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Daft Punk breaks up—why is the electronic music duo influential?

By CHUCK SMITH Published Feb 23, 2021 12:28 am

French electronic music duo Daft Punk has broken up. The announcement was made by the group via a YouTube video titled “Epilogue” posted on Monday, February 21.

The eight-minute video, which has now garnered nine million views since it was uploaded, shows the duo walking into the desert in their signature helmet and leather jacket attire. One member of the duo removes his jacket to reveal a detonator on his back, while the other member presses the detonator’s button. He walks away while the other one explores. After which, “1993-2022” can be seen on the screen.

Daft Punk publicist Kathryn Frazier confirmed to Pitchfork that the duo is breaking up. No reason for the split was given.

The music duo—Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter outside the trademark silver and gold helmets—was founded in 1993, which many music media outfits said defined the “French touch style of house music.” They are considered to be among the most influential music acts of all time. Their debut album, “Homework,” was released in 1997, which featured now-classic songs such as “Da Funk'' and “Around The World.” Soon after the release of their first album, the duo started making appearances (which were rare, to begin with) in their signature helmets. They would also not appear on music videos of their songs. The New York Times describes the duo as a music group presenting itself “as otherworldly and uninterested in the trappings of fame or celebrity.” 

Casual music fans may be most familiar with Daft Punk’s 2001 album, “Discovery,” with singles such as ‘One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”

"Listening to Discovery now, it’s striking how little it makes in the way of concessions, how weird and singular it is. It’s also about as pop as a record could get. Very few artists can do both," writes Zach Baron of GQ.

Daft Punk also did the film score for the movie Tron: Legacy in 2010. 

The group released “Human After All” in 2007 and “Random Access Memories,” their last album, in 2013. The lead single of “Random Access Memories” is “Get Lucky,” featuring Pharell Williams, the group’s most successful song. In 2016, singer The Weeknd released the song “Starboy” which features Daft Punk.

"People imagine that Daft Punk were always beloved international icons, but that's because they see them through a modern lens. Being into Daft Punk and even “dance music” in the early 2000s made you a pretty weird kid. Joke was on the rest of the world," Kat Bein of Billboard writes of Daft Punk's legacy. 

"The thing we can ask ourselves at some point is like: We’re making music for twenty years. How many bands and acts do you have that are still making good music after twenty years?” Bangalter said in a 2013 interview with GQ.