Entering the Videodrome #2: Daft Punk’s “Around The World”

A part of me would like to remember listening to Daft Punk’s debut album “Homework” when it first came out in 1997, but deep down I know that that did not happen for many years to come. Looking back on the album and time in which it came out, it can in some ways be considered one of the more influential Electronic albums of all time and the album that really sparked interest in the developing French House scene of the late 90s/early 2000s. However, all of that would’ve eluded me at that point in time as I was probably more interested in the Backstreet Boys and other such dross to pay attention.

What did grab me however was the entrancing video for probably the most famous song from the album “Around the World” that was directed by excellent music video and film (when he wants to be good) directer Michel Gondry. Featuring several groups of characters moving in cyclical motions and nothing more, the video was oddly engrossing to a 7/8 year old version of myself. If my gin-soaked memory serves me well, I believe the first time I saw it was on the long defunct Saturday kid’s TV programme “Live & Kicking” when I was in the twilight of my life. What appealed to me was the absolutely simplicity on the face of what the video is; people moving ‘around the world’ dressed in various costumes.

What I failed to notice at 7 years old was what each group of people represented a different aspect of the song itself. One group will represent the bassline, another the drum pattern, another will only move when the high pitched synth is heard and another will only move when the vocals are playing. It makes the hypnotic nature of the video itself even more engrossing and ingenious and really speaks to the ability of Gondry as a music video director.

From a more technical standpoint, the intrinsic choreography required to make the video a success is stunning to comprehend. The intricacies entailed to make it succeed were something that Gondry strove for, as he had found that choreography was a mistreated factor and utilised as filler in music videos at the time it was released. He and his crew succeeded in making an incredibly influential video that simply used organised dance in a unique fashion.

Daft Punk would have many more great videos that would feature Anthropomorphic Canines, Manga space cartoons and of course, robots. They’ve also now become the renaissance men of 70s Funk music, jamming with Pharrell and Nile Rodgers in glittery outfits . Whilst the music is still great and the videos enjoyable, I’m still mesmerised by this wonder.

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