Recently, Wendy Goldstein, the executive vice president of Republic Records, remarked that French EDM duo Daft Punk was in the studio with Canadian R&B artist The Weeknd. The news came as a happy surprise to Daft Punk fans, as the legendary robots have not released new music since 2012’s Random Access Memories. In honor of the exciting revelation, here is a ranking of the tracks on Daft Punk’s iconic 2001 album Discovery, which spawned some of the duo’s most popular and critically acclaimed songs.
Nightvision is a simple, calming song that gives the listener a break from the autotuned vocals and frenetic beats of the other tracks. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It really depends on your mood. While this certainly isn’t the kind of song you’d want to play at a party, it would make relaxing background music for a spa day or yoga session.
Beginning with an intense drum solo and segueing into a funky electronic freakout, Short Circuit is a peppy track that seems like it’ll never lose its energy… until it slows down in a glitchy fashion that’s almost ominous. The sudden tempo change shows that Daft Punk isn’t just interested in making club-ready hits; it’s also game for experimentation. The song’s complexity and duality make it more of an “appreciate with headphones on” song than a “blast while you’re driving under the stars” song.
“Voyager,” a disco-inspired instrumental with a fantastic bassline, glistens like a freshly shined pair of dancing shoes. Its dreamy ambience and smooth flow make it a song that’s easy to listen to in any setting—doing math homework, reading a book, driving around town, et cetera. Daft Punk keeps things from getting dull with the introduction of cascading twinkling sounds, which continue until the track fades gracefully into silence.
Veridis Quo conjures up images of silver skies and slowly falling snow. In its first few moments, the song establishes a fantastical feel with flutelike sounds and ambient synthesizer chords. Then a beat plays—first softly, then more strongly—and Daft Punk turns the song into one of its characteristic electronic jams (albeit a mellow one) with glittering electronic flourishes. The song’s title is a play on words—in addition to being faux Latin, it can be read as “Very Disco,” which can be rearranged to form the album’s title, “Discovery.”
“Too Long” is a suitable finale for Discovery. The anthemic lyrics celebrate the weightless feeling of living in the moment and letting go all negative energy, a recurring theme in Daft Punk songs. The upbeat percussion gives the track a dancefloor-ready sheen; the hook’s harmonies are golden; the bassline is memorable. In fact, the song would be the perfect single… if only it weren’t ten minutes long. Despite its daunting length, “Too Long” truly is fun to listen to, mostly due to the lyrical and musical change that occurs mid-song. The final part of the track is a testament to the power of dance; when it fades out, listeners will have a stronger appreciation for not only Daft Punk, but music in general.
“High Life,” one of the several instrumentals on Discovery, is aptly named. The upbeat, restless song perfectly mimics the pace of jet setters who lead a luxurious existence of photo shoots and sashays down red carpets. The song is memorable for its hook, comprised of heavily distorted vocals, as well as a crescendo that will make you feel like a fabulous star even if you’re listening in your pajamas.
Superheroes reveals itself as a fun, quirky track from the get-go, when it opens with a climactic drumroll. The repeated lyric “Something’s in the air” (borrowed from a Barry Manilow song) adds to the sense of wonder—er, discovery—that’s present throughout the album. When the sample is joined by a glittering melody that ascends into the clouds, it’s easy to imagine colorfully caped cartoon crusaders soaring through the sky.
As strange as the concept sounds, “Something About Us” is a sincere robot love ballad. Intricate but not overproduced, the song manages to seamlessly integrate the vocoder with jazz sounds. The lyrics, which comprise an earnest confession of love to someone who cannot reciprocate, display Daft Punk’s expertise at conveying emotion with brevity. The song’s instrumental conclusion gives the listener ample time to reflect on the narrator’s tale of heartbreak.
Crescendolls piques the listener’s interest right from the start. The song opens with a bold beat; then laser sounds at various pitches establish a fun, futuristic vibe. When the main melody comes in, studded with a recording of people gleefully shouting “Hey!”, it’s easy to visualize people dancing with their hands in the air as they sail through the stars in a luxury spaceship. A mid-song call-and-response section highlighting Daft Punk’s playful percussion makes this track especially memorable.
After hearing this track, you’ll surely want to listen to it “one more time.” A house classic that was included in Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” its lyrics about dancing and celebrating never lose their luster. With every replay, Romanthony’s vocals exude euphoria, not muffled in the least by Daft Punk’s subversively artistic use of autotune. The slow middle section of the song imbues it with a sense of sincerity that sets it apart from other high-energy hits about partying.
If you’re living under the illusion that Daft Punk only makes absurd, glitchy robot music too out-of-this-world for you to enjoy, “Face to Face” will change your mind. This track flawlessly combines groovy disco sounds and glittering techno flourishes, resulting in a piece of pop perfection that could convert even the staunchest EDM critic. The smoothly sung lyrics, which speak about the freedom that comes from confronting one’s problems head-on, feature some truly great rhymes that make the song all the more fun to sing out loud.
Listening to “Aerodynamic” is like sailing through a series of colorful galaxies in a rocket. The track goes through so many intriguing changes that it’s hard to believe it’s only three and a half minutes long—shorter than some radio singles, in fact. The song begins with the solemn, suspenseful tolling of bells, leaving listeners not sure what to expect. Then it explodes into a wild EDM rendition of the riff from Sister Sledge’s “Maquillage Lady.” Then it transforms into a frenetic guitar solo. Then the sample returns, meshing surprisingly well with the guitar’s rampant vigor. At long last, the bells resound ominously again. You might expect the song to end at this point, but wait, there’s more: the fun’s not over until a short, baroque-inspired electronic instrumental comes to a close. It’s safe to say that no one will mistake another EDM track for “Aerodynamic” anytime soon.
There’s a reason that “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” is one of Daft Punk’s best known singles. Like “Aerodynamic,” the track begins unassumingly enough—this time with crackling static instead of bells. Then it becomes a sonic experience like no other, seizing the listener’s attention with strange noises that somehow have a lighthearted, bouncy quality. When the drum beats and cymbals kick in, it’s clear that the track has acute motivational power. The lyrics take a few simple words and rearrange them in a variety of matter-of-fact, self-assured configurations that are sure to unleash the listener’s capability for success. The heavily autotuned vocals reach an impressive range of pitches, injecting human vitality into the robots’ phrases and turning the track into a entertainingly unpredictable work of art.
“Digital Love” opens subtly, without giving the listener a clue as to what it will unfold into. Yes, the opening riff is ethereally pretty, but will the song consist solely of its repetition? Thankfully, the answer is “no.” Within seconds, soft vocals kick in, painting glittering images of a dream that evaporates too soon. “Oh, I don’t know what to do/about this dream and you/I wish this dream comes true,” Daft Punk sings, sounding wistful. Moments later, the lyrics are changed to the optimistic “We’ll make this dream come true,” and the track transitions into a celebratory instrumental. Eventually, the music evolves once more, building tension, and Daft Punk summons up the courage to ask, “Why don’t you play the game?” Then a celestial guitar solo flies up and down the staff with unbridled zeal, affirming Daft Punk’s reputation for breaking conventional song structures. When the song ends just as it began, listeners are left believing that fantasies can become reality and beautiful “discoveries” are around every corner.