Did you know Feist has a new album? Yeah, it came out in September. I bet you haven’t heard nary a peep.
Remember Feist’s last album? 1234, the Apple commercial, sold out tours, Colbert Christmas special, all that noise? I will bet you a pint o’ beer that this album will get nowhere near the results that the last album did….Why is this?
I believe there are two reasons. The first being that this new Feist album is one/two years too old for our modern tastes. Waiting four years for an artist that has only one hit album under their belt is too long for the hype cycle to come back. If Feist came out with this album two years ago, I’m certain she would have seen better results. The second (lesser) reason is that this album is devoid of big hits, and when the world knows you as an indie pop hit songstress releasing an album with very few catchy tunes will net you zero new fans.
But Feist isn’t the only artist who’s suffering from this timing problem.
The Klaxons are an awesome band. The won the Mercury Prize for christ sake, they don’t just hand those out. But they too released a second album far too late (three years after their debut). Without the same hype their new album has been largely forgotten. Grizzly Bear are another band that is endanger of pulling a Feist if they’re not careful.
Let’s contrast this with Rihanna. In the pop world you are ruled by your last hit even more severely than in the indie world. But the handlers of RiRi know this, that’s why there’s already a new Rihanna album. In fact Rihanna has released one album a year for 3 years! That’s incredible, it’s like Zeppelin or the Beatles again (only in album releases not musical quality, calm down spaz).
Also, it could be that Feist doesn’t want to be a big star anymore. That would be a reasonable explanation, but for some reason I don’t buy it. If you spend all that energy to get to that level it would appear that you’d want to stay that big. But who knows, all I know is that with today’s voracious music listening public, four years is too long to go without a new album. There is too much other stuff competing for our ears.
Very interesting argument you’re touching on, NRP. Your point is well taken that “hits are good for your career”. Pretty sure few would argue with this. However, it really does scratch at the much deeper question of artist’s intent. I think your assumption that Feist does probably want to sell as many records and get as many new fans as possible is likely totally accurate, however, I definitely wouldn’t assume that this concern outweighs (or necessarily even measures up to) her desire to make whatever music (art) she wants to make, and in what manner and/or timeframe she wants, or feels she needs, to make it in. Both drives are likely strong, or it seems unlikely she’d be where she is, but I personally feel that as long as she’s remembering why she started writing songs in the first place her fans, now and future, will be happy. And I don’t think it’s too naive of me to still believe that music writing, when done for the ‘right’ reasons, tends to yield much better long-term results, i.e. fan loyalty & love. I think your very apropos example of Zep & Beatles vs. Rihanna, as time will likely tell, is a perfect case in point.
Read Feist talk about her year off from music or listen to “Metals” with all it’s carefully constructed textures and mood-driven writing, and tell me again that Feist was at all interested in manufacturing a hit.
Why the concern for charts anyway? The hit-making mindset doesn’t seem to fit with the sustainable career built on fan relationships that’s typical of the NEW musician’s philosophy. Why choose the career path that’s left so many hit-makers stranded, broke, and hoping for their own reality TV show?
The reason she would want another hit is b/c it helps the career. Hits are good for your career. Feist is nowhere near going on a reality show but a I’m sure she would love another hit. She’s obviously built enough cred to crack out another banger if she wants.. Understand? Also the hit point was a lesser point. How do you feel about the whole Waiting Too Long Between Albums thing?