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Published on March 5th, 2012 | by Lisa McInerney


Sweary’s Jaw: All Your Gotye Are Belong To Us

Gotye must be a mixed-up pup at the moment.

The thirtysomething Belgian-Aussie has been making music since his teens, enjoying the slow, steady build befitting his workhorse tendencies. He’s released seven albums as a solo artist and as part of his band, The Basics, and has accumulated a healthy smattering of awards and accolades. Then his latest album, Making Mirrors, exploded like a microwaved bullfrog and now, all over the globe, people are yodelling along to second single Somebody That I Used To Know with wildly varying degrees of success.

For Gotye is no longer a mere popstar. Gotye has become a living meme.

It’s a sign of the times. This is the Age Of Information, and once something becomes a cultural phenomenon, it becomes… communal. Have you ever seen an artist go from indie unknown to pop superstar to global tummy-tickle as quickly as Gotye has? Once Somebody captured the imagination of the people, nothing Gotye could have done would have halted its gallop. The results of everyone getting in on the act – cover versions, parodies, parodies of cover versions – ranges from the sublime to the excruciating, and all have a hand in prolonging Somebody’s status as the whole world’s earworm.

See how far you can get into this (admittedly brilliant) acapella cover without doubling-over at the earnest groove-finding. I managed 16 seconds!

Ingrid Michealson’s cover is various kind of amazing.

To chance to compete with those heartfelt, beautiful interpretations, The Breakfast Brothers promise an “original cover”. They certainly deliver on that, because you’ll never have heard anything quite like this.

Here are some blue things interpretive dancing the arse out of the Walk Off The Earth version of Somebody.

Because, you see, Walk Off The Earth’s jaw-dropping guitar-sharing is the  most famous of all the Somebody covers, with 65.2 million views on YouTube.

But Key of Awesome’s cover of Walk Off The Earth’s cover is the best of the bunch. At least to my puerile mind.

And therein lies the problem with recording the whole world’s earworm. Eventually, someone’s going to better your brilliance.  Somebody’s success was inevitable, as its mix of powerful angst, passionate vocals and head-nodding xylophone kookiness was always far too potent to be ignored. But that accessibility is exactly what makes Somebody so easy to mimic and lampoon and twist arseways. The bigger the song gets, the more cover bands will reinterpret it, and the more comedy troupes will take a pop at it. And in the end, for every dedicated Gotye purist, there’ll be three of us who can’t unhear “Baa baa black sheep, have you any wool?” and fourteen more who’ll end the song plaintively howling “Somebody get Ton-ah!”.

Oh, Gotye. What have you done?

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About the Author

That cranky young wan from award-winning blog, Arse End Of Ireland, Lisa’s also noted for her dedication to cobbling together unrelated imprecations to make new and bemusing insults, mostly because she’s not eloquent enough to otherwise explain her deep-seated terror of genre fiction and Fianna Fail. In 2006, The Irish Times called her “… the most talented writer at work in Ireland today”, and her mam still can’t understand why this is better than being the new Marian Keyes. Which it totally is. Alright? Website Twitter: @SwearyLady Facebook.com/sweary Last FM: LeislVonTrapp

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