If 15 seasons of The History Channel’s pseudoscientific mainstay Ancient Aliens are to be believed, extraterrestrial lifeforms once visited Earth’s primitive civilizations. Using technology far beyond that of the Bronze Age, they built awe-inspiring monuments, cityscapes, megaliths, and geoglyphs. Many of these relics, such as Peru’s Nazca Lines, served purposes both spiritual and scientific, constructed to observe celestial bodies or mark the changing seasons. After granting the human race these structures and their accompanying insights, the aliens abruptly departed, leaving Earthlings to extrapolate science and culture from their galactic gifts.
Just this February, French electronic duo Daft Punk abruptly announced their breakup, leaving behind a three-decade legacy littered with cultural monoliths. Their unorthodox career was devoid of the peaks, valleys, prolificacy, and Behind the Music drama that usually accompanies acts of their internationally famous stature. (Even if there was such drama, we probably wouldn’t have known, as Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter never wavered from their commitment to faceless, robot-masked public presentation and intensely private personal lives.)
Instead, they sporadically released game-changing music and spent the rest of their time in the shadows. Each of their four studio albums was a Rosetta Stone tossed into the primordial soup, rippling outward, sending aftershock after aftershock through popular music and culture. Just like the ancient Wonders of the World, you can pick out building blocks that existed prior to the alien (or, in Daft Punk’s case, robot) visitations -- brick-cutting technology, a disco sample, rudimentary pulley systems, the clear influence of Chicago house music -- but even experts sputter to explain how any earthly being engineered the final product.