'The charts should reflect the zeitgeist': Mark Ronson talks modern hitmaking

'The charts should reflect the zeitgeist': Mark Ronson talks modern hitmaking

Mark Ronson has told Music Week that No.1s “are not the reason I make music”.

The songwriter and producer has won a Grammy, an Oscar and a Golden Globe for co-writing Shallow, which was performed by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper in A Star Is Born.

Ronson stars on the cover of the latest edition of Music Week, out now, and in an extensive interview, reveals all about new album Late Night Feelings (June 21), which features Miley Cyrus, Camila Cabello, Alicia Keys, Lykke Li and more.

Shallow has 842,506 sales so far according the Official Charts Company, a total dwarfed by Uptown Funk, the biggest single from Ronson’s last album, 2015’s Uptown Special. Written with Bruno Mars, the track has won a BRIT, two Grammys and 3,137,409 sales. The album has117,966.

“What I can do is make the music that I make and be smart about it and weight it as much as I can to make sure that it has a good shot,” Ronson  told Music Week. “But am I gonna throw Future or Cardi B on [a song] just for the sake of a bunch of rap playlists if it doesn’t feel right for the song? Probably not.”

The charts should reflect what kids listen to

Mark Ronson

Ronson acknowledged that Late Night Feelings will stand apart from much of the most popular music on streaming platforms. Its lead single, Nothing Breaks Like A Heart, with Miley Cyrus, has sold 547,498 copies so far. The title-track features Lykke Li and was released last week.

“It’s cool that local hip-hop artists are dominating the charts, especially in the UK and France,” he said. “The charts should reflect what kids listen to, what the zeitgeist is, and it’s true, that [rap] is the dominant thing. For a long time, rap was the dominant cultural force but maybe wasn’t fully reflected in the charts because the way people listened to it wasn’t strictly sales-based.

Ronson summed up the lay of the land in the streaming landscape. “Now, artists have a cool thing where you can be like Swae Lee or Ariana Grande, or you can have a Shallow that’s such a cultural moment, or you can just make a great song and try to do all the other things to strong-proof it so you can get in the Top 5,” he said.

The producer added that he’s “never made conventional music,” citing Amy Winehouse singles Rehab and Valerie, neither of which reached No.1.

“As long as I make music and everybody goes, ‘Man, that’s a great record,’ that’s all I care about,” he said. “Of course it’s a thrill when you get a No.1, like with Uptown Funk, it’s fun to read about that but it’s not why you make the music.”

Columbia president Ferdy Unger-Hamilton said: “I’d struggle to think of anyone to compare him to. He’s doing his thing and he’s become the exception that proves the rule.”

Unger-Hamilton added: “Mark really understands songs and how to bring out the best in artists, and he’s prepared to make tough creative choices for the good of the music. He feels very certain and specific about what or who is right for his record in terms of collaborations. He’s very ego-free, too.”

Subscribers can read the full Mark Ronson interview, with contributions from Unger-Hamilton and Full Stop Management’s Brandon Creed, online here.

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