Daft Punk – Random Access Memories [In 3 Words]

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If you have any access to the Internet, then you know who Daft Punk is. You also probably know that these French EDM kings are responsible for “One More Time”, an irresistibly fun classic that has made hundreds of EDM haters say, “Ok, some EDM is good.” Only Skrillex is the other internationally recognizable face of EDM, and Daft Punk has been around since EDM was actually “Electronic Dance Music” rather than Dubstep, which only the latter is famous for. You probably also know that Daft Punk has a new album out. Random Access Memories to be specific, and it has become one of the most talked about releases in a year full of big releases (Vampire Weekend, My Bloody Valentine, and now Kanye West just to name a few).

So Random Access Memories is another EDM party album that’s full of songs that are as fun as “One More Time” right? Wrong. Random Access Memories is a 70s and 80s dance influenced record made with minimal electronics and all living musicians. Depending on your perspective, Random Access Memories could be seen as a rejection of the current EDM scene, which both Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter (those are the robots by the way) have openly criticized. But what is probably happening here is that the album isn’t so much a rejection of modern EDM as it is an educational or tribute album to the origins of EDM; on Random Access Memories the robots don’t want to make you dance so much as they want you to know who Giorgio Moroder is.

Is the latest by the legendary French duo a well-marketed gimmick, or do they still know what they’re doing, and is there anything on here as timeless as “One More Time”? Read on.

Giorgio – The big elephant in the room is “Giorgio By Moroder”, the nine minute talking bit by legendary Italian dance producer Giorgio Moroder (he collaborated on classics such as Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby” and Blondie’s “Call Me”). Throughout the track Giorgio discusses his beginnings of his career and his success with dance music, and the track evolves to include more styles of music to accompany Giorgio’s evolution of his career. If anything, Daft Punk has reintroduced the legendary producer to a new generation and has nicely showcased the evolution of dance music from the 70s and 80s. It’s a good history lesson, but it’s an awkward bit that goes a little too long too early in the album. It also doesn’t help that “Giorgio By Moroder” is followed by the album’s weakest track “Within”.

Collaboration – Including Giorgio, Random Access Memories may possibly have the great collaboration team of any album of any genre in recent memory. The list includes Panda Bear (“Doin’ It Right”), Pharrell Williams (“Get Lucky”, “Lose Yourself To Dance”), and Julian Casablancas (Who absolutely kills it on “Instant Crush”, my favorite track off the album). If Random Access Memories is one of the best sounding albums of 2013, it’s because they had some of the best help available.

Uneven – There are some fantastic songs on Random Access Memories, but they are all spread out and seperated by songs that either go on too long (“Within”) or are unforgettable (“Touch”, “Beyond”). Every song sounds great, but not all of them are memorable. The songs work together to form a coherent album, but because this feels like an educational album there is a lack of urgency to make you want to dance, which is what these guys are known for.

Overall: Daft Punk’s overall goal for Random Access Memories could be summarized by Giorgio on “Giorgio by Moroder”: “I wanted to do an album with the sound of the 50s, the sound of the 60s, of the 70s and then have a sound of the future”. Random Access Memories is a well crafted tribute to the origins of EDM music that sounds modern, created by the most recognizable faces of EDM. In the end this actually makes sense, because you can’t spell “Electronic Dance Music” without “Dance”.

Essential Tracks: “Give Life Back To Music”, “Instant Crush”, “Get Lucky”

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Grammy Nominations: Who Should Win, Who Will Win, And Who Got Snubbed

The Grammy nominations have been announced, and there were a lot of pleasant surprises.  Some things I expected (Kanye West and Adele with the most nominations), but there were some genuine shockers (Bon Iver getting so many nominations, Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy not up for Album of the Year).  Here is the list for the most prominent awards and their nominees along with who I think should win, who will probably win, and who I believe got snubbed out of a well-deserved chance at this year’s Grammys.  Also to clarify, Song of the Year means that it was the best written song and the award goes to the songwriters.  Record of the Year is the best sounding song and goes to the performers and producers.

