Nelly Furtado Brings the Punk-Hop

Canadian singer conjures more pop hybrid sounds on "Loose"

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After a year and a half spent writing new songs, traveling the world to collaborate with Pharrell Williams, Coldplay's Chris Martin and producer Nellee Hooper (No Doubt, Madonna), Nelly Furtado is finally ready to release her third album, Loose, on May 23rd.

"It was a very indulgent experience," says the eclectic Canadian pop singer. "It was actually the most idyllic sort of album-making ever. It's sort of every artist's dream, where you're flown around the world, just kind of having a good time and making music."

In August, when it came time to lay down the tracks, Furtado turned to hip-hop talent Timbaland, who featured her on Missy Elliott's "Get UR Freak On" remix in 2001. When Interscope President Jimmy Iovine played Furtado some of the producer's latest tracks, her reaction was "Wow! It sound[ed] like he's listening to all the same stuff as me -- everything from System of a Down to Bloc Party and Death From Above 1979, and a lot of Coldplay, too." Within no time, says Furtado, "I was in Miami and having the time of my life."

Working in the evenings, the pair laid down ten of Loose's thirteen tracks, forging a new genre from their shared influences. "We call it 'punk-hop,'" she says of most of the album's sound. "We were thinking, 'Let's do modern Eurythmics -- You're Dave and I'm Annie. Let's make this modern, poppy, spooky music.' And we achieved that on some of the tracks."

The track "Maneaters," Furtado says, is "a 'couture pop' song, where it's in your face and very fashionable, stylistic and of-the-moment," while "No Hay Igual" takes its cues from reggaeton. "I didn't know what reggaeton was until I went to Miami and Pharrell's like, 'You're crazy!'" she confesses. "He played me a reggaeton song, and then I was like, 'Holy shit, it's great!'" She was inspired to write "No Hay Igual," in Spanish, nearly on the spot.

The album closer "All Good Things," which features Chris Martin, was actually a last-minute addition, after Furtado bumped into her old friend during August's MTV Movie Awards. "I was telling him what I was up to, and he's like, 'I love Timbaland. Can I come by?'" she recalls. "But [Tim's] like a big dude, and Chris was scared to sit down at the keyboard. I'm like, 'Chris, sit down. Let's make some music.' I'm always the instigator."

It was, in part, these spontaneous creative decisions that led Furtado to name the album Loose. "I left in all the sour notes; I left in all the giggling," she says. "It's good times."