Artist: Daft Punk
Title: Harder Better Faster Stronger
Label: Virgin France, S.A.
Format: CD single
Genre: breakbeat, robotica, house, French house
Prior to their second album, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who really knew about Daft Punk. Hey, their first album was good but it did not peak the airwaves on American mainstream radio. “Discovery” did, however, and maybe that was because it was riding on the heels of platinum releases by Fatboy Slim, huge electronica singles by Eifel 65, Dirty Vegas and Moby’s mega exposed “Play” album. Maybe it was due in part to the fact Daft Punk made an animated film to accompany this release and each track on the album that made it on MTV/VH1, had the spiffy anime as its video—who doesn’t feel kind of nostalgic about cartoons? And maybe it was because Daft Punk really know how to make some of the most catchy tunes EVER.
Either way you shake it, this single got popular fast, following the release of “One More Time.” This track would soon find itself featured on commercials all over the place and sampled by a certain big name rapper… you know who he is. So, while I am preparing the next batch of FSOL reviews, let’s take a look at the French version of the “Harder Better Faster Stronger” single.
We open with the title track in its original glory. By now, everyone knows it, so I will skip talking about it. So onto the “Breaker’s Break” mix by Dominique Torti. The vocals get a nice stutter/glitched reconstruction and a sweet beat sputters in. The simple bass from the original is added in and eventually, a reworking of the original vocals enters. This version is one of my favorite remixes of all time (which might make a great entry later on…) and remains true to the robotic themed music the band has made so famous.
Next is the remix by the Neptunes. I am not terribly fond of this one but it certainly is original. It kicks off with a sort of cheer before we take a soulful turn and mix in 70s-esque soul vocals in. Not a bad thing, as it really is an original take on the track, just not my style. The Neptunes, as you may remember, have also remixed French stars, Air, in the past.
Lastly, we have Pete Heller’s “Stylus” mix, clocking in at 9:14. This is a trance tune, or at least, that is how I interpret it. Heller never really came off as a typical trance musician to me, especially after hearing his remix of Moby’s “South Side.” I guess it would be accurate to say it is more house than trance… I don’t know, this track to me has always defied traditional genre definitions. I find this version to be particularly fun since it is a long-form mix.
Should you buy this single? Why not? If house is your thing, go for it, especially if you’re a Daft Punk fan. The remixes are harder to find on versions that were released in the states, and it does give you a nice variety of styles to choose from. If you’re just a nostalgic fan who really got into the new millennium dance crazes, this will take you back. Or, if you’ve heard the Kanye West track that sampled this tune, you will be pleasantly surprised to see how well this song holds on its own. So, yes, go and get this!
4.50 out of 5.
——The FSOL series will resume in the next post. Finally…