bartender" — and fittingly so. Adds D'Mile, "T-Pain hopped on the track maybe a few months before it was released. I can’t take credit for getting that feature on the song, but it did make all the sense in the world."

H.E.R’s "Fight For You," "I Can’t Breathe" & I Used To Know Her

In 2021, D’Mile got together with longtime collaborators H.E.R and singerTiara Thomas to create socially-charged songs that highlighted the atrocities of police violence against Black Americans.

"The creation of these songs started with a conversation," D’Mile says, smiling as he reflects on the trio's tight bond. "H.E.R and Tiara were talking about what was going on in the world. H.E.R. is an artist that really cares about people and cares about what's right."

D'Mile recalls that H.E.R. picked up a guitar and played "I Can’t Breathe." "I remember tearing up when I first heard the song and I just knew exactly what I needed to do to help."

The producer also assisted on the tearful tune "Could've Been," which was also born from this session and later appeared on H.E.R’s second LP.

Victoria Monét - Jaguar

D’Mile had his hands in all processes behind the production of Victoria Monét’s debut album, Jaguar. The supersonic 2020 project is a funky unification of fun R&B with sultry pop melodies.

While Monét has penned lyrics for Ariana Grande, Nas, Chris Brown and others, Jaguar was the Georgia native's first full-length foray as a solo artist. The performer, dancer and recent mom is also using D’Mile’s musical compositions on her next album.

D'Mile says he's excited for Monét’s next musical chapter, which incorporates her experiences with motherhood and more sass.

"We dug a little deeper. She is an artist that I feel really comfortable with," the producer says of Monét's forthcoming record. "There might be a couple of songs that you wouldn’t expect from her, and then there are songs that are just incredible records."

And all in all? “That’s my fam. That’s like my sister, you know. Me and Vicky have known each other for years,” he said in another interview. “I’ve always been a fan. I’ve seen her grow and we’ve worked on and off pretty much since the beginning.”

Silk Sonic - An Evening With Silk Sonic

The breakout group of 2021 were undoubtedly the nostalgically catchy vocal duo Silk Sonic — a project of Bruno Mars and Anderson .Paak. D’Mile executive produced the entire An Evening With Silk Sonic album, which swept the 64th GRAMMY Awards.

D’Mile related immensely to Bruno Mars, who is also a producer, and found commonality in .Paak's interest in older R&B originals from the likes of Michael Jackson, Donny Hathaway and Stevie Wonder. The stars finally aligned in 2020 when Anderson reached out to D'Mile about a collaboration.

"It took us two years to create the vision and we all just kind of love that era of music [that Silk Sonic is emulating]. That's what we grew up on," D’Mile reminisces. "'Smoking Out the Window' was a song that Bruno and Anderson sat on for five years until the right moment came. It feels like a blur because we were just having so much fun together."

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Kendrick Lamar GRAMMY Rewind Hero
Kendrick Lamar

Photo: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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GRAMMY Rewind: Kendrick Lamar Honors Hip-Hop's Greats While Accepting Best Rap Album GRAMMY For 'To Pimp a Butterfly' In 2016

Upon winning the GRAMMY for Best Rap Album for 'To Pimp a Butterfly,' Kendrick Lamar thanked those that helped him get to the stage, and the artists that blazed the trail for him.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 06:01 pm

Updated Friday Oct. 13, 2023 to include info about Kendrick Lamar's most recent GRAMMY wins, as of the 2023 GRAMMYs.

A GRAMMY veteran these days, Kendrick Lamar has won 17 GRAMMYs and has received 47 GRAMMY nominations overall. A sizable chunk of his trophies came from the 58th annual GRAMMY Awards in 2016, when he walked away with five — including his first-ever win in the Best Rap Album category.

This installment of GRAMMY Rewind turns back the clock to 2016, revisiting Lamar's acceptance speech upon winning Best Rap Album for To Pimp A Butterfly. Though Lamar was alone on stage, he made it clear that he wouldn't be at the top of his game without the help of a broad support system. 

