Who is Daft Punk? A quick explainer for confused Grammy-watchers


Thomas Bangalter, left, and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo of Daft Punk perform at the 56th annual Grammy Awards at Staples Center on Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP)

The post-Grammy deluge of “who-is-so-and-so” tweets have become so familiar that they hardly merit commemorative Tumblrs anymore. But this year, the confusion is perhaps understandable: After all, Daft Punk wear helmets and rarely grant interviews, which makes them slightly more accessible than, say, Bon Iver (see: who-is-bon-iver.tumblr.com).

Fortunately we — and Google, for future reference! — are here to answer your most pressing questions about this year’s best-album winner. Like who Daft Punk are. And what’s up with those helmets.

Daft Punk is a French house duo who have been together since the early ’90s. Even if you haven’t heard of them, you’ve probably heard their music — “Get Lucky” has spent the last 32 weeks near the top of the Billboard charts. (TL;DR: You should probably care.)

The space helmets, more than mere gimmick, are one of Daft Punk’s great innovations — a way to distance the music from its creators and add something of myth to it. “We’re interested in the line between fiction and reality, creating these fictional personas that exist in real life,” the duo told Rolling Stone last year. Hence they’ve worn the helmets in performances for years, and are more or less anonymous in real life. Wrote Ryan Dombal in a recent Pitchfork profile of the duo, “It’s an instinct to keep the idea of mystery alive at a time when it seems to be in historically short supply.”

Nope, definitely not robots.

Hilaaaarious as this joke may be, and secretive as Daft Punk are, we do, in fact, know their names: Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangaltar. In fact, there are even a few photos of them out there — this one was taken last year, purportedly at Sony’s New York offices. They’re playing champagne beer pong, per the caption.

Not so! You’ve probably heard several Daft Punk songs, whether you realized it or not. “Around the World” and “One More Time” have both charted on the Hot 100. Kanye West sampled “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.” Busta Rhymes, Janet Jackson and Pharell have also borrowed from Daft Punk in their own work.

This is a fair question — after all, Daft Punk has been together since the ’90s — but all the recent attention isn’t totally out of the blue. “Get Lucky” charted significantly higher than any Daft Punk singles have in the past. The duo appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone in June. As for mainstream neglect, Daft Punk have actually scored a handful of Grammy nominations before, including one for best dance recording in 1998. They didn’t win until 2009, however, when “Alive 2007″ picked up best electronic/dance album and “Harder Better Faster Stronger” got a best dance recording nod.

Looks like it, yeah. Until next year…!

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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