Daft Punk, the Parisian duo responsible for some of the most popular dance and pop songs ever made, have split. They broke the news with an 8-minute video titled “Epilogue,” excerpted from their 2006 film Electroma. Asked if Daft Punk were no more, their longtime publicist Kathryn Frazier confirmed the news to Pitchfork but gave no reason for the breakup.
Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo formed Daft Punk in Paris in 1993, helping to define the French touch style of house music. Their debut album, 1997’s Homework, was a dance music landmark, featuring classic singles “Around the World” and “Da Funk.” By the release of its follow-up, Discovery, in 2001, the duo had taken to making public appearances in the robot outfits that became their trademark. The singles “One More Time” and “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” cemented them as global superstars. Their imprint in the popular imagination continued to deepen in subsequent years, with records including third album Human After All, live LP Alive 2007, and the Tron: Legacy soundtrack album.
Twenty years into their career, Daft Punk blew up once more with “Get Lucky,” the lead single of their 2013 album Random Access Memories. The ubiquitous track sold millions of copies around the world and won two Grammys for the duo and guests Nile Rodgers and Pharrell Williams, both of whom also featured on follow-up single “Lose Yourself to Dance.” Random Access Memories earned Daft Punk a further three Grammys, including Album of the Year, and the ceremony hosted one of the last stagings of their spectacular live show. “When you know how a magic trick is done, it’s so depressing,” Bangalter told Pitchfork in a 2013 Cover Story. “We focus on the illusion because giving away how it’s done instantly shuts down the sense of excitement and innocence.”
The year of Random Access Memories’ release, Daft Punk were also credited with co-production on several tracks from Kanye West’s Yeezus, including the formidable opening trio of “On Sight,” “Black Skinhead,” and “I Am a God.” They would go on to collaborate with the Weeknd on the 2016 single “Starboy”—Daft Punk’s first Billboard singles chart topper—as well as a second hit, “I Feel It Coming.”
Beyond the singles, their visual identity, interstellar mystique, and party-music ethos inspired generations of artists across genres. LCD Soundsystem’s breakout song, “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House,” captured the duo’s paradoxical embodiment of hipster cool even as their singles dominated airwaves. They released several batches of incredible holiday merch. They were sampled by R&B greats Janet Jackson and Jazmine Sullivan, parodied in Family Guy and Powerpuff Girls, and celebrated in art galleries around the world.