What Is 'Mark Ronson Vs. Kevin Parker' All About on 2017 Governors Ball Lineup?

James McCauley/REX/Shutterstock
Mark Ronson and Kevin Parker at Glastonbury Festival on June 26, 2016.

A day after the arrival of the Coachella lineup, Wednesday’s (Jan. 4) unveiling of the 2017 Governors Ball artists came with the usual hot takes and head-scratching. Tool’s top billing raised eyebrows, Lorde’s return to the festival fray was applauded, but a couple of lines under the radar flew a couple of festival A-listers in ambiguous fashion: “Mark Ronson vs. Kevin Parker.” What, exactly, do the (uptown) funk-inclined producer and Tame Impala frontman have cooking?

“Uptown Funk” -- released in November 2014 -- somehow remains inescapable after finally fading from the Billboard Hot 100, but the most prominent music Ronson created alongside Parker is relatively recent. Lady Gaga co-wrote “Perfect Illusion” with the pair (alongside BloodPop) and Ronson executive produced the whole album, in addition to working on several other Joanne tracks. Gaga, a New York native, spends a lot of time in the city and, hey, wouldn’t it be cool if she joined her friends at Gov Ball? Ronson and Parker -- especially Ronson -- have a massive rolodex of stars they could bring out for this set, and given their apparent space in Gaga’s inner-circle as of late, her name’s probably the most enticing, albeit still kind of a crap shoot. Gov Ball -- which takes place on the not-super-accessible Randall’s Island between the Bronx, Queens, and upper Manhattan -- is nothing near the celebrity hot spot Coachella is, and by June 2017, there’s a good chance Gaga will be off on her so-far-unannounced but almost certainly imminent Joanne world tour. 

But let’s get back to what we actually know: “Mark Ronson Vs. Kevin Parker” is billed at Governors Ball 2017. The “Vs.” nomenclature typically implies mash-ups and DJ culture, and in fact, Ronson and Parker have performed dueling DJ sets under this name at festivals before, like Glastonbury and Mexico City’s Corona Capital last year. They dropped in some of their own music (like Tame Impala’s “Elephant”) and some not-their-own but generally fitting music (like Daft Punk’s “One More Time”) for an uplifting, made-for-the-masses potpourri of what you’d expect from their respective palettes. A representative for Parker tells Billboard that the Gov Ball performance will be similar to their previous festival outings. Perhaps the only guest appearances will come via artists who are already at the festival. Or from laptops.

Even if Gaga or Bruno don’t emerge, the Ronson-Parker brain trust presents plenty of special guest options. Ronson isn’t a noted vocalist himself, so his solo albums have been vehicles built around collaboration. Parker himself joined Ronson on three psychedelic joyrides on 2015’s Uptown Special, the same album that produced “Uptown Funk.” Wu-Tang Clan is playing Gov Ball, and Ronson has done interesting work with a Wu-Tang member before. All this adds to the intrigue of a set with decidedly few rules. And when festival lineups are announced half a year in advance with many overlapping artists, we’re probably better off with a little confusion.