Music Sounds Better With You, one of the all-time great house tunes, is a simple but compelling looped affair featuring a powerful bass line beneath a sample of the guitar on Chaka Khan’s 1981 disco classic Fate.
Stardust were producers Thomas Bangalter (half of Daft Punk) and Alan Braxe, with singer Benjamin Diamond. The track was recorded at Daft House in Paris. Their only single, it was released in July 1998 and became an international hit, topping the US Billboard Dance Club Songs chart and reaching No 1 in the Spanish charts and No 2 in the UK and Canada. In 2013, Mixmag readers voted it the sixth greatest dance track of all time (a list topped by Daft Punk). It’s been widely sampled, and featured in Grand Theft Auto V. There are various formats and mixes; this is the 6:49 12-inch version.
Listen to that, or better still dance to it, and (assuming you have ears and a pulse) you won’t deny it’s a great record – as one reviewer said, “irresistible and sublime”.
But there is something missing. Michel Gondry’s video takes the song, literally, on to a whole new plane.
We’re in Smallsville, Texas. A young boy escapes from his squabbling parents into his own world after they buy him a toy glider kit. As he begins work on the plane, the “Top 5 Hits” appear on the TV screen behind him. At No 5 Stardust, looking very cool in metallic suits and shades, standing on a cloud, a rainbow behind them, performing a song called Music Sounds Better With You; at No 4 it’s Samanthra (sic), with Luv on the Beach; No 3 is Dave Stavroz, with a song called Hotlipz; Monstarr Band are No 2 with Step On It; and at No 1 are Boogee Brotherz, performing Inferio. The boy is so absorbed in his task that he takes no notice of the show, or his parents’ continued bickering.
The next day, Tuesday 6th, there have been changes to the chart. Stardust are up to No 4, swapping places with Samanthra; the Monstarrs and Brotherz are down one, so presumably (although we don’t see it) Dave Stavroz is at No 1. For the first time, the boy takes a brief interest in the show.
It’s Wednesday 7th. Stavroz is down to No 3, his video a parody of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love (Sexist? Or as Nigel puts it in This is Spinal Tap, “what’s wrong with being sexy?”).
Stardust, meanwhile, have reached No 2. The boy is now into the music, nodding away to that insistent beat. The plane is nearly finished.
The big day dawns. Friday 9th. At No 2, Keni, with Lust in My Head. And topping the charts: Stardust! As they reach No 1, the boy attaches a number 1 to the wings of the aircraft. Then it’s bedtime, when dreams take flight.
Next day, up early. The boy launches the magnificent orange glider. It soars, dips, soars again, effortlessly spanning the hillside. He gives chase. It’s hard to keep up as it flies so far, so fast. The plane lands on a cloud. It’s the same cloud Stardust were playing on in the video. And here they are. They seem to recognise the aircraft. After a brief consultation, they relaunch it. It flies back to the boy. A member of Stardust gives him a wave. He waves back.
This four-minute film, blurring the boundaries between factual and fictional, touches on strong, emotional themes. Loneliness and escapism. Flight and freedom. The power of music, and the people who make it, to take you to a different place. Witty and bittersweet, it is ultimately uplifting – as uplifting as a plane that glides ever higher, up and into the clouds.
Music Sounds Better With You is a great record. And it sounds even better with this wonderful video.
Last modified: June 16, 2017