If you’re wondering why you don’t know Leslie Feist or “1234,” perhaps you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people that Googled the phrase “iPod Nano commercial” earlier this fall, smiled at the 30 seconds you saw and moved on. The woman on the iPod screen singing in blue sequins was Leslie Feist, and the song was “1234.”
Feist used to be merely famous: Bright Eyes covered a tune, and she’d previously licensed songs for five commercials. Thanks to Apple, Feist (or her song) is famous. “1234” was already an online smash, its colorful video mentioned on hundreds of blogs before Apple picked it up in August.
Feist’s popular ascension is arguably the greatest example of new media—Internet, mp3s, iPods—using old media for mainstream recruitment. Web-banner advertising is one thing, but airing Feist’s fantastic jingle through images of Apple’s fancy product projected onto every living room’s small screen during The Office is something else entirely. Apple tapped the aorta of mainstream culture, mainlining to families gathered around a colored box, eager to spend money. At the very least, you watched the full video on YouTube.
It worked for everyone, but the trouble is, these new fans only heard “1234” or maybe The Reminder, Feist’s third album. What of Peaches, the Canadian electroclasher Feist roomed with in Toronto? Or Grizzly Bear, the Brooklyn band at the center of her “1234” chorus on Letterman? How about New Buffalo, the Australian who co-wrote “1234”? And has Feist’s star brightened things for Broken Social Scene, the Canadian collective with which she’s recorded for half a decade? Not really. Sure, they have a better résumé now, but Feist’s peers remain as they’ve long been—famous, but in that (in)famous indie-rock way.
Pop culture, especially post-Dr. Dre hip-hop, long operated under follow-the-leader rule: Once someone broke the bubble, his associates could follow into the spotlight. Puff Daddy was hip-hop famous before The Notorious B.I.G. died, but—thanks to a Police cover and a best-selling record that followed the posthumous success of Biggie’s Life After Death—he was mom, dad and kid sister conversation. You know Mase because you know Puffy. Dre gave us Eminem, who gave us Fifty, who gave us The Game, Yayo and Lloyd Banks.
But that’s radio and MTV and multimillions media, and it’s part of an artery that’s progressively blocked. Amid more standardized radio playlists, shrinking circulations for magazines and music networks that ignore music, Feist found an ironically traditional inlet. She got her video on television. She sang and danced. But there can be only so many commercials for hot products, and the commercial world doesn’t leave room for friends. If “1234” had started as a commercial radio smash, it’s not impossible to imagine an FM programmer at least testing the waters with Feist’s boyfriend, Kevin Drew, one of the principals in Broken Social Scene. Feist’s “1234” success doesn’t mean Dell is fawning over songs by her electronic pop collaborators Stars.
Luckily, these bands—Stars, BSS, Grizzly Bear—are strong enough not to need coattails. That was never the case for Fifty’s Yayo. But for grocery-store-playlist fame in this marketplace, they may need a “1234.” And if you ever Googled “iPod Nano commercial,” you know how rare songs that magnetic are.
http://www.reverbnation.com/guesthousestud… git some black rain y'all...very nice piece Mr. Anderson
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