🤖Daft Punk & Nile Rodgers, 2013: Multi-Generational Genius + "Get Lucky" Adventures In Karaoke🎤
Having conquered dozens of songs by humans, I thought I'd give tunes by robots a shot! Enter Daft Punk.🤖Boop! Beep!....Whirrrrrrrrr!
They’re spoken of in the past tense on Wikipedia, so apparently the avant-garde French dance duo known as Daft Punk are no more, which has to be as curious as it is an intentional decision. How and why would robots creak away from their massive worldwide success, unless of course, a comprehensive lube job was in order?
They became huge following their 2013 album (their fourth and only album for Columbia Records), Random Access Memories:
In fact, they (or someone like them) will be releasing the 10th Anniversary Edition of RAM on May 12, according to this promo video:
Step Up to the Mic
It was shortly after their “Get Lucky” single had propelled their album to the top of the charts, that I not only began discovering karaoke (at age 60), but became attracted to that song.
“Get Lucky,” to my ears had the same free-wheeling good-time feel as Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” another Columbia catalog entry; Pharrell, of course, is featured on “Get Lucky,” as is fellow “old guy,” Nile Rodgers (currently 70, and renowned for his creative and influential tenure in the late ‘70s dance/disco hit machine, Chic):
I first heard “Happy” in 2014 when Pharrell gathered a stage-filling gospel choir for (I think) the Grammys telecast. I was in the kitchen, and the show returned from an ad break, and hearing the massive vocal support on the song’s chorus was thrilling, and I had to see just who was making this joyful noise!
So, “Happy” was the first of the two I sang at karaoke, followed quickly by “Get Lucky” (for both songs, just one or the other an evening, I’d have fellow karaoke regular, the 20-something Troy, join me in singing) when it became instantly clear that both songs guaranteed full engagement by the bar patrons.
At the first notes of each song, most barflies were moved to finally put down their drinks, and actually hit the dance floor with something other than a face-plant thud!
And, then to discover this video of an all-star aggregate tackling “Get Lucky,” incorporating snippets of both a Chic hit and a Stevie nugget, featuring Stevie Wonder, Nile Rodgers, Daft Punk, Pharrell, with jazz/rock veterans, Nathan East on bass, and Omar Hakim on drums, from 2014, and the 56th Grammy Awards:
“Daddy, How Did You Make Records In the Old Days?”
Speaking to Rolling Stone about his work on the French duo’s record (according to SongFacts), Nile Rodgers (above) said: “[Around 2012], I get a knock on the door - first a virtual one and then a real knock, from Guy-Manuel and Thomas.
“The collaboration felt so unbelievably natural that it made me realize that I need to be in the studio with people. I love partnering with people. And then from that moment, a windfall of recording started happening. I just started going in with whomever I could.”
Rodgers once recalled to Q magazine about the Daft Punk sessions: “We were in the same studio we did the first Chic single [in 1977]. They went, ‘How did you make Chic records?’ So I taught them the technique. We came up with ‘Get Lucky,’ then ‘Lose Yourself to Dance,’ and ‘Give Life Back to Music’ in minutes. All three songs were finished in one day.”
Pharrell (above), already a fan, explained to SongFacts that he originally met with the Daft Punk duo during a Madonna party. He offered his services and availability for the project, adding sarcastically, “If you just want me to play a tambourine, I’ll do it!”
Once Pharrell met up with the duo in Paris, he showed them some of his own material he had been working on that coincidentally was inspired by Rodgers, unaware they had already recorded a track featuring Nile! Pharrell said, “It’s crazy, because, you know, [we’re] on two sides of the Atlantic, and we’re in the same place.”
It was in those Paris sessions that Pharrell laid down his vocal tracks for “Get Lucky.”
Nile Rodgers reflected on the success of “Get Lucky” during a keynote address at Austin’s South by Southwest music conference in March 2017: “‘Get Lucky’ wound up being absolutely massive, and as terrific as ‘Lose Yourself to Dance’ was, it just didn't have that thing that ‘Get Lucky’ had - that thing that spoke to the souls of a million strangers.”
The View as Seen Peering from One Century Into Another
Lest it be overlooked, there’s something musically transcendent in the marrying of prodigious talents who are separated by nearly 4 decades! Mad props to the “young-uns” (Pharrell and Daft Punk, to name two…well, three) who are not only aware of their obvious influences, but aren’t ashamed (or “too cool for the room”—or fearful of losing their young audience) to celebrate them in public (not unlike Lady Gaga “hanging with” Tony Bennett out of love and respect for his musical legacy).
A round of applause is more than appropriate, too, for the “oldsters” who are open to listening to what “these kids today” are producing! Some of it, granted, is nothing short of puerile pap, too often rendered unlistenable due to the tsunami of AutoTune that’s overtopped the levee of taste and talent since the late ‘90s.
Nile Rodgers has enviably immersed himself into some of the new century’s most talented young artists, as has been written about in this space at length: 32-year-old Marius Lauber (from Germany) and his Roosevelt project:
….and 28-year-old Brit, SG Lewis, for whom Rodgers co-produced and played guitar on his new AudioLust & HigherLove album:
Both Roosevelt and SG Lewis wanted what Daft Punk had wanted from Nile Rodgers as producer….to make records that sounded “old school,” or like the “organic” and analog, non-processed dance records of the ‘70s. Or, as Daft Punk told Rodgers when soliciting him for RAM production duties, “We want to do a record as if the internet never existed!” Nile knew just where to go from there!
Rodgers explains what that quote meant to him as he tackled his DP work on RAM, and gives more details on the making of the duo’s album, as well as how he and David Bowie got together to produce the Let’s Dance album in 1983, and of course, the making of Chic’s Le Freak in 1977 (some explicit language):
In the meantime, in late January 2023, UK’s NME disclosed that Rodgers posted a photo of himself and his new recording project on a social media site: “Working on new music with St. Vincent.”
According to the publication, he went on to describe St. Vincent as “so real deal” and called the experience “[freaking] wonderful.”