Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” Deemed Genius By Music Theory Analysis

Daft Punk analyzed with music theory.

Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” has had nothing but upward momentum since its release in April of 2013. Featuring Pharrell Williams on vocals and Nile Rodgers on guitar, the song was the lead single off their 2013 ‘comeback’ album Random Access Memories. The single of “Get Lucky” broke the Top Ten in the music charts of more than 32 countries and, by September of 2013, had already sold over 7.3 million copies. On January 26th, the song not only garnered the French electronic duo a double win at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, one the coveted Record of the Year and the other for Best Pop Dup/Group Performance, but it also got Sir Paul McCartney tapping his feet during rehearsals for the show. Daft Punk has even lent a hand to Pharrell’s upcoming solo album in return for his help in making “Get Lucky” a worldwide hit.

Now, the wildly successful song has even been deemed “genius”, and not just by overzealous fans drunk on hyperbole. In an article for Slate, musician Owen Pallett runs the song through the music theory analysis machine and offers some interesting insight into the song that just won’t quit:

First off, we should address this song’s repetitiousness. There’s a delicious middle finger extended here, beyond the fact that the four-chord loop never alters: Pharrell’s vocal performances, and Nile’s guitar parts, are photocopied. The pre-choruses, the choruses, they are exactly identical, copy-pasted in GarageBand. It’s not even evident that Daft Punk asked its guests to do complete takes. This isn’t innovative, but it is egregious, a punkish move, sending a clear message: “This Is Pop, Where Repetition Is King, And Our Time Is More Valuable Than Yours.”

For this reason, it is not surprising that Moody is frustrated by “Get Lucky.” This sort of copypasta isn’t exactly recommended by Walter Piston. It’s almost as if Daft Punk is baiting the musically knowledgeable people in the room to pull a poo-face and retire to their dorm rooms to practice their Mendelssohn. Us nerds, we have gone home, you lot can keep on dancing.

Pallet studied classical violin since the age of three and composed his very first piece at the age of 13. in 2002, he received an Honours Bachelor of Music for Composition from the University of Toronto and four years later, performing under the name Final Fantasy, won the Polaris Music Prize for his album He Poos Clouds. In his analysis of “Get Lucky”, the 34 year old takes special note of the way the song uses the word “good”:

First, this is a specifically Francophonic idiosyncrasy; native English speakers do not ask their lovers to remind them to spend “good time” with them, nor do they identify “good fun” as their motivation for staying up all night.

Secondly, the weighting is all wrong. Good is a word that needs to fall heavy, needs to be placed at the beginnings and endings of phrases. Remember Sir Paul McCartney’s placement of good in “Good Day, Sunshine”—always settling on heavy syllables. “GOOD day SUNshine.” “I’m looking GOOD, you know she’s LOOKing fine.” Worlds away from its apostrophic weighting in “WE’RE up all night for good FUN.” For Daft Punk and Phoenix this little bit of language mangling works in their favor. It sounds off-balance and playful and sexy, like a foreign exchange student who might be a little drunk.

Earlier this week, Daft Punk carried on the disco and funk leanings of “Get Lucky” with a series of new merchandise ads, brimming with retro 70s kitsch and cheesy throwback grooviness. You can check them out below.