"First off, all glory to God, that's for sure," he said, kicking off a speech that went on to thank his parents, who he described as his "those who gave me the responsibility of knowing, of accepting the good with the bad."

Looking for more GRAMMYs news? The 2024 GRAMMY nominations are here!

He also extended his love and gratitude to his fiancée, Whitney Alford, and shouted out his Top Dawg Entertainment labelmates. Lamar specifically praised Top Dawg's CEO, Anthony Tiffith, for finding and developing raw talent that might not otherwise get the chance to pursue their musical dreams.

"We'd never forget that: Taking these kids out of the projects, out of Compton, and putting them right here on this stage, to be the best that they can be," Lamar — a Compton native himself — continued, leading into an impassioned conclusion spotlighting some of the cornerstone rap albums that came before To Pimp a Butterfly.

"Hip-hop. Ice Cube. This is for hip-hop," he said. "This is for Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. This is for Illmatic, this is for Nas. We will live forever. Believe that."

To Pimp a Butterfly singles "Alright" and "These Walls" earned Lamar three more GRAMMYs that night, the former winning Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song and the latter taking Best Rap/Sung Collaboration (the song features Bilal, Anna Wise and Thundercat). He also won Best Music Video for the remix of Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood." 

Lamar has since won Best Rap Album two more times, taking home the golden gramophone in 2018 for his blockbuster LP DAMN., and in 2023 for his bold fifth album, Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers.

Watch Lamar's full acceptance speech above, and check back at GRAMMY.com every Friday for more GRAMMY Rewind episodes. 

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Mark Ronson Behind The Hits
Mark Ronson with Amy Winehouse, Bruno Mars, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa and Paul McCartney

Photos: Antoine Antonio/Getty Images; Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for NARAS; Kevin Winter/Getty Images For MTV; Denise Truscello/Getty Images for iHeartMedia; Don Arnold/Getty Images; Harry Durrant/Getty Images

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Behind Mark Ronson's Hits: How 'Boogie Nights,' Five-Hour Jams & Advice From Paul McCartney Inspired His Biggest Singles & Collabs

GRAMMY-winning multihyphenate Mark Ronson details the stories behind 11 of his favorite releases, from "Valerie" and "Uptown Funk" to 'Barbie The Album.'

GRAMMYs/Sep 26, 2023 - 03:08 pm

Mark Ronson's fingerprints are everywhere in pop music. 

Whether he's behind the board as a producer, penning earwormy hooks for some music's biggest names, or employing a crate digger's mindset to create his own records, you'd be hard-pressed to find something on your playlist that Ronson hasn't touched. The seven-time GRAMMY winner might as well be considered the industry’s Kevin Bacon — he's worthy of his own "six degrees" game. 

Today, Ronson is on his way back to New York City from some time spent in the Hudson Valley — a much-need reprieve after a blockbuster summer that saw his Barbie movie soundtrack top charts around the world. 

"I love this film so much and I did something I've never done before by executive producing and overseeing [its music]," he tells GRAMMY.com. 

That Ronson still has things to check off his professional bucket list is something of a surprise. The stepson of Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones, Ronson got his start DJing in New York in the '90s, bridging his twin loves of funk and hip-hop. In the latter part of the decade, Diddy hired Ronson to DJ several parties, thus opening up the then-twentysomething to a world of A-list talent. Ronson's elite status only grew over decades — from DJing Paul McCartney's wedding in 2011 (for which he refused to accept payment), to creating the ubiquitous hit "Uptown Funk," and curating the final night of the iconic 2023 Montreux Jazz Festival.

Ronson has released five of his own albums — beginning with 2003's Here Comes The Fuzz and up to 2019's Late Night Feelings — each of which is a star-studded affair, featuring everyone from Miley Cryus and Camilla Cabello to Bruno Mars and Mary J. Blige (as well as the occasional lawsuit over interpolation and sampling). Over the years, he's developed a cadre of session musicians and production collaborators, creating an incredibly pop savvy sound often built on horn-driven funk and soul.

