Music Sounds Better with You

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"Music Sounds Better with You"
CD single
Single by Stardust
Released20 July 1998 (1998-07-20)[1]
Recorded1997
StudioDaft House (Paris, France)
GenreFrench house
Length
  • 6:48
  • 4:20 (radio edit)
LabelRoulé, Virgin
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)Stardust
Music video
"Music Sounds Better With You" on YouTube

"Music Sounds Better with You" is the only song by French house trio Stardust, released on 20 July 1998. Stardust comprised Thomas Bangalter from Daft Punk, DJ Alan Braxe,[a] and vocalist Benjamin Diamond;[b] they disbanded after the release and resumed separate careers.

The single is a dance track built from a guitar riff sampled from the 1981 Chaka Khan song "Fate". It was initially released on Bangalter's label Roulé, followed by a wider release on Virgin Records, accompanied by a music video directed by Michel Gondry. It was one of the year's bestselling singles in the United Kingdom, where it debuted at number two in August 1998 and maintained the position for two weeks. It also spent two weeks atop the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart.

Recording[edit]

In the mid-1990s, DJ Alan Braxe met Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk and gave him a demo of his track "Vertigo"; Bangalter released the track on his label Roulé in 1997. After the launch, Braxe performed at the Rex Club in Paris, with Bangalter on keyboards and Braxe's friend Benjamin Diamond[b] on vocals. They composed the first version of "Music Sounds Better with You" for the performance, using a looped sample from the 1981 Chaka Khan song "Fate", sampled using an E-mu SP-1200.[5]

After the performance, the trio worked on the track at Bangalter's home studio, Daft House. They added a bassline using a Korg Trident synthesiser, drums with a Roland TR-909 drum machine, and Rhodes piano. The group assembled the instrumental using an Ensoniq ASR-10 sampling keyboard, triggering different sections by assigning them to different keys. Diamond's vocals and the final track were compressed with an Alesis 3630.[5] The lyrics were written by all three members; the song initially had more lines, which were deleted. Diamond felt the sparse lyrics were "like a mantra ... something everyone could understand".[6] Braxe recalled the trio listening to the finished song: "We were very happy because we felt like we achieved something original and quite new in its form."[6]

Release[edit]

"Music Sounds Better with You" was released as a vinyl single on Bangalter's label Roulé in early 1998.[6] According to Braxe, the song initially confused Paris clubgoers: "It didn't take a long time for people to understand the structure of the track and start to dance on it, but the very first listen the reaction was, 'What is it?'"[6]

The single was intended for DJs, but demand grew after copies were distributed at the 1998 Miami Winter Music Conference. According to Roulé co-manager Gildas Loaec, BBC Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong was the first radio DJ to play it.[6] Loaec and Diamond said Roulé sold between 250,000 and 400,000 copies.[6] Bangalter did not enjoy the pressure and attention the single brought, as his label Roulé was "supposed to be a hobby, a creative platform".[6]

Stardust signed the single to Virgin Records, which sold over two million copies worldwide on vinyl and CD.[6] It topped the charts in Greece and Spain and peaked within the top 10 in at least nine other countries.[6] It has been certified platinum in Australia and the United Kingdom,[7][8] gold in Belgium[9] and silver in France.[10] In the United States, it topped the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart for two weeks and also appeared on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 62.[11][12]

Music video[edit]

The "Music Sounds Better with You" music video was directed by Michel Gondry. In the video, a young boy builds a model aeroplane while the members of Stardust, wearing metallic suits with faces painted silver, perform on television.[6] DJ Mag described the video as "charming" and "dreamy".[13] For Insomniac, Jonny Coleman wrote that the video "helps reinforce the notion that this whole Stardust concept is supposed to exist in some other familiar but foreign liminal space, something ghostly but still warm and inviting".[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[14]

John Bush from AllMusic described "Music Sounds Better with You" as "one of the most irresistible, sublime dance singles of the decade".[14] Larry Flick of Billboard described it as a "euro-splashed ditty" with "an infectious li'l hook and a solid, old-school disco bassline ... its execution makes it pop with a refreshing energy".[15] Another editor, Annabel Ross, called the song "sublime in its simplicity" and regarded it as one of the best dance songs of all time.[16] DJ Mag wrote that the song "doesn't do much of anything, really, nor does it have to. It exists in a state of pleasure-giving perfection."[13]

Pitchfork ranked "Music Sounds Better with You" the 46th best song of the 90s,[17] and included it in The Pitchfork 500, a book compiling the greatest songs from 1977 to 2008.[18] In 2001, Mixmag named it the 11th greatest dance song of all time,[19] and in 2013 named it the sixth greatest.[20] In 2018, Mixmag included it in their "Vocal House: The 30 All-Time Biggest Anthems" list.[21] In 2012, Porcys ranked it the greatest single of the decade.[22] In 2017, BuzzFeed named it the 72nd greatest dance song of the 90s.[23]

