Last night at the Olympics opening ceremony, the choir of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs improbably covered "Get Lucky," capping off an incredible year for the French duo Daft Punk. Today, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, one-half of the group, turns 40 years old.
It was just in May of last year that Guy-Manuel warned listeners that the group's latest album Random Access Memories is "is supposed to really suck." Instead, the album, the band's first studio turn in nearly a decade, took off. Last month, Random Access Memories was awarded Grammys for Best Dance/Electronica Album, Album of the Year and Best Engineered Album. "Get Lucky" was the song of the summer (or, at least one of them) and went on to win Grammys for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Record of the Year.
For his part, Guy-Manuel is the more reticent one, which feeds into his creative role:
"De Homem-Christo barely talks at all, which is disconcerting at first and then sort of fascinating. Later I'll give the two of them a ride home in my car, and from the backseat, de Homem-Christo will break character to beatbox the hard-hitting percussion break in Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It" when it comes on the radio, a sublime and unexpected moment, like watching a goat yell like a man. It's always been like this: Bangalter is the guy who generates the raw material, the one who more often has his hands on the actual instruments; de Homem-Christo is the group's editor, its taciturn enforcer."
The results are impressive. Last fall, long after the band's saturation point in the mainstream, MTV allegedly dashed a Daft Punk appearance on The Colbert Report. Stephen Colbert responded by putting together a star-studded dance video of "Get Lucky" that involved the unlikely likes of Henry Kissinger and Jeff Bridges. Immortality had been cemented.
The Olympic spectacle in Sochi last night only confirmed that, despite the band's shyness and fear of celebrity, Daft Punk has become the international soundtrack for authoritarian regimes and subway buskers alike. That hasn't stopped the New York Times from enduring some difficulties covering the band. I guess you can't win 'em all.