Who doesn’t like Daft Punk? We found 50 people
At first, the idea of writing an article about people who don’t like Daft Punk seemed dubious. Daft Punk is kind of like pizza, I told myself. Even when they’re bad (2006’s “Human After All” album) they were still pretty great. So: who wouldn’t like Daft Punk?
I grew up listening to Daft Punk and remember getting their 1996 album “Homework” soon after its release. Throughout high school and college I’d babysit neighborhood kids once in a while, and they’d love to hear about music. I’d play them everything. After the Beatles and Nirvana, Daft Punk remained one of the only bands I could play to the children and have them completely understand it –- Daft Punk’s simplicity in melody being their biggest asset. I had thought — since 1996, anyway — that their combination of simple, infectious melodies and production combined with the primal roots of dance music could at the very least bring a smile to someone’s face. Even their live album is great, I told myself. How could anyone NOT like them?
I posted an article on the New York City Craigslist, thinking that I’d get a few emails over the weekend. Instead, I got 48. A few were downright angry, and some carefully explained why. One message was poignant.
IMPORTANT: I’ve tried to leave the emails as is. It became too confusing to cite everyone’s name and location with each quote, so rest assured that each blockquote is a separate person.
Anyways, the first one I got came in just under an hour after I posted the ad. It opened like this:
“I am a 17-year old boy from Barcelona, Spain, and I don’t like Daft Punk. I don’t like electronic music in general and I don’t think their lyrics are good either. I listen to Metal. You’re welcome.”
This set the tone for the majority of the emails. Many put the word “band” in quotes – citing that, if all it was was “two guys behind a computer” (four emails used almost the exact same phrase), how could it possibly be a “band”?
I don’t like Daft Punk. I mean I really don’t like them. I think they are just awful. If you would like me to elaborate on my absolute and utter dislike for these people I can send you more specific reasons. I’m also a writer, and I would really enjoy doing this, such is my abhorrence for this ‘band’.
Three people told me that they, too, were “writers,” although in what capacity I have no idea.
However, the overwhelming majority of people that chose to email me continued to cite that they didn’t like Daft Punk because they just didn’t like dance music in general. Many admitted to not having listened to Daft Punk at all (or infrequently) yet still felt the need to share with the world their disdain for all dance music. In two emails, dubstep was cited, despite Daft Punk having no affiliation with dubstep whatsoever.
Hey, I don’t like Daft Punk. I don’t really know their music well as I avoid dance and dubstep in general. I can’t stand dubstep.
Receiving these emails steadily over the course of the weekend made me wonder what kind of person could go through life and completely shut themselves off from not just a band but an entire genre of music. I’ve never been a metalhead, but I can certainly appreciate early Metallica, Slayer in their prime, or “Appetite”-era Guns ‘N Roses. In high school, my metalhead friends got a kick out of me playing them Daft Punk’s “Digital Love” –- the guitar solo being “fucking gnarly” if I remember Gabe’s words correctly –- and in turn they would share certain (more melodic) metal bands with me. It was pretty great. A few years later I ended up working for Mötley Crüe for a summer. All because I shared music with my friends. We broadened each others’ tastes.
All of their songs have the same elevator-music esque type of loop. They lack variety or creativity often only implementing two or three kinds of equally uninteresting sounds. “Around The World” is the most overrated song of all time. I’ve consistently given their new material a listen whenever it comes out just so i can try and see what everyone else does but i just dont get it. Their music is boring.
In the above quote, I can see where he gets that idea. “Around The World” is more than seven minutes of the same, over and over. This is true, however, in a lot of house music from that time period. It’s true of house music in general. Not all music was created for everyone, and I certainly don’t expect everyone to like one of my favorite bands, or everybody in the world to agree on one band anyway. I did, however, expect people to listen with a somewhat open ear.
If you “hate” something, you automatically give it power, by having such an intense reaction to it. The use of the word “hate” in any context — be it war, bands, love, or anything, really — implies that you have let it affect you to such a level that you despise it. Having such a capacity to hate something must mean ipso facto that you have an intense capacity to want to love, too, right? Again, I’m not asking that everyone like the same band. I’m not even asking that people enjoy Daft Punk. I’m just somewhat blown away at the amount of times the word “hate” was used in some of these emails.
When discussing music, isn’t the true opposite of “loving” a band just sheer indifference to them? If that’s the case, why did so many people choose to say “hate”? There were two emails directed squarely at Daft Punk’s “Tron” soundtrack, too. Here’s one:
The “Tron” soundtrack was one song followed by generic cinema music
I believe that’s what they call scoring a movie, but I digress.
