We’ll just let you stare at that picture for a bit….
I read this really interesting interpretation of Amerie‘s hopelessly mismanaged career yesterday, where a blogger noted that the singer’s popularity was dwarfed not only by her output of forgettable albums, but also “the fact that Beyonce kinda-sorta stole homegirl’s thunder when she basically started making Amerie-like cuts of her own probably didn’t help much.” When you think historically, it’s kind of true. The kind of the bombastic, ‘throw every instrument into the mix’ insanity that defines current holler-ers like Xtina (‘Ain’t No Other Man’) and Beyonce (‘Crazy In Love’) really finds it roots in what remains, at least at the point of writing, a one hit wonder.
Amerie Mi Marie Rogers looks so good because she’s an example of when eugenics fail and culturally opposed forces come together to create something incredibly hot. With Korean and African-American blood, the little known ability to play the flute and a reputation as a dominating songwriter, Amerie’s actually recorded four albums, which to date have really all been defined by this song. ‘1 Thing’ has more than one thing going for it. It’s got a loop from a 1970s TV show, re-imagined by freak-funk band the Meters, turned upside down by Amerie and producer Rich Hudson. Listening to this song sounds like a revelation because it is. Every guitar chord is hit on the downbeat while the drum beats and percussion seems to in reverse. Over the top of all of it you have Amerie’s stunning soprano, which makes full use of the space afforded by sparse harmonic instrumentation. Last night somebody asked me why people always feel it necessary to justify musical tastes based on theoretical concepts. And it’s true, I could well just tell you that this song is dope and I dig it, but that wouldn’t really explain why it became as big as it did. This is no ‘Jizz In My Pants’, people.
It’s now almost ten years since ‘1 Thing’ dropped, and you can hear the influences all over contemporary hip hop and R&B. It’s dead on the money to say that Beyonce pilfered alot of these sounds for her BDay record, but she’s not the only one. You can hear upbeat, go-go style trumpets in T.I’s ‘Hurt’, Kanye’s ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ and many more. Of course, Amerie was indebted to a genre far older than her, but she is pretty much solely responsible for bringing it to the mainstream table. Legend goes that execs at Columbia records told Amerie to make the song ‘bigger’ and sent her (and Hudson) back to the drawing board five times, before they got fed up and leaked it themselves to the radio. And guess who had her eye on the track? None other than Ms Jennifer Lopez, who apparently was less than impressed that another foreign hybridised honey was stealing her limelight. I just imagined this song done by J/Lo. I just pictured Marc Antony trying to sexy-dance to it. Sometimes even the biggest companies in the world make mistakes.
Amerie – ‘1 Thing’