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In the fall of 2000, Vancouver native Nelly Furtado released her debut single, “I’m Like a Bird.” The dreamy pop track soared to the top of the charts, making Furtado an international success, achieving the kind of fame that has been reached only by a handful of Canadian pop singers.
It was almost impossible to not fall in love with Furtado and her sunshine track. The lyrics were inspiring and empowering and lifted listeners up to feel like they were floating through the notes. Much like Carly Rae Jepsen’s bubble gum goody “Call Me Maybe,” which wouldn’t hit radios for another 13 years, “I’m Like a Bird” was an instant hit that launched Furtado’s career, with the song played everywhere from fifth grade sleepovers to wedding receptions.
“I’m Like a Bird” was part of Furtado’s debut album, the aptly titled Whoa, Nelly!, and also featured the single “Turn Off the Light.” In 2003, Furtado released her second album Folklore, finding success with the disc in her native Canada and again showing off her skills as a writer with tracks like “Powerless (Say What You Want)” and “Try”, as well as her Portuguese crossover hit, “Forca.”
With the two albums, Furtado had become an indie pop princess, a softer Alanis with more depth and emotional maturity than any other Top 40 artists at the time.
Then she got loose.
Following the birth of her daughter, Furtado was inspired to do a complete 180 and worked with hitmaker Timbaland to produce 2006’s Loose, one of the most prolific pop albums of the 2000s.
Combining her experience of working with artists like Swollen Members, Jurassic 5, Paul Oakenfeld and Colombian singer Juanes during the late 1990s and early 2000s, Furtado took her greatest strength, her ability to transcend genres, and released a pop album that went number one in Canada and the US and scored her five JUNO Awards, including Album of the Year and Single of the Year. With the timelessness of tracks like “Promiscuous” and “Maneater,” Furtado could have easily released Loose in 2016 and easily taken the top spot once again.
Rather than jump on the success of Loose and drop and a copycat album that would have almost guaranteed Furtado skipping all the way to the bank, the singer continued to carve out her own path and again zig where most artists would have zagged. In 2009, she released the Spanish album Mi Plan, making her the first Canadian artist to take home a Latin Grammy by winning Best Female Pop Vocal Album.
It wasn’t until 2012, six years after Furtado’s previous English album, that she released The Spirit Indestructible, a largely underrated record that featured the singles “Parking Lot” and “Hoops (The Bigger The Better)”, which Furtado performed at the 2012 iHeartRadio MMVAs.
Even with the radio-friendly tracks and inventive musicality of the album, The Spirit Indestructible failed to reassert Furtado at the top of the music charts she has reigned over both as a pop and folk singer.
Now Furtado has announced her sixth studio album and first since 2012’s The Spirit Indestructible. The untitled album will arrive in November and hopefully mark the first time the singer has been able to recapture the chart position and radio dominance that she experienced with her earlier work.
Thankfully, Furtado has taken pity on us fans who have eagerly been awaiting new music from the versatile musician and has dropped a new track.
“Behind Your Back” won’t appear on the new disc, but instead acts as what Furtado describes as a “palate cleanse…an appetizer.”
Surrounded by my 90's heroes had me nostalgic. Behind Your Back is a special that won't b on my LP. It's a palette cleanse…an appetizer.
— Nelly Furtado (@NellyFurtado) July 13, 2016
Furtado says the new track is inspired by her ‘90s heroes’, heroes like Missy Elliott, who Furtado honoured recently at the VH1 Hip Hop Honor Awards.
— Nelly Furtado (@NellyFurtado) July 12, 2016
“Behind Your Back” doesn’t sound like anything on the radio right now and that’s exactly why we can’t wait for the full album. What has always made Furtado’s music so special is that it can stand on its own in a market saturated with pop clones and tracks that could be sung by any “insert one-hit-wonder artist here” performer.
Furtado has been quietly working in the studio, uploading a cover of Calvin Harris “Feel So Close” earlier this summer in June and appearing on Dev Hynes’ new album Freetown Sound.
Nelly has yet to release a date, album title or tracklisting for what will be her sixth studio album, but one thing we do know is that whenever the new collection of songs does drop, it will have been worth the wait.