Chances are, you’ve heard a song or two by the French electronic dance music duo Daft Punk at some point in your life. And if you think you haven’t, think again.
Monday morning, I woke up to the music world in shock. News articles everywhere read “Daft Punk is over,” “Daft Punk announces breakup” and “French dance music duo split.” In disbelief, I’ve finally chosen to face the facts.
After a nearly three-decade-long run, Daft Punk is officially closing the book. Bringing 28 years of pure musical genius and legendary sound innovation to multiple genres across the music industry — from techno to pop to indie rock and hip hop — the electronic powerhouse duo has dropped the mic.
I do admit, it’s always a challenge to see a legend go.
Fans from all over the world, speaking different languages and from all walks of life, paid their respects and gathered in the comments of Daft Punk’s final farewell. Sharing fond memories and intimate stories, many thanked the pair for the love and life that their music provided them over the years.
“The wonderful thing about music and animation is that they can both travel across all borders, cultures, languages, generations and human races,” said Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo in an interview with Real Voices.
There couldn’t be anything more true about that statement. As someone whose affinity for music goes beyond sound, I think Daft Punk accomplished what they set out to do in their years of practice.
Released Monday, the 8-minute video that broke the news titled “Epilogue,” excerpted from their 2006 film “Electroma,” features members Thomas Bangalter and de Homem-Christo walking away from the camera in silence. The announcement was not at all what I expected or how I would’ve imagined it to happen — but when it comes to Daft Punk, I think it’s fair to say one should expect the unexpected.
Wind whistling softly in the background as they continue their strides ahead, in true robot fashion donning their gold and silver chrome helmets, the duo that changed music forever begin to part ways. Then, the silent whistle of still life is met by a beeping timer one member sets on the back of the other, and when the minute countdown is over, an explosion erupts.
When it’s all said and done, the music begins to play and the screen goes black as we remember all that Daft Punk has given to the music world, fans and connoisseurs alike. From 1993 to 2021, the French pair Daft Punk left a legacy long in the making.
Though I don’t recall the very first time I stumbled upon Daft Punk’s music, I can pretty confidently say the first song I ever heard from them was “Around the World.” Second to that, and the one most people immediately recognize was “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” the anthem that echoed through my speakers for years and made Daft Punk a household name.
With six Grammy wins and 12 nominations, I would say that Daft Punk has had an avant-garde, experimental, high-concept career — but one that has worked fruitfully in their favor (a rare occurrence for most).
It isn’t every day that an international icon comes around. But when they do, people latch hold and some desire to emulate the talent they admire — attempting to replicate and reproduce Daft Punk’s sound in innovative ways.
Beginning with their first collaboration in 1993 and the release of their first studio album, “Homework,” four years later in 1997, Daft Punk entered the music scene with a bang and changed it forever. Later achieving mainstream success, the pair have been deemed “genius” and “legendary” on multiple accounts.
Now I’m not claiming to be a Daft Punk expert, but I have no doubt in saying their sound has influenced many artists’ music today.
“Those guys are one of the reasons I make music, so I can’t even compare them to other people,” The Weeknd said about the duo in an interview with Variety. “Their branding and how seriously they take their craft and image and everything — they’re almost not even real.”
The Weeknd and Daft Punk collaborated in 2016 on the opening song of “Starboy” and the closing song of the album “I Feel It Coming.” The former came to be the duo’s first No. 1 hit track on Billboard’s Hot 100.
From famously composing the soundtrack to “Tron: Legacy” in 2010 to creating yet another smash hit, this time with Pharrell Williams on “Get Lucky” in 2013, Daft Punk has seen a creatively successful and lucrative career.
Though the helmet-wearing duo hasn’t released a new album since “Random Access Memories” in 2013, they have pushed boundaries of what it means to be an artist for decades. Resonating with three generations and impacting more to come, the enigmatic stars’ digital album sales have skyrocketed over 2,560% since their break up announcement.
In essence, music is a very subjective experience for us all. Even if you have never listened to one of Daft Punk’s songs or if you’re a die hard fanatic yourself, there’s no telling otherwise how their music creates its own story for every listener. Each person is able to connect to their songs in different ways and associate them with different memories. And that’s the beautiful thing about their music — its universality and ability to impact and resonate with many.
Though their time in the spotlight is coming to a close, Daft Punk’s music will always remain.
Emily Sagen is a senior writing about music’s lasting impact. She is also an arts & entertainment editor at the Daily Trojan. Her column, “The Beat Lives On,” runs every other Friday.