He wrote the world’s biggest hit 11 years ago, then it was as if the earth had swallowed it

It topped all the charts in the world for a decade, but then it was as if the earth had swallowed it. What happened to Gotye?

Gotye was released almost a day exactly 11 years ago, on July 5, 2011 Somebody That I Used To Know which became one of the biggest and most recognizable hits of the 2010s, and the post-breakthrough anthem resonated worldwide. Many couldn’t stand it, but they were probably in the minority because the song is still humming today. However, the man behind the song has since retired from pop music, and Gotye is now best referred to as the quintessence of single-hit miracles. (Often using the title of the song, as it literally means “someone I once knew” – and Gotye has become such an unknown acquaintance over the past decade.)

But why did this song become the only major hit, and more importantly, what has the singer done in the decade since the whole world got to know it?

Success in numbers

A Somebody That I Used to Know it became a real world success and became a distinctive song for both performers of the song (Gotye’s partner was the New Zealand Kindra). It has topped the charts in the United States, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, as well as 25 other official hits, and has been in the top 10 in more than 30 countries around the world. It was the most successful commercial song of 2011 in Flanders (Belgium), the most successful song of 2012 in Wallonia (Belgium), Canada, Israel, the UK and the US, and Australia became the most successful song of the decade of 2010 (from a domestic performer).

Singer Gotye for the album Making Mirrors is the best alternative music album and Somebody That I Used to Know The singer who won the Best Pop Duo / Group Performance Award and the Kimbra Singer Award for Best Pop Duo / Group Performance for the song will be posing together for photographers at the 55th Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Dan MacMedan / WireImage)

It has received multi platinum ratings in ten countries and diamonds in Australia. The song has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling digital singles of all time, topping the Billboard year-end Adult Pop Songs and Alternative Songs list in addition to the Hot 100, and many others worldwide. The song also won two Grammy Awards in 2013, in the Best Pop Duo / Group Performance and Record of the Year categories, but received countless accolades worldwide.

Why has it become so popular?

Probably because, on the one hand, it could be downloaded for free online, and on the other hand, there was a factor of mystery – at least in a part of the world that wasn’t Australia. What happened was that a week before Australian singer-songwriter Gotye officially unveiled a new duet with New Zealand art-pop artist Kimbra on the Australian Triple J show, both the song and the clip were leaked, which was viral. began to spread on the Internet. “From that moment on, a series of surprises followed,” recalled Gotye back in 2019, i.e. Wouter “Wally” De Backer Billboards, when the magazine recalled the biggest hits of 2010. “The song and the clip have been touring the world in a few years.”

Back then, in mid-2011, Gotye was already an acclaimed artist in his native Australia and was preparing to release his third album with Universal-owned indie Eleven: The Music Company, and has already shared his first single, Eyes Wide Open song.

„[Az első kislemez] it didn’t stir too much water, and based on that, I didn’t have any expectations, ”said De Backer, who was initially preparing to release the album for his own money because the publishers weren’t so in a hurry and his fate was pretty uncertain before the above. said small publisher would have slapped him. But then everything changed, and the rest, as they say, history.

Even before the Somebody That I Used to Know The second single would have been officially released, the leaked audio was released on iTunes, and Australian, Belgian and Dutch radio stations soon began playing the song. And after the official soundtrack arrived – followed by the distinctive clip – the song soon hit the Billboard Hot 100 list, eventually leading it for eight weeks (and many more worldwide).

In addition, Gotye even holds the music and video sharing and social media sites that were responsible for becoming a hit. “ITunes, YouTube and Facebook all had a pretty big impact on how people shared this song and video,” Gotye explained. –

At that time, it became one of the most watched music videos with a few hundred million views at the time. ”

According to the singer-musician, it was also possible that this song stood out from the line of hits at the time, as far as its musical structure was concerned. It’s not at all like the songs on the hit charts at the time, which is why it managed to grab the attention of people who longed for something again.

It was clear he was going to be a musician

Born in Belgium, Wouter Andre De Backer spent his decisive years in Australia, where he still lives today. He was interested in music from a young age, releasing his first tracks in 2001. Over the next decade, he released two full-length albums, a particular hit from his third studio album in 2011, Making Mirrorsit came from – and changed his life forever. Whether he cares or not will probably be obscured forever, but we can deduce the answer from his actions.

The clip for the song was also very distinctive: it featured the discarded singer and partner in paint while singing with a painful face about their emotions after the breakup.

The clip for the song is currently on nearly two billion views on YouTube, making it one of the most popular clips on the video-sharing platform.

Despite his incredible success, his 2012 album tour was his last Gothe – no other production has been released since then, at least not what he would have recorded under that artist name. And there are pretty serious reasons for this. First, Gotye never planned and did not desire stardom. He was only interested in music, and the garnish — and the money — left him completely cold. For example, you really don’t want to make your music money anymore, since you don’t run ads on your YouTube videos.

“I don’t care about monetizing my music,” he said in 2017 “That’s why I don’t advertise on my YouTube channel, which seems weird to people in today’s situation, but it’s a decision I can make. I am like that with all my music. Advertising demands our attention wherever we turn in the world.
I have decided that it makes more sense to focus on creative things than to hang on to money, lawyers and the courts, ”he referred to litigation over royalties and other art claims.

The glass is full

Although De Backer never officially withdrew from Gothy, in 2014 he informed fans through a newsletter that there would never be new Gotye music again. However, he also referred to future projects in this newsletter, so fans are still waiting for the artist to return.

Nevertheless, this break allowed De Backer to worship other art projects by removing the Gotye mask, or rather the box. In 2014 Spirit Level launched an independent record label, and remained an active member of The Basics also called the band, who announced in 2021 that they were retiring from touring.

His most important music project since moving away from pop music revolves around the discography of electronic music pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey. Perrey used the ondioline instrument, of which De Backer became his master, who not only performed with it, but also released a compilation album of his role model.

Ondioline is an electronic keyboard instrument developed and built by Frenchman Georges Jenny and is considered a forerunner of the synthesizer. Jenny invented it in 1939, then further refined and redesigned the device, making dozens of versions until his death in 1975. The most prominent representative and promoter of the instrument was Jean-Jacques Perrey, who played the instrument, recorded it on behalf of Mr. Ondioline, composed songs for it, and was also the instrument’s first seller.

Although ondioline is monophonic, it is capable of producing a wide range of sounds. Its keyboard spans three octaves, but by setting a register key, the player can sound up to eight octaves. The instrument’s keyboard is suspended on custom-designed springs that allow for a natural vibration when the player manipulates the key sideways (from side to side) when the key is pressed. The keyboard is pressure sensitive and the volume is controlled by a knee arm.

Released in May 2017 Jean-Jacques Perrey and His Ondioline On the album, 42-year-old De Backer remixed his role models, which he has since performed live with a six-piece band.

“I learned so much from the Somebody… Of that things sometimes just slip out of your control. And then you have to let go. If anything, I want to dedicate that legacy to the song, ”said Billboard interview – that seemingly every rule within the pop can be broken. ”

Featured image: YouTube / Gotye