The seeds of Daft Punk’s hype-redefining fourth album, Random Access Memories, were effectively planted on the band’s 1997 full-length debut, Homework. Featuring hits “Da Funk” and “Around the World,” the album’s gatefold sleeve features an image that appears to be a teenager’s desk. Among the transistor radio, Playboy, audiophile magazines and Iron Man comic book lurks a copy of “Stage Fright,” the 1981 single by disco pioneers, Chic.
It was Chic guitarist and producer Nile Rodgers’ January blog announcement of his Daft Punk collaboration that kicked off a public frenzy that made Random Access Memories the most talked-about album of 2013.
That Homework gatefold image also features a poster for a 1976 KISS concert at New Jersey’s Roosevelt Stadium. This nod, though small, serves as a clue to what Daft Punk could become – a precursor to their evolution from fresh-faced Frenchmen spinning records in a Wisconsin field in 1996 to the mysterious, helmeted robots who are likely to own the year in terms of musical conversation. It’s about being everywhere without being seen.
Daft Punk have quite successfully captured the imagination of not just the music world but the pop culture public at large, and done so in a way that would’ve surely impressed the late Bill Aucoin, legendary manager of KISS during their ‘70s heyday, who’s credited with elevating the band’s commercial status with inventive and relentless marketing moves. Where KISS utilized a bombastic stage show and their larger-than-life characters to launch everything from made-for-TV movies to comic books (which boasted band members’ blood in the ink), Daft Punk have carved their own similar but still unique path to cultural ubiquity.