Over the weekend at a karaoke bar in the southside of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a couple got up to sing Nelly Furtado and Timbaland's "Promiscuous." After they finished their sentimental moment, I turned to a friend and asked, "Did you know she just released an album at the end of last month?" "Wait... What? No way! What has Nelly Furtado been doing?" It wasn't the first time I received that type of reaction. In fact, it's been universal for the past few weeks since the pop star released her sixth studio album, The Ride, on March 31.
A decade ago, this wouldn't have been a problem. The Grammy winner had been on top of the industry, riding the wave of 2006's Loose. Met with light controversy -- thanks to the star's newly flirtatious and sexually empowered persona, alongside her transition from alternative-folk to full-fledged club-tempo pop&B -- the Billboard 200 chart-topper managed to provide summer smashes and break sales records a year after its release. If you couldn't escape hearing her cheeky reference to Steve Nash on the radio, then you probably saw her finishing in first place on TRL's countdown next to a helicopter. "Promiscuous" and "Say It Right" both reached the summit of the Billboard Hot 100; the album's other go-to single, "Maneater," landed in the top 20, while "All Good Things (Come to an End)" hit No. 1 on the now-defunct European Hot 100 Singles chart.
In the 10 years following Loose, Furtado released other projects: the Spanish-language album Mi Plan (2009) and 2012's The Spirit Indestructible, which contained the Odd Future-inspired bop "Big Hoops (Bigger the Better)." Plan and Spirit would not capture the same success as Loose -- the former reaching No. 39 on the Billboard 200 and the latter debuting and exiting at No. 79, in one week. Unfortunately, "Hoops" would not see the light of the Hot 100 despite its projected appeal in the dance-dominated market of 2012. In an interview with ITV's Loose Women, the singer revealed that at the height of Loose she "crashed and burned" to the pressures of balancing stardom, touring, raising her daughter and maintaining a relationship. Her subsequent break from performing and releasing new music resulted in a commercial downfall, with the general public nearly forgetting her hitmaking potential. As the releases became more low-key, Furtado's active star started to fade into legacy territory with articles asking "What happened to her?"