Essential Daft Punk
The androids known as Daft Punk have brought excitement to the dance music scene since the mid-1990s. Their style is steeped in homage and dedication
Image via Complex Original
The androids known as Daft Punk have brought excitement to the dance music scene since the mid-1990s. Their style is steeped in homage and dedication to their influences, but has also been about putting their own spin on whatever they're doing. If you look at their growth from Homework to Random Access Memories, they have gone from the Chicago house-loving funksters to a West Coast-loving pair of robots that just want to kick back and listen to some Moroder.
Since 1994, these two have breathed life into the dance music scene, and today, when we're battling between EDM being a "craze" and trying to keep things grounded, it's almost telling that the androids have done a total 180, shifting from sampling the best and using those sounds to find their way to going for an almost total live experience, and crafting their own sample material. It's awe inspiring, and for those of you who've not followed the duo's work, use this as a perfect guide through their career.
Label: Soma Quality Recordings
One of the first tunes that Daft Punk made, "The New Wave" morphed into what we now know as "Alive," which found a permanent residence on the Homework LP. At the time, this feels like the calling card for the Daft sound, with the punishing kicks, laced with deep bass tones, and a wash of synths over top, entrancing you. No escape from this one.
Label: Soma Quality Recordings
This was the breakout single for the androids, and part of their nod to the hip-hop they love (their inspiration for this was the West Coast G-funk of the day, but they say that the song was described as being everything but hip-hop). No matter what you call it, this is pure funk, and a bonafide house anthem from the 1990s.
"Around the World"
There's joy in repetition. You hear so much going on in today's EDM tracks that to have a tune that's pushing five total sounds, including a vocoder'd up vocal singing the title? The beauty of the video was that it played upon that idea perfectly. No wonder this hit #1 worldwide.
Dance music as a statement against the government? We'll take it. Daft Punk's rage against the machine is found in the intro of "Revolution 909," and the war is waged over monstrous beats. Guess who won?
"One More Time"
The androids returned with their second album, Discovery, headed up by an autotuned Romanthony coaxing you to get on the dancefloor. One thing about the music of the androids has been elements of fun. They have sentimental moments, but their music all about the release; the ability to elevate and enjoy. And they did it like no other, crafting an anthem that has received supreme accolades from Mixmag, Rolling Stone, and any other chart or publication worth their weight in funk.
That guitar! The androids always spoke of the rock groups they feel were influential to their music, but this was one of the biggest examples of that side of them emerging. It was Daft Punk staying true to self, allowing their love of music to shine, and not just trying to apease anyone but themselves when it came to their art. It's rock, it's funk, and it's ill. Deal with it.
Chilly Gonzales is in love with the suspended harmonies in this track, but this is notable for the lyrics from the pen of DJ Sneak. This feels like the anthem for Internets love, doesn't it?
"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"
Quintessential Daft right here. Upbeat, drenched in a bright funk, "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" has just enough of a live feel to have us questioning where the samples came from, but the hypnosis we're under as this track builds makes us forget any questions we had.
"Face to Face"
Todd Edwards for the win; this track, lead by his vocals and co-production, helped usher this one to #1 on the Billboard dance charts in 2004. There's something about the way the clips work with each other; the constant kicks keep you moving, but the way those guitars slink up and down the track? Unabashedly sexy.
"Something About Us"
Discovery's final single, "Something About Us" played as the "love theme" from Interstella 5555, and set the tone for the next stage of Daft Punk's evolution, and could be a direct link to the Random Access Memories that we're enjoying today.
To kick off the push with their third album, the androids showed they were Human After All by bringing the power chords (and the Breakwater samples) out. Who said robots couldn't rock a big beat and still make you groove? Many panned the overall sound of this project, but you can't deny a big beat, especially when it's this crispy. How diverse would you expect robots to rock anyways? They hooked onto a huge sound and kept it pushing.
Talk about repitition - the word "it" is reportedly said 350 times in "Technologic." This is one of those tracks that you wouldn't be able to escape in the club. It's got that bounce in the drums, paired with the commanding voice in the beat? It just takes control.
Label: Walt Disney Records
There was no group better to score Tron: Legacy than Daft Punk, and "Derezzed" shows the androids' knack for huge melodies can trump anything else. Almost makes us wish we had some full body outfits to engage in some combat inside the machine... as long as it was soundtrack to the futuristic Daft funk.
The androids landed in Los Angeles and soaked in the rays, churning out Random Access Memories, a dedication to the West Coast, drenched in the vibes of the disco era. Aligning with the brilliant guitar work of Nile Rodgers, the key to "Get Lucky" is Pharrell, who turned in his best Michael Jackson impression in the lead vocals. Once those heavier drums kick in mid-way, this track gets transported to another world, and further eschews the need to not be so concerned about life when it's time to get on the floor and, well, get lucky.
"Giorgio By Moroder"
The music of Daft Punk has been so much about showcasing and utilizing their influences, that it just made sense for them to bring to life Giorgio Moroder's story, told in his own voice, and throwing in his signature synth flair into this magnum opus. One of the highlights of their fourth album, and a fitting tribute to an electronic music legend.