February 13, 2012

Though not long ago you might never have heard of Gotye (pronounced “gore-ti-yeah”), there’s no denying his sudden overtaking of radio airwaves with his break-out hit “Somebody That I Used to Know.”

The song is all at once catchy, spooky, and empathetically evocative.

Beginning with a plucky guitar interrupted by a Wonka-esque xylophone, it’s not hard to imagine Oompa-Loompas dancing in time to the rhythm.

The lyrics carry a cautionary tale like the famed candy workers would be apt to dispense, telling of not only a love lost, but so too a friendship in the process of a break-up.

Lines like “You told me you felt so happy you could die” followed by “I told myself you were right for me/But felt so lonely in your company” coupled with warbling guitar sounds draw the listener in as the tension builds in anticipation of the climactic chorus.

The mood shifts from melancholic and foreboding to the guttural cry of a lover scorned, with Gotye asserting, “But you didn’t have to cut me off/Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing.”

Having New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra’s breathy female vocals injected into the mix for the second verse adds an extra dimension and sense of unfolding drama.

The song ends with Gotye singing a layered chorus and an abrupt xylophone finish, leaving the listener with a sense that perhaps it was all just a strange and wonderful dream, though not one they’re soon to forget.

(Written for Specialty Writing, January 30th, 2012)


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