It’s no understatement to say that Daft Punk, who announced their split today, are one of the most influential electronic acts of all time. Since their 1997 debut album ‘Homework’ spawned instant hits including ‘Around the World’, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo developed the sound of French house internationally. And the Parisian pair soon became world-renowned for their now-iconic displays of anonymity too.
They were sampled by Kanye West on ‘Stronger’; appeared fully masked on a surreal GAP advert; collaborated with The Weeknd and bagged an Album of the Year award at the 2014 Grammys for 2013’s ‘Random Access Memories’, which featured collaborations with Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams. More unpredictably, they also soundtracked the Disney movie Tron: Legacy. And that’s without delving into their countless iconic music videos which also changed the game in terms of visuals.
After 28 years of changing the music world, they announced the split with an eight-minute video called Epilogue, the pair seen in the desert in their trademark futuristic helmets. When one of them hits a button, an explosion goes off and the screen turns to black. The video finishes with a pair of robot hands alongside the dates 1993-2021. A fitting end.
In honour of their incredible legacy, here are 10 of the best Daft Punk tracks ever.
‘Da Funk’ (1995)
One of the first tracks to send the name Daft Punk stratospheric in the mid-90s, ‘Da Funk’ is an endlessly replayable piece of pop-culture history that will still be relevant in another 100 years. The acid-infused instrumental, which is widely considered as one of the 1990s house music classics, is a hard-rock song disguised as a huge dance banger. An impressive achievement that set them on the path to genre-fusing greatness.
‘Around The World’ (1997)
Fusing the worlds of disco, funk and electro and ushering in a new age of dance music, this lyrically simplistic earworm – which built on the momentum of their breakthrough hit ‘Da Funk’ – proves that if you’ve got a great pulsing beat and a catchy vocal that impossible to get out of your heard, listening to virtually the same thing for more than seven minutes is a delight rather than a drawn-out chore. Two-and-a-half decades later, this highlight of their ‘Homework’ album remains one of their most memorable tracks, as does its iconic video.
‘One More Time’ (2000)
The ultimate party anthem, this instantly recognisable banger and stand out of their ‘Discovery’ album sounds just as massive today as when it was released 21 years ago. There’s just something about it that hits all the right spots: as soon as the immediately uplifting beat kicks in, the robots deliver a slice of electro euphoria that’s arguably not been beaten. Its cultural impact cannot be understated either: since landing at the turn of the century, this slice of dance-pop perfection has kept audiences across the globe dancing wildly and singing at the top of their lungs.
‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ (2001)
One of their more playful and experimental tracks, this ‘Discovery’ highlight employed an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. It’s easy to picture the masked robots having an awful lot of fun tinkering around with the production on this one, pitch-shifting the vocals in a million different ways and adding multiple sonic layers to the same track. The track would introduce the work of Daft Punk to a new audience of hip-hop fans when Kanye sampled it.
‘Digital Love’ (2001)
Here’s a straight-up love song full of longing and desire. You’ll remember it, too, from the weird GAP television advert in which both members of Daft Punk dance with Juliette Lewis while wearing their robotic helmets and gloves as well as GAP denim shirts and jeans. Genius marketing. For the nostalgia fans out there, it was also used by Nokia for a commercial of the Nokia 5300.
Taken from their 2005 album ‘Human After All’, ‘Technologic’ is classic Daft Punk: squarely aimed at the dancefloor and full of robotic repetition, their fusion of an irritating yet inescapable childlike vocal, pulsing house beats and vocoder funk. And who could forget the creepy music video which, with its lipless animatronic doll, turned the bizarre-o-meter up to 11.
‘Robot Rock’ (2005)
Although it’s taken from the same album, ‘Robot Rock’ is a total parallel to ‘Technologic’: riding on a massive guitar riff that crunches alongside syncopated drums and a trademark vocoded robotic vocal, it’s an undeniable stadium-sized anthem that veers away from their house and techno origins.
‘Get Lucky’ (2013)
A hybrid of their trademark roboticised electro with old school disco grooves, ‘Get Lucky’ introduced the French duo to a poppier audience. Teaming up with Pharrell and Chic’s funky frontman Nile Rodgers, the summer smash dominated radio playlists, club DJ sets and the charts for the best part of a year. It was impossible to get the song out of your head and rightfully ranks among their biggest contributions to pop music.
The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, ‘Starboy’ (2016)
Nobody could’ve predicted a team-up between falsetto-toned widescreen R&B star The Weeknd and the masked Frenchmen, but Abel Tesfaye’s step into their uninhibited genre-fusing universe made for a fitting opening to his 2016 album of the same name. The subtle, moody, syncopated production took the duo in a more minimalist direction.
The Weeknd feat. Daft Punk, ‘I Feel It Coming’ (2016)
A total contrast to their work on ‘Starboy’, and in a similar vein to their disco-flecked production on ‘Get Lucky’, this understated radio-dominating album closer showed a totally different side to The Weeknd and proved that Daft Punk could make something danceable without throwing everything at it. An instant-pop soul classic.