Gotye and Kimbra’s Breakthrough Performance Before ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ Became a Global Hit

Wouter André De Backer, better known as Gotye, initially gained modest recognition in Australia. His 2003 debut album made it to the Top 100, and his 2006 follow-up climbed to number 13 on the charts. However, true success came in 2011 with the release of “Somebody That I Used to Know,” featuring Kimbra. Despite limited airplay, the single topped the Australian charts within a month, marking the start of its global ascent.

In November 2011, Gotye and Kimbra traveled to the US to promote their song ahead of its American release. They made their radio debut on KCRW, delivering a remarkable yet understated live performance. This performance was posted online and has since garnered over 89 million views. At the time, neither artist could have predicted the whirlwind of success that awaited them.

Just two months after their KCRW performance, “Somebody That I Used to Know” entered the US charts at number 91. By April, it had soared to number 1, where it remained for eight weeks. The song dominated music sales in 2012, becoming the Billboard Hot 100’s top song of the year and the fourth all-time best-selling digital single in the US, with 7.9 million copies sold.

The song’s catchy, distinctive sound earned widespread acclaim, and its innovative music video also drew significant attention. Directed by Natasha Pincus, the video features Gotye and Kimbra being painted in stop motion, a process that took over 23 hours to complete. It received over 200,000 views in its first two weeks and has since accumulated 2.2 billion views.

Despite the monumental success of his hit single, Gotye has kept a low profile in recent years. He founded his record label, Spirit Level, in 2014, and continued to play with his bands, The Basics and Ondioline Orchestra. Surprisingly, in 2017, Gotye revealed he chose not to monetize the YouTube video for “Somebody That I Used to Know,” forgoing potential millions in revenue.

In 2018, Gotye announced plans for a fourth solo album. As fans eagerly await its release in 2024, they can be confident that the artist who captivated the world over a decade ago still has more to offer.

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