Why “Somebody I Used To Know” Is So Popular

Just about everyone has heard the song at this point. On Youtube the video has gotten as many hits as 2/3rds of the population of the United States, and it plays on the radio all the time. Despite the over-exposure of the song, I haven’t come across anyone who actually dislikes it.

So what is it about “Somebody I Used To Know” that people like so much?

First and foremost, the melody is catchy. Though the verses are a little mumble-y at times, the chorus is pretty understandable and easy to sing along to. Since the chorus is repeated three or four times in the song, it allows even first time listeners to get in on the singing by the end of the song.

Secondly, there is a male and female singer, both with a decently wide range. The advantage of this is that when people want to sing along, they can sing to the part that they are most comfortable. On top of that, both male and female singers are talented. Unlike all too many singers today, Gotye does not use auto-tune technology to make up for their lack of talent. Contrary to the misconceptions of modern recording studios, not everyone is a fan of auto-tune and so “Somebody” provides a kind of breath of fresh air that we don’t usually hear on the radio.

Finally, the song speaks to many of us. Many of us have gone through relationships and breakups where we know the end is coming, but we want to believe that everything is okay. Many of us have seen the result of a relationship when one person is still hung up on somebody they used to be with. The song addresses the fact that there are two sides to every breakup and the tone of the voices emphasise the hurt and heartache that comes associated with it.

Regardless of the reason for each individual to love the song, it’s always hard to avoid belting out, “You didn’t need to cut me off!” when it comes on the radio.


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