Amerie: "1 Thing"


By Chet Betz | 6 July 2005

Okay, so this song’s everywhere, everyone has heard it and danced to it and formed an opinion on it while dancing to it and then drank to it and lost their dancing opinion while forming their drinking opinion, but all those kinds of opinions and all those people have just one thing to say about “1 Thing,” and they’re choiring, “This jam’s hot!” So why write about it now? Because I’m going to play the contrarian? Hell no, I love every little snare hit of this song. See, I’m hoping that writing about it will help me get over it a bit. These days I can’t shake swirling Amerie legs out of my mind.

First off, this Thing may have the best “beat” to come out in 2005, and it’s a R&B single. I repeat, R&B. Madlib, wake the fuck up. The track’s got about as much “blues” in it as Junior Senior, but the rhythm, oh sweet Parliament, the rhythm. Using “Oh, Calcutta” by The Meters as his source material, producer Rich Harrison shows his understanding of a beat built on drums, and the drum track here is incredible, rolling over every piece of the kit to unleash all the funk, rock and soul. A guitar blurt goes back and forth like car horns conversing across the lot from each other, and the song’s set. Harrison knows not to screw too much with such a fantastic foundation, but he still finds spots for deft key kisses and an extended fill, and the subtle string washes that he introduces near the end make for the perfect ellipsis.

There’s nothing particularly extraordinary about Amerie’s vocal performance except for its cartwheeling energy and how expertly it weaves and bobs through the song’s ebullient percussion… so, er, I guess it could qualify as “extraordinary,” really. Another testament to my infatuation with this song: practically half of Amerie’s singing consists of diva-scat sounds like “na-na-na-na-na” and “oh-uhwhoa-uh-oh-oh,” and I like it. When Amerie’s saying actual words, “1 thing” gets repeated ad infinitum, but I want to believe that when Amerie drops lines like “hear voices I don’t want to understand” and “this 1 thing my soul may be feeling,” she’s aiming at something a bit more than endorsing relationship games of saying and doing the “right” things.

It’s true, I don’t want to see Hitch. But when I listen to this track, I usually start by throwing reservations to the wind. For its listeners this song embodies its topic; it only takes one listen to fall for “1 Thing.”