"Somebody That I Used To Know" as written by and Walter Andre De Backer....
Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over

But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Now you're just somebody that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done
And I don't wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know

But you didn't have to cut me off
Make out like it never happened and that we were nothing
And I don't even need your love
But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough
No you didn't have to stoop so low
Have your friends collect your records and then change your number
I guess that I don't need that though
Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Somebody, I used to know
(Somebody) Now you're just somebody that I used to know
Somebody, I used to know
(Somebody) Now you're just somebody that I used to know
I used to know, that I used to know, I used to know somebody


Lyrics submitted by 60_miles_an_hour, edited by PoonKnows, Nemo123

"Somebody That I Used to Know" as written by Walter Andre De Backer Luiz Bonfa

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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  • +14
    My InterpretationABOUT:

    The lyrical interpretation seems pretty straightforward to me, and thus I don't think it is worth dissecting. The video, however, is much deeper. So I've decided that I'm going to analyze the video in this essay.

    VIDEO INTERPRETATION (in chronological order):

    1. Abstract Mosaic Art
    - Mosaic art is a form of art which divides a surface (usually with straight lines) -- in the video the divisions are also colored in randomly. I think the music video uses this to represent human crowds. In a crowd of people, everyone is different. But try imagining a large crowd of people in your head. If you imagine the crowd in its entirety you don't focus as much on each and every individual. Each individual blends into the whole, just like each colored piece in the mosaic is merely a part of the entire art piece.

    Notice how Gotye blends into the mosaic art because he is completely painted (well, except for his right cheek, which I'll talk about later in this essay). He blends in because the video is trying to metaphorically depict someone who blends into a crowd, who doesn't stand out anymore to their loved one, after they end a relationship with that loved one.

    2. Naked to Painted
    - Notice how Gotye starts out as naked but then becomes painted RIGHT when he sings the third verse. This is important because the video matches what is going on lyrically. Here, Gotye talks about how his lover (Kimbra) harshly cut him off from her life. Gotye then slowly becomes painted -- him being painted represents how he thinks he slowly became a piece of the mosaic, or just a face in the crowd to Kimbra.

    3. Gotye the Statue
    - Now I'll talk a bit about the use of tableau in the music video. When Gotye's verses end for the first time, he ceases movement and expresses no emotion. This not only marks the beginning of Kimbra's turn to express her side of the story, but it represents how the two lovers must be physically separated from each other to quite some degree. I interpret the video as Gotye and Kimbra -not- arguing face to face. Instead, I think that they are reflecting upon the arguments they had with each other after they broke up.

    4. Kimbra's Turning Stare
    - This accentuates Kimbra's scorn for Gotye.

    5. Kimbra and Gotye's Unpainted Halves of their Face
    - A cliche metaphor: It represents two individuals who become one when they are together. However, when they split up they become imperfect and incomplete halves of a whole.

    The unpainted back of Kimbra should be seen as a separate theme and unrelated to this metaphor.

    6. Kimbra Walks Towards Gotye
    - Kimbra and Gotye are not arguing face-to-face. However, their old arguments have had such a strong imprint on their memories that to them, it feels as though they are in fact face-to-face/right beside each other once again.

    7. Gotye and Kimbra Turning Their Heads Towards Each Other
    - Whenever the two turn their unpainted faces towards the viewer (i.e. Gotye turning to his left, Kimbra turning to her right), it is representing something. First, I argue that the unpainted side of their faces is the only thing that sticks out in the mosaic -- whenever it is turned towards the viewer it represents how either Gotye or Kimbra stick out of the crowd momentarily. It represents how when the two remember their arguments, they cease becoming strangers (i.e. 'somebody that I used to know') for a moment in time.

