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"With the amount this is played, it should be our national anthem"
July 17, 2012 7:19 AM   Subscribe

The popularity of "Somebody That I Used to Know" has made it a fairly ubiquitous earworm; so two guys in a car brilliantly deal with That Gotye Song.
posted by quin (118 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
Weird. I've been hearing that song in the background on various stations and I thought it was an old Sting song.
posted by DU at 7:22 AM on July 17, 2012 [12 favorites]



I thought it sounded more like Peter Gabriel.

Especially as Pandora had it play on a station comprised of 70-80s prog rock (Genesis, Yes, Rush, etc.) - I had actually thought for a while that it was Peter Gabriel.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:24 AM on July 17, 2012


Oh, YouTube comments.
posted by nile_red at 7:25 AM on July 17, 2012


Sting without poetry, depth or meaning, maybe. Are there any biographical breakup songs where the singer doesn't come across as self-obsessed and insufferably bitter?
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw this a couple days ago, and while their attempt at singing is totally spot on, I didn't realize it's a thing to not like the song. Is that just in the states? Most everyone I know seems to love it, to varying degrees.
posted by Karmeliet at 7:29 AM on July 17, 2012


I'm going with the other anthem of Summer 2012.

Not ashamed.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's the expected backlash - when a song reaches a certain level of popularity and ubiquitousness, it becomes necessary for a percentage of people to express how they thing the song is stupid or formulaic or pedestrian.
posted by muddgirl at 7:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


It's funny to see the comments by DU and Pogo_Fuzzybutt because just like 2 weeks ago I too realized that it was a "new song" and not some 80's tune that suddenly became popular for some reason.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:33 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Cool. I've been waiting for the minimal context to post this.
posted by Algebra at 7:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a quick alternative try "Seville" by Luis Bonfá.
posted by rongorongo at 7:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Are there any biographical breakup songs where the singer doesn't come across as self-obsessed and insufferably bitter?

Probably, though a lot of them do do that. But it's an odd complaint to make about this one specifically since it's pretty clearly in the more specific genre of narrative breakup duet songs in which the second party's counterpoint is intended to make it clear that the first part is to be read as a revisionist jerk. The male character reads as a bitter self-obsessee because Gotye wrote the character as such. That's the whole dramatic reveal of the song with Kimbra's part as the fulcrum.

See also Postal Service's Nothing Better for another solid example of this.
posted by cortex at 7:34 AM on July 17, 2012 [35 favorites]


I also can't see "Gotye" without thinking "goatse".
posted by DU at 7:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [38 favorites]


I'm going with the other anthem of Summer 2012.

I'd been hearing so much about that song but as far as I know I'd never actually heard it. So, as I often do, the other night I looked it up on YouTube and listened to it. Since then I've heard it approximately seventeen billion times.

As for the Gotye song, it's mostly harmless. The first time I heard it was when someone linked to the video of the five people playing it on a single guitar. The intro to it reminded me of an XTC song but I can't remember which one.

For some reason it feels like the 2012 version of Don't you Want Me, by the Human League.
posted by bondcliff at 7:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


bondcliff - wow, good catch. it sounds just like the start of Senses Working Overtime.
posted by blue t-shirt at 7:38 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm going with the other anthem of Summer 2012.

WHY NOT BOTH!
posted by phrontist at 7:38 AM on July 17, 2012 [25 favorites]


blue t-shirt, that's the one!
posted by bondcliff at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2012


I also can't see "Gotye" without thinking "goatse".

Game of the Year Edition.
posted by griphus at 7:39 AM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm going with the other anthem of Summer 2012.

The bestest version.
posted by kmz at 7:41 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


ooow my ears.
posted by royalsong at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2012


Also, the chick singing that they've never heard of is Kimbra and she's awesome!
posted by nile_red at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


DU: “Weird. I've been hearing that song in the background on various stations and I thought it was an old Sting song.”

Slap*Happy: “Sting without poetry, depth or meaning, maybe.”

So, pretty much exactly like Sting, then?
posted by koeselitz at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2012 [16 favorites]


WHY NOT BOTH!

