"Da Funk" is an instrumental track by French electronic music duo Daft Punk, initially released as a single in May 1995 by Soma and Virgin and later included on their debut album, Homework (1997). The song and its accompanying music video directed by Spike Jonze are considered classics of 1990s house music.[3] It went on to sell 30,000 copies in 1997. A reversed clip of "Da Funk" was also released on Homework as "Funk Ad", which is the final track on the album.

"Da Funk"
Virgin Records cover
Single by Daft Punk
from the album Homework
  • "Rollin' and Scratchin'" (Soma)
  • "Musique" (Virgin)
Released8 May 1995 (1995-05-08)
  • 5:29 (album version)
  • 3:50 (long edit)
  • 2:41 (short edit)
Producer(s)Daft Punk
Daft Punk singles chronology
"The New Wave"
"Da Funk"
"Indo Silver Club"
Music video
"Da Funk" on YouTube
Audio sample
"Da Funk"

Background edit

"Da Funk" was initially released as a 12-inch single on 8 May 1995 under the Soma Quality Recordings label, with the B-side "Rollin' & Scratchin'".[4][5] The pressing was limited to 2,000 copies and was "virtually ignored" according to a Muzik magazine feature at the time. The single received a boost in popularity when the Chemical Brothers incorporated it into their live shows. Subsequently, the British duo's song "Life Is Sweet" was remixed by Daft Punk for a single release in August 1995.[6] The track also received early support from veteran BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale.[7]

Daft Punk eventually signed with Virgin Records after a bidding war amongst several labels. "Da Funk" was re-released in early 1997 by Virgin with the B-side[8] "Musique", a track that later appeared on the anthology Musique Vol. 1 1993–2005. The duo's debut album Homework features "Da Funk" as well as a reversed excerpt titled "Funk Ad". Daft Punk expressed that they wanted to make the album balanced by distributing tracks evenly across each of the four vinyl sides.[9]

Composition edit

In an interview with Fredrik Strage for Swedish magazine Pop #23, Bangalter said that "Da Funk" was made after listening to American G-funk for weeks:

It was around the time Warren G's "Regulate" was released and we wanted to make some sort of gangsta rap and tried to murk our sounds as much as possible. However, no one has ever compared it to hip hop. We've heard that the drums sound like Queen and the Clash, the melody is reminiscent of Giorgio Moroder, and the synthesisers sound like electro and thousand of other comparisons. No one agrees with us that it sounds like hip hop.[10]

The riff was originally a siren sound, but was changed to reflect the "gangsta rap" aesthetic they were trying to achieve. The bassline was created with a Roland TB-303 synthesizer[11] Bangalter purchased in 1993. He had created several patterns with the 303 beforehand: "When we were looking for a bassline, we listened to some of [the] ones I'd already programmed and took the one that fit best."[6] Da Funk is written in the key of G minor,[12] and composed with a tempo of 111 beats per minute.[13]

Critical reception edit

Larry Flick from Billboard described the track as a "wriggling instrumental combination of cutting-edge electronic dance and Cameo-styled funk".[14] Andy Beevers from Music Week's RM Dance Update rated it five out of five, adding that "this single is a bit of a refresher for those who have been wondering why there is so much hype surrounding the French duo." He explained further, "'Da Funk' still sounds incredibly fresh with its huge distorted synth riffs, thumping rhythm and scratchy guitar mashed up to create a mutant disco gem."[15] Andy Crysell from NME wrote, "Two young Parisians abduct the insane lovechild of a one-night stand shared by Hardfloor's fittest 303s and a '70s superfly jam to devise a title track rich in troubled funk and wiggly acid and a flip of murderous hammering house."[16] Dave Fawbert from ShortList declared it as "sensational", stating that it "manages to combine about six different outrageously funky parts over the top of an unyielding, solitary, bass note. When the 303 finally kicks in, it's electro ecstasy."[17] David Sinclair from The Times commented, "Another rave standard goes overground."[18]

Music video edit

The protagonist Charles in the music video for "Da Funk"

"What was special was seeing the streets of New York City react in real time to the character of Charles the Dog Boy as if he was real. Because of the location and the nature of how it was put together, aside from a few knowing smiles, most people just accepted it as reality and that was kind of amazing. Half the people totally ignored Charles, as if he was just any other character on the streets, and that was part of what made it so magic. I was laughing to myself all the time."

Tony Maxwell[19]

The track's music video was directed by Spike Jonze in February 1997 and titled Big City Nights. It focuses on the character Charles (Tony Maxwell, drummer of the band That Dog), an anthropomorphic dog in a leg cast with a crutch. Charles, who has lived in New York City for only one month, is shown walking around with a boombox blasting "Da Funk" at a high volume. His hobbled walk is mocked by a pair of children. He is turned down when he attempts to participate in a public survey. His boombox annoys a bookseller on the sidewalk from whom Charles buys a paperback novel titled Big City Nights. Charles meets a woman named Beatrice (Catherine Kellner), who was once his childhood neighbor. They agree to have dinner together at her home, traveling by way of a city bus. Beatrice boards the bus, but Charles is startled by a sign stating "NO RADIOS". As he is unable to turn off his boombox (which is earlier indicated to have a broken/missing volume button) he reluctantly remains at the bus stop, as the bus drives off with Beatrice.

Although the video has drawn several interpretations, Thomas Bangalter has stated:

There's no story. It is just a man-dog walking with a ghetto blaster in New York. The rest is not meant to say anything. People are trying to explain it: Is it about human tolerance? Integration? Urbanism? There's really no message. There will be a sequel someday.[20]

Charles starred in the music video for "Fresh", another song on the Homework album. Set several years after "Da Funk", Charles is shown to have become a successful movie star who is respected by many of his colleagues and is now living with Beatrice.

