2014’s Grammys may have been interesting. I honestly don’t know. I never watch them, but I normally do check to see who won what. This year was clearly the year of Daft Punk. Five Grammys in one year is nothing short of amazing. Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Pop Dou/Group Performance, Best Dance/Electronica Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-classical are not exactly the low hanging fruit awards. Well maybe the last two, but certainly not record/album of the year. So congratulations Daft Punk. Your hard work has paid off.
All together Daft Punk has been nominated for thirteen Grammys and won seven of them going back as far as 1998. Beyond that, they’ve been nominated for various other awards including the BRIT Awards, MTV awards and American Music Awards.
When their Grammy award winning album “Random Access Memories” was released, it was heralded as a release that would change the face of electronic dance music going forward. Daft Punk’s return to using more live and non-synthetic instrumentation was something that was called refreshing and inspired by many critics, hipsters and loyal fans alike. The literally thousands of covers and parodies of “Get Lucky” is a testament to the effectiveness of Daft Punk’s decision. And as a good friend of mine pointed out, “Get Lucky” isn’t one of the best songs on the album.
Here’s the thing though, for such a revolutionary album that was supposed to change everything, I’m having a hard time finding people who are still talking about it today. It was released about eight months ago in May of 2013. The only people I’m still see talking about it are the hipsters and Daft Punk’s die-hard fans.
Now, I’m not discrediting the album’s success. I’m just wondering where the continued interest is in it. Columbia released a deluxe edition of the album for $275 in December. It’s limited to 2,500 copies and well… apparently it hasn’t sold out yet. Granted, $275 is a lot of any collector’s edition, but I wonder if the album has really been played out already. I wonder if the anticipated effect that “Random Access Memories” was supposed to have on our scene has simply not come to pass.
What’s odd to me is that while Daft Punk received praise over the past year for their inclusion of live instrumentation on “Random Access Memories”, Avicii did not. Avicii’s album “True” was a collaboration between Nile Rodgers, Mac Davis, Mike Einziger and a host of others. Rather than simply doing the same style of production that he had been doing prior to this with live instrumentation, which is essentially what Daft Punk did, Avicii actually blended electronic dance music with country and bluegrass. He actually stepped out of his comfort zone and created something that went beyond his normal comfort zone. In a way, he pushed the envelope further than Daft Punk.
His album released in September of 2013, just a few months after Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”. His efforts were ignored by the Grammys. World-wide, it has sold more than 340,000 copies to date. That’s a far cry from the more than almost 2.2 million copies that “Random Access Memories” has sold, but if we’re talking innovation here… I’m really not sure who has pushed things further and had a more lasting effect on our scene.
Now, to be perfectly honest, I’m not a fan of either Avicii or Daft Punk. I fully recognize Daft Punk’s influence on the music we love so much over the years and I am a HUGE fan of the Tron Legacy soundtrack. I pretty much had zero interest in Avicii until he debuted “Wake Me Up” at Ultra 2013. At the time I was shocked he had gone in this direction and excited. It was a bold move to debut these tracks there, but then again… let’s agree that it was an easy crowd to please.
So here we are at the start of 2014. Electronic dance music more or less sounds like it did six months ago. We have a few shining stars who are trying hard to do something different and to various degrees their efforts are paying off. The latest to join the bandwagon seems to be Above and Beyond with their acoustic album.
Who will push us forward the most? Who knows. It doesn’t even matter. What matters is that we as producers and djs refuse to stagnate. One thing is for sure though, the more artists we have who embrace live and non-synthetic elements, the broader electronic dance music’s acceptance by the mainstream will become. Maybe that will be our coming legacy in 2014, at least here in the United States.