It was less than a year ago that Wally De Backer’s music was confined to Australian community radio. Yesterday however, he celebrated reaching no.1 on the US Billboard Charts (a feat unaccomplished by an Aussie since Savage Garden in 2000.)
“Somebody That I Used To Know” has become a cultural phenomenon.
Challenging Adele’s “Someone Like You” for batshit crazy break-up anthem, the track’s trajectory has left industry moguls scratching their heads and Gotye waiting outside the bank for royalties to be deposited.
So how did it get it from Triple J to almost triple platinum globally?
Going Out on a Limbra. STIUTK was not intended to be a duet, which seems inexplicable, given that the likeability and perspective of the song heavily depend on the she says of this battle. Even though Kimbra wasn’t Gotye’s first choice, her contribution is the unquestionable highlight. A rising star in Australia and her native NZ, Kimbra turned out to be a very fortunate choice. Had Gotye enlisted a big name, she may have not been able to drop everything to tour the US mercilessly as they have.
Big Down Under. On August 15th, a mere three weeks after release, STIUTK hit the summit of the Australian ARIA charts, where it stayed (on and off) for eight weeks. Certified nine times platinum with sales of 630,000, it is the equal second-longest running Australian song in history, behind Daddy Cool’s “Eagle Rock.”
Where The Bloody Hell ARIA. 27th of November – the critical and commercial leave is behind him, now it’s time to reap the awards. STIUTK earns Gotye the highly coveted Single of the Year, Best Pop Release and Best Male Artist, adding to his further tally of Producer of the Year, Best Video and Engineer of the Year. Six awards from one song? Epic, even in retrospect.
Be Joined At The Hipsters. Triple J’s Hottest 100 are back to loving an Aussie battler! 2010’s Big Jet Plane broke a streak of international winners last year, but STIUTK looked almost too obvious a choice to take the crown. Fortunately, the exceptional sales figures didn’t discourage the hipster crowd from voting this to glory.
Cover your tracks. Canadian indie rock group Walk off the Earth managed to back up their quirky five-on-one guitar delivery with scorching hot vocals. Eskimo Joe underwhelmed with their drab Like A Version interpretation. The Muppets, Blue Man Group and a wave of mimics followed.
Making Mirrors, Breaking Records. STIUTK hit the Brits like contagion and its reign of terror is nowhere near done. Having topped the charts for five non-consecutive weeks, it is easily the best selling song of the year and is hot on the heels of the million mark, beating end of year chart toppers including Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy”, Leona Lewis’ “Bleeding Love”, Alexandra Burke’s “Hallelujah”, Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, Eminem & Rihanna’s “Love The Way You Lie” and narrowly trailing Adele’s mega-seller, “Someone Like You.” It is now the highest selling song in the HISTORY of both the Polish and Dutch charts.
Snap Back To Reality TV. While Jimmy Kimmel Live introduced Gotye to the Americans and STIUTK featured on 90210 and Gossip Girl (how most indie songs gain attention), it was the wave of reality TV shows that assaulted mainstream American memories. In the space of just a week, it was performed by Lindsey Pavao on The Voice, as well as a duet by Elise and Phillip on American Idol. Throw in an obligatory Glee cover and a feature on Saturday Night Live within a few days of each other and you have your first US No.1 for an Aussie in over a decade.
Gotye Now. He’s made headlines for a startlingly good show at the world’s coolest festival Coachella, STIUTK storms past the five million mark on the global chart today (seven weeks at no.1 and stronger than ever) and the YouTube count stands at over 168 million views. Even One Direction couldn’t do anything to speed up this runway train.
Even if he can’t back it up with another single, Somebody will permanently leave its mark around the world. Not bad for a song that kicks off as “Bah Bah Black Sheep”!