Gotye – “Somebody That I Used To Know,” is becoming increasingly popular and it seems like everyone is talking about it, so I should talk about now before it ends up getting over played or too obvious of a song to talk about. For those of you not heard yet Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” is a really good song.
Gotye, if that is his real name, (it is not, Wouter De Backer) is a Belgian born Australian gentlemen who writes music with all sorts of instruments. He has become rather popular recently for a variety reasons. The less relevant though interesting reasons include the fact he has some resemblance to the great Robert Plant, and his singing voice is somewhat like Peter Gabriel or Sting. More importantly Gotye is doing his small part to push music forward in a different and very good direction.
Like many people I did not discover Gotye until his huge hit “Somebody That I Used To Know,” however he did have some measure of success prior to his recent stardom, and songs like “Hearts a Mess,” are very good. However nothing in Gotye’s life would have predicted the world wide popularity of his recent hit “Somebody I used to Know.” In fact I think he says it better than I can in this interview;
"It hasn’t been by conscious construction to fit the current mould of pop music. It’s taken me by surprise; I really didn’t think this song to be a pop cross over song.” - Gotye
It does seem random at times why some songs become so popular and others do not, but in this example I think there is a very simple explanation; “Somebody That I Used To Know,” is that damn good. People cannot ignore how good of a song it is and it is just that much better than his previous work so it is getting just that much more attention. Just enough extra attention as is necessary to make a great leap up the charts and into pop radio.
Also I really like the part about him talking about “Hearts a Mess,” in the interview. I found it very amusing that some women were brought to tears when he forgot to play his, at the time, biggest hit at the 2008 Laneway festival. I do not find joy in the fact that some girls were so upset, but rather I find it awesome that they were able to feel such powerful emotions connected to a song. That is what music is all about, the way it moves us.
As for the song itself, other than the fact it is really good, it is a song about not letting go of the past. It is bitter referring to someone as “Somebody That I Used To Know;” Gotye reduces that person to a pawn of the past, yet at the same time he resents it himself. There is a duality when letting go of someone, it is easy to end up hating them as much as you love them. That is, after all, the way of things and Gotye captures that well. But there is a perfect added touch that Gotye himself was aware was necessary, another perspective.
Australian pop singer Brambi sings the second chorus in “Somebody I used to Know,” and wow... just wow... what a difference she makes. A second perspective of someone new unable to love the person unable to let go of their past, that just says so much. Heartbreak is like a poison that spreads; it comes from one ruined relationship and can just as easily haunt and destroy the next. And the line “I don’t want to live that way,” that carries a lot of weight to me, I look around myself all the time, and all the burdens I have adopted in the hope of making things better and sometimes all I can think is, “I don’t want to live this way.”
When I first heard “Somebody That I Used To Know,” it was with my brother watching the video on youtube, I thought it was good until Brambi showed up, then I thought it was great, but.... there is one thing that is missing. As soon as Brambi finished her chorus I was on the edge of my seat thinking “oh man this is going to be awesome when they sing over top of one another!” and then they didn’t, and they don’t. Now I’m just some guy who listens to a lot of music, but if me sitting on a coach can figure this out why can’t the producers? I’ll forgive the song writer Gotye, he has already done so much and sometimes it takes an outside perspective to nitpick little ideas to make slight improvements, that’s what a producer is supposed to be able to do. So why didn’t they sing overtop of one another as the conclusion to the song, and you all know after hearing the song that I am right that is the logically conclusion and a fantastic idea. Oh well I guess I just know a lot about music... obviously.
So like me, you might as well start enjoying Gotye now before he wins a bunch of awards and gets the radio play six months from now that he deserves right now.
And until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly