Nelly Furtado has been so unpredictable this era. It’s been commercial suicide, but creative gold, and for an artist like her, who’s sold over 20 million albums worldwide, she can afford to take the risk.
With her new album less than a month away and not a hit in sight, Nelly’s moved on from “The Spirit Indestructible” and onto the album’s third single, “Parking Lot”, which may very well be the best song to come out of the project yet.
“Parking Lot” is Nelly and Darkchild at their weirdest and wackiest. The production is even more off-the-wall than “Big Hoops”, with a repetitious boom-boom-clap beat and a horn loop that barely changes throughout the entire song. That is, until the last minute, when the horns vanish and are replaced with flirty tropical synths and some sixties-style “shoop shoop” backing vocals from Darkchild.
Nelly sings like she’s drunk here, intentionally slurring her words and constantly threatening to forget the melody. It should sound messy, but it doesn’t. It sounds cool, like M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani, whose musical footprints clearly inspired “Parking Lot”. Don’t get it twisted though; this is still very much a Nelly Furtado song. The breezy lyrics see the 33-year-old reminiscing about her teenage years (“bring your car to the parking lot and ride around ’till you get a spot coz we ain’t doin’ nothin’”), which is a topic she explored on her brilliant 2004 single “Explode”. But whereas “Explode” touched upon the dark side of youth, “Parking Lot” is a celebration of the simple moments of adolescence, when you could spend all day listening to music in your car with your friends and not worry about anything else. It’s beautifully nostalgic and provoking, like a trippier take on Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream”.
There’s few pop artists who could bring so much heart to such a simple concept like Nelly has, but that’s always been one of main calling cards. It’s not easy coloring outside the lines though, and just like all her music this era, “Parking Lot” is destined to divide opinion. You’ll either be raping the replay button or reaching for your copy of Loose. Me? I love it, and I’m now convinced that The Spirit Indestructible will be one of the best albums of the year.
In an industry filled with so many ‘artists’ who are all content to march to the beat of the same drum, it’s so refreshing to see somebody like Nelly throw the rule book out the window and give pop fans some originality and creativity for once. After months of “Starships” and “Whistle”, The Spirit Indestructible is shaping up to be the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.