Nelly Furtado Hooks Up With ‘Distant Cousin’ Timberlake, Emerges With ‘Sexy’ Song

Furtado's new LP, Loose, due in June.

Justin Timberlake’s been collaborating with so many people for his new album that Nelly Furtado wanted to give him a little “Crowd Control.”

The two singers met up in Miami while both were recording their respective next albums with songwriter/producer Timbaland, who helped supply the necessary introductions. “I had met Justin briefly before, but I hadn’t really hung out with him,” Furtado said. Still, they felt like they knew each other — they had so many mutual friends and collaborators, such as Pharrell Williams, who had worked with Timberlake previously and had just teamed up with Furtado for her new record as well. “Supposedly it was Pharrell’s idea for me to work with Tim too,” Furtado laughed. “Jimmy Iovine, the head of my record label [Interscope], might beg to differ.”

After deciding they were like “distant cousins,” Timberlake and Furtado started tinkering around with a song called “Crowd Control” just for fun, without worrying where it might be released (see “Justin Timberlake ‘In A Good Place’ With His Collabos” ). “It’s just a cute, clubby, upbeat, fun track,” she said. “It’s kind of sexy. I like it.” Working with the former ‘NSYNC singer also gave Furtado a new respect for him.

“You know what’s cool about Justin? He has his own style,” she said. “He has his own unique take on melody, and he has his own unique take on lyrics — and he’s specific about lyrics. We’re writing the song, I gave him a melody, he gave me a lyric, back and forth, back and forth, and he was really specific about how he wanted them to sound.

“It takes a lot to come from a place where you don’t have any credibility at all, like in the so-called ‘serious’ music world, to get to the point where you’re jamming with the Rolling Stones,” she continued, referring to when Timberlake joined the Stones at a Toronto SARS benefit (see “Justin Timberlake Joins Stones At Toronto Benefit, Gets Pelted With Garbage” ). “You’re up there? You’re a real musician. I think it’s great. I love underdogs. I love it when people come out and prove other people wrong — it’s like, ‘Yeah, you go!’ ”

The part Furtado liked best, though, was that working with the two Tims — Timberlake and Timabaland — didn’t feel like work at all. “It’s like a little camp, you know?” she said. “Justin’s amazing. He’s really inspiring as an individual because he’s really evolved. He’s really calm and comfortable in his own skin. He’s really grounded, and really funny and laid back at the same time.”

That made it easy to hand over the song, even though having a Timberlake track could have given a little bit of extra value to Furtado’s album. But she wasn’t basing what made the cut for her album “Loose” on the celebrity factor — sonics and flow were more important — so she also set aside tracks she’d worked on with Pharrell and Scott Storch, and Timberlake took “Crowd Control” for his album instead.

“We’re all in it for the music,” she said. “We’re all creative, we like having fun and putting out good music. Justin has the same interest: just put out a good album, front to back, so everything’s going to be hot, hot, hot. You know it’s going to be good because there aren’t any leftover tracks or sloppy seconds.”

Still, Furtado cautions that their collaboration might end up as a bonus track or import version of Timberlake’s album, because while her album’s already finished and ready to be released on June 20, his is still in the mixing phase, so anything could happen. “I know they’re going to be using it, but I don’t know if it’s going to be on the U.S. release,” she said. “It might have to be one of those things you have to dig around for.”