Poor Guy-Manuel De Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. They aren’t playing Glastonbury, they’ve long retired their totally ballin’ pyramid dance-maker, and they’ve only been on television once. And if that isn’t sad enough, our favorite team of French robots has long been the Susan Lucci of the CMJ charts: Daft Punk is the perpetual also-ran. They’ve racked up the No. 2s: Discovery (April 2001), Alive 2007 (January 2008), TRON: Legacy (January 2011). It’s been 16 years since Daft debut Homework topped out at No. 6, and Human After All just hit No. 17 (April 2005). So what gives? And will the forthcoming, star-studded Random Access Memories, propelled by the excellent new Neptunes-like house jam “Get Lucky”, score enough to drive Daft Punk to No. 1?

Discovery, the cornerstone of Daft Punk’s career, topped out at No. 2—so close, yet so far.
But let’s put that No. 2 into perspective: “One More Time” has the unique distinction of being simultaneously in heavy rotation on notoriously un-hip dance stations across the country while getting a regular irony-free live cover from the punk-rock-to-the-bone Ted Leo. In fact, its 15 weeks on Billboard’s Dance Charts have never hurt Daft Punk’s indie cred, and bizarrely, Kanye West’s ego only solidified that cred (perhaps because it was really Daft Punk who’d been breaking musical boundries since O.J. wore Isotoners).

CMJ Chart April 17, 2001

1 1 GUIDED BY VOICES Isolation Drills TVT
2 2 DAFT PUNK Discovery Virgin
3 3 IDLEWILD 100 Broken Windows Capitol
4 12 RED HOUSE PAINTERS Old Ramon Sub Pop
5 34 ANI DIFRANCO Revelling/Reckoning Righteous Babe
6 6 OLD 97′S Satellite Rides Elektra
7 5 BLACK BOX RECORDER The Facts Of Life Jetset
8 8 CREEPER LAGOON Take Back The Universe… DreamWorks
9 4 ROCKET FROM THE CRYPT Group Sounds Vagrant
10 15 PETE YORN musicforthemorningafter Columbia
11 14 BEN HARPER Live From Mars Virgin
12 17 ME FIRST AND THE GIMME GIMMES Blow In… Fat Wreck Chords
13 13 SHEILA DIVINE Where Have My Countrymen Gone Co-Op
14 7 STEPHEN MALKMUS Stephen Malkmus Matador
15 16 TOADIES Hell Below/Stars Above Interscope
16 25 VARIOUS ARTISTS Sounds Eclectic Palm
18 28 ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE Redefining Music Hopeless
19 9 TORTOISE Standards Thrill Jockey
20 24 SHUGGIE OTIS Inspiration Information Luaka Bop

While college radio has and does support all genres of music wholeheartedly, with very few exceptions—mostly the Beastie Boys—the top spot on the CMJ charts has been firmly occupied by indie-rock and major-label rock artists for the better part of three decades. Above Discovery, it was Guided By Voices, the quintessential indie-rock band whose pure existence seems to propel the band to the top 5 with every release, that took No. 1. So would a No. 1 spot be more of a solidification of the corporately named EDM’s acceptance in the indie music world? I’m going to say no, because Daft Punk has reached a somewhat legendary status headlining Coachella, which is a king’s jeweled crown, not his revolution. In fact, one of the most exciting things about “Get Lucky,” which has already broken one-day streaming records, is its ability to eschew the now-inflated sense of self that pervades today’s dance scene—a scene over saturated with former students of “Da Funk,” “Robot Rock” and “Harder Better Faster Stronger.”