January 17, 2012

Dueling Narrators

Woah, woah, woah. Have you ever heard a song that makes you shudder from start to ending? Happened to me the first time I heard GotyeSomebody That I Used To Know, contained in his great third album called Making Mirrors, released late last summer. 

Despite having been around for nearly a decade now, this artist has been growing exponentially since a super duper mega amazing cover of his song was posted on YouTube, which I found thanks to my old buddy Juan Mendi. Click on the logo and pay utmost attention to the video. Worth seeing, seriously! I've actually been purposefully limiting how often I watch it so I don't burn myself out on it.

This song is definitely a reflection of the cycle of relationships and the purpose of staying friends after a breakup. But honestly, relationships rarely see mutual breakups and one party will always feel resentment or bitterness toward the other. This shifting between different emotions is something Gotye does very well. As is being able to oscillate between sadness and anger. He conveys much of this confusion with his vocals alone. His voice in the verse is very dry, as if recorded in a closet. In the chorus, however, emotions explode, as his voice soars to sing. But the point where the song-craft really becomes special is the introduction of Kimbra, playing the part of the now-missing-in-action ex returning to have her say. Till the moment she enters the scene, Gotye had us believing he was the victim. But after hearing her side of the story, it becomes clear that both are unreliable narrators. I love the way in which it is able to show both perspectives of the story. 

Okay, admittedly, this is not a creative idea for a song. In fact, there are many lyrics dealing with this emotional longing and distress. Let's see some of them!

Elliott Smith also recorded a song with the title Somebody That I Used To Know. Both songs are about a former lover who has been cut out of the narrator's life, and both songs have a distinctly bitter tone.

Elliott Smith - Somebody That I Used To Know

There are also resemblances between Somebody That I Used To Know and the Ben Folds + Regina Spektor duet You Don’t Know Me, another song about love gone wrong and lyrics concerned about how little we know of other people.

Ben Folds ft. Regina Spektor - You Don't Know Me


Finally, today's song could also take inspiration from this smash hit by Keane, about two lovers who've drifted apart and eventually become complete strangers.

Keane - We Might As Well Be Strangers

Can you add another one on the subject? Comments below!

No comments: