Gotye’s Hit ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ Almost Didn’t Get Recorded

If you’ve logged into Facebook any time in the past few weeks (or months), it’s likely at least one of your friends has posted the video for Gotye’s international hit “Somebody That I Used To Know,” a somber-but-catchy track that could almost be described as taking over in the post-breakup salve realm after Adele’s “Someone Like You.”

The song has traversed around the world, topping charts first in Gotye’s somewhat-native Australia before dominating in Europe, the UK and Ireland. Now it’s gaining traction in the States, with “Somebody That I Used to Know” making appearances on “Glee” and garnering multiple plays on sites like Spotify. All that is likely to continue as Gotye is set to appear tonight with backup singer Kimbra on Saturday Night Live to perform the sleeper hit.

But like all songs, Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” was inspired and had to germinate in the singer’s head- and according to Rolling Stone, the track almost didn’t come together. The mag quotes the Belgium-born singer as he describes the struggles he had in fleshing the song out and obtaining the perfect female foil for the counter verses nailed by Kimbra on the track and in the haunting video- in which both parties fade slowly into a painted background.

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The mag explains:

“That Luiz Bonfá sample directly prompted the first line of lyrics,” Gotye recalls, a thick Australian accent burying any trace of his European roots. “The back-and-forth left me thinking about these ­different breakups and different relationships over the years, and the lyrics flowed from there.”

But without a female singer, it wasn’t gelling, he explains. RS continues:

“That eureka moment came in the fall of 2010, although it would take Gotye another six months to find the female vocalist who gives the track its knockout punch. In fact, he says he toyed with abandoning “Somebody” at the recording stage, when his (unnamed) original choice of female vocalist pulled out.”

Gotye hasn’t allowed international pop stardom to cause him to rest on his laurels, however- he says that it’s entirely plausible none of his future efforts will manage the same crossover appeal.