Album of the Year

Adele – 21

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Lady Gaga – Born This Way

Bruno Mars – Do-Wops & Hooligans

Rihanna – Loud

Who Should Win: None of these.  I’m very unimpressed with this selection.  The only album here I’ve heard is Wasting Light which is a great album, but there were much better albums that came out this year.

Who Will Win: 21, because that’s what most people heard all year.

Who Got Snubbed: Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. This was truly the album of the year.  It was commercially successful while still being artistically strong.  The Purple Rain of our generation (might not be a good comparison musically, but hopefully you get what I mean).

Record of the Year

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Katy Perry – “Firework”

Who Should Win: “Holocene”.  The production of this song is gorgeous and is matched with an equally gorgeous vocal work from Justin Vernon.  A highlight from a truly great album.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  It was impossible to escape this song, and unfortunately I bet most people have never heard “Holocene” (for those people, please click here).  But then again, I said the same thing about Arcade Fire at last year’s Grammys.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – “Taken For A Fool”.  Listen to the song here and see if you agree.

Song of the Year

Kanye West – “All of the Lights”

Mumford & Sons – “The Cave”

Bruno Mars – “Grenade”

Bon Iver – “Holocene”

Adele – “Rolling in the Deep”

Who Should Win: “The Cave”.  This is such a great and uplifting song, something that has been missing from popular music for a long time.

Who Will Win: “Rolling in the Deep”.  Same reason as why it’ll win Record of the Year.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart – “Down In The Valley”.  A simple yet powerful song.  Click here to make up your mind on it.

Best New Artist

Bon Iver

J. Cole

Nicki Minaj

Skrillex

The Band Perry

Who Should Win: Either Bon Iver or Nicki Minaj.  Both have been around for a decent time making quality music, but they are now getting due credit.  I’ll be happy just as long as J. Cole, Skrillex, or The Band Perry doesn’t win the award.

Who Will Win: This is a tough call.  Probably Nicki Minaj but there’s a decent chance for Bon Iver.

Who Got Snubbed: The Head And The Heart.  I’m not sure if they would be eligible, but this is a solid band with a promising future.

Best Rock Album

Foo Fighters – Wasting Light

Jeff Beck – Rock ‘N’ Roll Party Honoring Les Paul

Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Red Hot Chili Peppers – I’m With You

Wilco – The Whole Love

Who Should Win: The Whole Love.  I’m so glad Wilco gets recognition from the Grammys.  This was by far my favorite album out of all of these, and I actually listened to all of these (expect Jeff Beck).

Who Will Win: Wasting Light.  The album did well commercially and it really is a great album.

Who Got Snubbed: The Strokes – Angels.  This might not be the band’s best album, but it was better than most of the albums on this list.

Best Alternative Album

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

Death Cab For Cutie – Codes and Keys

Foster the People – Torches

My Morning Jacket – Circuital

Radiohead – The King of Limbs

Who Should Win: Bon Iver.  For goodness sake please give Justin Vernon a Grammy.

Who Will Win: No Idea: This is a hard call because all these albums did equally well commercially.  Radiohead is probably the most well known band here, but they don’t deserve this Grammy.

Who Got Snubbed: Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues.  This album had my vote for the best album of the year so far.  Though my opinion may have changed, this album still deserves a Grammy.

Best Rap Album

Jay-Z & Kanye West – Watch the Throne

Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV

Lupe Fiasco – Lasers

Nicki Minaj – Pink Friday

Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

Who Should Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  The least the Grammys can do for Kanye is to give him this award to make up for not being nominated for Album of the Year.

Who Will Win: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  I have faith that the Grammys won’t screw this up, but anything can happen.

Who Got Snubbed: Nobody.  That’s because MBDTF deserves this award.

Other Thoughts On This Year’s Grammys

James Blake should have been nominated for Electronica Album of the Year.

Congratulations to Fleet Foxes for being nominated for Folk Album of the Year.

So how did I do?  Are my predictions accurate or way out of line?  Comment below or Tweet at me (@BradyWGerber) and let me know who should bring home the big trophies at this year’s Grammys.


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