By  on September 19, 2007

Talk about hot. During Nelly Furtado's first day of recording her latest album Loose, a speaker spontaneously combusted, bursting into flames and sending Furtado and her producer Timbaland fleeing for safety.

Since then, the temperature has continued to rise for the Canadian pop star. Loose, which made its debut at number one when it was released in June of last year, has subsequently gone platinum or gold in 28 countries, making Furtado the biggest-selling female recording artist of the last 12 months. Four singles have hit number one worldwide, and Furtado won five Juno awards (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys), a Brit Award and a Grammy nomination. She had Princes William and Harry dancing in their seats during her rollicking performance at the Concert for Diana in early July, while Loose continues to sell about 100,000 copies a week globally. And earlier this summer she got engaged to Demacio "Demo" Castellon, a sound engineer she met while recording the album. No surprise she's loving every moment.

"With my first album, I didn't take the time to enjoy the success," says Furtado, whose freshman effort in 2000, Whoa, Nelly, sold almost five million copies and was followed in 2003 with Folklore. "The third time around, I'm not taking it for granted. I'm enjoying myself more and I finally feel comfortable on stage 100 percent of the time. Before, I had a love-hate relationship with performing," she continues. "Now, I love it."

Furtado had plenty of opportunity to perform this year. In addition to touring Europe and the U.S., she was a frequent presence at myriad award shows, both on stage and on the red carpet. For Furtado, the two are closely intertwined. "The red carpet is almost like when you go out on stage and perform, because you never know what the audience is going to be like and what's going to capture people's attention," she says. "You want to be comfortable, but not too comfortable, because then you're not taking a risk."

While some stars may profess not to pay attention to the cadre of red-carpet fashion critics, Furtado approaches it with eyes wide open. "The red carpet is a tool," she says. "It's where you go to launch a new project or album or look. You can't show up in a potato sack." No danger of that for Furtado, who's worn Giorgio Armani, Roberto Cavalli and Versace, among others, and also champions Canadian designers such as Greta Constantine, Izzy Camilleri and Arthur Mendonca.

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