Regardless of what else happens in the next 12 hours – and with the line-up announcement of Splendour In The Grass among others, there’s certainly alot – today, tomorrow, and probably the rest of the year belongs to Gotye. The supremely talented Melbournian has made history today with the announcement that his smash hit ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ (our write-up, here) went to Number 1 on the US Billboard Charts. This is an unprecedented win not only for Australian music – the only two other acts who have achieved this while I have been alive are Savage Garden and INXS – but more importantly, for good music. Aided by nothing other than a significantly moving melody and some barebones instrumentation, Wally De Backer is now, quite literally, King of the World. His PR agency, who are friends of ours, are probably stupendously all drunk right now. And you know what? It couldn’t happen to a nicer, more talented guy.
Obviously being a breakup song, you can’t celebrate Gotye’s flying of our flag with the tune everyone’s already heard and is really kind of sad. Rather, I’m bringing out the full marching band cavalry of one of my favourite songs from the same amazing record that gave us ‘Coming Back’ (as remixed in this version by his on-tour audio wizard, Tim Shiel) and ‘Heart’s A Mess’, Like Drawing Blood. I don’t say this very often but I cannot stress it enough; if you do not own this album, buy it. It’s the kind of rich tapestry and sonic ridiculousness that only comes from holing up with a crate of records and your imagination and seeing what comes out. This cut, which is a tongue-twister to say and even more difficult to type correctly on so few hours’ sleep, is the ’60s, Motown-inspired victory march that marries Wally’s capability as a drummer with his somewhat masochistic desire to push his voice as gloriously high as it will go, demonstrated to no better effect than on the song currently sitting atop the charts everywhere.
Everything’s fair game in a Gotye song, which is something that real music fans have always appreciated about him, as they try and unpick just what kind of magic he’s spun into each bar. The same is true of ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin’; while it’s got those old-school beats behind it, there’s blistering horn samples coming in from some other era, quantised and redefined to sound like they always meant to be there. The clash of old and new is really interesting. Are the backing vocals old or resampled? WHo’s playing all those drums? Why is my foot tapping uncontrollably? (I can answer that last one for you.) But perhaps most of all, this is Wally at his sexiest and most carefree. Nobody expects anything of him, and the sky is the limit with how many barityone sax lines he wants to throw in there. The middle percussion solo is also superb. Everything’s superb. It’s a party and we should all be there. Damn tall poppy syndrome, this might not happen again until we have children.
Let’s savour the moment together.
Gotye – ‘Learnalilgivinanlovin’