It appears the members of Daft Punk are human after all. But not in the sense that they’ve stopped releasing incredible dance music. Rather, Daft Punk has never sounded more like a group of actual human musicians playing actual instruments than they do on their new single, “Get Lucky.” This change may be startling to some longtime fans, but no one should be worried: “Get Lucky” is one of the best songs they’ve ever recorded, and is also one of the best pop singles of the year.
The French duo has been recording huge international hits since the late 90s, propelled by synth-driven hooks that instantly become ingrained in the brain. Just cue up “Around the World,” “One More Time,” or “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” and you’ll probably remember the first time you heard it pumping on the radio or at the club.
However, they’ve been pretty quiet for the last decade: while they recorded the soundtrack for the movie Tron: Legacy, you’d have to go back to 2005 for their last standalone studio album, Human After All. “Get Lucky,” which was first premiered in a short SNL commercial a couple weeks ago, is the lead single off their new album, Random Access Memories.
It’s well worth the wait. The song is driven not by shiny synthesizers, but rather a wash of jittery guitars and handclaps. Instead of a build with tension and release, the groove simmers the whole way through. And where you’d expect the duo’s classic robotic, distorted vocals to enter, Pharrell’s smooth tenor cuts in instead.
“We’ve come too far to give up who we are / So let’s raise the bar and our cups to the stars,” he sings in harmony. This triumphant chorus is a bit of pop magic sorely missing from much of current radio fodder.
The song kicks into another gear when the Daft Punk’s robotic vocals finally enter, repeating the song’s catchphrase over and over with spastic joy (can a robot display spastic joy)? At any rate, it’s insanely catchy, and when Pharrell soars over the previous vocals, the pairing is an obvious match made in heaven. By the end, it’s clear that it isn’t the anti-robotic sound that makes the song great, but rather the incredible production and songwriting craft. If we’re lucky, then this will just be a teaser for a collection of great music from Daft Punk to come.