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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Amerie, 1 Thing - Meters, Oh Calcutta 

I am a sucker for a good beat. Give me a good beat and I'm happy, often without caring much about what the lyrics are saying. Not that I've rushed out to buy my own copy of "Erotic City," but I'd gladly take an instrumental.

So some time ago I heard a pop song on the radio (probably on KIIS-FM), but never got around to figuring out who sang it. Tonight, when my family was watching the credits of the movie "Hitch," I heard the song again. Seeing my opportunity, I asked my daughter, "Who sings that song?"

She didn't know.

Enter amazon.com, and a search for the words "Hitch soundtrack." After landing on the appropriate page, I used the extremely famous 30 second song samples to find the appropriate song. On the first track, I hit the jackpot.

So who is Amerie? And what is the 1 thing? Let's start with the bio from her website:

In 2002 an Army brat and aspiring singer exploded on the charts with a harmonious, innovative debut album entitled All I Have. Girlish, fierce, sexy and sweet, All I Have spawned the smash "Why Don't We Fall In Love" (produced by a then under-the-radar Rich Harrison) and let it be known that the new breed of hip hop/soul's chief practitioner was a 22-year-old, DC beauty named Amerie....

When asked to define her powerhouse creative partnership with Rich Harrison--they met in 2000 through a mutual industry friend--Amerie replies, "We just fill in each other's blanks and have this great chemistry in the studio. We have very similar visions as to what we think is hot and what we'd like to hear."

That fruitful fission is nowhere more apparent than on "1 Thing," her first single, which takes the funky grooves of DC go-go to breathtaking new heights. But this isn't anything new for these two: "We had go-go elements on the first album, on a record called 'Need You Tonight,' which we recorded five years ago," says Amerie. "The radio stations in DC were playing it like crazy before the first album was even finished! We wanted to revisit that DC sound because it's something we knew people outside of the DC area weren't totally familiar with. Honestly, I think what we've come up with on '1 Thing' is unlike anything else out there."...

As for the lyrics, Amerie's web site doesn't print them. But I found the chorus elsewhere:

It’s this 1 thing that’s got me trippin
It’s this 1 thing that’s got me trippin (you did)
This 1 thing my soul may be feeling
It’s this 1 thing you did oh oh
It’s this 1 thing that caught me slippin
It’s this 1 thing I want to admit it (you did)
This 1 thing and I was so with it
It’s this 1 thing you did oh oh

Young love is kewl. And others agree, whilst citing the producer's pedigree:

"1 Thing" is a truely amazing creation from Amerie, and the producer that brought us Beyonce's "Crazy In Love".

All Music Guide opines:

Between late 2002 and early 2005, Amerie's presence faded, while Harrison's became impossible to ignore....Harrison's work on Beyoncé's "Crazy in Love," Destiny's Child's "Soldier," and Jennifer Lopez's "Get Right" made him one of the most talked-about producers around, so the time became right for Amerie to hit back. Genius lead single "1 Thing," like "Crazy in Love," swings on a kinetic drum loop, this time courtesy of the Meters. It's just as exciting, flailing all over the place with unbound joy, and it's equally deserving of summertime omnipresence. Key point for sticklers with strict authenticity principles: in addition to knocking the beat out of the park with an ecstatic vocal turn, Amerie gets a songwriting credit.

Well, since I'm the music boy, let's check out The Meters:

Yesterday, my wife bought the song "1 Thing" by Amerie....Producer Rich Harrison constructed the entire track from almost nothing but two drum-and-guitar loops and Amerie's vocals. And it's awesome.

That's because he picked one of the best possible sources: the huge, slamming drum break is a three-second slice from New Orleans funk legends the Meters (now known, with only half the original musicians, as the Funky Meters). It features Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste on drums and Leo Neocentelli on guitar, and you can find it around 1:41 of their version of "Oh, Calcutta!" (yes, from the infamous stage musical) on the Look-Ka Py Py album.

Now, that could have been enough on its own, but the Harrison does a brilliant job of chopping up and recombining a couple of those Meters samples with bongos, a bit of keyboard wash, and fantastic high-range singing from Amerie, as well as her "whoah-oh-wa-oh" background vocals. (The rap by Eve is good too.) It's not so much a song as a series of greasy, impeccably assembled, dance-inducing hunks of groove that you can't get out of your head—and don't want to.

The original Meters album is here. The 30 second song sample is here (and no, the music at 1:41 isn't included).

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

1 thing's got me trippin, too!
Danged song's been going through my head all morning. This is worse than the whole "Dead or Alive" thingie.
i lked amerie more before she decided to strip tease for attention...
I wouldn't know. Whenever I turn on any of the MTV family of channels, they're showing bad reality rather than videos.

Here's to hoping that Della Reese doesn't follow in the trend.
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