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Whoa, Nelly! (Special Edition)

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Album Review

Nelly Furtado's Whoa, Nelly! is one of those albums that's designed to be a surprising, precocious debut — the kind of record that's meant to make a listener exclaim, well, "whoa nelly" upon the first spin. From that first play, it's evident that Furtado is indeed an audacious songwriter, not at all hesitant to bare her emotions, tackle winding melodies, and bend boundaries to the point that much of the record sounds like folk-pop tinged with bossa nova and backed by a production designed for TLC. Clearly, this is a musician with big, serious ambitions, a notion that is supported not only by her naked lyrics but especially by her singing. Furtado is a restless vocalist, skitting and scatting with abandon, spitting out rapid repetitions, bending notes, and frequently indulging in melismas. This, more than anything, makes her a bit of an acquired taste, since her relentless vocalizing can obscure hooks that are nevertheless there. Once you appreciate (or grow to understand) her quirks, Whoa, Nelly! unfolds as a rewarding, promising debut, albeit one with its flaws. True, most of those flaws arise from its naïveté: a tendency to push too hard, whether it's in piecing together genres in an attempt to create something original or lyrics that can sound a little sophomoric in their soul-searching. These don't arrive in isolated instances, either — they're wound into the songs themselves. You either choose to be annoyed by these quirks or become charmed by them, realizing it's a first album, and savoring the talent that's apparent on much of the album. Many of her blends of pop, folk, dance, and Latin are beguiling; she has a knack for strong pop hooks (particularly on "On the Radio," "Well, Well," and "Turn Off the Light"); her lyrical imagery can be evocative; she has a sly sense of humor; and, when she doesn't get carried away, she's an inventive, endearingly eccentric vocalist. These are the things that endure after that first slightly bewildering spin of Whoa, Nelly! and those are the things that make you wonder where she goes from here. [As it was released during the heyday of international variants, there have been plenty of editions of Whoa, Nelly containing extra tracks but the 2008 double-disc Deluxe Edition rounds up the great majority of these stray tracks - the songs that originally appeared on CD singles or bonus tracks in other markets. This is a nice bonus, but it's hard to quite call this a "deluxe edition" as the total number of bonus tracks is a paltry five, all presented on a second disc that seems to have plenty of space for other tunes. Nevertheless, as special editions of Whoah Nelly go, this contains the most bonus tunes and it's the one to get. ]

Customer Reviews

More original then her new releases

This is the Nelly that impressed me. It was a different sound, something that stood out. I think she has lost a lot of that with her new releases - they now sound like most every other production out there. With little variation in base tracks, backup sounds and melodies, there is a sound that is more about sales then artistry. I will treasure this release and hope that she will get back to what made her stand out in the fist place.

Good, But Not As Good

This album is a good album, but Nelly Furtado's latest album is SO much better!

Best of the Best

I personally love this album out of all of them. "Loose" was simply a way of getting Nelly's name more recognized than it was. What did you expect with working with Timbaland? I hope the answer was crazy beats. But this album shows why Furtado is an amazing lyricist and composer and song writer. This is truly her best album.


Born: December 2, 1978 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canad

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

When Nelly Furtado appeared with her neo-hippie, multiculti debut Whoa, Nelly! in 2001, a dance-diva makeover seemed like an impossibility, but the singer/songwriter revived and sustained her career with the sexually charged Loose in 2006, in the process consolidating her position as one of the most unpredictable artists of her decade. Furtado always proudly displayed her Portuguese heritage, a distinction that separated her from legions of emerging female singer/songwriters in the early days of...
Full Bio

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