At the bedrock of Ronson's production — and among his best-known works — is Amy Winehouse's GRAMMY-winning album Back To Black. Since that 2006 release, Ronson has collaborated with an ever-increasing number of major acts, composing, arranging, producing, writing or playing on (and sometimes all of the above) works by Lady Gaga, Duran Duran, Dua Lipa, Adele, Queens of the Stone Age, and even Sir Paul himself. 

Ronson will add another first to his list: author. A hybrid memoir and cultural history, the still-in-progress 93 'Til Infinity will cover the New York downtown club scene of Ronson's salad days. 

"It's really fun to revisit that era, and it was a very specific time in DJing where DJs weren't really famous," he recalls. "There was no stage; sometimes the turntables were shoved in the corner at the end of the bar and you would have to crane your neck to even see the crowd. I sound like Grandpa Simpson, but I loved it." 

Ronson is en route to a DJ gig as we speak, though the new dad says he'll be "kicking back into high gear on the book" soon. "[Writing it] requires really falling off for seven hours in the basement, like Stephen King says in his book. But I like that," he says.

Ahead of a celebration of Barbie The Album at the GRAMMY Museum on Sept. 27, Mark Ronson shared the stories behind some of his favorite productions – including the song that makes people "stupidly happy." 

"Ooh Wee," Here Comes The Fuzz feat. Ghostface Killah, Nate Dogg, Trife and Saigon (2003)

I went to see Boogie Nights in the theater and I remember this scene where Mark Wahlberg's a busboy on roller skates and in the background there was this song playing that had just this string thing that just hit me so hard. I bought the Boogie Nights soundtrack and it wasn't on there — obviously this is 20 years before Shazam — then I figured out it was the song called "Sunny" by Boney M

When I was making my first record, I was sort of locked up by myself in the studio on 54th Street just experimenting, making tracks all the time. That string line, I could never figure out what to do with the sample. I tried 80 different tempos and drum beats over it, and it wasn't until I just put that drum break behind it, the drums from the song, and it just all sort of gelled together. 

Because that was an era in hip-hop where people weren't really using drum loops or drum breaks anymore. It was about chopping and having hard kicks and snares,  like DJ Premiere and Timbaland. The DJ in me was like, f— it, let me just try putting a drum break under it. It all gelled and felt good.

I was a huge Wu-Tang fan, and at that point Ghostface was my favorite out of the group and I loved his solo records. I've never been more nervous in some weird way to talk to somebody — nervous and giddy, and what if I just sound so dorky? 

I remember he was like, "Yeah, I get it. I think it's dope. It's like some Saturday Night Fever with Tony Manero s—." I guess because of the strings and it was so disco, and Ghost always had this pension for those disco kind of uptempo beats. 

The album had to be handed in and I didn't have a hook that I liked on this song yet. Sylvia Rhone was the head of Elektra and she said, "I could try and get Nate Dogg on it." Of course that was the dream. I sent him the track, and it was probably two days before I had to master the album, on a Sunday. He sent me the files back, and all the waveforms were blank.

I had to call Nate Dogg at like 10 a.m. at home on a Sunday. While he's on the phone, he goes back in the studio and turns all his equipment on, trying to do the session. 

The fanboy thing is still very real because I still work with people all the time that I'm a fan of. At that age, being in the studio with M.O.P., Mos Def, Q-Tip, Jack White, Freeway, Nate. I was just trying to keep it together some of the time.

"Rehab" - Amy Winehouse, Back to Black (2006) 

"Rehab" just came about in general because Amy was telling me an anecdote. She was really together when we worked — she might not have been sober, but she got her whole life together. She was telling me about this time in her life that was difficult and she was in a really bad place. She said, "And my dad and manager came over and they tried to make me go to rehab and I was like, 'No, no, no.'"

I remember that it instantly sounded like a chorus to me, so we went back to my studio and we made the demo. That was when the Strokes and the Libertines were really big. I remember [the drums] sounded much more like an indie beat, even though it came from soul and Motown and the original rock 'n' roll. She would tease me; she's like, "You trying to make me sound like the bloody Libertines."