    It also represents how one can never completely cut their loved one from their memory. To support this, notice how Gotye's unpainted side turns almost randomly towards towards the viewer and back -- the video is trying to illustrate that Gotye is still not merely 'somebody that -she- used to know' in spite of Kimbra's efforts to forget Gotye. This is because the memories of Gotye sporadically fade in and out of her mind, even when she doesn't want to remember some of those memories. Likewise, Kimbra is not always a stranger (or 'somebody that -he- used to know') because her unpainted side turns back towards Gotye several times in the video.

    8. Kimbra walks away from Gotye
    - This represents the 'argument' part dying down -- Gotye and Kimbra are no longer thinking about who is right or wrong regarding whether or not Kimbra cut off Gotye too harshly. They are no longer imagining their old partner right beside them shouting in each others ears. They go back to reflecting upon the mere fact that they are strangers to each other and so the video shows Kimbra walking away.

    8*. But then why is Kimbra walking towards and away from Gotye instead of Gotye walking towards and away from her?
    - This would require an additional interpretation of the video. To understand this, the video also has to represent how Gotye may not have been the only victim here. Kimbra walking towards and away from Gotye instead of the other way around may represent how Kimbra was making an effort to resolve things by traveling towards Gotye first. However, in the end she gives up due to frustration (the 'ooooh/ahhhhh' part sang by Kimbra).

    9. Paint fades from Kimbra's back
    - First, it is important to note that because porn is not normally allowed in a music video, Kimbra's back had to be the side painted and not her front.
    - Second, the analysis: Above, I argued that whenever the unpainted side of either of their faces face the viewer, the video is trying to illustrate how that is a moment when that person ceases to become a stranger to the other person.

    Accordingly, since Kimbra's back loses her paint near the end, this represents how she really, really ceases to become a stranger to Gotye. Again, this is because her back had a lot of paint on it (thus, she was almost always just a person in the crowd to Gotye) and then it faded, so she is now not just a person in the crowd (or 'somebody that -he- used to know) to Gotye. What does this all mean? See the End analysis below.


    10. End (i.e. Tragedy)
    - The ending of the music video is somewhat tragic for Kimbra. It is much, much more so for Gotye.

    Kimbra sees Gotye as just 'somebody that -she- used to know,' a mere face in the crowd (i.e. mosaic). Again, the reason is because only a bit of Gotye's face is unpainted. She will remember him from time to time, but he isn't that important to her anymore. It is somewhat tragic for Kimbra because she tried to resolve things between them -- she didn't think that she cut off Gotye as harshly as he puts it.

    Gotye, at the end of the video however, does not see Kimbra as just 'somebody that -he- used to know.' She stands out in the mosaic -- if Gotye ever saw Kimbra in a crowd, she would stand out immediately because he misses the relationship that much more.

    The lyrics defend this argument:

    "You said that you could let it go
    And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know"

    Kimbra thought that Gotye would have been able to get over the breakup. She was clearly wrong as seen by Gotye's response in the next verse:

    "But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough"

    I would argue that Gotye is in denial. It seems like he has gotten over the break-up...

    Gotye: "I guess that I don't need that (*'that' refers to her love) though"

    ...but notice how he says 'I guess.' This likely represents Gotye's uncertainty and lack of confidence in his claim (i.e. that he has gotten over the relationship).

    BONUSES
    - At the end, both Gotye and Kimbra say 'somebody' in a fading out tone. Since they are looking at each other and their unpainted sides are shown to the viewer, they are both probably reflecting about each other (like I have argued throughout the essay.)

    - When Gotye counters Kimbra in the last verse, Kimbra is making an 'uhhhhh/ahhhhh' noise. That represents how whenever she remembers his argument ('But you didn't have to cut me off...'), it bothers her because Gotye claimed that he was going to get over the relationship, yet he hasn't.

    Feel free to argue against my analysis of the video if you have good reasons to back your claim up. Just state that you're replying to my interpretation.

    Also I didn't spend that much time on this (I probably only spent like 1-2 hours) so if I missed anything feel free to add things that may supplement my interpretation.
    mercownzyaon July 08, 2012   Link

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