Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Somebody That I Used to Know"

I've been hearing this song by Gotye on the radio for a couple of months now, and it's really growing on me.  The video is very artistic, but what interests me most is the way it plays with the conventional idea of a duet. 

There are so many popular songs sung by people pretending to be in love, like my all-time favorite duet, "Islands in the Stream," by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers.  But "Somebody That I Used to Know" examines the flip-side of the traditional love story and looks, instead, at the aftermath of a breakup.  It reminds me a bit of this song from the 1980s, and the appeal lies in the fact that we've all experienced this anger and sadness before, in one form or another, so it's definitely a universal message.

There's also an element of theatricality that is most apparent when you watch the song performed. Sure, you can hear the hurt in the singers' voices on the radio, but you can really see it in person.  Gotye, who is based in Australia, wrote the song, then collaborated with Kimbra, a New Zealand singer, to record it.  Here's their recent performance on "Saturday Night Live" and a great article about Gotye here.

And, never to be outdone, "Glee" did a version of the song on a recent episode, once again playing with conventional gender roles.  (I'm way behind in the series, so I'm guessing that other guy is Blaine's brother?)