This Daft Punk / Jay Z Collaboration Is Most Likely Real and Kinda Blah
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Last year was full of surprise releases from major artists — My Bloody Valentine, David Bowie, Beyonce — so it makes sense to expect more of these in 2014. But the sudden appearance of a song called ‘Computerized’ involving Daft Punk and Jay Z still comes as a shock. Questions spring to mind: When did they work together? How did it stay a secret? Why didn’t it make Jay Z’s last album, ‘Magna Carta … Holy Grail,’ better?
As of yet, there don’t seem to be many answers. Pitchfork has confirmed the song is real and that Kanye West was not involved. Part of the beat to ‘Computerized’ also popped up on Daft Punk’s ‘Tron’ soundtrack, which came out back in 2010, but it’s still not clear when the song was recorded and how it got out of the vaults. You can listen to it above.
The song itself is probably not deserving of the attention it has attracted. Daft Punk apply some trademark processed vocals to intone “everything will be computerized.” The drumming is primitive and the synth-scape repetitive, coming in somewhere between 1981 Kraftwerk and John Carpenter’s futuristic soundtrack to ‘Escape From New York,’ made the same year. Come to think of it, the idea of everything being computerized is pretty out of date too.
Jay Z has been hit or miss lately in his collaborations with others — the verses he contributed to Drake’s ‘Poundcake‘ or Beyonce’s ‘Drunk in Love‘ leave something to be desired — and he doesn’t do much here. (To be fair, he doesn’t have a lot to work with.) He raps about technology and romantic distance, starting out with, “She says I’m cold / Only time I’m comfortable kissing is in X and Os.” This could be a promising start for a robotic update of ‘Big Pimpin’,’ but instead, Jay ends up asking flat questions like, “Whatever happened to our phone sex” and “Am I that unaffectionate?”
Both Jay Z and Daft Punk are still capable of great work, which is remarkable for artists who put out their first albums in 1996 and 1997, respectively. This collaboration isn’t that. But expect more surprises.