Two figures with robotic helmets walk through a desert landscape. After a while, she turns to face the explosive on her back. After a minute, an explosion sounds through the wasteland, scattering the body in black fragments into the surroundings. Then the title 1993-2021 appears and the second character goes far to the sounds of the song Touch from the album Random Access Memories.
This is the depersonalized and unpathetic but still melancholic end of the French music duo Daft Punk, at least in a music video called Epilogue, released by the couple earlier this week. It consists of shots of musicians in iconic costumes from their film Electroma from 2008, which now served to announce the end of mutual cooperation. It marks the culmination of an era that has wound from French house clubs to the world’s largest stages.
“Thank you for the decades of pleasure,” reads one of the tens of thousands of comments on YouTube under the Epilogue video, most of which are not shocked or disappointed, but rather grateful. The Guardian even described the duo as “the most influential pop musicians of the 21st century” in a commentary on Tuesday. “By resurrecting disco, pop rock and 80’s RnB, which made dance music a spectacle, the French duo changed the direction of pop music over and over again,” writes Alexis Petridis.
Title as from bad reviews
Daft Punk consisted of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Former classmates began making music as teenagers. At first they played rock in Darlin ‘band, but gradually they became more interested in dance music when they started experimenting with electronics and synthesizers. In Paris in 1993, Daft Punk was born, who chose the name from one of the negative reviews, which described their music as “daft punky trash”, which could be translated as “would-be punk waste”.
However, the duo quickly drew considerable attention to themselves with the successful track Da Funk, which led to their debut album Homework three years later (1997). The record – recorded by the way in Bangalter’s bedroom, by the way – is considered a milestone in dance music. They gradually wedged into the charts with a sound that had not been heard from the mainstream until then.
In addition, since 1999, they have been betting on a hidden exterior, when they put on the mentioned robotic helmets during every public performance, so that no one could see their faces. However, their uplifting music resisted the “cold” appearance, even though they have modified vocals on most hits.
If you’re not smiling, you’re a robot
In 2001 came the more pop album Discovery, which only strengthened their position thanks to hits such as One More Time and Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Critics praised the innovative blending of styles that brought playfulness back to electronic dance music. “If you can listen to songs like Aerodynamics or Crescendolls without a smile, maybe it’s you who is a robot,” notes the BBC. Daft Punk was then expected to overcome every other record.
The most commercially successful album was the already mentioned Random Access Memories from 2013, which won a Grammy for the best record of the year. Again, it was a shift for Daft Punk – this time back in time to the funky roots of dance music. It seemed to the couple that the sound of electronic music had already become very professionalized to artificial perfection. They used real tools, not a computer, to create them.
Get Lucky is the fourth most played song of the decade
“You have all those recordings from the past that are small sparks of magic. But people feel that we no longer live in such a world. That’s why we try to show ourselves whether we can break it and create something classic and timeless even today, “Bangalter said in an interview.
At the Grammy, one of the four statuettes for Daft Punk was also awarded to the notorious single Get Lucky, which fit into the retro mood of the album and was hosted by American musicians Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers. Get Lucky is the fourth most played song of the last decade. According to Bangalter, the song was to represent the past, present and future of dance music.
The art of not being seen
But for Daft Punk, marketing may have been as important as music. He also attracted the attention of filmmakers. “Who is the most important contemporary artist?” Asks Pope Pius XIII. performed by Judea Law in the series The Young Pope by Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino. After a while, he answers himself – the most important are said to be Daft Punk, for one reason. They never exposed themselves to people, did not allow others to photograph them. According to him, it was this unavailability and non-incurrence that ensured them the mentioned status.