This part of their careers hasn’t gone over too well even with some die-hard fans, citing “no real songs” (to be fair, though, it was the score to a movie), and I had been expecting more vitriol to be directed towards the Disneyfication of Daft Punk. Out of the two emails, this was the best worded:
I was so let down by the “Tron” soundtrack, and there new single blows. It’s doesn’t even sound like electronic dance music, and it certainly doesn’t sound like their funky french house sounds of discovery. I would never want to get down and party to their new song. They need to go back to their highly synthesized dance music.
Reading that email, I noted a phrase I had seen (but not fully realized) in other emails. I found it interesting that the phrase “electronic dance music” (or “EDM” for short) was being used; EDM being the name-du-jour of techno/electronica/dance music that people seem to use today. It seemed that quite a few of these emails had an issue either with the genre as whole or people had an issue with the “purity” of Daft Punk in the EDM sphere. They, apparently, were gatekeepers of sorts to the genre.
I have a tendency to dislike bands that use a lot of repetition in their tracks. I suppose you could say that my dislike is geared towards the entire genre, since most EDM/techno/house stuff is nothing but repetition.
She then went on to say how much she enjoyed Soundgarden. Which I guess brings me to my next topic:
If an email was interesting I’d write back and ask what they recommended instead of Daft Punk. The replies ran the gamut from nu-metal …
If It aint Primer55, it ain’t for me
… to mundane techno-purist wankery …
Mord Fustang – LIck the rainbow (song)
Wolfgang Gartner – illmerica
Electrode and Vonikk – Aurora’s Journey
… to the genuinely interesting:
I’m anticipating Andrew Bayer’s next album much more than the Daft Punk one.
Yet even the emailer above found it necessary to include this jab at Daft Punk (this is the one time where I’ve separated one email into two pullquotes):
… but even after listening to Get Lucky, the first song off the album, it is not close to the production that can be located elsewhere.
It seemed that the Daft Punk haters fell into two camps: in the blue corner, metalheads, and in the red corner, EDM purists. EDM purists sent out much longer emails detailing exactly how and why they didn’t like the group. Whether they meant to or not, 3/4 of these emails from EDM purists cited (or at least contained the word) “production” – that somehow Daft Punk’s relatively sparse production didn’t sit with them. While I’m again not saying that everyone should be into one band, I noticed that any recommendations that the EDM purists did give me were ones where the production was technically – and I mean “technically” in the truest sense of the word — very good. The production on Mord Fustang’s “Lick The Rainbow” (cited above) is clearly designed for maximum sheen. It’s intricate and quite dazzling, but sounds nothing like the dirty thump of a vintage 303.
This is EDM’s (or electronic dance music or whatever you want to call it) blessing and curse: since the early 2000s, most of these tracks are made in hotel rooms and or on airplanes using computer programs to simulate the sounds of older synths or drum machines. It’s much, much easier than towing around a crate or seven full of synths, sure, but the music is often affected. Whereas “Aurora’s Journey” (again, cited above) sounds futuristic, there isn’t any soul to the song whatsoever. It sounds far too clean and clinical. But I don’t hate it, a word that so many people decided to use. I’m just indifferent to it.
The next email yielded a clue:
I have a long diatribe about how I think Daft Punk is everything that is wrong with electronic music. And I say this as an electronic musician. I’m not bitter about their success and my lack of it, I just hate their music and the hype.
Was it the hype that was ruining Daft Punk for a lot of people?
I personally think the hype is all for naught and they’ve always been pretty overrated…
They are a band that thrives on hype alone, a band people feel obligated to say they love even though they have only a passing familiarity with them. The overwhelmingly positive response to every single thing they do shows that the band will never be held accountable by their brainwashed fanbase, and the duo will be laughing all the way to the bank as they continue to sell millions of copies of their mediocre music. In terms of bands I actually do like, recently I have been enjoying Beach House, Chvrches, The Strokes, Radiohead, Purity Ring, and Deerhunter.
(Radiohead and The Strokes are, of course, noted for having never been hyped at all. I kid.)
This emailer was able to put the “hype” comment more succinctly:
That’s more than a decade of a product that generates an almost religious fervor of hype for no apparent reason. Why? It seems people are obsessed with the name, ‘Daft Punk’. They were many listeners’ first forays into dance music, and have retained this godly status since. And for young adults just getting into this whole electronic music explosion, that maybe heard Technologic in an Apple commercial or listened to Alive 2007 because it was the cool thing to do, see Daft Punk as mythical creatures because of their name, rather than their music. They’re supposed to like Daft Punk, right? Because that’s what people that like dance music like, right? It’s artificial hype.
He makes a great point, certainly one I can agree on, that Daft Punk were many people’s first foray into dance music due to their landmark album “Homework” being released right at the start (1996) of the first American wave of electronic dance music.
