It’s rare to find a song that transcends time, genre and language, but with One More Time, Daft Punk gifted the world exactly that sort of song. Upon its release, listeners were met with five and a half minutes of pure happiness and positivity as the group blended electronic, funk, pop and soul influences into a single that would change the musical landscape for the better. Not just supercharging Daft Punk’s career, One More Time revamped the music scene, and remains just as important today as it did at the turn of the millennium.
A new era of their own
The humble origins of one of the most famous electronic music groups are well-known. Forming from the ashes of a rock band called Darlin’, Daft Punk – named after a criticism levelled at their former outfit – spent the late 90s unleashing infectious singles such as Da Funk and Around The World, along with more experimental cuts like Rollin’ & Scratchin’ and Oh Yeah. Asserting themselves on the electronic underground scene in France, the duo – Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter – soon gained recognition in the US, but while their debut album, 1997’s Homework, allowed Daft Punk to hone their craft, more musical exploration was to come. As the 20th century drew to a close, the duo took advantage of the hype and hysteria surrounding the “Millennium Bug” in order to enter a new era of their own: from midnight, 1 January 2000, Daft Punk would, now and forever, be robots.
Despite the publicity surrounding them, the duo took their time with their second album – and it paid off. In early 2001, four years after the release of Homework, Daft Punk released the game-changing Discovery, but they had already signposted the album’s arrival with not only its biggest single, but one of the most important songs the group ever released.
Looking for the perfect beat
Recorded back in 1998, One More Time was released on 30 November 2000, as Daft Punk’s first single of the 21st century. It hit the top of the French charts, peaked at No.2 in the UK and topped Billboard’s dance chart in the US, becoming the first Daft Punk song to sell over a million copies; it took a song as ubiquitous as 2013’s Get Lucky to supersede One More Time as the group’s best-known track. But why did this one in particular fare so well and help Daft Punk skyrocket?
To start with, One More Time’s infectious beat is near perfect. A chopped-up funky sample repeats in the background, with added bass and synths along with a pounding drum line. More Spell On You, by Eddie Johns, is widely believed to be the track originally looped for the beat, with the song’s brass section being reworked for One More Time’s instrumental mix. In the process of sampling it, Daft Punk created a completely original optimistic beat that brings positivity with every listen. Meanwhile, the melody repeats throughout, breaking down slightly for a bridge section that allows for a greater focus on One More Time’s heartening message before making a triumphant return for the track’s euphoric ending.
Pioneering production techniques
The late American DJ and singer Romanthony provided the vocals for both One More Time and the Discovery album track Too Long, but his contributions on the former gained the most recognition. On One More Time, the autotuned vocals are treated more like an instrument. Though Romanthony’s singing is smooth and soulful, Daft Punk’s pioneering use of heavy vocal manipulation helps to make the song feel both classic and modern, while also fitting with their aesthetic. The same year that Daft Punk recorded One More Time, pop sensation Cher released her chart-topping single Believe, one of the first recognised uses of autotune on a hit song. One More Time built on this, helping to popularise the use of autotune in electronic music; in 2003, Daft Punk’s Daft Club remix album included One More Time (Romanthony’s Unplugged), a wildly different interpretation of the hit single that highlights the extreme ways in which the group treated Romanthony’s vocals. Sadly, the singer died in 2013, but he lives on through performances such as these.
Daft Punk’s production techniques were not the only things to break new ground. One More Time’s music video was the first release from what, with the help of illustrator Leiji Matsumoto, one of the group’s childhood heroes, would become a feature-length anime movie in 2003. With Matsumoto as visual supervisor, the 65-minute Interstella 5555: The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem visualises the story behind Daft Punk’s Discovery album, providing music videos for each track. While the movie doesn’t feature any actual dialogue, Daft Punk’s music carries the film, which, in turn, brings an extra dimension to the group’s already brilliant songs. The clip for One More Time, the opening number of both the album and film, shows an alien band performing the track to an excited audience, who, mesmerised by the music, are blissfully unaware of a mysterious force invading the planet. Instead of being a novelty side project, the movie builds upon themes and ideas that have underpinned the group throughout their career.
A flawless work of genius
It took eight years for Daft Punk to follow their third album, 2005’s Human After All, with Random Access Memories. As time drags on, they look set to be taking even longer with their fifth record. The duo know that they work best when they work at their own speed, and we could easily expect to wait a few more years before hearing their latest carefully crafted, funk-filled electronic disco melodies. As frustrating as that may be for fans, it will be worth the wait; everything Daft Punk has released continues to sound as modern and original as ever. Oozing with positivity thanks to its irresistible beat, cheerful lyrics and ingenious production, One More Time is no exception.
The likes of Skrillex, Kanye West, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers have all said that Daft Punk have inspired them, and there is no doubt that, thanks to songs like One More Time, new generations will continue to be entranced by the French duo’s genius.
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