Friday, January 4, 2008

Dafthead Radiopunk

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

bsteezy pulled what I consider to be a low blow--he's making me argue against my favorite band on the planet.

While I wholeheartedly agree that Radiohead's decision to not sell "In Rainbows" in shops as well as giving it away/letting fans name their price for it is revolutionary and a revelation, I just am not convinced that they shook the world up the way that Daft Punk did.

Daft Punk were, for the longest time, your older sister's cool ex-boyfriend's favorite French house band. They toiled in relative obscurity here in the states, and their debut, "Homework" was put out in 1997--a bit before my time. The first exposure I had to the band was when I saw their video for "One More Time". The band got written off as kitschy and as sort of neu-disco...which they clearly are not.

"Discovery" was a solid album that did not come close to approaching the landmark status of "Homework", and the subsequent "Human After All" was downright dreadful.

Fine, fine. Daft Punk was getting played by the club kids. They were loved by critics. But they just weren't big. That changed last year, when they embarked on a world tour complete with a massive pyramid.

Behold it here.

Dudes constantly wear robot helmets. They saw they are not from earth. They put out two full length films: the first was a movie for the entire "Discovery" album and the other was called "Electroma" and is about the band and how they came together (though they got actors to portray them in it)

James Murphy started pushing the band with his single "Daft Punk is Playing at My House" and he bragged on the song "Yeah" that "I was the first guy to play Daft Punk for the rock kids". And, really, with bands like Murphy's LCD Soundsystem getting big, it's time that Daft Punk get their due. They are really the world's biggest unknown band--and really, no one knows who they are because they never take those awesome helmets off.

Without Daft Punk, as I said in my last post, there would be no Justice, no Mr. Oizo, no Simian Mobile Disco..and, really, no Ed Banger records period. Keyboards wouldn't be cool again and the rock kids wouldn't want to go to clubs.

Daft Punk used to be dance music for the kids that didn't dance outside of their own bedrooms. Now, they're club music for the masses. Today, driving in Honolulu, I had the radio on (my iPod had died) and I heard two different commercials for two different Honolulu nightclubs. One was for "Island Night", where people of the Polynesian persuasion party and the other was for a more Asian, college going crowd--and both played Daft Punk as their background music.

The band crossed cultural borders--they became a force with the glitzy cocaine LA crowd as well as the drugged out acoustic folksters. Kanye West sampled the band.

The became the hottest live ticket in the US--and they didn't even put out a new studio record. This is a massive accomplishment.

Yes, Radiohead may have introduced the world to a new way of music distribution, but only the most famous bands will be able to utilize it. Up-and-coming bands will be worse off because of this system because they will not have the advertising backing of big labels under this system. This worked for Radiohead because they are the world's biggest band--they don't need to advertise and they don't need radio airplay to sell records. It's that simple.

The day I can walk to class and hear two totally ditzy LA girls talk about how great the last Radiohead live show was is the day that they'll take the throne as the world's most relevant band. Otherwise, though, the throne is occupied by the otherworldly roboboys of Daft Punk.