Nelly Furtado's third release, Loose, is the rare pop CD that transcends differences in language, cultures and varying musical trends to become a bona fide worldwide sensation.
And though she can't say for sure why the album has such worldwide appeal, Furtado does have some thoughts on the matter.
"My music translates because it's simple," she says over the phone in a recent interview. "I'm just talking about simple things."
Furtado has enjoyed some serious success behind Loose since it was released in June 2006. The CD has now gone gold or platinum in some 30 countries, including such faraway lands as Russia, Romania and the Czech Republic.
The Canadian-born daughter of Portuguese
parents, Furtado, 28, emerged from Victoria, British Columbia, in 2000 to make a major impact on the pop scene with the release of her debut CD, Whoa, Nelly! The eclectic and playful disc, which touched on everything from hip-hop to electronica to pop and world beat, became a huge hit behind the singles "I'm Like a Bird" (which won a Grammy for best female pop vocal performance) and "Turn off the Light."
Furtado's follow-up album, Folklore (2003), didn't connect so emphatically. While it did better in other countries, in the United States, Folklore struggled to top 500,000 in sales. Those figures raised some serious questions about Furtado's staying power.
After creating a more relaxed, folk-pop album with Folklore, though, Furtado did a stylistic 180 on Loose. Largely influenced by hip-hop and electronic music, Loose is infectious and fun.
"Promiscuous," the lead single that vaulted the CD to the top of the charts, is a flirty duet between Furtado and Timbaland, set to a bouncy beat with a sugar-sweet synth-pop hook. The hip-hop/electronica vibe also flavors up-tempo songs like "Glow," "Wait For You" and "Do It." Furtado even mixes in some smooth R&B on "Showtime," pop-rock on "Maneater" and Latin pop on "Te Busque."
Whereas Folklore had its share of studio craft and nuance, Furtado and Timbaland, who produced Furtado's latest, went for a less polished and more spontaneous feel on Loose by mixing the songs largely as they were recorded.
"We kept in all the little conversational things that sound like mistakes," Furtado says. "My concept was, like, reality TV is so popular, so I thought maybe I would make a reality CD."
Furtado's trying to keep it real with her concerts, too.
"I never want to be one of those artists who sits on that stage and is too busy doing choreography to even acknowledge the crowd," she says. "I want to do call-and-response and get people to wave their hands up in the air and get them to jump up and down with me."
Nelly Furtado with Kenna and Saukrates
The Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Friday, June 15, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $42, 16-plus; visit ticketmaster.com.