AMAZING.
posted by muddgirl at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2012


Don't hate. The man's album is pretty damn good. More thoughtful and original than 95% of the crap that actually gets radio play.
posted by gnutron at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


“Sting without poetry, depth or meaning, maybe.”

Or cod Jamaican accent. That said despite it all, I still like a bit of Sting.
posted by Damienmce at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2012


Are there any biographical breakup songs where the singer doesn't come across as self-obsessed and insufferably bitter?

"And So It Goes" by Billy Joel? How 'biographical' are we talking about?
posted by belarius at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I introduced my husband to this song just last week - somehow he'd escaped hearing it - and now he hates me.
posted by desjardins at 7:50 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are there any biographical breakup songs where the singer doesn't come across as self-obsessed and insufferably bitter?

"I Can't Make You Love Me" by the divine Bonnie Raitt?
posted by kmz at 7:50 AM on July 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


WHY NOT BOTH

Great! I <3 Pomplamoose!!

... also, possibly as a function of not being in America, but this Gotye song was the Song of My Last Winter/Breakup, and everyone suddenly discovering it/hating it now is annoying.
posted by nile_red at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2012


muddgirl: “It's the expected backlash - when a song reaches a certain level of popularity and ubiquitousness, it becomes necessary for a percentage of people to express how they thing the song is stupid or formulaic or pedestrian.”

Well, I didn't hear it until last week, and when I did it bugged the heck out of me because I had an old girlfriend who was pissed off that we didn't stay bestest buddies when we broke up. But cortex says the douchiness of the guy in the song (he really is douchey) is intentional, so meh, maybe I'll listen again a few more times.
posted by koeselitz at 7:52 AM on July 17, 2012


For some reason it feels like the 2012 version of Don't you Want Me, by the Human League.

That's another song in the mini-genre cortex mentions, point-counterpoint breakup songs.
posted by lunasol at 7:53 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If, like me, you were being turned off by the slow and awkward style of this video, let me tell you that it's worth it to stick with it until the 2:00 mark.
posted by 256 at 7:53 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


See also Postal Service's Nothing Better yt for another solid example of this.

I like Human Nature - Don't You Want Me
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:55 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding 256. I was confused by what I was watching, but that made the payoff even better.
posted by cthuljew at 7:56 AM on July 17, 2012


I introduced my husband to this song just last week - somehow he'd escaped hearing it - and now he hates me.

My wife just introduced me to this song over the weekend. I don't hate it, but it is awfully derivative of the 80s pop milieu--not that I can complain too much about that, having produced a couple of songs in that vein myself in my day. Hey, at least it's really solid on the basics of pop songwriting and musicianship, even if it's not unfathomably deep or groundbreaking or whatever. There was a long, dry stretch there when practically everything played on non-college radio was unlistenably awful and artless...
posted by saulgoodman at 8:08 AM on July 17, 2012


jesus Slap*happy have you even listened to the song?

I'd actually argue its a much better song than a lot of Peter Gabriel's output and some of Stings. And a lot more inventive and empathetic than so much of the pop out today by quite effectively captures the sense of futility in a failed relationship with so few words.

ie compare with CeeLo's Fuck you..
posted by mary8nne at 8:09 AM on July 17, 2012


It's the expected backlash - when a song reaches a certain level of popularity and ubiquitousness, it becomes necessary for a percentage of people to express how they thing the song is stupid or formulaic or pedestrian.

I've never heard of it, or heard it, until now. I'm not specifically hating on the song except that I sort of hate 80% of all stuff I hear because most music is formulaic. This doesn't seem like an exception to me. The beginning is a pop jingle reminiscent of that pop minimalism that The Cure did well. Then the main theme seems lifted from a Peter Gabriel song - even the video reminds me of SledgeHammer.

Overall it sounds like a recycled 80's tune for many of the above reasons.
posted by vacapinta at 8:09 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wasn't even aware of the song until about 2 weeks ago. It's good, very 80's though, but I like the video with the body make-up; it put me in mind of Sledgehammer for the effects.
posted by arcticseal at 8:11 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


ie compare with CeeLo's Fuck you..

