At last night’s Grammy awards (February 10, 2013), Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ brought home two awards (and the album Making Mirrors also took one home), for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo / Group Performance (the song features vocals from Kimbra). So what made this song, from a relative unknown, so hugely popular?
‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was originally released back in 2011 on the Australia label Eleven Music. Recording company Giant Universal soon caught a whiff of its potential though and re-released the track, which has slowly wormed its way into public consciousness. In fact, it’s so firmly lodged in the global consciousness, that the song, from the unassuming Australian-Belgian songwriter has now sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with 7 million copies shifted in the US alone. Can you name any other Gotye songs though? Nope, us neither. But we know this one inside out.
This is a curious case of the appeal of the song being in the song itself and not the artist, it would seem. We’ll bet the majority of our readers could hum a bit of ‘Somebody That We Used To Know,’ but could you pick Gotye’s Wouter De Backer out of a line-up? We thought not. ‘Somebody That We Used To Know’ truly is a miracle of word of mouth and the power of song. With a little bit of celebrity endorsement along the way that is.
The song was helped along by its arty video, which managed to pick up 200,000 views in its first two weeks on YouTube and was helped along by Twitter endorsements from Katy Perry and Ashton Kutcher. And of course, ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ was picked up by the corny TV musical series Glee. You know that if Glee want a piece of the action, you’ve penned a decent pop song, right there. All that remains to be seen is whether we will hear any more from Gotye. It’s almost two years since the original release of Making Mirrors and the subsequent three singles have failed to make a comparable dent in any global charts. Will Gotye become another one hit wonder or is there more in the can?