Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories will be the album of this summer, to talk shit on. It’s ambitious enough to confuse 50% of the listening public into hating it and great enough to give the other instantaneous, long lasting, powerful boners. With that kind of math, motherfuckers will be talking about this album in bars and at barbecues for a good couple of months, or at least until Kanye drops his new album which’ll eventually have the good sister Louise at the church, talking about a song title “Black Skinhead”. In preparation for the countless conversations you’re going to have about this album in the upcoming weeks, here’s some tracks you can drop casually in conversation to really impress heads in your social circle.
Sheila B Devotion – “Spacer”
“Spacer” was a track that Daft Punk collaborator—and skullet dreads owner—Nile Rodgers wrote in ’79 for a French pop singer named Sheila. It’s a disco song about Sheila’s hard-on for astronauts. She makes it really clear that she wants to bang an astronaut, if she hasn’t already banged a couple. Ole girl loves space dick. What does this have to do with Daft Punk? Well, musically, you can hear traces of this song in a couple of the tracks from Random Access Memories (specifically “Contact”). More interesting though, is the subtext of “Spacer”. You see, Sheila’s full stage name was Sheila B. Devotion, with the “B” standing for “Black”. Sheila. Black. Devotion. In her public appearances she was exclusively surrounded by black dudes, playing the role of “The Spacer”. I don’t know what this says about her strong desire to bang an astronaut and I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about all the sad Daft Punk songs about robot wanting to be “normal” humans.
Jackson 5 – “Can You Feel It”
“Give Life Back To Music” opens up RAM with bombastic fervor. If Daft Punk made another cartoon about their adventures, “Give Life…” would play while they rode around space in a flying car. The album never hits the energizing power of this track again, but damn if it isn’t a strong opening. Way back before he was Thriller Michael Jackson, but after he was cute baby Michael; MJ and his brothers made a powerful funk/disco album in ’80 called Triumph. The album opened up with similarly powerful, disco orchestra magick in “Can You Feel It”. The video features the Jackson 5 as giant spirits that seed life on Earth, and spread joy to children while wearing shiny suits and neckerchifs. Dudes literally give life to the world. Robot costumes and laser light shows are ridiculous, and awesome, but dudes are not fucking with The Jackson 5 birthing a small city with fairy dust.
Space Art – “Welcome To Love”
The most affecting Daft Punk songs are the ones where it sounds like a robot got an emotion chip installed—and for the first time in its young emotional life—experiences crushing depression, because robot realizes no one wants to love a giant hunk of plastic and metal. Robot is self aware. Robot is sad. Think “Touch”, “Within”, or “The Game Of Love”. Maybe you realize no one will ever love you, and you really want to wallow in the robotic depression… Keep the sad times rolling with Space Art’s “Welcome To Love”, a track made in 1980, by two french dudes in robot masks. It’s just as depressing, catchy, and weird as anything Daft Punk has made. I’m not an expert on artificial intelligence, but “Welcome To Love” rings really true.
Future World Orchestra – “I’m Not Afraid Of The Future”
“Fragments Of Time” and “Within” feel out of place on Random Access Memories, because they’re essentially dad rock/yacht rock jams run through the Daft Punk sad-robot-ballad filter. You come to a Daft Punk album to enter a world where robots and aliens come together to share their love of ecstasy and disco. These two songs feel more like shit your stepdad’s nerdy engineering friends would listen to while drinking Bud Light and discussing the finer points of Star Trek: the Next Generation. That’s not a bad night, but that’s not the shit aliens fuck robots too. To hear these songs with a love of life injected back into them, track down Future World Orchestra’s Mission Completed, an album of yacht rock meets disco synth pop jams from two Dutch dudes who couldn’t be bothered with robot masks, because they wanted you to know they were having all the fun in the word moonlighting from their jobs teaching physics at Amsterdam’s finest community college.
Gino Soccio – “Remember”
“Giorgio by Moroder” is gonna bring Giorgio Moroder to the minds of people who don’t normally worship at the altar of the synthesizer. Giorgio is that dude, but the amount of people pretending that they fuck with Knights In White Satin, will reach an all time high for the next three months. When talking about disco gods, pass on the obvious Giorgio worship and shoutout another dude with an insane mustache; Gino Soccio. Gino was an overlooked Canadian producer with a penchant for making tracks that laid in the sweet spot between Giorgio Moroder’s futurism and Chic’s groove. He also had an insane Fu Man Chu. I can not stress that enough. “Remember” is one of his finest compositions, a song that is equal parts dance floor magic and sad requiem for the end of disco. This type of emotionally complicated, dance-my-pain-away track is a template for Daft Punk’s entire catalog. Soccio eventually dropped out of sight and disavowed his disco past. I could see that in the near future of Daft Punk.
Zombi – “Slow Oscillations”
There’s a couple parts of RAM, where Daft Punk hit the freak out synthesizer jam button and really dig into the fact that they’re nerds that like to make songs about UFOs and shit. There’s no better example of this than “Contact”, which ends the album like a Japanese video game about giant robots. Zombi have been peddling that same brand of adventure synth music to actual nerds for near a decade now. They play metal shows though, so they can’t afford costumes, which I’m assuming is the real reason they got into this shit to begin with.
Pharrell & The Yessirs – “Really Like You”
When you heard “Get Lucky” you assumed RAM would be an album of straight disco pop songs, that’d allow you to publicly demonstrate your startlingly sexual Michael Jackson dance impersonations. Sadly, this album did not deliver that opportunity. If you’re still looking for glittery-as-fuck, disco influenced, falsetto-ed joints that allow for optimal hip gyrations and dancefloor karaoke seduction, there’s always Pharrell’s under-appreciated solo album In My Mind. While the retail version is aight, if you want to turn up the Off The Wall Michael Jackson feelings, get the live band remix version by Questlove; Out Of My Mind. The remixed versions of “Really Like You” totally capture the feeling of a night spent losing yourself to dance, trying to get lucky.
There’s nothing wrong with saying “fuck restraint”, sometimes you really need the orchestra and the children’s choir. In 1977, French space disco band Space, pulled a similar move when they opened their album Deliverance with “Prison”. It features a chick singing her heart out about prison in wildly theatrical fashion, while the band lays down a serious space disco groove. A choir drops in towards the middle of the song, and dance hands would be appropriate throughout the entire experience. Homegirl lets loose with the serious pains of time spent in a prison where all the jumpsuits are covered with sequins.