Before 2011 I had never heard of Gotye. And then he released the single “Somebody That I Used To Know” and it seemed that everyone had all of a sudden ‘discovered’ this new artist. But, there is much more to the Gotye story than a very catchy single and one helluva a music video. Like most people, I had heard the song but had no idea who the artist was and I still have no idea how to pronounce his groups name (go-tea-yay!) but, I was surprised to learn the things about the man behind the curtain, Wally De Backer.
First, De Backer is from Australia which, has given him a successful music career before we in the states heard of him. He first started making music under the moniker Gotye in 2003 when he released his first album, Boardface independently. Then in 2006 he released another album, also independently Like Drawing Blood. At this point De Backer was moving around in different homes recording in each place he lived utilizing the acoustic qualities each place had to offer. The result was that he earned Best Album of 2006 in a Triple J listener poll and the album was certified platinum in Australia (70,000 copies sold). The album was helped along by the single “Learnalilgivinanlovin” to achieve the UK iTunes album of the year in 2008. Soon after his songs became successful in Europe, gaining chart positions on Belgium and Dutch radio. The album is slated to be released in the U.S. this year.
Then after the success of Like Drawing Blood, Gotye went back to recording a follow up. He first released the single “Eyes Wide Open”, an 80’s tinged dance club song that features De Backer’s soaring vocals. But it wasn’t until he released “Somebody That I Used To Know” (featuring female singer Kimbra doing a wonderful job) that his career would take off like an Apollo mission. The song, now infamous, has become the number 1 single on iTunes in 46 countries. 46! I’ll take a number 1 in the U.S. but damn, 46 that’s amazing. He also has one of the most watched videos on YouTube being viewed over 300 million times. The album is a unique blend of 80’s themed music, psychedelic rock and soulful feel good tunes. The artist I can think to most compare him to would be Beck but he has moments of Radiohead. No doubt De Backer has an awesome voice and he doesn’t overuse his ability to belt out. Songs like “I Feel Better” and “In Your Light” have a upbeat feel reminiscent of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher”. While “State Of The Art” brings out his more experimental side with de-tuned vocals and news clips. “Easy Way Out” could be a track on Beck’s Midnite Vultures and the closer “Bronte” is a hushed ballad with beautiful work.
Not to lie, I was expecting the album to be a bland, one hit standout, but I was impressed. I would definitely listen to it again and it must be something to see all those different styles performed live. Gotye comes to the Bank of America Pavilion on September 22nd, closing out the venues stream of summer shows. Last time he was here, he sold out The Paradise so quickly that they moved the show to the House Of Blues due to popular demand. But don’t worry we’ve still got seats and you can get them right here.
If you want to add your contribution to the views check out the original video (“Somebody That I Used To Know”)
Here’s a live performance that’s pretty awesome.