You might not recognize Nelly Furtado in her new video. After a long absence from the music scene, she's rapping, dancing and getting sexy in the clip for her new single, "Promiscuous" — just don't call her a slut.
"I don't really use that word," she said. "I wouldn't use that term to describe it."
Instead, Furtado feels like she's finally coming into her own womanhood. "I'm 27," she pointed out. "I feel like I get it. I'm OK with being sexy if I feel like it. Some days I'm brainy, some days I'm funny, some days I'm sexy, and sometimes, I just want to dance."
So dance she does, thanks to some help from a choreographer and her Miami friends, who taught her "how to shake my booty properly."
"It's an important skill," she laughed. "There's a craft to it. You can be one of those girls who think they can do it — 'Oh yeah, I'm going to shake my booty' — but if you're with Timbaland in the studio, no, no, no."
The producer, who worked with Furtado for the bulk of her new album, Loose (slated for release on June 20), couldn't work properly if Furtado tried any of her dance moves. She'd whip out what she calls her "British Columbia hippie rave dance," and he'd freak out: " 'Stop! You're offbeat! Stop dancing! You're throwing me off!' "
Furtado said Timbaland had a "whole other type of rhythm," one that she witnessed in Missy Elliott when she worked with her on the "Get Ur Freak On" remix.
"Something happens to them where they become the rhythm," Furtado said. "They're all feel. You can't take the rhythm out of them if you were Superman or had superpowers."
Although Furtado grew up dancing, and even once wanted to be a ballerina when she grew up, she was never professionally trained. Sure, she did Portuguese folk dancing, hip-hop dancing and modern dance for fun and for high school musical productions, but she felt like there was a wide gulf between her experience and that of, say, Justin Timberlake — who has a cameo in "Promiscuous," perhaps to thank Furtado for contributing a song to his album (see "Nelly Furtado Hooks Up With 'Distant Cousin' Timberlake, Emerges With 'Sexy' Song").
"When I came into the pop business, I was intimidated," she said. " 'Oh my God, I have to compete with all these people who've been in "The Mickey Mouse Club" since they were 2!' And Justin, the fact that he's a schooled dancer, he's just a triple threat. It's amazing when you have that skill."
Furtado holds her own, though, because the Little X-directed video for "Promiscuous" is just as much about flirting as dancing. Furtado and Timbaland (who guests on the track) go back and forth over whether they're going to hook up, hitting up other folks on the dance floor and on the phone to keep their options open.
"It's that whole dance that goes on," Furtado said. "There's that mystery there, the fun, playful sexiness, the verbal Ping-Pong game. A lot of people can relate to that."