Showing posts with label nelly furtado. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nelly furtado. Show all posts

Friday, April 28, 2017

video review: 'the ride' by nelly furtado

There's a part of me that feels I put a bit too much effort into this review... but there's also a part of me that thinks it's one of my better ones because I encapsulated so much history and context that turned out quite well. Huh.

Well, next up is Gorillaz, and I'm sure that will be a fun ride, so stay tuned!

album review: 'the ride' by nelly furtado

I'm a little amazed that there were requests to cover this on Patreon - but in a bizarre way, I'm kind of glad I am. And to explain why, I need to explain my complicated relationship with this Canadian pop singer-songwriter, so storytime!

See, back in the early 2000s, the whole prefabricated and super-polished female pop star image was fading out of fashion, but it's not like this style of pop artist was going away, simply just synthesized into a new format. Thus, partially driven by the still-vibrant adult-alternative scene in the 90s, our crop of female pop stars began picking up a little more organic texture and unique personality and detail. It's how Pink became a firebrand, it's how Avril Lavigne broke out of pop punk, it's how Kelly Clarkson earned critical acclaim by going harder, and into all this, barely into her twenties with two fellow Canadian producers, came Nelly Furtado with her debut Whoa, Nelly.

And I hated it. Part of it was overexposure, I'll admit that, given how much Canadian radio will overplay Canadian talent, but for Nelly Furtado it was even worse. I didn't like her voice, her production grated on my nerves, and I despised her artistic persona. See, despite the slightly more earthy style of writing and presentation, it wasn't like the pop polish wasn't there, and Nelly Furtado's quasi-bohemian debut didn't overshadow some really annoying lyrical shortcomings, it felt so phony to me! Now I imagine this makes me sound like Steve Albini talking about Alanis Morrissette or Liz Phair - look it up - but in retrospect it was a more complicated issue: it was a debut that had a distinctive tone and style but Nelly Furtado wasn't refined enough as a performer to fully deliver. That changed on her second album Folklore was a fair bit better... and did precisely nothing in the U.S.. And so, along with so many of her contemporaries in the mid-to-late 2000s, Nelly Furtado decided to 'sell out' - which isn't accurate because she was always part of that system but it's not like the mainstream public understood that - and she hooked up with Timbaland for her third album Loose - and it was the best possible move. Sure, she wasn't convincing in 2000, but six years later with some real stage presence and charisma she released killer singles like 'Maneater', 'Promiscuous', 'Say It Right', and especially the teamup with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake that stands as one of the most defiantly arrogant and kickass mainstream songs of the decade. For two years, it looked like Nelly Furtado had it all figured out...

And then it all fell apart - and believe it or not, I don't really blame Nelly Furtado for this. Sure, probably not the best choice to release an entirely Spanish language album in 2009 rather than perpetuate her momentum, but mainstream pop was shifting to the much more synthetic club boom, and adult alternative was dying a slow death on the charts. Sure, she tried for a comeback in 2012 but by then pop had passed her by, and bad promotion from her label didn't help matters. And so Nelly Furtado did something that took me by surprise but also seemed natural: she went independent, took some time off, and met up with acclaimed indie producer John Congleton through a connection to St. Vincent. And yeah, that gave me a lot of hope going into this project: free of label constraints and old enough to refine her songwriting where she doesn't have to please the mainstream, this could be a new chapter for Nelly Furtado, especially if she remembers the grooves that made her mid-period work so potent. So, where does The Ride take us?