What, you mean my favorite radio pop song of the last five years? Go on...
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:12 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Vacapinta beat me to the hammer.
posted by arcticseal at 8:12 AM on July 17, 2012


Also, relevant.
posted by cthuljew at 8:16 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, this song led me to Kimbra, and my kid and I love her videos.

But because I'm old, at first I also thought that it was Katy Perry singing along with Gotye, and my daughter got yet another opportunity to use her "OMG, SO. UNCOOL. MO-THERRRR" voice on me (and not that you mention it, I could totally see this being Peter Gabriel, which would have earned me a bonus eye-roll.) This, after I've had to spend months with her bellowing along as she listens with her headphones because I can take it once or twice a week, but not ten times a day, as the rotations seem to go. But when we hear it on the car radio, the kid likes me to do the Gotye part, so she can do the Kimbra part. Ay yi.

They're no Porter and Dolly, that's for sure.

(Also, to add to the solid examples of the genre...)

I should also point out though, that I love the Walk off the Earth cover, and mostly just because of Sarah Blackwood, from Creepshow (with Sarah), because that's in heavy rotation with the grown-ups in this house.
posted by peagood at 8:16 AM on July 17, 2012


your favorite any given song sucks because ...

most music is formulaic., er, yeah. Unless you are listening to Harry Partch, that is a claim you can lay against any piece of music.

















This is a perfume bottle, can you smell the perfume?
posted by edgeways at 8:16 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Peter Gabriel's voice is lower, rougher, and richer. Kind of like fresh cream poured over warm gravel.

Mmmmmm.



....what?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's a pretty good song. It's also insanely overplayed. Even on Pandora! It came in out of nowhere on my 90's techno station the other day and I was all "What? Gotye, you are not 90's techno. Get out of there." and then later that evening at work we had on a Bachata station (also Pandora) and it came on there too!

It's a pretty good song, I have nothing against it per se, but there are other songs that I want to listen to sometimes!
posted by Scientist at 8:21 AM on July 17, 2012


kmz: "I'm going with the other anthem of Summer 2012.

The bestest version.
"

That would be this one.
posted by mkb at 8:26 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's been played pretty relentlessly on the local this-was-alt-rock-when-we-first-started-playing-it-in-the-90s station, yeah. I like it a lot so I don't mind overly much, but then I only listen to the radio in the car and I don't drive all that much so I only hear it a couple times a week.

There's also this terrible remix that just slathers on a gratuitous shake-your-ass beat that ruins the weird creepy deliberateness of the song. But when that comes along it's fun to switch between the rock station and the dance party station and seeing if Gotye and Carly Rae are both playing at the same time. Gene Hackman theory of 2012 pop charts.
posted by cortex at 8:27 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't ever listen to the radio of my own accord, so I think it is entirely possible that I have never consciously heard this song. I kind of want to listen to it just to see if I've ever heard it but then I can no longer smugly inform everyone that I have never heard it. CONUNDRUM!
posted by elizardbits at 8:27 AM on July 17, 2012


I'd heard of this song, but hadn't heard it until now. I had assumed previously that an Elliott Smith cover had somehow gotten really popular, but I was, of course, wrong.
posted by LionIndex at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't hate this song, but don't understand why so many people like it so much and want to listen to it all the time and maybe film themselves singing it. I mean, it's kind of a boring song. The part where he sings "Told myself that you were right for me / But felt so lonely in your company" is wonderful, and has a beautiful, natural rhythm that's really unusual in pop music. But the rest of it, Jesus.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:29 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Gotye has extremely pretty hair, though.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:30 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love this song, but I initially heard it a long time before it started getting overplayed and I remember how annoyed I used to get with otherwise good songs getting beaten to death on the radio, so a) I'm not going to fight with anybody who doesn't like it and b) I will hope that Gotye has the ability to work this for what it's worth, keep making interesting music and videos, and build just enough of a fan base to justify the occasional international small-venue tour in coming years.