Impact and legacy edit

The prominent French club magazine Coda named "Da Funk" the number one single with 33 percent of the vote.[6] In 2003, Q ranked it number 670 in their list of the "1001 Best Songs Ever".[21]

In September 2010, Pitchfork Media included the song at number 18 on their "Top 200 Tracks of the 90s".[3] In 2011, it was featured in the video games Top Spin 4 and Ubisoft's Just Dance 3. Same year, Slant Magazine listed it at number 93 in their ranking of "The 100 Best Singles of the 1990s".[22]

In 2012, NME listed it in their "100 Best Songs of the 1990s", at number eight.[23] In 2021, Mixdown featured "Da Funk" in their list of "The 13 most iconic TB-303 basslines of all time".[11]

Rolling Stone ranked "Da Funk" number 23 in their list of "200 Greatest Dance Songs of All Time" in 2022.[24]

Track listing edit

CD single (Virgin 8939202)[25]
1."Da Funk" (Side A)5:33
2."Musique" (Side B)6:52
Total length:12:25
CD maxi single (Virgin DPRO-12232)[25]
1."Da Funk" (Short Edit) 2:41
2."Da Funk" (Long Edit) 3:48
3."Da Funk" (LP Version) 5:32
4."Da Funk" (Ten Minutes of Funk Mix)Armand van Helden10:08
5."Da Funk" (Callout Research Hook) 0:10
Total length:22:19
7" single (Virgin VSLH 1625)[25]
1."Da Funk" (Long Edit)3:48
2."Da Funk"5:33
Total length:9:21
12" maxi single (Soma 025)[25]
1."Da Funk" (Side A)5:28
2."Rollin' & Scratchin'" (Side B)7:26
Total length:12:54
CD maxi single (Virgin 8385872)[25]
1."Da Funk" (Radio Edit)5:33
3."Da Funk" (Ten Minutes Of Funk Mix)10:08
Total length:22:28

Charts edit

Certifications edit

Certifications and sales for "Da Funk"
Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[48] Silver 125,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[49] Silver 200,000

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Release history edit

Release dates and formats for "Da Funk"
Region Date Format(s) Label(s) Ref.
United Kingdom 8 May 1995 12-inch vinyl Soma [4]
Europe 10 January 1997 CD Virgin [26]
United Kingdom 3 February 1997
  • 12-inch vinyl
  • CD
  • cassette
United States 15 April 1997 Alternative radio [51]
24 March 1998 [52]

References edit

  1. ^ Myers, Michele (19 August 2011). "The Big Beat Revolution: 11 Essential Songs". NPR Music. Retrieved 9 April 2018.
  2. ^ Pitchfork Staff (28 September 2022). "The 150 Best Albums of the 1990s". Pitchfork. Retrieved 26 April 2023. The singles are among the most potent dance music gateway drugs we've got: One moment you're digging "Around the World" [with its] hooky persistence and "Da Funk"...
  3. ^ a b "Pitchfork Top 200 Tracks of the 90s". Archived from the original on 19 July 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2010.
  4. ^ a b "New Releases: Singles". Music Week. 6 May 1995. p. 59.
  5. ^ "Rewind: Daft Punk - Da Funk · Single Review". Resident Advisor. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  6. ^ a b c Bush, C. (1997), Frog Rock, Muzik, IPC Magazines Ltd, London, Issue No.21 February 1997.
  7. ^ Sandhu, Sukhdev (1 October 2020). "Hey Hi Hello by Annie Nightingale review – five decades of pop gusto". theguardian.com. Retrieved 27 January 2024.
  8. ^ James, Martin. French Connections: From Discotheque to Discovery. London, United Kingdom: Sanctuary Publishing Ltd., 2003. pg 273. (ISBN 1-8607-4449-4)
  9. ^ Warner, Jennifer. "Interview with Daft Punk" Archived 2014-07-10 at the Wayback Machine. p. 3. DMA. About.com. Retrieved on 30 March 2007.
  10. ^ Strage, Fredrik. Daft Punk drömmer om Amerika Pop (Stockholm). - Stockholm, Sweden: Bonniers specialtidningsförlag, 1997 pg. 85 (ISSN 1103-8578).
  11. ^ a b "The 13 most iconic TB-303 basslines of all time". Mixdown Magazine. 3 March 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  12. ^ Esen, Aykan (18 March 2021). "Daft Punk Basslines: The Ultimate Guide". Attack Magazine.
  13. ^ "BPM and key for Da Funk by Daft Punk | Tempo for Da Funk". Song BPM. Retrieved 13 November 2022.
  14. ^ Flick, Larry (15 March 1997). "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. p. 64. Retrieved 6 February 2020.
  15. ^ Beevers, Andy (1 February 1997). "Hot Vinyl" (PDF). Music Week, in Record Mirror (Dance Update Supplemental Insert). p. 10. Retrieved 8 May 2022.
  16. ^ Crysell, Andy (13 May 1995). "Groove Check". NME. p. 23. Retrieved 18 January 2024.
  17. ^ Fawbert, Dave (19 July 2017). "29 classic songs that are somehow 20 years old this year". ShortList. Retrieved 21 April 2020.
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  51. ^ "Daft Punk: Da Funk". Radio & Records. No. 1192. 11 April 1997. p. 80. Going for adds April 15th!
  52. ^ "New Releases: Singles". Radio & Records. No. 1240. 20 March 1998. pp. 99, 105.