When [studio group] the Dap-Kings played it, they just brought it to life. I didn't really know anything about analog recording at that point. I only knew how to make s— sound analog by sampling records, so to hear them all play in the original Daptone studio, all the drums bleeding into the piano…. I felt like I was floating because I couldn't believe that anybody could still make that drum sound in 2006.

Amy couldn't be there for the recording, so I was taking a CD-J into the studio with me and I had her demo vocals on a cappella. I was playing it live with the band so that they could keep pace with the arrangement. I loved it so much.  

"Valerie," feat. Amy Winehouse,Version (2007)

Amy had never met the Dap-Kings, even though they had been the band for all the songs that I had done on Back to Black. There was this really lovely day in Brooklyn where I took her to the studio to meet all the guys. The album was already out; there was a very good feeling about it [and] they obviously made something really special together. Amy loved the way the record sounded so much, she was so grateful. They loved her.

While we're all having this love-in in Bushwick, I was finishing my album Version and I said, "Maybe we could just cut a song for my record?" The whole theme of the record had sort of been taking more guitar indie bands like the Smiths, the Jam, the Kaiser Chiefs, and turning those into R&B or soul arrangements. I asked Amy if she knew any songs like that. She's like, "Yeah, they play this one song down at my local. It's called 'Valerie,'" and she played us all the Zutons' version. I didn't really hear it at first.

The first version we did was this very Curtis Mayfield kind of sweet soul. Part of me was just like, This is really good, but I feel like there's a hit version as well. I don't have that kind of crass thing where everything needs to be a hit, but…

Everybody was already packing up their instruments and I didn't know the guys that well yet, so it was kind of a pain in the ass to be like, "Hey, I know everybody just wants to go onto the f—ing bar and get a beer right now, but can we just do one more version where we speed it up a little?"  Everybody flips open their guitar cases and we do like two more takes, and that's the version on my album.

"Alligator" - Paul McCartney, NEW (2013)

We've done other things together, but I've only really [worked on] three songs on his album, NEW. "New" I just loved as soon as he sent me the demo, because as a McCartney fan, it gives you the same feeling as "We Can Work It Out"; it just has that amazing uplifting feel. That's just his genius. I love "Alligator" maybe a little more because it's more weird.

He definitely gives you a day to f— up and be an idiot because you're just so nervous to be in the studio with McCartney. By the second day it's like, okay, get your s together.

I remember running around just like, What sound can I find for Paul McCartney that every other amazing producer who ever recorded him [hasn't found already]? He was like, "Anybody can record a pristine acoustic guitar. Give me something with some characteristic that's iconic. That feels like someone just put the needle down on track one on an album." 

That's something I always try to remember: don't just make it sound like a guitar, make it sound like a record.

"Uptown Funk" feat. Bruno Mars, Uptown Special (2015)

My enjoyment of the song is now gauged by the people that I'm playing it for. I was playing at this party at Public Records [in Brooklyn] on Sunday. I knew that I wasn't going to play that song on that night; it wasn't right for that crowd or something. And then an hour into my set, the vibe is really good, and I was just like, f— it and I dropped it, and people went crazy.  

I'm a little extra critical sometimes on the more commercial songs, thinking nobody wants to hear this or this doesn't really have a place in this space. I think it's just a song that makes people stupidly happy, and that's cool. 

The lyrics [to "Uptown Funk"] came really quick. We had the jam: Bruno was on drums, I was playing bass, Jeff Bhasker was on keys, and then Phil Lawrence was there and we jammed for five hours. We just chopped up our favorite parts of the instrumental jam, and then just started writing lyrics almost like a cipher. Bruno had been playing the Trinidad James song ["All Gold Everything"] in his live sets and playing it over a sort of uptempo, funky James Brown, "Get Up Off That Thing" groove.

We were just throwing about lyrics, throwing a little bit of the cadence of the Trinidad James song. Then when Jeff Bhasker said, "This s—, that ice cold/That Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold." It was like a great rap line. Then everything started to elevate a little bit from there on up.