I would kind of love it if he became an epic international star of international standing because it would be unexpected, but he has a quirkiness that is low-key and seemingly uncalculated that I just can't see playing into continued success at this scale. I would be very sad if coping with this rather bizarre level of popularity exhausts him or puts him off releasing music for awhile.
posted by EvaDestruction at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2012


I like the song fine, it's just getting overplayed on the radio of late. "Gotye on the 11s, right after traffic and weather!"
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


What was the last hit of this magnitude? The last song that you could say was almost literally ubiquitous? Also, when have there been two songs (viz. Call Me Maybe) so colossally huge at the same time?
posted by blue t-shirt at 8:34 AM on July 17, 2012


Back when I've heard Heart's a Mess from his first album for the first time, about five years ago, I remember thinking that if it wasn't for the overly (and undeservedly) long running time and some unnecessary pseudo-artsy flourishes here and there, it could actually become a decent pop hit. I gave the album a couple of listens—which wasn't very original and lacked some depth, but it was eclectic enough to be entertaining—then forgot about him.

So, I was happy for him when, after a few months of hearing the song everywhere but not knowing who it actually belonged to, learning that it belonged to, oh, him. He did deserve a little more recognition than he got back then... but... really: Radio people! It's OK to play some other crap too, you know.
posted by procrastinator at 8:34 AM on July 17, 2012


Hadn't heard it until I saw this review, now I notice it everywhere.
posted by the_artificer at 8:35 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Radio?

Why do you seek the living among the dead?
posted by rahnefan at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Am I the only one who reads this dude's name as Goatse rather than Gotye?
posted by jessssse at 8:36 AM on July 17, 2012


Well, you're now going to be the only one who reads it that way now. So thanks for that.
posted by Panjandrum at 8:40 AM on July 17, 2012


Not even the only one in this thread, jesssse.
posted by blue t-shirt at 8:42 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I've never heard of it, or heard it, until now. I'm not specifically hating on the song except that I sort of hate 80% of all stuff I hear because most music is formulaic.

First time for me as well, and nothing to love ... about the song. But the vid put a smile on my face. The 80s song that came to mind to me was Human League's Don't You Want Me? -- just because of the back + forth quality, and the earworm. And I hated that one from the get-go. But that was then. Last time I heard it, it didn't force me out of the room.

But if it's duets you want, this is way better.

Sound like pure soap opera - I might cry.
posted by philip-random at 8:44 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


D'oh! I think I missed the a when I searched in preview.
posted by jessssse at 8:44 AM on July 17, 2012


What was the last hit of this magnitude? The last song that you could say was almost literally ubiquitous?

Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" was the last one I remember being this enormous.

I'm reminded of something I saw on some kind of Peoples' Choice awards show VH-1 got together in the 90's; they made a big fanfare out of also giving viewers a chance to suggest ideas for a new kind of award themselves. The winning suggestion for the new award was the "Your Song Kicks Ass But Was Played Too Damn Much" Award. (They then presented that award to Santana's "Smooth" that year.)

Interestingly, NPR's show Studio 360 is working on a playlist of "Songs that are good, but which we've heard enough times already". You can nominate songs for the Do Not Playlist here - it doesn't look like ANYONE'S nominated this song yet.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:46 AM on July 17, 2012


I'd never heard of Gotye or the song until a couple weeks ago when we went over to a friend's for dessert and saw her one-and-a-half-year mesmerized by that video. "Oh, babies everywhere love Gotye," she said. Hmm.
posted by Numenius at 8:50 AM on July 17, 2012


Having just taken a very long car trip and listened to more radio in the past few days than I have in the past few years, I can tell you that in terms of most-heard songs it pretty much went "Call Me Maybe," that One Direction "you don't know you're beautiful" song, and Gotye.
posted by mothershock at 8:54 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's kind of nice that a song that sounds like Sting/Peter Gabriel sung it in 1983 is so beloved on stations that normally play nothing but Rihanna/Usher/Ne-Yo vomiting all over Swedish House Mafia/David Guetta/whoever filter-cutoff-edging-upwards-slowly sawtooth bazillion-layered synth tracks.
posted by kuanes at 9:04 AM on July 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'm not specifically hating on the song except that I sort of hate 80% of all stuff I hear because most music is formulaic. This doesn't seem like an exception to me.

