Nelly Furtado Plays NPR Tiny Desk Concert

Artist also sings “Promiscuous,” “Say It Right,” “I’m Like a Bird,” and her latest single, “Love Bites”

There are many mysteries in Nelly Furtado‘s 21-minute Tiny Desk Concert: How far forward did NPR have to move its Tiny Desk to accommodate Furtado and her retinue of eight? Why doesn’t Furtado open her eyes when she sings? And why wouldn’t she want to look and see how cool backup singer Jim Beanz looks singing Timbaland’s “hey-doodoo-dodoo-hey-hey” part of “Say It Right”? How long did they have to practice nailing the seamless segues, like violinist William Lamoureux leading everyone into clapping hands for “Explode”? Did Furtado run through a sprinkler before the set? If so, how is her hair dry?

Mysteries aside, Furtado & Co. look like they had a blast performing 11 songs, including “Promiscuous” (which features even more of Beanz), “Maneater,” “I’m Like a Bird,” and Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On.” During a break, Furtado (with eyes wide open) joked, “We might be a little nervous” about the performance, “but the good kind, the exciting kind.”

Before “Get Ur Freak On,” Furtado recounted how Timbaland introduced her to Missy. “It was 2001, and I only had ‘I’m Like a Bird’ out, and she saw me with my Adidas shell-toes, jeans, and my Princess Leia buns on MTV and she said, ‘I want her on the ‘Get Ur Freak On’ remix.’ And not a lot of people know this because it was played a lot on urban radio at the time, but it was never an official … You can’t find it anywhere. Maybe YouTube, I’m not sure … so we’re gonna play it for you.”


Keyboardist Hrag Sanbalian then plays the tune’s iconic sample — and they all pull it off, right down to yelling, “reeee-mix” like it’s 2001 all over again.

The performance also featured a rendition of Furtado’s new single, “Love Bites,” which she released this week. “I felt called back to music from the DJ community,” Furtado said when the single came out. “DJs were remixing my songs at concerts, clubs, and on social media, and I realized how much people like to dance and escape to my music.”

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