Gotye, why do I hate you so?

This article was originally going to have some tongue-in-cheek title along the lines of “Gotye has to Gotego”, or “Gotye: Hopefully soon to be someone I used to know”. All I knew was that every time I heard the cheeky introduction of the xylophone in his “Somebody that I Used Know”, I felt like slitting my own throat.

For the last year it has had a ubiquitous presence and seemingly incessant desire to be heard, worse than anything Activate!  could muster during the student election period. I developed something of a paranoia of the hit single as I’d heard it blaring when I was walking around college or civic, on my car radio and even on Virgin Blue following touchdown—leaving me no means of transport to escape it. People have feared witches, Communism and climate change, I feared “Somebody I Used to Know”.

My hatred for Gotye and his single became so intense that when asked what exactly I disliked about his song—aside from the fact that it had obviously been overplayed —I felt intellectually incapacitated, just like the usually eloquent and perfectly articulate Othello after he loses his shit: “Blood! Blood! Blood!” Thus forms the basis of this article: Gotye, why do I hate you so? Only with concentrated introspection would this question be answered, incidentally revealing more about myself than Gotye.

My initial reasons for this vendetta were mainly obvious ones and become increasingly less convincing.

First, I thought, he has a ridiculous name which sounds really pretentious. ‘Gotye’, his stage name, is indeed quite difficult to pronounce, as well as being completely unheard of in Australia. His actual name is Wouter de Backer, something which would appear equally exotic to Australians, leading me to wonder why he thinks he needs the name ‘Gotye’ to attract attention. Wikipedia would then inform me that “Gotye” is loosely the French equivalent of the Dutch ‘Wouter’, which is ‘Walter’ in English. Belgians speak French as well as Dutch. To my disappointment it made perfect sense…

My second pet peeve was the simplicity of his lyrics. ‘Somebody I Used to Know’ is just another break up song—Kimbra was mean to him, and now Gotye is sad. Then someone said the same thing about The Cure. I died inside, but realised that pop music doesn’t require enlightening lyrics for it to stake some sort of legitimacy.

Finally, and quite desperately, I argued that the guy has a silly haircut. In an objective sense, Gotye does have longer hair than the average adult Australian male. But this just makes me sound like a bumbling curmudgeon.

Over time however I developed a more technical argument, which I maintain. This argument is that as an artist, Gotye is very limited. Sure he can play a thousand instruments, but there is no obvious musical progression from his second album, ‘Like Drawing Blood’ to his most recent, ‘Making Mirrors’.  Indeed, the two albums’ respective hit singles, ‘Heart’s a Mess’ and the notorious, ‘Somebody I Used to Know’, are, despite the five years between them, basically Coke and Pepsi to me. Whilst bands like this die a quick death: Jet, Taxi Drive, Alex Lloyd and The Fratellis to name a few. They need not be despised, only endured.

Yet still I wondered why I voiced my hatred for Gotye so much more passionately than my hatred for Justin Bieber and Chris Brown. It appears that my loathing Gotye derives from my thinking his immense acclaim is completely undeserved. For instance, no one over the age of fourteen actually thinks Justin Bieber or Chris Brown are talented musicians. When they are enjoyed by the more discerning listener, it is only as a guilty pleasure, much like occasionally eating whipped cream straight out of the nozzle, despite normally maintaining a balanced and highly nutritious diet.

Gotye, however, is enjoyed without guilt. Beyond this, he is not simply just another mediocre artist who is vastly overrated. Having twice won the Triple J album of the year, it is safe to say Gotye is the current pin up boy of the alternative radio station. As a result, he came to epitomise my general distaste for modern day Triple J hits. Looking through the ‘Top Hundred’ lists from its inception in 1993, I much prefer the chart toppers up till about 2002. These pitch the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Radiohead, The Vines, and Jebediah against the likes of Hilltop Hoods, Muse, Ben Lee and The Killers.

In conclusion, whilst he isn’t particularly musically dense, Gotye in no way deserved the fierce denigration he received from me throughout the past year. It was not his choice to be played incessantly. He just represents an abstract concept to me, which like Communism or global warming, makes me think that the world is going to end.


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