Los Angeles Times

Noth­ing Daft in its suc­cess

The elec­tronic-mu­sic duo calls it quits after 28 years. Here are its top 10 EDM mo­ments.

- By Au­gust Brown Entertainment · Musicians · Celebrities · Music · Rock Music · Pop Music · Thomas Bangalter · Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo · Daft Punk · United States of America · Townsend Coleman · Kanye West · MTV · Michel Gondry · Britney Spears · Finland · Nile Rodgers · Pharrell Williams · The Weeknd · Billboard · Coachella, CA · Indio, CA · Spike Jonze · Roman Coppola · Pedro WinteRS CITY · Ed Banger Records · Justice League Unlimited

The French duo of Thomas Ban­gal­ter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, known world­wide as Daft Punk, was al­ready beloved be­fore it took the stage at Coachella in 2006. It had three ac­claimed stu­dio al­bums, a decade of semireg­u­lar tour­ing and the es­teem of dance mu­sic and pop so­phis­ti­cates alike.

Start­ing in the ’90s, Ban­gal­ter and De Homem-Christo hid their faces un­der old and sil­ver robot masks, rarely break­ing char­ac­ter, but be­came rec­og­niz­able pop stars in their own right.

But when the lights went on over the band’s gi­gan­tic pyra­mid in In­dio and a tent full of neo­phyte young ravers felt the disco thrash of “Robot Rock,” a whole EDM in­dus­try was shot into the strato­sphere, re­mak­ing fes­ti­val cul­ture in the U.S. for a gen­er­a­tion.

“No one had seen any­thing like that,” dance mu­sic his­to­rian Michae­lan­gelo Matos said in the 2015 doc­u­men­tary “Daft Punk Un­chained.” “No one had seen that level of pro­duc­tion.

Ev­ery­body who was in the tent was tex­ting ev­ery­body else: ‘You are miss­ing this! This is the great­est thing I’ve ever seen! You’re miss­ing the great­est per­for­mance of all time.’ ”

With the re­lease of a video ex­plod­ing their robot bod­ies for­ever, Ban­gal­ter and De Homem-Christo an­nounced Mon­day that they would re­tire, 28 years after form­ing and seven years after their smash “Get Lucky” pro­pelled an al­bum of the year win at the Gram­mys for “Ran­dom Ac­cess Mem­o­ries.”

With a cat­a­log packed with club bangers, film scores, Kanye West and the Weeknd col­lab­o­ra­tions and dance chart No. 1s, Daft Punk en­joyed what was ar­guably the most in­flu­en­tial and ac­com­plished ca­reer in mod­ern elec­tronic mu­sic.

Here are 10 es­sen­tial mo­ments from its ca­reer.

1. “Da Funk” (1995) The duo’s first hit sin­gle in its new guise after a brief indie-rock ca­reer set the tem­plate for its mu­sic to come — a hot grease syn­the­sizer lick, per­fectly chopped sam­ples and a Spike Jonze-di­rected video with a man-dog in a trench coat that be­came a sta­ple of the MTV era.

2. “Around the World” (1997) One of the most stylish, end­lessly loopable cuts from the “Home­work” al­bum that showed a softer, so­phis­ti­cated ap­proach to con­tem­po­rary house, with a col­or­ful yet droll dance video. (Daft Punk had great ones from this era with Jonze, Michel Gondry, Ro­man Cop­pola and Seb Ja­niak.)

3. “One More Time” (2001) The most re­li­able, hands-up ex­ul­tant track in its cat­a­log; it’s never a bad time in a DJ set to cue up this ul­tra-com­pressed tri­umph and watch the room burst open.

4. “Face to Face” (2004) A team-up with U.S. pro­ducer Todd Ed­wards, the fifth sin­gle from “Dis­cov­ery” topped U.S. dance charts in 2004 (suc­ceeded by Brit­ney Spears’ “Toxic”... what a month!).

5. “In­ter­stella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ys­tem” (2003) Not a song but the band’s fea­ture-length anime film/com­pan­ion to its “Dis­cov­ery” al­bum, un­der the tute­lage of leg­endary an­i­ma­tion stu­dio Toei and direc­tor Kazuhisa Take­nouchi.

6. “Robot Rock” (2005) The tougher edges, rock at­ti­tude and crush­ing dy­nam­ics of “Robot Rock” set the tone for man­ager Pe­dro Win­ter’s Ed Banger Records, which would bring French club mu­sic into a new and gen­uinely thrilling era. The “Hu­man After All” al­bum came out to mixed re­views, but the lead sin­gles have stood up as cat­a­log sta­ples for its live sets, which is where the band took its con­cept to new heights.

7. “Harder, Bet­ter, Faster, Stronger” (2007) This live ver­sion off of its beloved, tow­er­ing post-Coachella tour al­bum “Alive” was re­leased as a sin­gle and makes a strong case as its de­fin­i­tive take. Kanye West later used the song as the cen­ter­piece sam­ple of his own smash, “Stronger.”

8. “Tron: Legacy” (2010) The two-dozen cuts the band pro­duced from the re­booted sci-fi mile­stone might not get much club play today, but it shows the level of rigor and mu­si­cian­ship the band was ca­pa­ble of away from dance floors.

9. “Get Lucky” (2013) For most of the non-dance-mu­sic world, this track will be their call­ing card forever­more. Just pure, per­fect throw­back disco, witty and rous­ing and gen­er­a­tion-span­ning. Nile Rodgers on inim­itable gui­tar, Phar­rell on the just-reach­ing-enough vo­cals — it’s the gold-stan­dard sin­gle on the band’s Grammy-dom­i­nat­ing “Ran­dom Ac­cess Mem­o­ries.”

10. The Weeknd, “Star­boy” / “I Feel It Com­ing” (2016) The group fi­nally got a Bill­board No. 1 as pro­duc­ers and guests on the Weeknd’s “Star­boy” and “I Feel It Com­ing.” The pair of tracks won’t top any Daft Punk su­per­fan’s list, but they proved Daft Punk could step into the back­ground of a pop star’s vi­sion as well as dom­i­nate fes­ti­val fields.

 ?? Spencer Weiner Los An­ge­les Times ?? FRENCH DUO Daft Punk per­forms at Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val on April 29, 2006.
Spencer Weiner Los An­ge­les Times FRENCH DUO Daft Punk per­forms at Coachella Val­ley Mu­sic and Arts Fes­ti­val on April 29, 2006.

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