A Guide to Daft Punk

Discovery

Discovery is a great moment in music history, because Daft Punk traded one kind of innovation for another. 

In the mid-1990s, the group wasn't really bringing back disco. Instead, the group jumped directly into the active dance music fray, competing with the new wave of house music coming out of Chicago and New York City. They weren't trying to be retro any more than any of the producers in Chicago or New York or New Jersey were. It's also likely that they (and many of their peers in France) wanted to make dance music that was contemporary, perhaps informed by history, but breaking from it at the same time.

On Discovery, there was a bit of a retrenchment. Gone was the radical break with traditional songwriting that house music had made. They were composing, like "real" songwriters. But strangely, they managed to make this seem like progressive move, rather than a regressive one. Because at that point, house music had developed its own orthodoxy, its own boxes and rules. And they weren't interested in being held back by them, either.

In came the unexpected guitar solos, the short song forms, the influence of the sci-fi mythos. But they held onto some elements, too: the androgynized vocals, the obsession with repetition. 

This piece is not intended to suggest that Daft Punk weren't original, or that they're being celebrated more than they deserve. Many of their peers, both in the United States and in France, do deserve more attention for their contributions to music history. But hopefully, highlighting those accomplishments only draws more attention to what Daft Punk did so well and so uniquely.

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