The Top 50 Tracks of 2013
By Jason Lamphier
Further proof that simplicity really is beautiful, especially in the hands of four musical masterminds. “Get Lucky” came shimmying into the pop landscape this spring, perhaps sounding a bit less gobsmacking and progressive than some Daft Punk lovers were hoping for—at least at first listen. These were, remember, the techno-and-house wizards instrumental in spawning the EDM movement that’s now, some 20 years later, threatening to buckle under its own ubiquity. Meanwhile, the piecemeal marketing campaign for their first studio album in eight years (SNL spots, Coachella ads, a 10-second teaser) had anticipation reaching a fever pitch before the single even saw the light of day. So what to make of top 40 staple Pharrell Williams crooning over a neatly packaged, repetitive disco tune? Was this the duo’s bid for the mainstream? And though DP’s most memorable lyrics up to that point had probably been “Music’s got me feelin’ so free/ We’re gonna celebrate,” a line like “We’re up all night to get lucky” seemed just a little goofy—even for two dudes who’ve been running around in helmets and emoting through vocoders for the past two decades. Were our beloved French androids officially selling out?
We needn’t have worried. A month—and a few more spins of “Get Lucky”—later, Random Access Memories came out. Not only did it strike the perfect balance of infectious and ingenious that early Daft Punk masterpieces Homework and Discovery had achieved, it was the duo’s most surprising, audacious effort yet. Here was a record that pissed all over a genre the pair had essentially created, instead taking a deep dive into disco, prog-rock, muzak, science fiction soundtracks, Broadway, and sappy AM radio—some of the most maligned, “uncool” sounds to come out of the late ’70s and early ’80s—and then refashioning them for the modern age. In this context, “Get Lucky,” underpinned by producer and former Chic member Nile Rodgers’s irresistible fretwork, made complete sense. Like all of RAM’s retro offerings, it was a charming, impeccably produced, analog homage to Daft Punk’s heros, of then and now. When it eventually topped the Billboard Hot 100 and became their most commercially successful song to date, it wasn’t because it was another ginned-up jam about staying out late and getting laid. It was because, yet again, Daft Punk had thrown us a curveball. They were giving us something original, organic, genuine—and they sounded like they were having the most fun they’d ever had doing it. Turns out these robots were human after all.