And while the track at No. 22 may not motivate you to adopt an eternally positive outlook, it will get your hands waving and your butt shaking in time.
A year ago, I was going pretty crazy for Amerie’s gender-bending mixtape Because I Love It, which was anchored by the Tom Ze-sampling “Take Control.” The attendant album would go on to become a canary in the coalmine of sorts for the completely messed-up year suffered by the major labels, held back in “reworking” hell for months before being released in Japan, Europe, and pretty much anywhere that wasn’t America. (It’s still not out here yet; I finally gave in and purchased the album via Amazon UK in the fall.) In March–right around the time that the album’s Stateside release was being pushed back to “maybe this summer, we think”–Amerie released “Gotta Work,” which seemed to be her way of sending out a signal flare to anyone who was worried about how her album’s perpetual purgatory may have been affecting her. Over a Sam & Dave sample that’s twisted into a triumphant horn-bleat, Amerie leads a chorus of clones in some always-darkest-before-the-dawn lyrics that she claims came to her while she was making dinner one night. Her sign-off, “I do it because I love it,” yelled over a go-go drumbeat and punctuated by even more brass, seems to be a rebuke to her corporate bosses as much as it is an invitation to come along with her for the rest of her musical ride, wherever it may take her.