One More Time: 10 songs that showcase the musical evolution of Daft Punk

The French duo, who have announced their split after 28 years, redefined dance music

The pop music world is in mourning after news that Daft Punk are calling time on their stellar 28-year career.

The electronic French duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter leave behind a legacy that producer Mark Ronson described as "enviable but impossibly unattainable."

From house music and disco to funk, rock and soul, Daft Punk’s inspirations were far and wide. They released albums both sprawling and concise, and redefined multiple times our conceptions of dance music.

These robots may be turning their helmets in, but they leave an inspiring body of work to influence future artist to reach for the stars.

Here are 10 songs that best showcase their legacy.

1. ‘Da Funk’ (1994)

The perfect debut single not only in terms of quality but in setting out the sonic vision for what Daft Punk was about.

A heady marriage of disco, electro and funk, Da Funk is built around an ear-worm synth line and sampled vocals. The whole affair sounds as vintage as it does futuristic – twin features that describe Daft Punk’s approach to a tee.

2. ‘Around the World’ (1997)

Early Daft Punk singles were relatively primitive sounding in comparison to the orchestral funk odysseys of last album Random Access Memories.

That said, there is a lot to enjoy in the early days.

Take Around the World for instance, a track that doesn’t do much other than repeat a catchy hook embellished by a smattering of bleeps. The real star here, however, is the heaving bass line. Lean and forceful, you will be dancing in no time.

3. ‘One More Time’ (2000)

The New Year’s Eve party anthem of 2000, Daft Punk stretch themselves with a denser production that incorporates everything from blaring horns, synths, funk guitars and euphoric vocals by US singer and DJ Romanthony.

One More Time brought the group to the mainstream and topped the US dance charts.

4. ‘Digital Love’ (2001)

An underappreciated part of Daft Punk's legacy is their love songs.

Each album is home to tender vocals wrapped up in house beats. Digital Love is an affecting example. It's an electro love song with vocals (provided by the duo) exuding nostalgia, and features a gloriously bonkers keyboard solo that would have made producer Giorgio Morder proud.

5. ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ (2001)

The track which saw Daft Punk truly embraced their robot personas.

Built around a buoyant piano melody taken from funk singer Edwin Birdsong's 1979 track Cola Bottle Baby, the duo inject the track with house beats, funk guitar riffs and signature robotic vocals that tell us to work "harder, better, faster, stronger."

This all would have sounded dystopian if it wasn't for the infectious spirit coursing through the affair.

6. ‘Robot Rock’ (2005)

Disconcerted with the public and industry viewing them as a good time party group, Daft Punk threw a curve ball with this searing single.

Jettisoning the clubby sounds for gnarly guitars and cold, monotonous vocals, casual fans were aghast and wondered if the group was indeed trolling them.

They weren’t: even DJs want to rock out occasionally.

7. ‘Robot Rock/Oh Yeah’ (2007)

Some things sound better live.

With the brawny sounds of album Human After All not connecting with the masses, Daft Punk reintroduced many of the tracks as part of their Alive 2007 live album, taken from a Paris show that year.

The collection is widely viewed as the best live album released by an electronic group. The Robot Rock/Oh Yeah is the opening one-two punch of the set, once the thunderous riffs kick in around the two minute mark, it signals the beginning of an absolutely epic performance.

8. ‘Derezzed’ (2010)

Daft Punk proved they were equally adept at composing for the big screen with their sweeping score for 2010 Sci-Fi film Tron: Legacy.

But even in cinema, they couldn't keep their club roots away. Derezzed is a frenetic banger and is chockfull of serrated synthesizers and computer game style beats and bleeps.

9. ‘Get Lucky’ (2013)

This piece of funk-pop perfection became one the defining anthems of 2013.

From the skittish riffs of Chic guitarist Nile Rodgers and Daft Punk's ebullient production, to Pharrell Williams’s sly vocals, Get Lucky is three generations of pop music knowledge distilled in a joyful four-minute summer jam.

10. ‘Giorgio by Moroder’ (2013)

The emotional centre of their last album, the Grammy Award-winning masterpiece Random Access Memories, Giorgio by Moroder is pretty much a sonic biography of their music idol, German dance music pioneer Giorgio Moroder.

Fusing spoken word narrative, provided by the man himself about his early years and forging his sound, with matching dramatic and barrelling analogue synth riffs, Daft Punk conjure the energy Moroder’s pioneering quest and in turn, lay down their case as legends in their own right.

Published: February 23, 2021 08:14 PM

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