This debut comes from a twenty-one-year-old first-generation Canadian whose restless ears never stray too far from her Portuguese roots. Whoa, Nelly! is spastic like high-impact hip-hop, melodically durable like big-time pop and soulfully, intelligently, sensuously international. It jumps on Portuguese and Brazilian styles not as exotic refinements but as cool ways to express yourself in everyday tunes. "Turn Off the Light" is a reggae-directed rock-blues tune done with towering confidence; the awesome "Hey, Man!" is an elaborate riff that's like TLC high on Philip Glass; "I'm Like a Bird" is a sad love song that flies off into pop gorgeousness. "You liked me until you heard my shit on the radio," Furtado begins in ". . . On the Radio." But before you can quite digest that dramatic situation, Furtado is already off to the song's chorus, a heavy-duty year-2000 cha-cha in which she wails about the memory of sweeter times. Next track, she's refusing to be someone's "Baby Girl" within a groove that would seem equally right for a New York or Cairo club. Whoa, Nelly! is a wild-ass pop go-go, filled with songs that pursue adventure yet could still make the hit parades.
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