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Musical Synchronicity, Of a Certain Miserable Sort

It may just be me, but I think the lead characters of these respective and currently popular songs deserve each other. Listening to the lyrics will help to explain why.

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By John Scalzi

I enjoy pie.

35 replies on “Musical Synchronicity, Of a Certain Miserable Sort”

Nothin wrong with singing about being fickle and feeling crappy as a result, really. It’s a human experience just like all the rest. I do enjoy the Gotye song from a purely sonic perspective, but the characters in these songs certainly are not role models, nor, I would imagine, does anyone think they are.

I am not quite sure that the male character in Somebody… is supposed to be as unsympathetic as I find him. I hope it was intentional, because otherwise that song is more creepy than neat.

Oh my God, I thought that the reason that the awful Gotye video was on heavy rotation here in France is because of my adopted country’s legendary lack of musical taste. (Also, I thought the singer was Sting. So sorry, so old.)

Gotye fills me with unhandsome urges to be anonymously trollish on the Internet.

So I will simply say that Peter Gabriel did it first and better.

While the music video is odd, Gotye is worlds better than ol’Lloyd there. His lyrics are well crafted, the music is sound, and heck, he actually makes it himself (call me old fashioned, but I like singers who actually make their own material, not just performers).

But personally, I would work out more before going in the buff on the intarwebs, it can be a petty place.

@ mgb

I do enjoy the Gotye song from a purely sonic perspective, but the characters in these songs certainly are not role models, nor, I would imagine, does anyone think they are.

I’d never heard of Lloyd until now, and could most profitably have continued in that state, but Gotye I like. Yes, he rips off the styles of Gabriel and Sting and isn’t really the vocalist either is, but he’s fine ear candy.

@ Credence Fogo

Oh my God, I thought that the reason that the awful Gotye video was on heavy rotation here in France is because of my adopted country’s legendary lack of musical taste.

Say what?! France has produced some of the best singers and musicians of the last two centuries.

Well…here’s a better Gotye video:

While I don’t actively dislike the Gotye song, it vaguely bugs me that he’s seized possession of that song title from the late, great, Elliott Smith, whose “Somebody That I Used To Know” practically defines “bittersweet”. Well, maybe more “sweetly bitter”, but that’s not a thing.

I’ve been hearing the Gotye song here and there for about two years now (the first time I saw that clip was on Hoyden About Town, and it was intriguing then), and over that time I’ve got to like it more and more – to the point where I’m planning to pick up the guy’s albums once the money situation is a bit more comfortable (I’m about four and a half thou in the hole, I’d prefer not to be buying anything until that’s down to four at least, preferably three). One of the things I actually like about the video is the way that the imagery actually corresponds to the lyrics – it’s a rare thing for this to happen, in my experience (as the lyrics change to the whole “why’d you stop talking to me and cut me out of your life” the male character vanishes into the background, and as the female character’s lyrics come to the fore, she becomes part of the foreground). Meanwhile the other one I got about 36 seconds in and decided “not interested”.

Okay, yes, Gotye is recording as an Australian (Belgian-origin Australian) and yeah, he got a whole heap of awards for that clip at the last lot of the ARIAs (our equivalent of the Grammys). But I suspect most of the acclaim is because it’s a genuinely good piece of music, and very different to most of the stuff available at present. Having looked at some of his other stuff (because “Somebody That I Used To Know” got me curious), including the clip Gulliver listed, I can say that his stuff is pretty damn good. Definitely on my “purchase the albums” list.

I thought Gotye sounded a lot like Peter Gabriel. Sadly, the rest of his album doesn’t live up to those expectations. As for the second “song”, oh John, that’s just plain mean.

Here’s a famous duet to wash away the pain, the aforementioned Peter Gabriel and the lovely Kate Bush:

We’re all very bemused here in Australia that it’s that song specifically that America responded to. I mean, it’s okay, but it’s no Heart’s A Mess.

I am guessing the protagonist is supposed to be somewhat unsympathetic because otherwise there wouldn’t be any need to undercut his feeling sorry for himself with the other perspective.

If you can get to the lyrics on the second song, more power to you. I was about twenty seconds in before I realized I was ready to burst my own eardrums rather than listen any longer. As for Gotye…meh. It’s hard for me to take a polarized stand on a song that builds on the melody for “Baa Baa, Black Sheep”. Though I appreciate your misery.

@Jeremy Preacher: Specifically, what *makes* the Gotye song is when Kimbra comes in and turns it around. The dude character gets the last word in the chorus, but in the second iteration he comes across as a whiny ass, and I think it’s the intended effect.

When “Somebody that I used to know” came out, it synchronized rather perfectly with some stupid garbage going on in my life.
A decade-long friendship had been killed. My ex-friend had become, or been revealed as, a narcissistic sort of toxic person who was in the process of destroying and discarding any number of old friendships. And, I was shunned by this person, who proceeded to pretend I didn’t exist whenever we were in the same ‘space’ (mostly online).

I wrote a description of how this came about, but I think I shall spare you all having to read it, as you don’t want to see several people’s dirty laundry.

However, there are several anthem-lines in the song, both male and female singer’s, that apply.

For all that ails you, find videos of the songs from Eurovision 2012. (Don’t miss real-time colour commentary on Twitter from Catherynne M. Valente either.)

Aah, bunch of old grumps here – pretty song, pretty video, and Kimbra is great when she kicks in with that clear power!
(and I’m a guy who only really likes Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen…!)

Lloyd is forgettable. The Gotya is brilliant. I had heard it on the radio and found it haunting, but just saw the visual. I love the body and background art, and the emotion is chillingly real.

The Cher Lloyd was kind of boring and sounded like a gazillion other songs out there for the past 3 decades. While Gotye is clearing channeling Sting and Peter Gabriel, he seems to be way the heck more talented than Lloyd. I saw him perform on SNL and thought he did quite well.

It is possible that my opinion is also a bit biased because I am also of the opinion that Gotye is a beautiful, beautiful man.

Hey, I got the connection between the songs (narcissistic narrators). The musicality of the first song had distracted me somewhat from the lyrics before. I hadn’t heard the second before (I mostly listen to audiobooks these days, driving around), but its awful sound drove me to listen to the lyrics instead, and the lyrics were yucky too.

@megpie71 Gotye’s song came out in July 2011…so it just feels like two years :)
It’s not to my normal tastes, but I love “Somebody…” & it’s inspired a lot of other stuff. Lloyd, not so much…

In Gotye’s case, I felt that the narcissism was more toned down, because it’s that narcissism that anyone who’s been jilted knows – I’m worth more than this! (I know, it’s not the Macquarie/Oxford/Websters def, but I think it fits…)

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