Happy anniversary, Random Access Memories. On this date last year, Daft Punk’s fourth studio album was released to the world… but it wasn’t that simple. It was a project years in the making, and even longer in the waiting. Daft Punk didn’t just release their newest album on May 17th, they capped off one of the most brilliantly devised marketing plans and one of the biggest hype circuses to surround an album in the last decade. Between crashing the internet with nothing but an image of a helmet to making Grammy history and becoming certified platinum with one million copies sold, Random Access Memories is as much a story in the unwritten book of musical lore as it is anything else. Revisit RAM and the days that were dominated by Daft Punk and embrace the nostalgia as we trail blaze a timeline you’ll likely remember forever.
January 26, 2013: Daft Punk signs with Sony/Columbia
Le Parisian, the second largest regional newspaper in France reported that Daft Punk had left EMI, signing with Columbia Records’ Sony subsidiary. The move meant that their fourth studio album, their first since 2005′s Human After All, would finally be seeing the light of day.
February 26, 2013: The helmet that broke the internet
One month after the word had gotten out that Daft Punk found a new home to deliver an album, their website had been relaunched to show the world the double helmet that would eventually become the cover art of Random Access Memories. Within seconds, the site had crashed, but the image remained plastered on the duo’s Facebook.
March 3, 2013: Saturday Night Live ad kicks off cryptic campaign
The next sighting of that double helmet came with what kicked off the campaign of cryptic teasers and ongoing mystery. Airing on Saturday Night Live was a 15-second teaser that flashed the group’s logo backed by what was presumed to be new music. New music it was. In fact, although then unknown, this would be the first time anyone would taste “Get Lucky.”
March 13, 2013: No Daft Punk apocalypse, but hype hits new heights
The Mayans had 12/21/12 as the date circled for apocalypse. Daft Punk fans has 3/13/13 as the date circled for, well, anything. Like the Mayans, Daft Punk had nothing to offer on the mythical day, but the undying rumor mill and its coincidental crossing with SXSW stirred the buzz strongly enough to send the hype surrounding Daft Punk soaring.
March 23, 2013: Random Access Memories becomes reality with release date
iTunes confirmed and unveiled all that Daft Punk faithfuls had been anticipating for nearly eight years. Random Access Memories had been made available for pre-order, putting its release dates — May 17th internationally, May 21st stateside — in the books.
April 3, 2013: Giorgio Moroder kicks off The Collaborators
Even a year before the record label move, or the hype storm that would follow, disco legend Giorgio Moroder went on the record speaking of a collaboration with Daft Punk that would be for their next album. While that news flew relatively below the radar, Moroder would be under the spotlight when he next spoke out. He was first featured in The Collaborators video series, which went on to include the rest of the RAM cast.
April 12, 2013: Coachella's Get Lucky tease, first Pharrell sighting
In what appeared to be an extended, or complete, version of what had been flashed on Saturday Night Live, the first official teaser video for “Get Lucky” flashed on screens at Coachella. Out of the blue, Daft Punk were seen suited and shimmering with Pharrell for the very first time, confirming “Get Lucky” and its vocalist.
April 13, 2013: Daft Punk speak in first interview, reveal tracklist
Leaving no time for the dust to settle on the storm they created at Coachella, Daft Punk broke their silence in an interview with Rolling Stone. Their chat described the futuristic sense of retro on Random Access Memories and had the duo breaking down the project on the way to success. Phrases such as “drawing a parallel between the brain and a hard drive” would become synonymous with RAM while its tracklist was simultaneously revealed.
April 17, 2013: Canadian radio leaks 'Get Lucky'
Less than a week after its debut, it had already felt like the wait for “Get Lucky” had been lasting a lifetime. Thanks to a Canadian radio station, it would only take five days. Sending the internet into a frenzy, the lead single’s radio rip leaked and spread like wildfire.
April 18th, 2013: Comeback christened by lead single release
24 hours after all ears clung to the radio leak of “Get Lucky,” it had been officially released. The lead single from Random Access Memories was available and Daft Punk’s comeback had been christened. Though no one knew the distances which it would soon travel.
April 24-28, 2013: Get Lucky breaks records, claims top of charts
It took a matter of days for “Get Lucky” to begin shattering records. Days still in single digits, Daft Punk and Pharrell’s collaboration had been deemed a smash hit, becoming Spotify’s most played track in its streaming history. In the same week, it reached number one status in the UK — a milestone first for the duo.
May 10, 2013: Daft Punk sit down with Pete Tong
One of Thomas and Guy-Man’s most notable interviews done in their exclusive run of RAM press was broadcasted for the world on BBC Radio 1. It was a legend-on-legend chat in the world of dance and electronic music. Sitting down with Pete Tong with one week until Random Access Memories would be unveiled, they make their strongest statement to date: “this time we are doing it for real.”
May 13, 2013: Random Access Memories arrives
The day Random Access Memories finally surfaced in full felt to many like a holiday. To others, it still couldn’t be avoided. Streaming pre-release on iTunes and leaking elsewhere, Daft Punk and their album had Twitter upside down, trending just about everywhere. Within a few days, the album was released internationally, and a few later completely it was officially for sale in the United States.
August 25, 2013: Nile Rodgers and Pharrell join Daft Punk to present and tease at MTV's VMAs
Daft Punk’s first major appearance was made at MTV’s VMAs, where the duo suited aptly (and forever) in their robot gear were joined by Nile Rodgers and Pharrell to present the award for Best Female Video. While they had attention captured (again) they teased their second collaborative single “Lose Yourself To Dance” in the same fashion as “Get Lucky” a la Coachella.
December 6, 2013: Instant Crush makes for first true video
The video released for “Lose Yourself To Dance” was that of a live performance. Although done in style, and enjoyed cinematically, the first to take on the art form of a music video came as the Julian Casablancas collaboration, “Instant Crush.”
January 26, 2014: Daft Punk sweep Grammys, make historical performance
Ironically, exactly 365 days after news had leaked of Daft Punk’s alliance with Columbia, one year to the date, the Grammys were set in Los Angeles. Daft Punk was due to take home gold, but their eventual winnings were unforeseen. Sweeping the awards and winning each of their five nominations, Random Access Memories earned Album of the Year. As if that weren’t enough, they made the Grammys home to their first ever live televised performance, joined on stage by Niles Rodgers, Pharrell and Stevie Wonder for “Get Lucky.”
February 10, 2014: Random Access Memories goes certified platinum
Nine months and five Grammy awards later, the album that Daft Punk kept so hidden and anticipated had sold over one million copies united. The Album of the Year debuted at number one with over 300,000 sales, breezed through July with over 600,000 units sold, and Grammy accolades had album sales surging up to 200% pushing it into platinum territory.