What do DJ Tiesto, Nas and Mike Angelakos of Passion Pit have in common?
Artistes of different genres, but all featured on one album – that is, the upcoming fifth studio release and fourth English offering by Nelly Furtado titled The Spirit Indestructible, due out for release sometime in the middle of September 2012.
No stranger to music listeners worldwide, Nelly Furtado first burst into the scene in 2000 with her debut Whoa, Nelly!, and caused a stir with her unique vocals and a blend of pop, folk and trip-hop that the commercial music world was then unaware of, but ready to embrace with open arms. (And then there was also the pretty bad pun of her feeling like a bird, which in some local context, refers to a male’s reproductive organ.)
With Folklore, her second offering, it did struggle to have songs played like sh*t on the radio, though it did tune out one of my all-time favourite songs of hers, titled Try; not forgetting the 2004 European Football Championship anthem Força.
Then out sprung Loose, her most commercially successful album to-date, with the aid of a producer who could seemingly turn stone to gold, and who goes by the name of Timbaland. Maneater was a slick dancefloor introduction to the new dance-ready sounds of Furtado, and the world welcomed her back once again.
And so did Singapore, when she opened with the same number during her first ever Asian stopover, for an invite-only showcase to promote her upcoming release.
One of the issues with this being a one-artiste private showcase was the punctuality of the starting time. With the tight schedule Nelly Furtado was likely to have and be engaged with to make her trip fruitful, it is understandable that she would be packed with events after events. As such, a better time management could have been nicely handled rather than starting two hours after the stated time of event.
The other I would like to highlight was the purpose of the concertgoers. In a scenario like this of a showcase, with suspicious influx volume of people filed under media, one tends to wonder if the reason for concert-going is no longer entirely based on the music itself and the experience of live surround sounds; instead, in this era we’re living in, it is more of the friends, drinks, socializing, and having a good time, your and our time – people engaging in conversations about their lives, with the occasional music love declarations; the sipping of the drinks and the prowl and lookout for the people nearby. I was standing next to the temporary set-up bar, and a woman who was willing to threaten her own concert-going experience over the lack of service of a cup of beer, when the counter was closed for exclusivity.
Disregarding all those, Nelly Furtado was energetic and quite a performer; sadly, most of the crowd wasn’t. She was clearly rubbing off some of the positivity that she had experienced while recording this album, as she was quoted once saying, “I was in a great headspace, feeling refreshed and ready to really deliver in English again.”
She further explained, “I experienced real joy for the first time, communal joy. Obviously giving birth was joyful, personally. But when I went to Africa, I really experienced people celebrating and being joyful together for the first time. It really reinforced my belief in humanity. It reminded me who I am. That’s why the album is so childlike. So many things have happened that have inspired me in a lot of ways to believe in humanity. It’s an ode to the spirit which resides in all of us and triumphs over anything, it is inspired by people I have met, and special moments in history that I have read about.”
She will definitely need more of that, as the English follow-up to a huge commercial success is often hard and tough, and sees artistes struggling to meet record label management’s expectations and personal self’s, but more so from external pressures. Seems like she could be on the right path to spiritual advancement.
Performing almost all of her familiar and famous tunes, it made one – for that matter, me – wonder if I am a closeted Nelly Furtado fan. From chart-topping Say It Right to a medley of her guest-featured tracks to Turn Off The Lights, it filled the night up with pop nostalgia, even though the songs were merely about or less than a decade old, and not of an era of the 1960s, or the likes of. Some obvious omissions from her setlist includes Promiscuous (probably due to a lack of guest appearance), the Chris Martin-written All Good Things (Come To An End), and Try, but it was overall more than fine, and definitely not a show letdown. It could have been longer, as her career definitely deserved more than just the less-than-an-hour runtime.
A major surprise for some will be the influences to her new album, ranging from – indie fans pay attention – Janelle Monáe, The xx to Florence + The Machine. It sounds like Furtado is in the know of what is popular in the blogosphere world of music, and has been doing her own fair bit of research.
On the state of the music world today, she said during the press conference held earlier, which she was very friendly and conversational at: “It’s a little daunting, there’s definitely a lot of music out. I think, on one hand it’s incredible, because it’s a constant source of inspiration – you can find any type of music you want. It’s just like a playground of musical style – you can find anything you want online, and doing the Spanish album was good for me cause it reminded me that there is a whole world of music outside of North American pop, and I never felt like I really identified completely with North American pop music; I always felt like more of an international artiste. I had collaborated with everybody from Missy Elliott, to the other day I did a song with Andrea Bocelli in Portuguese, so I’m always doing different things. It’s a good time for an artiste like me, cause 10 years ago, the music scene wasn’t so open, but now I feel like I fit in more now than I did in 2000. Challenging will be that in any business, not just an entertainer, there’s no limit to online marketing, because it’s free and you can do it 24 hours a day. So you can always be delivering more content or engaging more in social media – there’s no limit. So it’s a matter of balancing your time and prioritizing how you want to market yourself.”
Nelly Furtado’s The Spirit Indestructible will be out in stores next month. To wrap this story up, here’s an interesting pointer Furtado also said in the press conference about the concept of ownership of a song:
“A song is only your song the moment you write the song, and the moment even one person listens it, it’s not really your song anymore – it’s open for interpretation, and that’s what I like about music. It’s a very free art form.”