Published: January 30, 2014
By: Jordan Calvano
10. Human After All
Daft Punk is so hot right now. They didn’t just win the Album of The Year for dance music, but for all music. They weren’t just pigeonholed for the style they so boldly represent, but instead left Taylor Swift and her crew of producers shell-shocked as they slowly walked up to the stage and received music’s biggest award. Besides Pharrell’s hat, they were easily the biggest thing at the Grammys. They invited the audience into a whole new world of performance, although most of them couldn’t figure out how to dance along, and stood beside music legends like Stevie Wonder and Nile Rodgers.
But let’s not forget—Daft Punk has been around for a long time now. The French musicians have been active for about 20 years now, releasing Homework in 1997 and placing their unalterable seal on music forever. They have given us the sound of tomorrow, simultaneously nodding those ever-changing masks to artists who inspired their very presence and sound. With Daft Punk, quality has always risen above quantity. They’ve given us four unforgettable albums, each picking apart a unique set of sonic boundaries and reinventing that specific sound.
With this list, we dig into those four albums that have helped shape and inspire artists across a broad spectrum of genres. We had to choose from 53 songs. 53 songs that have been forever cemented in the history books of music. 53 songs that never seemed to follow the rules of what was popular at the time. 53 songs that rethought what vocals could sound like, what instruments could be used for, and what form music in general could take on. Are you ready to celebrate with us?
“Human After All” is basically Daft Punk’s confessional to the world. After ten years in the game, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter finally revealed that under those badass helmets there was actual flesh and bones. Still, this doesn’t make them mere mortals. They’re like Will Smith in I, Robot. Some parts are human, yet other parts are far from it. Opening their third album of the same name, the talkbox heavy groove clearly introduced a much more polished sound than previously explored by the Frenchmen on Discovery and Homework.
9. Da Funk
“Da Funk” is the first song to really stand out on Homework. The first few tunes are just glorified intros, but track four is where we really get to experience Daft Punk as we’ve come to know them. Even the first minute of “Da Funk” doesn’t do much. Basically just lackluster drum sections, but at exactly one minute we are fully introduced to a synth line that will immediately shake your entire psyche. Can you imagine getting to hear song back in 1997? It must have caused minor earthquakes all across the globe. The Eiffel Tower was probably rocking back and forth in time with this funk.
8. Something About Us
If you absolutely love Random Access Memories, then this slow jaunt is right up your alley. “Something About Us” is basically the first indication of what Daft Punk would eventually sound like in the distant future, fusing romantic vocals with a heavily instrumental backdrop. Tucked in-between much more upbeat gems like “High Life” and “Voyager,” the addicting number shows a musical craftsmanship and attention to detail often lacking in other tracks included on their first two albums. You start to understand the men behind the helmets, emotion masked only by their classic vocal filters.
Serving as the final full-length track on Homework, the alluring jam entitled “Alive” puts the icing on the cake to what would eventually become one of the greatest debut albums in the history of electronic music. It’s got the type of steady build that undoubtedly inspired producers like Eric Pyrdz, starting with just drums and gently picking up pieces along the way. The song never strays from this natural progression, and that’s what makes it so powerful. You get lost in the ambiance. It’s a lesson in minimalism really. Pick your song structure, and than stick to that structure.
6. The Game of Love
“The Game of Love” is basically the follow up to “Something About Us.” We get that same storybook narrative; this time told from a retrospective viewpoint and with lyrics heavily coated in vocoder. An interesting placement after the upbeat “Give Life Back to Music,” but it’s basically Daft Punk’s way of telling listeners that in no way would RAM be a one trick pony. It’s all about the juxtaposition. Bring your audience up only to gently bring that back down. It’s a veteran move, and just one of the reasons Daft Punk walked away so victorious at the 2013 Grammys.