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I've been a Nelly Furtado fan since the release of her debut album Whoa, Nelly! at the turn of the millennium. The Portugese-Canadian singer has experimented with a number of musical styles and released four studio albums before this Best Of CD. Despite owning all of her albums, I was excited about owning her greatest hits because of the new tracks included on the album, which numbers 18 songs. Released in 2010, it marked a decade in the music business for Nelly.
The album opens with I'm Like a Bird, the quirky, summery anthem that propelled Nelly to stardom. Turn Off the Light, a poppy, slightly spooky-sounding track, and On the Radio, a laid-back hip-hop influenced song, complete the collection of tracks from the singer's debut album.
Nelly's second album, Folklore, was released in 2003 and marked a change in musical style for the singer. The album, which was largely about her experiences of growing up in Canada as a second-generation Portugese immigrant, was not received as well as her previous CD, but personally I loved it am pleased to see that she hasn't held back on contributing songs from it to her greatest hits. Folksy single Powerless and beautiful guitar ballad Try are highlights, and Força is an upbeat anthemic song.
Loose was the third album from Nelly, and again it marked a dramatic change in direction. The CD, released in 2006, was strongly R n B orientated and this is reflected in the songs chosen for this album. Maneater, Nelly's first UK number one, is an immensely catchy club track while Promiscuous, featuring producer Timbaland, contains rap. Say It Right is an atmospheric song that sounds good in a club or late night bar, while In God's Hands is a sweet ballad. All Good Things (Come To An End) is a poignant nostalgic song with gentle guitar backing.
Only one song is included from Nelly's Spanish-language album, which is fine by me as this was my least favourite of her releases. Manos Al Aire is probably the most catchy track from the Mi Plan CD, so it's good that it has been chosen for this collection.
You certainly get your money's worth from this album, as a number of songs are included which were not present on any of the studio albums. Fotografia is a Spanish (or Portuguese?)-language duet with singer Juanes, providing a relaxed and pleasant interlude between the songs from Whoa Nelly! and Folklore. Broken Strings is the duet with James Morrison. I like the songs, but for me, Morrison's vocals rather spoil it: his voice sounds rather whiny beside Nelly's distinctive rich sound.
Night Is Young was released as a single from this album, and is a strong dance track reminiscent of the sound of the Loose album. Girlfriend In the City is another strong effort that wouldn't have sounded out of place as a single either.
Stars is a beautiful song, a quiet, reflective track backed with acoustic guitars that is an album highlight for me. The CD closes with a live cover of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, showing off Nelly's strong vocals and sounding different and more laid-back than the original.
The bonus disc contains a varied mix of songs, including covers, original songs and remixes. It opens with Quando, Quando, Quando, a duet which Nelly performed with Michael Buble in 2005. I'm not a fan of Michael and this bossa nova song (which is an Italian pop song from 1962, famously performed by Engelbert Humperdinck) isn't a favourite of mine, though it's interesting to hear Nelly sing something completely different to her usual material.
Te Busque is a Spanish (or Portuguese?) duet with singer Juanes, from Nelly's Loose album. Similarly, Island of Wonder is taken from the Folklore CD, and further serves to illustrate the variety of music she has performed. I'm Like a Bird, on the other hand, isn't the original version of the song (which appears on the main album) but a rather interesting remix (the 'Nelly vs. Asha Remix') which adds an Indian sound to the track.
Who Wants To Be Alone is a modern-sounding dance song, which reminds me a little of Night Is Young from the main album. Sacrifice is an original song, sung in a hip-hop style and featuring The Roots (whether a solo singer or band, I'm not sure). In God's Hands is a different version of the single, this time with a male singer.
Though some of these songs are remixes and others are versions found on Nelly's other albums, this bonus disc is still nice to have, as it demonstrates Nelly's incredible versatility and ability to collaborate with very different artists.
The DVD containing the videos is great to have. Of course, they can be obtained from the Internet but it's nice to have them all on one disc.
I highly recommend this album, particularly, if you are a fan, the super deluxe edition which retails for £8.75 on Amazon at the time of writing. If you aren't willing to spend so much, you can get hold of the deluxe version of the album (which includes the 2 CDs minus the DVD) for under £5 or the single-disc version for a bargainous £2.75.
1. I'm Like a Bird
2. Turn Off the Light
3. On the Radio (Remember the Days)
5. Powerless (Say What You Want)
10. Say It Right
11. All Good Things (Come To an End)
12. In God's Hands
13. Broken Strings
14. Girlfriend In the City
15. Night Is Young
17. Manos Al Aire
1. Quando, Quando, Quando
2. Te Busque
3. Island of Wonder
4. I'm Like a Bird [Nelly vs. Asha Remix]
5. Who Wants To Be Alone
7. In God's Hands