"Somebody That I Used To Know"

"Somebody That I Used To Know"

Updated Apr 25, 2014 at 04:09PM EDT by Brad.

Added May 17, 2012 at 01:57PM EDT by Don.

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About

“Somebody That I Used to Know” is a 2011 indie pop song by the Australian singer-songwriter Gotye, with additional vocals by the New Zealand singer Kimbra. In January 2012, the song and music video received massive online attention with the YouTube release of a multi-hands guitar cover by Walk Off the Earth, inspiring a series of remixes, covers and parodies.

Origin

Gotye released the track “Somebody That I Used to Know” as the lead single for his third studio album Making Mirrors on July 5th, 2011. The same day, the official music video was uploaded to YouTube, which featured Gotye and Kimbra covered in body paint to blend in with a painted backdrop.



Within 11 months, the video accumulated over 213 million views and 250,000 comments, which saw a dramatic increase in January of 2012 after a five-hands guitar cover was released by the band Walk off the Earth.



In an interview with Rolling Stone Australia[10], Gotye revealed that the song’s lyrics described different perspectives at the end of a breakup, which he based off previous relationships.


[Gotye:]
Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it’s an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I’ll admit that I was glad it was over

But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and I feel so rough
No you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[Kimbra:]
Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
Part of me believing it was always something that I’d done
But I don’t wanna 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

[Gotye:]
But you didn’t have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don’t even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and I feel so rough
And you didn’t have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don’t need that though
Now you’re just somebody that I used to know

[x2]
Somebody
(I used to know)
Somebody
(Now you’re just somebody that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
Somebody


Spread

On July 21st, 2011, the American actor Ashton Kutcher posted the music video on his Twitter feed. According to the entertainment blog Defamer[2], Kutcher had over seven million followers on the social networking service at the time.

On August 6th, 2011, the Internet news blog The Daily What[13] published the video in a post titled “Music Video of the Day,” noting that the stop-motion body art was produced by artist Emma Hack. On December 2nd, Redditor pippx submitted the music video to the /r/music[12] subreddit in a post titled “Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know.” On January 21st, 2012, the video reached the front page of the /r/music[11] subreddit in a post submitted by user underthehills, receiving over 3,200 up votes and 390 comments prior to being archived. In mid-April, the song reached the top spot in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.[9]



Five-Hands Guitar Cover

On January 5th, 2012, the band Walk off the Earth (WOTE) uploaded a multi-hands guitar cover of the song to YouTube, featuring five people performing the entire song on one guitar (shown below, left). The following day, the video was featured on various blogs and news sites including CBS News[6], American Songwriter[7] and Miss Floss.[8] On January 23rd, the group performed the song live on The Ellen Degeneres Show (shown below, right). The video received over 108 million views within five months.



On February 8th, the YouTube comedy channel “The Key of Awesome” posted a parody version of the WOTE video, with lyrics describing a band mate selling the group’s instruments to support his drug addiction. Within three months, the video received over five million views.



Notable Examples

Throughout the summer of 2012, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” spawned an extensive collection of snowclone-based image macros, music video parodies and cover tributes, drawing heavy participation from YouTube’s video blogging community as well as independent and celebrity musicians.

Parodies



Covers



Gotye Montage

On August 12th, Gotye front man Wally De Backer uploaded a video to YouTube titled “Somebodies: A YouTube Orchestra,” which featured a montage of notable Gotye covers edited together (shown below). Within three months, the video accumulated over 3.4 million views and 5,000 comments. In a blog post on the official Gotye website[16], De Backer provided a list of the 121 YouTube clips used in the montage.



The same day, Redditor jackospacko submitted the montage to the /r/videos[17] subreddit, which reached the front page and accumulated over 17,700 up votes and 1000 comments within two months. Also on August 12th, Redditor kataris submitted a post to the /r/AdviceAnimals[18] subreddit titled “Good Guy Gotye,” featuring an image macro of De Backer with the caption “Doesn’t request YouTube remove covers of his song / Makes new video out of them instead” (shown below).



Image Macros

On May 17th, a thread was started on the image remixing site Canvas,[5] which featured an image macro of Gotye driving a car with the caption “But you didn’t / have to cut me off.” In the following hours, several other image macros were submitted to the thread (shown below) with references to the song’s lyrics. The same day, the thread was linked on the Internet news site The Daily Dot’s Tumblr blog.[4]



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