Released in 2011 in Australia and in America in 2012, Gotye’s Somebody That I Used To Know (featuring Kimbra) was an instant hit. The lyrics lament about relationships that don’t work out and the inevitable aftermaths, which is unfortunately an all-too-real reality for the better of us. The inspiration for this song, of course, is from Gotye’s own experiences with relationships that didn’t work out.
It’s a rather simple song that consists of 2 verses sung by Gotye, and a third by Kimbra as well as a 2 part chorus. Repeated over and over again is the line “now you’re just somebody that I used to know,” referring to the tragic drifting apart that happens often after a finished relationship. The guitar riff is borrowed from Luiz Bonifa’s Seville and the xylophone part shares a distant resemblance to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Those instruments aside, the song utilizes various percussion and synth instruments for the beat and fillers.
This song topped countless charts were topped and copies sold worldwide, with a total of 7-some million sales and counting, while the official music video has current total of 365,672,608 views and counting on Youtube. The song has made its way on to Glee and was featured on an episode of Saturday Night Live.
The lyrics are easily relatable to and weave a classic story – the girl left the guy, but the guy treated her poorly. The two voices contrast amazingly well with each other (the man’s voice goes the highest!) and work perfectly with the simple little melody.
Personally this song isn’t my favorite. It’s a bit simple for me to like and the synths get annoying after a while. The sound just doesn’t click with me. What compelled me to choose to study it is the mass attention it’s recieved. For me, a huge part of art is about inspiration. Yes, art has to reach out to people through the senses, and this song does that great. Art is supposed to entertain and make people feel emotions and tell stories and send messages, all of which this song is great at doing. The best thing this song does, however, is inspire others. In my view, the ultimate test of aestheticness is how much the work of art compels others to create art.
Hundreds of covers (and even covers of covers) have made their way on to Youtube that are all art in their own right, yet none of these countless works could exist without there first being this original 4-minute song to give them that idea, the inspiration, to create and then inspire some more.