That first day, we had the whole first verse and it felt great. Every time we went back in the studio, a lot of the times it would feel labored and not as good as that first verse. So it really took a long time to get in. Sometimes we'd go in the studio for three days and then at the end of the whole session we realized, we actually only liked these four bars. 

So we kept building on it, and luckily Bruno didn't really let it die. Bruno was touring Unorthodox Jukebox; I was just flying around the country with a five string bass just to get the song done.

"Uptown Funk" still ended at Daptone…to do the horns last with Dave [Guy] and Neil [Sugarman], me. It's almost like you've always got to go through Daptone to finish something. 

Bruno came up with that horn line. He was like, "I know you're going to kill me because you're trying to get away from being the horn guy, but I have this horn line and I think it's kind of killer." He demoed it from whatever backstage room on tour and I was like, Okay, here we go.

"Shallow" - Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga, A Star Is Born Soundtrack (2018)

It's very rare that I write on a song that I don't have to produce as well. We wrote that song in the middle of sessions for [2016's] Joanne, and then Gaga produced the whole Star is Born soundtrack herself. I remember we all had some tingly feelings when we were writing it.

It wasn't meant to be a duet ever. Then Bradley wrote it into the film; it becomes the beginning of their love story. Bradley showed [me a rough cut] at his house, I remember just being like, he's taking this special song [and] made it put its hooks into you. This film, and the story, and the way this song is unfolding is so special.

Then also shout to Lukas Nelson, because that guitar that he came up with that opens the song was not in our demo, and that is such an iconic, memorable part of the song.

The film and the script was really powerful, and I think that me, [co-writers] Andrew [Wyatt], Anthony [Rossomando], Gaga were all in this sort of heartbreak place. We're all just going through our own dramas in the song. The juju was really good and a little spooky in the studio that night.

"Electricity" - Dua Lipa & Silk City feat. Diplo, Mark Ronson, Electricity (2018)

That song just always makes me happy. I don't have a lot of other songs [that sound] like that. I'm always psyched to play that in a set or to go see Diplo play it live.

When I came up DJing in the mid-'90s in New York, if you're a hip-hop DJ you had to be versed in dancehall, old R&B dance classics, and a little bit of house. So I knew 12 house records, but I love those records.

It came out of a fun jam, just me and Diplo — who I'd known probably at that point for 10, 15 years, but we never got in the studio together. He's just firing up drum s— and I'm just playing on this old tack piano that was in the studio I just moved into. But it also sounded quite housey. 

We came up with those chords and [singer/songwriter] Diana Gordon came over. I never met her before and she just started freestyling some melodies, and it was just so soulful instantly.

We'd moved the key a little bit lower for Dua — she has this amazing husky voice — but we still left Diana's demo vocal in. She's singing these mumble, non-word melodies that sound like a sample.

We had that old studio where we did Version and all the Amy demos. It has an old-school elevator that was sort of manual and it would always break down. There were people that were just too afraid, like Cathy Dennis — the  brilliant songwriter who wrote "Toxic" and "Can't Get You Out of My Head" — she would just always be like, "I'm taking the stairs." We were on the fifth floor and it was a steep, steep walk up. [Editor's note: The music video for "Electricity" features Ronson and Diplo stuck in an elevator. He notes that he's gotten stuck several times in real life.] 

"Nothing Breaks Like a Heart" feat. Miley Cyrus, Late Night Feelings (2019)

I was in L.A. working in Sound Factory [Studios], and I had seen Miley a couple years back sing "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" on the "SNL" 40th anniversary; I had never heard her perform with that stripped-down arrangement. I was just so in love with her voice and the tone. I remember hounding my manager, because usually somebody who knows somebody, but Miley Cyrus was completely unreachable and just in another stratosphere.

I was in the studio with [Dap-King] Tommy Brenneck; he's just such a wonderful player, such a soulful touch. We got this thing going, and then Ilsey [Juber] was saying, like, "What about all these things that break, but nothing breaks like a heart?" 

[I thought], You know what? I've been trying to hit this girl up for years and nothing ever happened, but let me just try it one more time. I sent it off to Miley, and I guess she was just in a really motivated part of life. She's like, "This is cool. Where are you guys? I'll be there Monday." She came down Monday to the studio, and then her and Illsey wrote the whole rest of the song. 

"Break Up Twice" - Lizzo, Special  (2022)

[I produced a few other songs on Special], but they didn't make the cut. There's one that I really love called "Are You Mad" that might hopefully see the light of day once.

We spent a lot of time together and I love working with her because she has a really eccentric/ avant garde music taste. Like, the Mars Volta is her favorite-ever band; she's a conservatoire flute player; then she has a strong Prince heritage because she spent time in Minneapolis and she's been to Paisley Park. 

The thing that I really love about her is, even at the status that she was at when we were working, there was never anything too silly or too left field to try. It's really freeing when you're with a big artist who isn't afraid to just f— around and jam and make some s— that you know might not be the thing. 

"Break Up Twice" was actually an instrumental that we had done at Diamond Mine with [Daptone family] Tommy [Brenneck], Leon [Michels], Victor [Axelrod] and Nick [Movshon]. I just played that, and it instantly spoke to her and she just started freestyling, adding the harmonies and the sax and the vocal arrangements. I just didn't quite know how versatile and talented that she was when we first went in the studio. I just remember constantly being impressed and amazed.

Barbie: The Album (2023)

I'm really proud of the Dom Fike song ["Hey Blondie"], the Sam Smith song ["Man I Am"], [Dua Lipa's] "Dance and Night," of course. Even the Billie [Eilish] song that we did the string arrangement for. I played the tiniest bit of synths on the Nicki [Minaj]i/Ice [Spice] song

I love this film so much and I did something I've never done before by executive producing and overseeing it. There's so many songs that I had nothing to do with creatively; sometimes I was just doing admin, hounding Tame Impala to send in a demo.

I'm really proud of "I'm Just Ken." Of course Ryan Gosling is a superstar in a different kind of way, but the fact that he's not some superstar pop artist, and the fact that that song has managed to do what it's done….Obviously it's so much to do with the film and his performance, but I'm really proud of that song. I was so inspired by the script. I just instantly had the idea for that line.

There was never anything in the script that said Ryan was going to sing a song. It was just something where Greta [Gerwig] and him really loved the demo, and she loved it enough to write it into the film, which was just so exciting. It was happening in a way that felt wonderful and organic, and to then get Josh Freese and Slash, and Wolf Van Halen to play on it and even bring it to even this next level of sonic fullness. 

On TikTok and Instagram, I've seen people singing it; [even] in Spanish, really intense, really earnest covers. We were never trying to write a parody song or anything that wasn't earnest, because there's nothing parody about the film. I guess the chords have a bit of heartbreak in them, a little melancholy, and Ryan's performance is really lovely.

Barbie score (2023)

We worked equally hard or harder [on the score]. It doesn't have quite the same shine because obviously it's not Billie Eilish, Lizzo, and Dua Lipa, but it's something Andrew [Wyatt] and I did. A piece called "You Failed Me" — that's during both Barbie and Ken's meltdown in the middle of the film — I'm quite proud of that. I really love the "Meeting Ruth" orchestral interpolation of the Billie tune as well.

I've contributed music to other films and little cues and things like that, but this is the first time that Andrew and I really did a whole movie from start to finish while also doing the soundtrack.

It's incredibly humbling, too, because when you make a song for someone's album, you're working. It's certainly the most important thing that's happening. In a film, it could be the second most important thing. You could sometimes say it's the third most important thing after dialogue and the sound effects. All that's programmed into your mind about hooks and things like that it's like, No, actually sometimes get the f— out of the way and just provide a lovely emotional texture for things to sit under things.

The thing that I guess is universal is you're reacting to an emotion. Especially if it's a film that you really feel emotionally partial to, you're watching this wonderful performance on screen and how could you not be inspired by that? We're so spoiled to have this as our first film where we're reacting to the emotional heart of this film, which is so rich.

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