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The Ongoing History of New Music, episode 921: A requiem for Daft Punk

It takes a special kind of band to deliberately obscure their appearance. But if you manage to do it right, then it moves from being a silly gimmick to an important piece of your identity, image, and brand.

When KISS came along in the early 70s with their Japanese kabuki-inspired makeup, it wasn’t all that far out. They came out of New York where the glitter scene ad a lot of guys wearing make-up. KISS just took it to an extreme: The Demon, Star Child, Spaceman, and Catman. And it worked–eventually. KISS has sold 100 million albums. There was that period after 1983 when they wiped off the grease paint and showed their faces to everyone. But that’s not what the fans wanted and they eventually brought it all back.

A more contemporary example is Slipknot. Their masks have been an essential part of their identity since the band started up in 1995. It started with The Clown wearing a clown mask for the band’s first gig shortly before Halloween that year. The rest of the guys thought it was dumb at first, but then they all joined in.

Fans now keep close tabs on each member’s mask, parsing what each new iteration–and they can change or be updated on a regular basis–might mean.

There are other mask-wearing bands: The Residents with their eyeball heads; any number of dark metal bands from Scandinavia like Ghost and Lorid; Pussy Riot and their balaclavas; and DeadMau5 as had his big mouse head for years. There are tons of others, but you get the idea.

This brings me to Daft Punk. From 1993 until their breakup in February 2021, they acted like robots with elaborate helmets that completely obscured their identity. We knew they were French and we knew their real names, but beyond that, they were a cool mystery and we played along with it.

Now that they’re done, though, it’s time to dig through their history. What the hell was Daft Punk all about? And why did they matter so much?

Here is their requiem.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Daft Punk, Da Funk
  • Darlin’, Cindy So Long
  • Darlin’/Daft Punk, Darlin’
  • Daft Punk, The New Wave
  • Daft Punk, Around the World
  • Daft Punk, One More Time
  • Daft Punk, Digital Love
  • Daft Punk, Harder Better Faster Stronger (Live)
  • Daft Punk, Get Lucky

Here’s Eric Wilhite’s playlist.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s, and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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