After three albums in English, Grammy Award Winning Canadian-Portuguese Superstar Nelly Furtado has achieved one of her dreams by producing an album entirely in Spanish. Not that she hadn’t sung in Spanish before; of note are past collaborations with artists such as Juanes, Wisin & Yandel and Calle 13. I personally loved her Spanish song “No Hay Igual,” from her album Loose.
The time seems ripe for an entire album in Spanish; Nelly has been in the music business for a little over 10 years now, and has produced three acclaimed English albums: Whoa, Nelly, Folklore, and Loose. The last album counted for 10 million of the 18 million albums she has sold up to now.
Released on September 15, 2009, the new album features the same mix of sounds, genres and vocal styles Nelly is known to experiment with. The album also includes collaborations with Alejandro Fernández, Josh Groban, Juan Luis Guerra, Julieta Venegas, La Mala Rodríguez, Buika, and Alex Cuba. It was extremely well received, debuting at number 1 on the Billboard Latin Albums chart.
“I got so much joy out of recording this Spanish album; debuting at #1 is a dream come true,” says Nelly Furtado, who doesn’t consider Mi Plan a Latin album. Rather, she describes it as “music in Spanish for the world”. The album is described as a collection of songs full of rhythm, feeling and sensations aimed to hit the heart and soul of her audience, despite language.
The first single released from the album, “Manos al aire” (Hands in the air), is already at the top of many charts. Actually, it started at the top of many charts. Released at the end of August, it was the number one single in Central America for its first two weeks, number two in Germany, number three in the US and in Puerto Rico, was in the top five in Italy and Switzerland and was in the top 10 in Latin America and Spain. And this, despite the fact that the song is in Spanish and that, in many of the countries mentioned above, Spanish isn’t the native language.
Don’t try convincing me that enough Spanish-speaking people live in Germany to explain it become number one there!
And that’s not it: the accompanying video reached the top 10 within two weeks of its release on iTunes’ favorite videos in the US. You can check it out on YouTube. (This video has English subtitles for those of you who have yet to brush up on your Spanish.)
Guess what? That’s not it, either! Nelly Furtado has also made history by being the first North American artist reaching number one on Billboard’s Hot Latin Song Chart with a song that was originally written in Spanish, and not a translated version of an English song.
Pretty intense year for Nelly, wouldn’t you say? But then again, what else could we expect from the singer whose last album, Loose was the number one global album seller in 2007?
It’s no wonder, then, that my expectations were very high when I finally got my hands on this album and popped it into a CD player. And I wasn’t disappointed; from the first notes of the album’s first track, Manos al aire, I was caught. And, although my Spanish is a lot rustier than I will ever admit it to be, the few sentences I caught made me want to find out more – and out came the Spanish-English dictionary.
I really wish I had brushed up on my Spanish before listening to Mi Plan.
The album is a great collection of songs that reflect Nelly’s unique style. They also do justice to her unique voice as well as her evolution as an artist in the 10 years she has been in the music industry. I have the impression Nelly might be of one the few artists who is not solely focused on selling, but rather, is as a natural consequence of making quality music. This would explain why, even as each album is uniquely her, they are quite different from one another as she puts herself out there and experiments with various sounds, styles, and genres. She is a talented young woman and her voice is always as great as ever to listen to, suited for singing in English as well as in Spanish.
There are 11 songs on the album, of which I loved seven, liked three and only one made it on my ‘Meh’ list (on which go songs that I don’t mind listening to if it happens to be on but that I wouldn’t go around requesting). Overall, this is a great album I would recommend purchasing. Or, if budgets are tight, I would recommend at least buying the single Manos al aire’.
Although I loved it and hope she will keep exploring singing in Spanish, I’m also happy to report that another English album is in the works, and that she is working with Timbaland on it. Which is good, after the success of 2007’s Promiscuous with Timbaland. And who could forget Give it to me’ produced by Timbaland and featuring Justin Timberlake?
The CD is a great companion; something great to have on during the day at work, or when you have friends over. The beats are mostly up tempo, except for a song or two. The Spanish lyrics rolls off Nelly’s tongue; her voice was made for both English and Spanish, it seems. Which makes me wonder if she could pull off French. After all, she is Canadian, and Canada is officially a bilingual country.
Maybe I should email her with a personal request.
First published here on Blogcritics.