Care to witness a stage spectacle complete with glitter pantsuits and
choreography worthy of Broadway? No, it’s not “Mamma Mia,” it’s
Canadian indie poster-gal Feist’s latest music video, “1 2 3 4.”
Feist reunites with Patrick Daughters, the director of a
previous Feist video, to bring choreographed jazz-style dance numbers
back on to celluloid. “1 2 3 4” is a no-frills music video: there isn’t
a complicated narrative arc to follow, nor are there big-budget sets or
psychedelic special effects. Feist leads a Skittle-colored troupe in a
rambunctious dance across an empty sound stage. By a minute in, you’re
ready to follow Feist’s example and throw up your hands in glee. The
appeal of Daughters’ style lies in the mobility of his camera, which
alternately zooms in as Feist crowd-surfs and pans out to capture
aerial shots of the spinning crowd.
“Oh, oh, oh / You know who you are,” Feist sings. Following
earlier hits “Mushaboom” and “Let it Die” (which spawned music videos
with elaborate choreography more reminiscent of Fosse than Fergie) we
certainly know who Feist is—a little lady with a penchant for big dance
numbers. And why not? The ethereal vocals and snappy beat of “1 2 3 4”
make it the perfect dance number.
As the video ends, Feist turns to the camera to conduct the
last few bars of music. She bows quickly, cementing the video’s status
as a charming piece of theatricality—nothing more, nothing less.
-Emily C. Graff
As “My Moon My Man” opens, we’re introduced to a woman making
her way down an airport’s moving sidewalk, having just begun to bop
along to the beat of her own song. As the tempo picks up, she loses her
inhibitions and breaks into a strut. The strut becomes a trot, then a
gallop that she maintains only until she sees fit to fully break into
dance. Her name’s Feist (Leslie Feist, to be exact); and you’re sure to
fall in love with her.
Her ample elegance in this video is based, more than
anything, on director Patrick Daughters’ understanding that attractive
women become even more so when the thoughts behind their confident
actions stay veiled. Quite simply, mystery intrigues, and the director
exploits this fact for all it’s worth. Feist’s repeated lyric—“Take it
slow / Take it easy on me / Shed some light / Shed some light on me
please”—is used by the director to embody this idea of mystique, and
the entire clip centers around inventive and playful contrasts between
light and dark.
When the song’s bridge comes though, Daughters truly shines.
As Feist’s voice diminishes for an instrumental break, so does the
camera’s dedication to keeping her in the frame. Overhead lights
flicker and spin like lighthouses—with every illumination, we get only
still, wide shots of the action. Through the strobing we see Feist’s
body mimicking the rotation of the light beams that surround her, and
despite the confusion, we can still manage to make out the tectonic
plates that are her wondrous cheekbones. Hers is an almost violent
beauty, impossible to resist.
Then, as smoothly as things started, the harsh airport
fluorescents turn back on. Her dance-trot regresses to a sprint as she
picks up her suitcase to rush to her flight. We’re left standing there,
and all we can manage is a silent shout of “Wait! Come Back!”