If you are minimally active in social media you’ve probably heard about the forthcoming stuff by the French robotic duo “Daft Punk”: “Random Access Memories” set to be released on the 21st of May. The album’s first single “Get Lucky” was the most popular song on Spotify and the N.1 on Itunes the day it was released (19th April), it was trending topic on twitter, and managed to become popular in any kind of radio station world-wide. So, how did the French duo –aka. Columbia Records- managed to reach such a potent success even before the release of the entire album?
Since several months-or even years- rumors about a new project by Daft Punk –the first after 8 years (apart from the excellent work for the Tron Legacy soundtrack) – plastered the net. This was confirmed this year with a series of interviews, “The collaborator’s project”, where some renowned musicians –Neil Rodgers, Chilly Gonzalez, Pharrell Williams, among others- revealed some details about the project and confirmed their collaboration with the robots. The emphasis was put on the research work and on the idea of renewing classic and retro sounds. The music was kept as a big secret. The expectation couldn’t be bigger.
Then came the teaser of the first single, “Get Lucky”, which was released in Coachella and aired during a SNL show: Daft Punk, Pharrel Williams and Neil Rodgers performing a funky, disco and extremely catchy song wearing classy shiny suits. The covers or reedits of the track where counted by hundreds, increasing an exciting confusion, mystery and expectation.
The press was also invited to a reproduction listening of the entire album. Two conditions where required thought: the album would be played only once, and these meetings should remain secret until the 1st of May. Of course treating journalists so kindly, and asking them to join a kind of elite club, is an excellent way to multiply further press reviews, and also to increase the expectation among music critic experts. I’d like to point that this demonstrates the confidence of the music label on the quality of the product, and this could also confirm the hard work that they invested in the production of the project.
At the end, the result is a very coherent communication in phase with the image Daft Punk has created for itself during its career, and that has always be noted for a halo of mystery.
Musicians Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter have indeed hidden their faces since the early years of Daft Punk: “When not wearing disguises, they occasionally preferred to be replaced by animation (as they appeared in The Work of Director Michel Gondry DVD) or have their faces digitally obscured for press kits. Very few official photos of the duo’s faces exist, including a blurry one found in the Homework liner notes.” When asked about this, both musicians usually argue that they don’t want their music to be overshadowed by themselves. This is very effective as it contributes to 1. Creating the image of hard-working profesionnals focused on the quality of their music and 2. Creating a history, a background, a myth, and therefore an attractive and sophisticated story to be storytelled.
A glamourious touch
Recently the luxury maison Saint Laurent -previously known as Yves Saint Laurent- hired the robots as brand ambassadors. The result is a black and white print campaign where chic and elegance meets an avant-gardist robotic aesthetic. The photos are surprisingly elegant and effective. This gives the duo a renewed look, a one way more classy and mature than the leather moto-rider suits they used to wear.
Is Daft Punk getting lucky? Definitely. But it would be unfair to attribute their success to chance only and to downplay the strategic hard work of their marketing team: they acted brilliantly and the proof of it is the result.
Anyway, it seems that the full album is amazing, we’ll have to wait until the 21st…