On Daft Punk’s Amazing Musical Legacy, 1993-2021

Daft Punk made dance music in France, sung in English and aimed at the whole world,” said Universal Music France A&R and Label Manager Antoine Ressaussière in the now-retiring duo’s 2015 documentary Daft Punk Unchained. As noted by their publicist today, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo have parted ways as Daft Punk.

The news was announced with an 8-minute video “Epilogue,” excerpted from their 2006 film Electroma.

Disco music’s turn of the 1980s rise was built around the idea that the music was bigger than the creator and that the audience’s ability to experience incredible euphoria via music was the formulaic sound’s true winner. To wit, the duo always pushed the image over the sound. Slickly suited robots in glistening electrified helmets created music so ironically iconographic that — especially in the case of the group performing in front of tens of thousands at the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in 2006 and 2013 — it was described as “the return of the future,” serving up “magical, trans-dimensional, electrified funk” that signaled the “dawn of a new age.”

Moreover, it was the group’s ability to synthesize and globalize the influence of 70s funk, 80s disco, and 90s house into a soulful metronomic thump that inspired artists as diverse as Chic‘s Nile Rodgers, Swedish House Mafia‘s Steve Angello and Sebastian Ingrosso, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams. In inspiring these five artists, the archetypes of what bleeds into modern pop music’s undefinable, genre-free, open-format style emerge.

For electro house’s leading Swedes, it was attempting to mirror the blend of hip-hop breaks and synthpop in Daft Punk’s 1995 single “Da Funk” that unified them as friends and young producers. For Kanye West, it was hearing A-Trak play the duo’s 2001 hit “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” that inspired the sample for his 2007 global breakout hit “Stronger.” The single ultimately keyed West’s growth from a backpack rapper favoring sped-up soul samples into being the 2010s most avant-garde and sociopolitical zeitgeist-challenging creator. As for Wiliams and Rodgers, their pairing with the robots for “Get Lucky” revitalized the latter for a new generation of music aficionados, while for the former, it allowed his seamless blend of fashion and music to have a timeless soundtrack that extended beyond the boundaries of keyboard-enabled boom-bap production excellence.

On the duo’s final 2013 album Random Access Memories, the vocals from the track “Beyond” offer a quote that sums up Daft Punk as a source of inspiration, now and forever:

“You are the light behind a cloud. You are the end and the beginning.”

Check out Beatsource‘s 100% Daft Punk playlist here.

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