Exactly. Why take the time to point out that this particular song is derivative or formulaic? Because people enjoy it? It's not like songs from new artists become radio hits based on some inscrutable science - they become hits because they're catchy and people enjoy them.
posted by muddgirl at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2012


The review that the_artificer links to is really interesting. Granted, I probably think this because it nails everything I enjoy about "Somebody That I Used To Know" and articulates why I find the success of the song more interesting than the song itself. (Pinpointing why "We Are Young" leaves me with an "eh" feeling, at best is a nice bonus.) But I think it's worth a listen.
posted by EvaDestruction at 9:18 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That would be this one .

I'm confused, I don't see any Corgis in that one.
posted by kmz at 9:21 AM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


"We Are Young"

My wife likes that song but decided it was just slightly overplayed when it was played during:
1. The car ride to a work lunch.
2. In the restaurant at the work lunch.
3. In the ice cream place they went to after the work lunch.
4. In the car ride back from the work lunch.
5. On the radio station they changed to to avoid 4.
posted by kmz at 9:24 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I first heard it in the spring when it was entered in the (semi-self link) Live From Memphis Music Video Showcase. In the context of a couple dozen other music videos from around the world, it made zero impression on me. It didn't win anything, and I thought it was pretty bland, kinda sounded like Sting, and the video was pretty boring. I was shocked when it turned out to be a huge hit. Shows what I know.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:25 AM on July 17, 2012


I do this with Suspicious Minds. Listen to the lyrics and think of Elvis' persona (and the dog he was).

"...like an old friend I know, who likes to eat grape Jello..."
posted by stormpooper at 9:28 AM on July 17, 2012


This cover of Somebody That I Used to Know is my favorite.
posted by tomierna at 9:28 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I watched that video. What to say? Andrew McCarthy has aged bloody well. I'll give him that.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:31 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's odd to see this song become the big overplayed song of the moment. It popped onto a Pandora station randomly for me and I thought it was just some older song dug up by the algorithm. Now it's everywhere.
posted by CrystalDave at 9:37 AM on July 17, 2012


the guy on the left reminds me a little bit of Michael Bolton from Office Space.
posted by any major dude at 9:38 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, for the record, the end of the "Call Me Maybe" music video is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
posted by cthuljew at 9:45 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


"We Are Young"

From what I've heard, Fun are a great band, but Be Calm is magnitudes better than We Are Young.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on July 17, 2012


This song became really popular (at least around here) after Glee did it. Click that if you need to see Matt Bomer singing.
posted by that's how you get ants at 9:56 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, the chick singing that they've never heard of is Kimbra and she's awesome!

Oh god so annoying that song!
posted by MartinWisse at 10:00 AM on July 17, 2012


Somebody That I Used to Know...see: cloying
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:22 AM on July 17, 2012


cortex: "Are there any biographical breakup songs where the singer doesn't come across as self-obsessed and insufferably bitter?

Probably, though a lot of them do do that. But it's an odd complaint to make about this one specifically since it's pretty clearly in the more specific genre of narrative breakup duet songs in which the second party's counterpoint is intended to make it clear that the first part is to be read as a revisionist jerk. The male character reads as a bitter self-obsessee because Gotye wrote the character as such. That's the whole dramatic reveal of the song with Kimbra's part as the fulcrum.

See also Postal Service's Nothing Better for another solid example of this.
"

Whoa, weird, I have an entirely different interpretation of Gotye/Kimbra's roles. In my mind, Gotye is being bitter and self-obsessed, and Kimbra is the rebound. That is, he's trying to be all macho when addressing his ex ("pfft, who cares, you're just some chick I used to know") and Kimbra's point is "dude, you're so blind to your own emotional baggage that you don't even realize how obsessed you are with your ex, and that's led to a totally shitty relationship for me".

The lines "I don't want to live that way / reading into every word you say / You said that you could let it go, and I wouldn't catch you hung-up on somebody that you used to know" seems to speak of a situation where bitter!Gotye and rebound!Kimbra had a conversation about his past relationship status and The One That Got Away, and Gotye promised that it wasn't a problem at all, but Kimbra knows he's just bullshitting her. This seemed to me to be also confirmed by the music video, where the character of Gotye really refuses to acknowledge Kimbra at all and never looks at her, whereas Kimbra seems to be imploring for him to listen to her for once.

