Archive for ‘Music’

June 7, 2012

The Many Interpretations of Gotye

I have a little bit of a problem when it comes to identifying songs because of one very obvious reason:  I don’t listen to the radio- ever.  I listen to songs almost solely on my iPhone.  Now, I do pick up new music from TV shows and movies a lot, which accounts for my eclectic playlists (it’s rare for me to like a lot of music from one artist), but identifying Top 40 hits?  Not my best skill.

So when Glee did their rendition of Somebody I Used to Know (see above), I was completely unaware that this was already a popular song by something called “Gotye” (a.k.a. Wally….yeah, I laughed, too).  The song didn’t make too much of an impression and I forgot about it for a little while.  Then it came up again in my shows because Gotye was the musical guest on SNL.  I kept thinking when the song came on…WHERE IS THIS FROM??? Oh, Glee.  This time I found the song more memorable, and was intrigued at what the video looked like based on the SNL sketch below.

My Gotye journey continued on and I watched the original music video.  I downloaded the song shortly after, and have listened to it often since then.  The song puzzles me, though, because I’ve found in talking with friends and reading about the song that it is interpreted in different ways (specifically who the girl that sings is meant to be).  Here are the four groups of thought I’ve found regarding who Kimbra plays, but I’m sure there are more opinions (maybe even you make a new group?).

Group 1: She’s the Mistreated Ex

People in this group (including Entertainment Weekly who say “it’s about a guy who screwed over his ex-girlfriend”) believe Gotye was mean to his ex until she left and is now complaining that she didn’t have to make such a clean cut from him in the end.  Kimbra is singing from the ex’s point of view insisting that she’s the victim of Gotye’s actions, and not the other way around.  I could see this, but she recalls that he said he “could let it go, and I wouldn’t catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know.”  Isn’t he singing about that somebody now?  How could that be her?

Group 2: She’s the Extension of His Voice

My sister feels that Kimbra is simply just another voice in the song, not really talking to Gotye, but continuing his sentiment.  I think this is discredited by the music video because she is looking at Gotye when she sings and he shows small sings of distress like looking down, sighing, and closing his eyes, which indicate to me he is affected by what she is saying.

Group 3: She’s the New Girlfriend (My Group!)

I have always thought that Gotye is talking about an old relationship which he tried to make work, but in the end it was probably better that they weren’t together.  However, he hasn’t really gotten over the fact that this girl pretends like she doesn’t even know him now.  Kimbra is his new girlfriend who is being mistreated by Gotye now and complaining that he is still hung up on this ex that cut him out of her life.  This to me explains the body language in the video, and the specific lyrics of Kimbra’s part.

Group 4: I Don’t Care

This group likes the song, but doesn’t really care to piece a story out of it.  They just want to listen to it when it comes on the radio and move on.  This group also has those that are over the song and don’t care about the story as they switch radio stations to avoid it.  To each his own.

I’ve always been one that hates when things are open for interpretation.  I’d rather know what the artist or director was thinking when they created it (ex. Did Sarah remember at the end of the Chuck series? Did Rose die at the end of Titanic?).  These questions don’t keep me up at night, but will definitely be on my mind should I run into these famous people by chance someday (because that’s likely).

By the way, if you are a Gotye fan, tickets just went on sale for his North American tour throughout the rest of the year.  You might want to snag them now if you plan on going.  You can view the concert information here.

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