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Not Fade Away 2005: 1 Thing, by Amerie

Memories just keep ringin' bells/ Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

Or the thrill of a black planet, part 53,785 (at least). By the middle of the noughties pop music was - Damon Albarn, Xenomania and a few Scandinavians (more of whom later in this place) aside - black urban music. Pop was ruled by Timabland, the Neptunes and, in 2005, by the third great American R&B producer of the noughties, Rich Harrison.

Harrison may not be much known beyond those who scour record credits but his CV is at least the equal of his more famous competitors. His work on Crazy in Love helped turn Beyonce from a huge star into a global mega-star, for a start. And in 2005 he even helped Jennifer Lopez make a genuinely fine record -and a Number One - with Get Right (though there was only so much he could do with J-Lo's vocals).

But his greatest calling card may be Amerie's 1 Thing (says me, anyway). Stripped-back and percussion-heavy, it's a rush of a record. Harrison sampled a short drum and guitar breakdown from New Orleans funk band The Meters and constructing the whole track around that, building the vocals up in layers and then sweetening the sound now and then with submerged swelling strings. It's the freshness of the thing that appeals. At a time when even the best rock bands - The White Stripes spring to mind - can sound retro in their reverence for rock's glorious past, R&B was borrowing from yesterday to kickstart something that sounded contemporary and new.

1 Thing is all about sound and texture. Part of that comes from Amerie herself of course. The offspring of a South Korean mum and an African-American dad, Amerie Mi Marie Rogers should be better known than she is. She's worked with good producers and recorded thrilling pop songs (Take Control and Gotta Work spring to mind, though I have a particular soft spot for Crush, still my favourite attempt at making a 1980s-sounding record in the 21st century - and in a parallel world one that would have been a hit for, say, Belinda Carlisle or Paula Abdul).

The video for 1 Thing inevitably exploited her looks and long legs, but her voice is warm and energised. Writing in the Guardian Alex Macpherson once said of her: "It would be no exaggeration to call Amerie one of the greatest singers in pop music. Her vocal performances are extraordinary: she catches the fleeting thrills and momentary rushes of intensity that permeate otherwise mundane days, and stretches those feelings out across four-minute songs without ever letting up. Every word is delivered as if she is utterly consumed in the moment; the result is heady and intoxicating."

Hmm, actually, I think it would actually be something of an exaggeration, but even so she remains a hugely underappreciated artist. But not by Harrison here.

Other Contenders

Galvanise, The Chemical Brothers

I Need Some Fine Wine and You, You Need to Be Nicer, The Cardigans

Gold Digger, Kanye West

My Doorbell, The White Stripes

Lose Control, Missy Elliott

Dare, Gorillaz

Crazy, Gnarls Barkly

Biology, Girls Aloud

Get Right, Jennifer Lopez

NME Single of the Year: Hounds of Love, The Futureheads

Festive 50 Winner (John Peel died in October 2004 and this year's chart was presented by Huw Stephens and Rob Da Bank): Grumpy Old Men, Jegsy Dodd & The Original Sinners

And the best-selling single of 2005: 2006 Crazy, Gnarls Barkly

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