In other words, Kimbra's presence says nothing about the relationship-that-failed, only Gotye's inability to move on. In Nothing Better, by contrast, Ben Gibbard is mourning an ideal relationship that only ever existed in his mind, and Jenny Lewis, as the other party of that relationship-that-failed, is pointing out that it failed for a reason.

But maybe I'm splitting hairs.
posted by Phire at 10:28 AM on July 17, 2012 [21 favorites]


As soon as I heard it I thought it was a Police track (and not specifically sting). And not the good Police songs you are willing to sing in your car, either. :7(
posted by wenestvedt at 10:35 AM on July 17, 2012


No, I think your read on the Gotye song is right on, I was generalizing too much for the sake of positing the categorization of duet type. The key issue is the dramatic inversion of the reading of the initial character's perspective from righteous to bitter/deluded/obsessive. The Postal Service song is a better example of the specific "calling out revisionism" issue, and I was thinking in part about that when I wrote that up.

Anyway: Rashomon duets, I like them.
posted by cortex at 10:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Phire, you just blew my mind.
posted by muddgirl at 10:41 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I first heard this on SNL last winter, and I went through the stages: this is kind of boring, well, the guy is cute, actually the guy has a pretty good voice, oh nice control, wait who's this chick? oh this is kind of interesting, wow I love this.

I could see how hearing it too often might drive you to hate it though.
posted by maggiemaggie at 10:59 AM on July 17, 2012


For the geeks needing to face-up to their relationship with George Lucas : The Star Wars That I Used To Know
posted by stratastar at 11:03 AM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Non-sequitur: he changed his name so Americuns' pronounce his real name (Gaultier) correctly via Gotye... He'll now be Goyt in my mind forever.
posted by stratastar at 11:15 AM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jimmy Fallon makes me smile.
posted by gwint at 11:26 AM on July 17, 2012


It was seven months ago I introduced Gotye to MetaFilter with a post centered around another song entirely, one which would never become a ubiquitous megahit (at least not in this universe) but which I was delighted to see got an elaborate animated video. Going over other Gotye songs (and their videos) in the post, I found him hard to pigeonhole, going from whimsical to cynical to pretentious to obvious to oddly original (usually more than one in the same song), and I wish with all my heart that he not become a one-hit wonder (similar to what happened to Rupert "Pina Colada" Holmes, whose pre-"Escape" albums had a great biting wit, believe it or not - example 1 - example 2 - but then Rupe gave up on the pop music thing and went to Broadway making musicals and non-musicals and publishing some fascinating and deeply cynical mystery novels... I'm still his fan, but I digress).

I'm impatiently waiting for his American record company to get serious about a follow-up, which will either be this, which was an Australian hit before "Someone" or this, which had a second video made recently. I like the second song better, but the clipped ending will probably be even more annoying upon 300th listening.
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:36 AM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I liked the song initially because it sounded like Peter Gabriel. Sure, it's derivative, but all music is these days. It's a god pop tune that is slightly more intelligent than most, and that's okay. It is sad that radio stations now seem unable to avoid playing it every hour. The crappy state of radio is a whole other kettle of fish, though. However it is where I first heard the song, on one of the few underground (at the time, no one had heard of it) curated music programs that still exist on commercial radio.

At any rate, Gotye apparently kicks ass at pub trivia. Seems like a chill bloke.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:37 AM on July 17, 2012


But maybe I'm splitting hairs.

Maybe, but please continue.
posted by arcticseal at 11:45 AM on July 17, 2012


YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO / SPLIT THE HAIRS
UNEARTH THE SUBTEXT AND JUST / DECONSTRUCT THE SEMIOTICS
DON'T NEED YOUR / EXEGESIS, WOT
NOW I'M JUST SOME LYRIC / THAT YOU'VE OVERTHOUGHT
posted by cortex at 11:48 AM on July 17, 2012 [27 favorites]


I completely disagree with 256, this video was crap and the lame singalong where they hadn't even bothered to learn the really simple words was awful. I also hadn't realised hating the song was a 'thing'.

I don't actually listen to the radio, so I didn't hear this song until my boyfriend played me the video on youtube. Then I listened to it on repeat for a week, but I do that with a lot of songs. I listened to the full album but nothing else really stuck with me.

