One More Time

In the year 2000, Daft Punk predicted that robots would be the new pop stars. And it has come to pass. Today, everybody’s a robot. Well, not exactly, but close. Daft Punk were far from being the first musicians to play with the concept of the mensch-machine (Wie gehts, Kraftwerk?!) but they and their robot heads came along just when that conversation was becoming increasingly relevant. The question of authenticity in popular music never really goes away, but it’s usually centered on matters of street cred and emotional sincerity. Daft Punk half-jokingly asked the question, are humans even necessary?  At the time, they got some critical backlash for their heavy handed use of Auto-Tune, their unabashed existence on the digital plane, their anonymous posturing. Now, of course, Auto-Tune is de rigueur, everything is digital, personality is optional, and the role of human skills in the production of hit pop music seems to be phasing out. Or, that’s the cynical answer. Just because many pop stars appear to be made of latex and silicone doesn’t mean humans are obsolete. Daft Punk”s answer to their own question has always been, no, humans are not obsolete, they’re just more enhanced now. Music and art are made possible by human emotions. Auto-Tune is just another tool in the artist’s bag, no more controversial that the synthesizer, the mixing board, the microphone, or banging two rocks together.


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