Say it right (Nelly Furtado)
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A song about a woman who needs to find true love... and maybe she just found it. On the video we can see Nelly Furtado together with Timbaland, who does the echoing "hey, hey" stuff, just like he does in the song "Apologize". An easy song, but not easy to understand because she doesn't enunciate very well (not a clear pronunciation) and the lyrics just fill into the music rhythm, which is the real focus here.

You can sing to the karaoke version here.


(break-it-break-it-down, hey
you don't mean nothing at all to me... hey, hey)

In the day
In the night
Say it right
Say it all
(You) either got it
Or you don't
You either stand or you fall
When your will is broken
When it slips from your hand
When there's no time for joking
There's a hole in the plan

Oh you don't mean nothing at all to me
No you don't mean nothing at all to me
But you got what it takes to set me free
Oh you could mean everything to me

I can't say that I'm not lost and at fault
I can't say that I don't love the light and the dark
I can't say that I don't know that I am alive
And all of what I feel I could show
You tonight you tonight

Oh you don't mean nothing at all to me
No you don't mean nothing at all to me
But you got what it takes to set me free
Oh you could mean everything to me

From my hands I could give you
Something that I made
From my mouth I could sing you another brick that I laid
From my body I could show you a place God knows
You should know the space is holy
Do you really wanna go?

( hey, hey, hey...
you don't mean nothing at all to me... hey, hey)


BREAK IT DOWN= Talking about music, this can mean several things: to rap it (sing in a rapping way), to soften the melody for a little while, or just the opposite, to increase the energy of the music, which is the case here. Anyway, it always implies a change in the melody.

YOU DON’T MEAN NOTHING= A double negative is incorrect in standard English (either British or American), but it is found in colloquial speech, especially in American English.

AT ALL= We use this phrase to emphasize a negative sentence or a question (never in affirmative sentences):
- I don’t like her at all (= I really don’t like her, not a bit)
- Do you know me at all? (=do you have any idea who I am?)

EITHER... OR= When we have two sentences joined with OR (to show two alternatives), we can reinforce the idea of OR by putting EITHER before the first sentence:
- You can laugh or cry = You can either laugh or cry.
In AmE it is pronounced /i:ðər/ and in BrE usually /ðə/>

YOU EITHER GOT IT= You either have got it (have it). In colloquial AmE it is very common to use GOT instead of HAVE GOT or HAVE.

YOUR WILL= Your wish, what you want.

SLIP= To move smoothly, easily, and quietly; to slide, to escape.

THERE’S A HOLE IN THE PLAN= The plan is not consistent, something will go wrong.

TO SET ME FREE= To liberate me.

YOU COULD MEAN= Here COULD is in the conditional tense (not the past), so she’s talking about a possibility: you are not now, but you might be (if you say the right thing).

I’M AT FAULT= I’ve made a mistake, I’m guilty, I’ve made something wrong.

ANOTHER BRICK THAT I LAID= A brick is a rectangular piece of (usually red) baked clay used for building. To lay a brick is to put another brick on the wall when you’re building.

A PLACE GOD KNOWS= A secret place, a hidden place (it's implied that "only God knows")

HOLY= Sacred. Pronounced /həʊlɪ/

WANNA= Want to.


I think she's talking about a guy she just met. At this moment, he’s still just a stranger, so he means nothing to her, but she thinks he’s got potential ("you got what it takes to set me free"), he could be Mr Right (the right person for her). But she’s waiting for his reaction, she wants to see how he acts, what he says to confirm her hopes: "say it right, you either got it or you don’t", she’s not ready to waste her time with gray tones, if she finds out he’s the right person, she’ll give him everything (love and sex), if he’s not the right person she’ll just walk away ("you either stand or you fall").

She knows she’s not perfect herself ("I can't say that I'm not lost and at fault"), but she wants a relationship to help her be better, not worse. She’s challenging him to be just right, "do you really wanna go?".