Two short tidbits on music

Why Daft Punk’s Grammy night performance was so amazing

I nearly teared up watching Daft Punk’s performance at the Grammys last weekend. Seriously.

The robots’ live shows are legendary, and for good reason: Their studio material is frequently excellent, but it’s not always super-complex. But when they play live, they often end up mixing two or three tracks together in a way that just…fits and creates something that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

The duo’s performance on the Grammy stage showed that they still have a feel for playing live, but more importantly, it showed the sort of potential that is nestled inside Random Access Memories.

For those who couldn’t tell, here’s a list of everything that was mixed into the performance:

  • Get Lucky
  • Harder Better Faster Stronger
  • Lose Yourself to Dance
  • Le Freak (originally by Chic)
  • Another Star (by Stevie Wonder)
  • Around the World

It’s a lot. But that’s what I find so amazing about Daft Punk: they create these performances that feel effortless, even when they’re bringing together so many different tracks from different eras.

When rumors of a potential RAM toor floated prior to the album’s launch, the rumor mill said that one potential complication would be getting the duo, who have typically played alone, atop a giant pyramid, onto the same stage with a live band.

What we saw last weekend appears to be proof that would work. And it would be awesome. RAM may have taken home album of the year, but it’s clear that this material has legs beyond what Daft Punk has done with it so far.

Streaming music has finally made it

I’m standing at my desk writing this piece while listening to the soundtrack from The Social Network. I’ve never heard it before, and it’s probably not something I’d drop $8 on. But I get to give it a try all the way through with Rdio.

Here’s the thing: without the current confluence of technologies, I probably wouldn’t be nearly as interested in throwing down $10 a month on streaming music. Here’s what it took:

  • Internet connections have gotten better.
  • Connected devices have become more prevalent, and cellular connections got a lot faster.
  • Rightsholders have finally gotten on board with offering their catalog for unlimited online streaming.

All of that adds up to an era when it makes sense to plunk down $10 a month for music streaming rather than spending the same amount (or more) on albums. Sure, if I stop subscribing to Rdio, I lose out on listening to the music that I don’t own, but the upside is that I get to listen to stuff that I would otherwise overlook because it wouldn’t be worth a purchase.

Because rightsholders have, with a few exceptions, been licensing their content broadly, I really don’t miss all that much if I switch services, either, save for my playlists, which are seemingly impossible to share between services.

If nothing else, I think that the rise of Rdio and other services like it should be enough to give terrestrial radio companies pause. Streaming services offer users the best of so many worlds, including the ability to stream the music they want, as well as the ability to switch on a radio service that’s ad-free, and based on only what they want to listen to.

Also, if you haven't given Rdio, Spotify, or one of those other services a shot, try them. I know my life has been better for it.