Nelly Furtado reinvents herself
Our sweet little ol’ Nelly Furtado has gone all Christina Aguilera on us with her racy new album titled Loose.
It turns out Nelly Furtado is like a bird in one way. As she sat down to talk with The Toronto Sun yesterday, she let out a bird-like trill that comes from the back of her throat. Is she calling the cops?
“It’s a vocal warmup I do when I’m about to talk,” she says with an embarrassed laugh. “It’s become a bit of a joke now, I do it so unconsciously.”
Otherwise these days, she’s less like a bird and more like (pick your pop diva) Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, etc., with a beat-heavy album called Loose, laid down by producer Timbaland (Missy Elliott, Justin Timberlake), and a “sexed-up” video called Promiscuous. (There’s another one called Maneater that’s already number two in Britain).
The audience for Sunday’s MuchMusic Video Awards got to see Furtado and Timbaland perform Promiscuous, their second live national TV appearance in a week, including last Tuesday’s episode of Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance.
“We’re getting closer doing all these TV performances,” Furtado says. “Tim’s a really fun guy and his real world’s the studio. But he enjoyed the MuchMusic thing because he really comes alive in front of a crowd in a show environment.”
And they also got to see the kind of new friends she’s making lately. In one newspaper photo she and Paris Hilton are laughing about something on the red carpet.
What do you talk about with Paris Hilton? Her new album, it turns out.
“I met her in Miami last summer. She was recording her album at the Hit Factory (the studio where Furtado recorded Loose), and I’m friends with Scott Storch, who produced it. She’s actually sweet. I’m looking forward to her album.”
Loose … Promiscuous … Maneater … hanging out with decency offenders like Paris … is this any way for the mother of a three-year-old girl to act? (Her daughter Nevis is named after a Caribbean island. The father, her band’s ex-DJ Jasper Gahunia is a writer/producer for K-OS these days. “We’ll be in each other’s lives forever, we made our beautiful daughter together,” Furtado says.)
“I think if you compare it to Christina Aquilera’s Dirrty, my video is actually a bit prudish. I’m not surprised people like it because it was so fun to shoot. But being a mother I don’t have time to go to clubs, so I put fake club scenes in my videos to make it look like I’m getting out more,” she says with a giggle.
“But I’m taking ‘yummy mummy’ to a whole new level. Angelina Jolie is an icon for me. It’s about dimensions, about not being just one thing, not being typecast. I can be smart and sexy and funny and I can be all those things at the same time.
“Today, I’m wearing tight pants and high heels. I’m a mother, I’ve changed, I’ve got more curves and I’ve got a right to be sexy. It’s my feminine right. For a long time I’ve been struggling with my inner tough chick and now I can let her out.
“Although,” she adds, “you can still see my softer side on some of these songs.” Case in point, the plaintive Why Do All Good Things Come To An End, with a chorus riffed by Coldplay’s Chris Martin.
“It was totally organic and unplanned; no publicists were called,” she says. “I bumped into him at the MTV Awards and he’s like ‘Wow, Timbaland! I wanna see him work!” Meanwhile, Tim adored the latest Coldplay album and blasted it in the studio. The two of them were like kids in a candy store for real and I kind of had to shove a guitar in Chris’s hand to get them to stop giggling and make music.”
This evolution hasn’t been received with 100% approval by her fans, some of whom have registered online their displeasure over the change in the waifish artist who burst onto the scene in 2001 with the album Whoa, Nelly! and the folk-poppy hit I’m Like A Bird.
“They never like all of what you do,” she says philosophically. “I mean, it’s great that people stay up night thinking about me, but I wish they’d read a book or something. I really think if they love you or hate you it’s good. Apathy is bad.”
In between Whoa, Nelly! and Loose, there was another album, Folklore, in which she recorded Portuguese folk tunes from her native Azores. The album sold poorly here, but sold more than two million in Europe, where the song Forca became the theme song for the 2004 Euro Cup.
“Portugal went all the way to the final with Greece, and we sang it at the final. It was a great experience and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
On Loose, however, there are no songs in Portuguese, but two in Spanish (one of which, No Hay Igual was named the album’s most download-worthy song by Entertainment Weekly). As the World Cup unfolds, can she still be the darling of Portuguese soccer, recording in Spanish?
“The funny part is my cousins in Portugal have told me they prefer me singing in Spanish because my Portuguese isn’t very good,” she says. But once an Azorean, always an Azorean.
On the World Cup front “it’s Portugal and then Brazil. The cool thing about Portugal and Brazil is if Portugal gets knocked out, they’ll all be cheering for Brazil. And if Portugal and Brazil ever met in a final, it would be all love.”
NELLY FURTADO MINI BIO
BORN: Dec. 2, 1978 in Victoria, B.C. A first-generation Canadian and one of three children to working-class Azorean-Portuguese parents (from Sao Miguel Island).
MIDDLE NAME: Kim
FAMILY: In 2003, gave birth to daughter Nevis (named for the Caribbean island, Nevis, on which she was conceived), on Sept. 20, 2003 in Toronto.
FIRST BIG HIT: Furtado came to fame in 2000 with the release of her debut album Whoa, Nelly!, which featured the Grammy Award-winning single I’m Like A Bird and Turn Off The Light.
INSTRUMENTS: She plays the guitar, keyboard, ukulele and trombone.
Nelly Furtado reinvents herself