Released in 1997 from the enigmatic Daft Punk‘s debut album Homework. ‘Around the World’ becoming a club hit around the world it was a landmark for the French duo that retooled dance music for the new millennium. Recorded in their bedroom, ‘Around the World’ possessed a pleasing minimal quality, its bouncing robot disco beat laced with a neon bricolage of samples and synths, this was a new kind of sparse house anthem. In a world dominated highly produced club tracks there was a nerdy kitsch to this playful reimagination and homage to electro, funk, pop, and dance music that was impossible to resist.
Like the turning of a volume control, the thumping four to the floor beat and funky basslines reverberating through your neighbour’s walls eventually into your room and enveloping you entirely. Unfurling into the insidious computerised, vocoder of the repeated refrain of the title, counterweighted by dexterous squelchy synths it buries itself in your head, casting echoes back to the work of Kraftwerk. Its bubblegum tune made James Murphy fantasize about Daft Punk playing at his house. “I liked how wimpy ‘Around the World’ was,” he explains. “It was really everything I hated, and I couldn’t resist it. What a fucking track.”
Like many of the early Daft Punk singles (such as ‘Da Funk’), it was accompanied by a groundbreaking video directed by Michel Gondry and choreographed by Blanca Li. With each element meant to be a visual representation of each part of the song, it captured by circular formation dancing by characters in various costumes. ‘Around the World’ was Gondry’s first stab at directing organised dancing in a music video. “I was sick to see choreography being mistreated in videos like filler with fast cutting and fast editing, really shallow. I don’t think choreography should be shot in close-ups.”
Daft Punk may have gone on to even bigger chart success in the ensuing years, most notably with the likes of ‘One More Time, ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’ and ‘Get Lucky’ – a collaboration Nile Rodgers, but with its imagination and precision the fantastic ‘Around the World’ still makes a space in my brain and move my feet every time I hear it.