Daft Punk’s seminal Homework LP came out 20 years ago today. Feel old yet?
Daft Punk’s allure is not a secret to anyone. The French duo have not toured since 2007’s Alive, and it frankly seems that people get more infatuated with them as the years pass on and the unfounded rumors of a return tour turn out to be the same repeated hoax of years prior. While there is no denying that their work played a pivotal role in the foundation of dance music as we know it today, and that their Alive tour ten years ago was the forbearer of massive stage production that has since become a festival standard around the world, there is always a sense of wonder with regards to their ever-growing popularity and whether it’s in large part due to their continued secrecy and elusiveness.
As Homework celebrates this milestone anniversary, it is important to keep it within context of what dance music was at the time and what it has become since. Those not in the know easily join in repeating the rhetoric that the french duo composed of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo completely revolutionized an other-wise unknown scene and sound, bringing it to the masses as a result. The truth is that it couldn’t be further from the truth: Daft Punk did not introduce the world to house music, nor to the broader sounds of dance music.
This is what Homework really was: Daft Punk’s business card to the world, an introduction of their unique production prowess to an already flourishing dance music scene. It surely helped mold dance music at the time and it continues to be one of the most important dance music albums ever produced. The duo produced the tracks without plans to release an album. After working on projects that were intended to be separate singles over five months, they considered the material good enough for an album. Yes, it brought attention to the French house music scene, charting in 14 different countries, peaking at number 3 on the French Albums Chart, number 150 on the United States Billboard 200 and at number 8 on the UK Albums Chart. By February 2001 — four years later — the album had sold more than two million copies worldwide and received several gold and platinum certifications. Daft Punk introduced Homework to the world at a time where other notable artists, the likes of The Chemical Brothers or Fatboy Slim, were already bringing in guest-star vocalists and sampling rock records to large crowds. Where they differed, Rolling Stone has argued, is in proving that “techno and house could be as elastic, catchy and, at times, as funny as the poppiest pop without diluting its hypnotically driving, acidic essence.”
Music critics since have been united in acknowledging the success that was Homework. The 16-track outing included what many consider to be Daft Punk’s ultimate anthem, “Around the World,” but also other notable tracks such as “Da Funk” and of course “Alive.” it is easy to see why the album was a prequel of what later would become the beginning sound EDM, a concoction that mixed electronic sounds with pop and hip-hop, all the while remaining applicable and approachable to music tastes at both ends of the spectrum.
Juxtaposed against the duo’s following albums, Homework remains the duo’s best work yet, and the most iconic both in terms of their personal career and its role in dance music as a whole. In celebration of twenty years of Homework we leave you with this fantastic short video of the duo playing sans helmets in 1995: