One of the songs I’m hearing everywhere here in the US is Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” This is no surprise, since it is a top 20 hit and the most successful Daft Punk single to date in America.
It is also their most American single to date. Oh yes, it is unmistakably Daft Punk, in full French House vivant. But it also has Nile Rodgers’s real disco guitar instead of the reconstituted funk of prior Daft Punk euro-dance. And the lead vocal isn’t the faceless vocoderized sample of the duo’s previous singles, but Pharrell Williams’s familiar amateur soul croon. It would be misguided to pretend it isn’t a transatlantic tune, but with two of its most recognizable elements being distinctly American — at a time when America has wholeheartedly embraced electronic dance music — is it best understood as a primarily American song?
(On the other hand, this is the most successful Daft Punk single of all time pretty much everywhere — their first number one in a slew of markets and their second in France, following “One More Time.”)
katherinestasaph asked: For me the key line in that is "Even more telling than the artists who get this cosign are the talented artists in the same ballpark who don’t - who tend to be the ones without influential PRs, canny positioning or contacts."
This line of argument really seems of limited use to me. There are thousands — millions — of great unheard artists out there that would benefit if they had a record deal, or a nicely shot video, or a smart PR rep working them, and theoretically every bad artist who has those resources is denying them to the unheard ones who don’t. But the music business isn’t a meritocracy and pointing out that you consider Jai Paul’s marketing to be gauche doesn’t re-apportion those resources. And Lex wasn’t, say, using the space at The Quietus to shine a light on those “talented artists in the same ballpark.”[*] He was trying to make media criticism do the work of musical criticism (note his original Tumblr post: “I go in on worthless hypescam Jai Paul,” with the unnamed poorly performing journalists only an afterthought).
I mean, I get the what about the artists you aren’t paying attention to? line when a writer is failing to tell a story properly due to such omission — for instance, articles about gay-positive rap that start and end with Macklemore — but there are untold quantities of new music out there. The idea that if only people would stop writing about Jai Paul they would select their subjects on the basis of merit seems extremely dubious.
*EDIT: Katherine responds
I mean, accusing Lex of “not shining a light on those talented artists in the same ballpark” is kind of ridiculous. I can’t think of many writers who do this more.
Yeah, that’s a fair point. And Lex has previously done exactly the thing I said he didn’t do here — I recall during the period where indie R&B was a hyped thing he wrote a “here are R&B acts you should check out” article that was well-written and valuable, for instance.