Generating buzz for pop music was once the territory of MTV and radio, but television advertisements are quickly becoming musical tastemakers, and there is no hipper marketer on this front than Apple. No wonder, then, that Yael Naim’s song “New Soul,” featured in the ubiquitous MacBook Air commercial, has garnered the French Israeli singer a nearly instant burst of popularity.
The song is currently No.1 on iTunes charts. The album, which is also titled “New Soul” and includes songs in English, French and Hebrew, ranks sixth. Naim is doing equally well in a number of European countries, including her current home, France. While her sound is somewhat familiar to fans of chanteuses like Fiona Apple and Regina Spektor, the presence of Hebrew is not. Indeed, Naim’s album is likely to provide the first bit of the language to millions of iPods across the country.
Naim was born in Paris in 1978, but she spent her childhood in Ramat Hasharon, a small town near Tel Aviv. Apart from her two years in the Israeli military, she has been playing and performing since she was a girl.
In 2001, Naim took a stab at a working with major label EMI, but, according to her Web site, by the end of the recording process she felt as though the large-scale production was a failure. After a few years of soul-searching, and a fortuitous meeting with “New Soul” producer David Donatien, Naim was ready to give it another try. The duo spent two years working in Naim’s Paris apartment, and eventually they recorded the album right there on a single computer.
This story "Israeli Singer Tops iTunes" was written by Elissa Strauss.
Elissa Strauss has written for the Forward over a number of years. She is a regular contributor to CNN, whose work has been published in a number of publications including The New York Times, Glamour, ELLE, and Longreads.