Grammy win for Daft Punk boosts French pride
Paris • They’re helmeted, mute and mysterious, and they’re suddenly the pride of France.
Duo Daft Punk did something no other French music group has done: Brought home four Grammy Awards in one night.
Congratulations poured in Monday from French media, tweeters and bloggers — and even the U.S. Embassy in Paris. "See, France is capable of winning!" said commentator Jean-Jacques Bourdin on BFM-TV.
The multiple wins for the electronic music pioneers Sunday night were a rare bit of good news in France amid bleak reports on unemployment (stuck around 11 percent) and the president’s personal life (complicated).
The men behind the masks, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, kept their French accents carefully concealed at the Grammys. The two, who only appear in public behind helmets, left it to Pharrell Williams to accept their awards.
While those in the French masses celebrate Daft Punk’s repeated trips to the podium at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, French officialdom has been strangely silent. Daft Punk’s work didn’t get a single nomination for the 2013 French music awards Victoire de la musique.
Perhaps that’s because, as critic Pierre Siankowski put it, "We have a problem in France with the mainstream." Something as universally popular as the never-get-it-out-of-your-head "Get Lucky" isn’t seen as "real art."
That wasn’t a concern for the Recording Academy voters, who handed Daft Punk and Williams the trophy in every category they were nominated in at the Grammy Awards: Album of the year for "Random Access Memories." Record of the year for funk-electronic anthem "Get Lucky." Best pop duo or group performance. And best dance or electronica album.
"Random Access Memories" also won for non-classical engineered album, an award that went to their engineer.
Daft Punk, produced by Columbia Records in the U.S., broke into the global sound consciousness with their 1997 album "Homework" and its hit "Around the World." They went on to win Grammys in 2007 for best dance recording and best electronic dance album.
Then, they reached for something radical: live instruments. Their combination of real musicians, R&B rhythms and electronic expertise is seen as the key to the success of "Random Access Memories."
Siankowski, the chief editor at pop culture weekly Les Inrockuptibles, isn’t afraid to be a fan, praising them for "intelligent music ... that goes against the grain."
And something about those helmets all over French TV on Monday looked familiar.
Henri Guaino, speechwriter for ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy, couldn’t resist drawing a parallel with the helmeted man pictured in a gossip magazine this month sneaking out of the presidential palace on a motorcycle to meet his actress paramour.
The magazine says the man was President Francois Hollande, a claim neither he nor the actress has denied. Guaino quipped on BFM that the images provided "good publicity" for Daft Punk.