I really liked the WOTE parody and was amused by Star Wars That I Used To Know.
posted by jacalata at 11:57 AM on July 17, 2012


NOW I'M JUST SOME LYRIC / THAT YOU'VE OVERTHOUGHT

But can we rely on the lyrics? Kimbra's counterpoint is quite a bit less articulate than Gotye's story, and her emotional build is faster. (I like the compressed echo of Gotye's longer expressive arc from sad/wistful in the verses to hurt/angry in the chorus.) I think it's interesting that her counterpoint is very open to interpretation after the specificity of Gotye's part. And is this lack of specificity intentional, or just a effect of the limited period allowed for her counterpoint? I fall on the side of intentional, because my read is that the listener is meant to fill in the blanks of what he's done that's moved her from calm to angry so quickly.

Personally, my read on it is that she is the object of the narrator's obsession (although I can see how Phire's interpretation works), and that as she got some distance from him, she quickly saw how screwed up their relationship dynamic was and that she should cut him right off, rather than making any gestures at being friends. So she did kind of yank the rug out from under him, but with (as we've seen) good reason.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:19 PM on July 17, 2012


I completely disagree with 256, this video was crap and the lame singalong where they hadn't even bothered to learn the really simple words was awful.

Interesting. I thought that aided to its charm.
posted by bwilms at 12:32 PM on July 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I think both reads can work, ex or rebound. The faster, less nuanced emotional build for her counterpoint works for me in the rebound context as justifiable by her being resentful of rather than obsessed with his narrative—from him, we're hearing the nth telling, rehearsed and edited and polished down to a self-serving sheen, the angry letter he never actually sent, and then from her we hear a fairly raw declaration that she is just done with being the satellite to his moon unit. Her explosion vs his dramatic seethe.

Still works with the ex reading as well, of course, with more of a "you come and drop this on my doorstep after all that like I'm supposed to just clap and tell you you've got me pegged?" feeling to it.
posted by cortex at 12:39 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going with the other anthem of Summer 2012

I have no idea who those girls are but that video is amazing.
posted by janepanic at 12:40 PM on July 17, 2012


Hey, we just broke up/
You drive me crazy!/
I thought we were friends/
So call me, maybe?
posted by muddgirl at 12:50 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think both reads can work, ex or rebound.

Yes, definitely. And I'm really going to stop now, recognizing that I'm getting a bit fangirly, but I'm finding it pleasantly novel to be able to have a conversation about different interpretations of a hugely popular song because that song seems to be set up to invoke varied interpretations, and not because it's written badly or opaquely.
posted by EvaDestruction at 12:57 PM on July 17, 2012


Hmm, that should be "I thought we'd be friends"
posted by muddgirl at 1:08 PM on July 17, 2012


I adore this song~! For exactly the reason listed above - it starts as a fairly standard, "Why are you so mean to me" guy love song, then the girl speaks up and you get another side to the story, which I thought was totally awesome. I especially like how in the video she starts to get painted into his narrative, then breaks out of it and walks away.

Loathe the dance remix, though. Loathe it.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:11 PM on July 17, 2012


Yeah for me the video really makes it - first of all it's a Peter-Gabriel-esque concept (although simpler), and second when the camera pulls back to show Kimbra I get chills every time.
posted by muddgirl at 1:17 PM on July 17, 2012


The lack of specificity in Kimbra's section combined with the use of "somebody I/you used to know" by both voices has always suggested to me that she is simultaneously rebound and ex. As in, he's in this constant state of fixation so that the women in these cycles become interchangeable and part of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The past Gotye is trapped in is also destined to be his future which is why he can only know ever people in the past tense.

SOME LYRICS
(THAT I'VE OVERTHOUGHT)
SOME LYRICS
(NOW YOU'RE JUST SOME LYRIC THAT I'VE OVERTHOUGHT)
posted by dustyasymptotes at 1:28 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


The lack of specificity in Kimbra's section combined with the use of "somebody I/you used to know" by both voices has always suggested to me that she is simultaneously rebound and ex. As in, he's in this constant state of fixation so that the women in these cycles become interchangeable and part of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

oh my god gotye is my ex
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:37 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was going to say the same thing (about being both rebound and ex-, over and over) after I watched the SNL performance, which is staged in an interesting way.

