Nelly Furtado’s singing of O Canada defended

Victoria’s Nelly Furtado turned in a unique performance of O Canada at the NBA all-star game in Toronto on Sunday, one that made the Grammy winner a trending topic on Twitter for all the wrong reasons.

Although she won applause from the crowd in the stands, Furtado, 37, drew online jeers — not cheers — with a version of the national anthem that strayed off-script. The performance resulted in a social media backlash that remained in full swing Monday.

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“Personally, I’m not sure why people are so upset about it,” said Melissa Avdeeff, a popular-music-studies lecturer at the University of Victoria. “She altered the melody in a couple of places, but that didn’t entirely detract from the overall sense of the song.”

Furtado could not be reached for comment Monday, and did not allude to the controversy in a Twitter post Monday.

“Last night was fantastic and fun! Thanks for having me!” Furtado wrote.

Tony Duncan, who accompanied the Mount Douglas grad on flute for the performance, came to her defence Monday with a Facebook post of his own.

“I want everyone to know that Nelly could’ve easily chosen a pre-recorded piano or a guitar track or even a marching band to back her up for the anthem, but then it wouldn’t have been Nelly,” Duncan wrote.

The all-star game was being held outside the United States for the first time in its 65-year history, which raised the profile of the event. The broadcast averaged 7.6 million viewers, up six per cent over 2015, according to Nielsen audience ratings.

The decision to have Furtado sing at the game — a mid-season celebration of a sport created by a Canadian — in a host city such as Toronto, where Furtado lives, was not in question. Michael Wilbon, a NBA analyst and ESPN columnist, acknowledged on Twitter that Furtado is “such a fine singer,” but said that she turned in a “shut-off-the-mic performance.”

Others on Twitter attacked her more vigorously.

“Nelly Furtado had 10 years to warm up her vocals … she has no excuse for that performance,” wrote Kristina.

“On behalf of Canadians everywhere, we’d like to nominate Nelly Furtado’s version of our great anthem as the worst play of day,” wrote Ian Esplen.

“As a Canadian, I am embarrassed by what Nelly Furtado just did. Who signed off on that?” asked Erin Hawksworth.

“For the love of Canada, please make it stop. Nelly Furtado with the worst O Canada I’ve ever heard,” wrote Ron Clements.

Al Ferraby of CFAX radio pledged his support for Furtado. The morning radio host, who sings O Canada regularly at local sporting events, including professional hockey, lacrosse and baseball games, says anthem-singing is more difficult than most people imagine.

“It’s not as easy as it looks. It’s not. You’re very much in a bubble for 90 seconds. She didn’t bring down the house, but she didn’t screw up the words, which is the worst thing to do. It wasn’t a disaster.”

American singer Ne-Yo sang The Star-Spangled Banner at the NBA game, and British performer Sting performed a set at half-time. Neither faced social-media scrutiny.

In the age of social media, fans are liable to keep posting about the Furtado performance, Ferraby said. He once “bobbled the words” to O Canada during a Victoria Royals game, and he heard about it from fans long afterward.

“I’ve sung [the anthem] hundreds of times, but for months after that [performance] people would say: ‘Hey, I was at that game where you screwed up.’ I don’t know what it is about the anthem, but people nitpick it to death. It can go sour pretty quick.”

See video of her performance on Sportsnet:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/twitter-reaction-nelly-furtado-slammed-for-rendition-of-o-canada/

Here is a different version of her performance.

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Earlier story:

Nelly Furtado sparked a strong negative reaction on social media Sunday with her unconventional take on Canada’s national anthem at the NBA all-star game.

The Victoria native took it in stride, however, posting on Twitter on Monday morning: "Last night was fantastic and fun! Thanks for having me!" She also praised the Toronto organizers of the all-star game.

The 37-year-old has been an international star since the release of her album Whoa, Nelly! in 2001. She is no stranger to mixing music with sports events -- her 2004 song Forca was the official anthem of the European Football Championship.

Before becoming famous, Furtado spent eight summers working as a chambermaid in Victoria. She has said that her working-class background has helped keep her grounded.

At the all-star game, Furtado was accompanied by First Nations musician Tony Duncan, who played flute. The audience at Air Canada Centre cheered and applauded the performance.

R&B singer Ne-Yo performed the “Star Spangled Banner” after an unusual introduction which credited him as both a vocalist and a “critically-acclaimed actor.”

Sting, the U.K.-born former frontman of the Police, raced through a set of megahits after facing weeks of flak on social media over being chosen to perform at a decidedly Canadian-centric basketball event.

The flak Sting received was nothing compared to the storm of criticism aimed at Furtado.

A sample from Twitter:

 “Glad to see Nelly Furtado trending, sad it's for the wrong reasons,” said Justin.

 “Nelly Furtado should have brought in this guy to accompany her for O'Canada,” said Darrell Rovell.

 “Nelly Furtado had 10 years to warm up her vocals...she has no excuse for that performance,” said Kristina.

“On behalf of Canadians everywhere, we'd like to nominate Nelly Furtado's version of our great anthem as the worst play of day,” said Ian Esplen.

 “Nelly Furtado was great but when is someone singing the Canadian National Anthem?” asked Don Tapscott.

“As a Canadian, I am embarrassed by what Nelly Furtado just did. Who signed off on that?” asked Erin Hawksworth.

 “When people say Nelly Furtado killed the National Anthem ... just remember that could work two ways,” said Ryan Boyle.

 “For the love of Canada, please make it stop. Nelly Furtado with the worst ‘O Canada’ I've ever heard,” said Ron Clements.

Sportsnet reported that Furtado "has been quiet on the music front lately and if you listen to the Twitter community, it should stay that way."

See video of her performance on Sportsnet:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/basketball/nba/twitter-reaction-nelly-furtado-slammed-for-rendition-of-o-canada/

Here is a different version of her performance.

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