I could have written about Radiohead’s In Rainbows for 2007. It was a massive album, after all. Plus, Radiohead stood out by going with the self-released, pay-what-you-want model. In Rainbows was an album I bought, and I listened to it quite a bit. It’s the last Radiohead album I really got into. However, instead of writing about an artist at the tail end of their commercial peak, I want to write about an album that thrust a beloved, underground musician into the spotlight.
The Reminder is Feist’s third solo album. She had also been a member of the Canadian indie supergroup Broken Social Scene. Then, Leslie Feist dropped The Reminder on us. The first single was “My Moon, My Man,” a stripped-down song that feels like the Feist I was familiar with. It’s what she decided to lead off with, or her record label or whoever made the call. Then, we got the second single, a little song called “1234.” Her career, and life, would change entirely.
“1234” is catchy as all get out and a great song. A true banger, to be sure. It could have struck a chord with Feist fans and the indie pop crowd, like yours truly, and become a signature song at her shows. Then, Apple put it into an ad. “1234” because a massive piece of the cultural landscape. This was before the rise of streaming services. People watched TV as it aired. They saw Apple commercials. They heard “1234”over and over, but they didn’t grow tired of it. It became so popular based off of the ads that “1234” hit eighth on the Billboard Hot 100.
Suddenly, Feist was a known name to some, and the “1234” woman to others. She had arrived, for the time being. Also, “I Feel It All” is just as good of a song and has an endlessly charming music video. I highly recommend it.
Ultimately, Feist’s fame and ubiquity was fleeting. I don’t know how many people bought The Reminder based on “1234.” Probably a few. A lot of them probably just bought the single, or checked it out on YouTube. The album got a lot of love from critics, but her two albums in the intervening years did not yield the same amount of attention. Feist has likely been locked into the one-hit wonder category for her career, back to being an indie-music darling.
“1234” will always be remembered (and again, “I Feel It All” is also a killer song), and that’s cool. Sure, the picture gets murkier because it stems from an Apple commercial, but that was the landscape of the time in a post-MTV, post-radio hit world. For a moment, Feist’s voice was as prominent as any musician’s. Listening to that song is now a reminder in its own right, a reminder of an interesting couple months in the musical landscape.