The hype, however, seems to be what was needed for some emailers to simply dislike the band. One emailer described having the band ruined by:
too many frat-bros
While another described disliking the band due to association with the more bro-ey fans:
Perhaps it’s my experience as a high school athlete that ruined me. A young person with music taste that extends beyond Top 40 radio can only listen to Kanye West’s “Stronger” on a warm-up tape in various gyms across Northeast Ohio so many times before you’re either brainwashed or mentally unstable…but what’s the difference, anyway?
I suppose it could have been the college parties in mid-Missouri, wherein reside a simpler folk and pop culture lags behind each of the coasts by at least two years. (Weed) King Nelly songs (read: just “Country Grammar”) are traded one-for-one with “Around the World” — two times through the cycle and my night was officially ruined. Doctor, doctor! We need 30 cc’s of cheap whisky, stat!
There is an undefinable je ne sai quois about Daft Punk that I cannot get over. I know I have my pejorative association by one too many miserable experiences…
This is perfectly understandable. Once you reach a certain level of popularity, you will inevitably attract people who may not share your cultural understanding. They will view you through a prism, so to speak, and see only the PARTY PARTY DANCE side of your music, or what have you, such is the nature of being famous, when you put something into the world, it is no longer just yours anymore and people will see what they want to in it. Dance music in particular. You are bound to get a few steakneck bros getting into it simply because the music is accessible in the first place.
Another emailer brought up Daft Punk’s use of sampling. Surprisingly, they were the only one to bring up this totally valid point:
Any critical examination of their songs reveals them to be quite pedestrian affairs; repetitive, simplistic, and poorly arranged. All the most memorable songs from “Discovery” and “Human After All” that people seem to really like are heavily sampled (read: ripped off) from older songs. Their new single “Get Lucky” illustrates that, when not able to build off the ideas of others, they have very little songwriting ability.
I’ll readily admit that quite a few DP songs are built off of samples (“Robot Rock” being nothing BUT an edited loop of Breakwater’s “Release The Beast”). Here:
That emailer was entirely correct: Daft Punk DOES have a problem with sampling others songs sometimes entirely wholesale, “Robot Rock” being the most blatant example.
Yet the tone of another email smacked of pretenstion. This emailer elevated his tastes above all others, citing that “average music listeners” only listen for certain things and that he, being a special human being, listens only for the best:
I think that Daft Punk, in summary, is teaching us the ultimate lesson in branding versus music. I am not naive to the fact that I listen to music for entirely different things (technicality, production value, musicianship) than an average music listener would (ambience, lyrics, adrenaline) where house music is concerned.
Not all the emails were thought out. There were word salads like this one:
They’ve ridden there success especially following into this album where they’re putting out more disco when the disco artists how have been working before during and after daft punk will be gone will never get the recognition because daft punk is virtually the only disco left to daft punk fans.
To the funny:
I don’t want to celebrate one more time and I am sure that around the world is not a complete sentence. I don’t want to buy it, use it, zip, unzip it. I am not fond of “Digital Love” because I much prefer the real thing.
And this one, which in its entirety simply read:
daft punk is a turd stain on music
Lastly, there was this guy. He and I emailed back and forth, and he summed up — what I believe — to be the overriding argument behind not just liking Daft Punk but not liking some bands at all. The emotions one feels when hearing some music.
I guess at the root of it all, I prefer music that exposes some sort of vulnerability. Happy music makes me feel out of place because I’m not typically a happy-go-lucky guy. Maybe I feel jealous of those that can get up and dance on a whim without a care in the world. This isn’t me and never will be, so somewhere in my head I have associated this jealousy/envy with their music.
I found that the majority of the people that chose to email had decided already to themselves that “good” music consists of technically brilliant musicianship and production. This argument goes back to the whole “Musicianship vs Passion: Is Stevie Rai Vaughn / Kurt Cobain Any Fucking Good At All?” barroom conversation that I’ve had many times. It goes a little something like this: people champion someone who can play an instrument extremely well (Stevie Rai Vaughn being the classic example). In turn, another person argues that someone who plays their instrument more simply (say, Kurt Cobain) but with much more passion, they argue that THEY are much better. Nobody really wins the argument. There’s a case to be made for both.
Which is precisely what I wanted to set out for when I asked “Is there anyone out there that doesn’t like Daft Punk?”. Music is, after all, subjective. Some people are going to dislike a band entirely based on some preconceived notion in their heads, be it hype, technical brilliance, or “being a turd stain” as one gentleman so eloquently put it.
Pop music, by nature, is popular music. You can’t expect everyone to like everything, especially the works of one band, and I’m not surprised in the slightest that I got so many emails from so many different types of people. I learned a lot from these answers, and even more about my own understanding and relation to music. I guess the question is this: can you enjoy music without preconceived notions? Can you accept art for simply what it is, rather than what it personally stands for?