Powerless (Say What You Want)

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"Powerless (Say What You Want)"
Powerless (Say What You Want).png
Single by Nelly Furtado
from the album Folklore
Released 7 October 2003 (2003-10-07)
Format
Recorded 2003
Length 3:53
Label DreamWorks
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Track & Field
  • Nelly Furtado
Nelly Furtado singles chronology
"Fotografía"
(2003)
"Powerless (Say What You Want)"
(2003)
"Try"
(2004)
Audio sample
file info · help

"Powerless (Say What You Want)" is a pop song written by Nelly Furtado, Gerald Eaton and Brian West for Furtado's second studio album, Folklore (2003). It contains a sample of Malcolm McLaren's "Buffalo Gals" which was written by Anne Dudley, Trevor Horn and Malcolm McLaren. It was produced by Furtado and Track & Field and was chosen to be the lead single from the album, released in December 2003. Banjo player Béla Fleck appears on the track.

Background[edit]

"Powerless" addresses how Furtado herself was discriminated against in that her record company wanted to hide her ancestry: "Paint my face in your magazines/Make it look whiter than it seems/Paint me over with your dreams/Shove away my ethnicity". According to Furtado, “I noticed that when I turned on the TV, I didn’t really see anybody that looked like me. So it’s really important for me to keep that realness in me and always remember where I came from, while at the same time always entertaining people. I like music to be inclusive.” Afterwards, come reflections on gaining strength through the things that are truly important - "real power comes from not caring about power and just letting yourself be free." - and "have balance in life".[1]

Of the instrumentation, Furtado said: "I get to see a lot of DJ-oriented performance stuff, and I'm into the heaviness of breakbeats, how raw and powerful they are. Everything lately has become so synthesized, but just the standard sound of breakbeats is inspiring. 'Powerless' uses breakbeats like that; it's a real groove, a real vibe. It just carries you away. There’s a banjo mixed with a breakbeat from elements of Malcolm McLaren's 'Buffalo Gals.' So right away you're bobbing your head. The lyrics are initially in-your-face, like, 'Okay, I know I'm going to be stereotyped in my life because that is the world we live in; that's society.' But the song tries to find some sense of order in this complicated world." The song won Single of the year at the 2004 Juno Awards.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Bryan Barber and was shot in the period of three days.[2] The video revolves around a classic psychological metaphor: Nelly trapped inside a box from which she seeks to escape. Inside, the box is plastered with posters that act as doors or windows for the artist’s imagination. Her situation is a metaphor for being both defined and confined by the illusory commercial reality of her celebrity and beauty. The video was shot on various sets and dressed locations, and in a large customized box crate, which were all created by production designer Aaron Goffman. Using Photoshop and Illustrator, Moneyshots designed the posters and graphics that surround Nelly in the box and added the transitions that transport Nelly back and forth between the imprisoning box and the poster environments that signify the escape self-expression can bring.[3]

There is an alternate version of the video featuring Nelly in a field, and shown in several screens in different parts of a city, showing the movements of the modern life.

Track listing[edit]

UK CD single[4]
  1. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Album Version) - 3:53
  2. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Josh Desi Remix) - 3:12
  3. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Alternative Acoustic Mix) - 3:47
German 2-track single
  1. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Album Version) - 3:53
  2. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Alternative Acoustic Mix) - 3:47
German 4-track single[5][6]
  1. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Album Version) - 3:53
  2. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Alternative Acoustic Mix) - 3:47
  3. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Josh Desi Remix) - 3:47
  4. "Powerless (Say What You Want)" (Instrumental Version) - 3:53

Charts[edit]

Chart (2003–04)[7][8] Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[9] 37
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[10] 7
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[11] 6
Germany (Official German Charts)[12] 8
Ireland (IRMA)[13] 36
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[14] 6
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[15] 16
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[16] 37
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[17] 16
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[18] 13
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[19] 30
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[20] 16
US Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[21] 5
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[22] 9

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
United States 7 October 2003 Hot AC radio DreamWorks [23]
Mainstream radio [24]
Canada 21 November 2003 Maxi single Universal Music [25]
United Kingdom 8 December 2003 Polydor [26]
Germany 15 December 2003 Universal Music [27]
United Kingdom 21 January 2004 Digital download Polydor [28]
Germany 2 February 2004 CD Universal Music [29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nelly Furtado Mashes Cultures (And A Bumblebee) Together For New Video". MTV. 2003-11-12. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 October 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 October 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2007. 
  4. ^ "Powerless by Nelly Furtado: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  5. ^ "Nelly Furtado - Powerless - Amazon.com Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  6. ^ "Nelly Furtado - Powerless (Say What You Want) (CD)". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 28 June 2007. 
  8. ^ "Folklore > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved 28 June 2007
  9. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  10. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  11. ^ "Nelly Furtado – Chart history" Canadian Hot 100 for Nelly Furtado.
  12. ^ "Musicline.de – Furtado,Nelly Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  13. ^ "Chart Track: Week 03, 2004". Irish Singles Chart.
  14. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  15. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)". Top 40 Singles.
  16. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)". Singles Top 100.
  17. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Nelly Furtado – Powerless (Say What You Want)". Swiss Singles Chart.
  18. ^ "Nelly Furtado: Artist Chart History" Official Charts Company.
  19. ^ "Nelly Furtado – Chart history" Billboard Pop Songs for Nelly Furtado.
  20. ^ "Nelly Furtado – Chart history" Billboard Adult Pop Songs for Nelly Furtado.
  21. ^ "Nelly Furtado – Chart history" Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs for Nelly Furtado.
  22. ^ "Nelly Furtado – Chart history" Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 for Nelly Furtado.
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  25. ^ "Powerless (Say What You Want): Nelly Furtado". Amazon.ca. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  26. ^ "Powerless by Nelly Furtado". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  27. ^ "Powerless - Nelly Furtado". Amazon.de. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  28. ^ "Powerless (Say What You Want) (International Version): Nelly Furtado". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  29. ^ "Powerless - Nelly Furtado". Amazon.de. Retrieved 2016-05-05. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Complicated" by Avril Lavigne
Juno Award for Single of the Year
2004
Succeeded by
"Crabbuckit" by k-os