Legacy[edit]

According to Billboard, Virgin offered Bangalter $3 million to produce a Stardust album.[6] The group recorded more demos, but decided to keep the Stardust project to a single song. Braxe said there were no plans to release the demos, saying: "I think it gives the record a certain magic and mystery."[5] Apart from their performance at Rex Club, Stardust performed only once, in a 30-minute set at the Borealis festival in Montpellier, France.[6]

Diamond and Braxe resumed their solo careers; Diamond said he found it difficult to return to his own style of music after Stardust, and his record company Sony pressured him to release more music like "Music Sounds Better with You".[24] Bangalter continued to release music as Daft Punk with his partner Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.[25] Daft Punk included "Music Sounds Better with You" on the bonus disc of their live album Alive 2007.[26]

In 2011, the song was sampled by Big Time Rush. The lyrics were used as the chorus for a song of the same name.[27][28] The song was also featured in the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V.[29] In 2018, Stardust remastered the song for its 20th anniversary. It was reissued by the independent label Because Music[30][better source needed] and added to streaming platforms.[6]

Track listings[edit]

French single-sided 12-inch vinyl single[31]
No.TitleLength
1."Music Sounds Better with You" 
European and Australian CD single[32][33]
No.TitleLength
1."Music Sounds Better with You" (radio edit)4:21
2."Music Sounds Better with You" (12-inch club mix)6:48
3."Music Sounds Better with You" (Bob Sinclar Remix)6:46
US CD single[34]
No.TitleLength
1."Music Sounds Better with You" (radio edit)4:21
2."Music Sounds Better with You" (12-inch club mix)6:48
3."Music Sounds Better with You" (Bibi & Dim's Anthem from Paris Mix)10:28
4."Music Sounds Better with You" (Chateau Flight Remix)7:14
Music Sounds Better with You Remixé EP[35]
No.TitleLength
1."Music Sounds Better with You" (Bibi & Dimitri Anthem from Paris Mix) 
2."Music Sounds Better with You" (DJ Sneak's 32 on Red Dub Mix) 
3."Music Sounds Better with You" (Chateau Flight Remix) 
4."Music Sounds Better with You" (DJ Sneak's 32 on Red Mix) 
2019 re-release[1]
No.TitleLength
1."Music Sounds Better with You"6:43
2."Music Sounds Better with You" (radio edit)4:20

Personnel[edit]

Stardust

  • Thomas Bangalter — guitar, production, songwriter, mixer
  • Alan Braxe — production, songwriter, mixer
  • Benjamin Diamond — vocals, songwriter

Additional musicians

Charts[edit]

Sales and certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[7] Platinum 70,000^
Belgium (BEA)[9] Gold 25,000*
France (SNEP)[10] Silver 125,000[71]
United Kingdom (BPI)[8] Platinum 600,000^
United States 140,000[72]
Summaries
Worldwide 2,000,000[73]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Also known as Alan Braxe.[2]
  2. ^ a b c Also known as Ben Cohen.[3]
  3. ^ Also known as Dominic Bugatti.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Music Sounds Better with You – Single". Apple Music. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  2. ^ "DJ Alan Braxe". DJ Guide.
  3. ^ "Music Sounds Better with You". MusicVF.fr.
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  5. ^ a b c Barker, Chris (October 2012). "Alan Braxe interview and video studio tour". MusicRadar. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Stardust's 'Music Sounds Better With You': Remastering & Revisiting Classic Single 20 Years Later". Billboard. 13 June 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  7. ^ a b "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1998 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association. Archived from the original on 6 September 2020. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  8. ^ a b "British single certifications – Stardust – Music Sounds Better with You". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  9. ^ a b "Ultratop − Goud en Platina – singles 1998". Ultratop. Hung Medien. Retrieved 4 September 2018.
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  12. ^ a b "Stardust Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 4 September 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "How Stardust's 'Music Sounds Better With You' inadvertently changed the face of house music". DJMag.com. 26 June 2019. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  14. ^ a b Music Sounds Better with You at AllMusic. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  15. ^ "Single Reviews: New & Noteworthy" (PDF). Billboard. 3 October 1998. p. 24. Retrieved 9 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Love Might Bring Us Back Together: Stardust Talk Revisiting & Remastering 'Music Sounds Better With You' 20 Years Later". Billboard. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  17. ^ "The Top 200 Tracks of the 1990s: 50-21 | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 10 February 2011.
  18. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott; Schreiber, Ryan, eds. (November 2008). The Pitchfork 500. Simon & Schuster. p. 152. ISBN 978-1-4165-6202-3.
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  30. ^ "Because Music - Contact us". Because.tv. Archived from the original on 23 September 2015.
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External links[edit]