...ok, I've almost listened to this song too many times today. Almost.
posted by muddgirl at 1:39 PM on July 17, 2012


I just love witnessing the MetaFilter Stereo Solipsism Effect, wherein half the comments bemoan that a song is one of the most overplayed of the year and the other half are some variation on "What are you talking about with this thing I've never heard?"
posted by psoas at 1:42 PM on July 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


For some reason it feels like the 2012 version of Don't you Want Me, by the Human League.

I've been thinking of it as the sequel to Don't You Want Me.

What was the last hit of this magnitude? The last song that you could say was almost literally ubiquitous?

Oh, how quickly we forget "Someone Like You." And before that "Rolling in the Deep."

More seriously, "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley was this big, definitely.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:15 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with EvaDestruction about how awesome it is to be able to have a discussion about a song that's this popular. About anything that's this popular really, that doesn't get people all riled up the way politics does.
posted by Karmeliet at 2:42 PM on July 17, 2012


I like the song fine, it's just getting overplayed on the radio of late.

And yet this is the first time the word "Pitbull" will appear in this thread.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 3:22 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


last parade, I think we're distinguishing between "good songs that get overplayed on the radio because they're good" and "bad songs that get overplayed on the radio because Spitzer is no longer around to rain fiery death on Payola schemes." Totally different animals.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 3:42 PM on July 17, 2012


similar to what happened to Rupert "Pina Colada" Holmes

Speaking of songs I never need to hear again...
posted by epj at 3:57 PM on July 17, 2012


On the other hand popularity is an advantage because it'll eventually get mashed up somehow on Youtube somehow.
posted by solarion at 4:16 PM on July 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I learned about the existence of this song from a stalker I have a restraining order out against. She texted me the lyrics and signed them "Gotye." At first I thought "Gotye" was "Gotcha."
posted by steinsaltz at 4:47 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


solarion, I got in trouble with my wife for even watching that with the volume on. And I'm still not sure what happened.
posted by meinvt at 6:05 PM on July 17, 2012


Now and then I sing some lines that go together
Melodies so pretty I ignored what they mean
Lulled myself into harmony
Didn't bother with deciphering
Lest they bring up the aches I don't care to remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of beanplating
Analyzing to the end, always the end
So even though it might not quite make sense
There's always intellectual defense
Point and counterpoint, the debate's never over

But I didn't have to look too far
Make out like they reflect everything I'm always feeling
They don't even need my smarts
But I treat them like echos of my deepest thoughts

I didn't have to split the hairs
Unearth the subtext and just deconstruct the semiotics
Don't need these exegesis, wot
Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought
Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought
Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought

Now and then I think of all my plain conjecture
Had them believing it was always something more profound
But I don't want to sing that way
Reading into every word they say
I'd rather let the music go
Then get caught up again on some lyrics that I've overthought

But I didn't have to look too far
Make out like they reflect everything I'm always feeling
They don't even need my smarts
But I treat them like echos of my deepest thoughts

I didn't have to split the hairs
Unearth the subtext and just deconstruct the semiotics
Don't need these exegesis, wot
Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought
Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought
Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought

Some lyrics
(That I've overthought)
Some lyrics
(Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought)
Some lyrics
(That I've overthought)
Some lyrics
(Now they're just some lyrics that I've overthought)
posted by divabat at 7:28 PM on July 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Also, for the record, the end of the "Call Me Maybe" music video is one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

It might be funnier when Cookie Monster does it: "it's hard to look at/your snack baaaaby/but you have cookie/so share it maybe?"
posted by chela at 7:43 PM on July 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Are his videos all insufferably twee and mannered?

Also, he'll always just be Game of the Year Edition to me.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:08 AM on July 18, 2012


psoas: I just love witnessing the MetaFilter Stereo Solipsism Effect

My favourite example was the thread on Content-Aware Fill in Photoshop, which had a refreshingly bold counterpoint between "this looks so fake" in the treble and "yeah, I remember implementing this for an assignment in an undergrad course a few years ago" in the bass.
posted by stebulus at 12:40 PM on July 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


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