Tomorrow is a new year… I thought I would end 2012 off by talking about what I think is/was THE song of this past year and would be the song to represent 2012 in a time vault. This is quite difficult to say because I live in the UK and the music that hits the charts and receives radio play here does not always make it to other parts of the world and same goes for music from other parts of the world – it does not always reach us. However, there are two songs I can think of that have reached the charts in multiple parts of the world this year that were big hits and would make good additions to a time vault representing 2012. These two being:
1. Gotye (featuring Kimbra) : “Somebody That I Used to Know”
2. Psy : “Gangnam Style”
Out of these two, I think THE song of 2012 would have to be Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”. Some may argue and suggest that “Gangnam Style” was a lot more successful what with breaking a record and reaching 1 billion hits on YouTube but for being a song that is kind of silly/parody-like and kind of a novelty/joke, songs like this are often quite popular amongst the YouTube world. I find that people may not necessarily like the song, but it is so ridiculous and unique that they all want to see what it’s about and watch the video. It is a pop-music phenomenon. Gotye’s on the other hand, is just another ordinary indie-style song that didn’t necessarily have a reason to hit the charts world-wide but there was something about it that appealed to many listeners – me being one of them.
When I first heard this song, it was not actually Gotye performing it. Somebody (no pun intended) shared a cover by Walk off the Earth that I immediately fell in love with and I kept seeing it circulating through Facebook. Shortly after I saw the clip, I heard another version on the radio while at work and with the magic of “Shazam”, I learned that it was the original by Belgian-Australian artist Gotye (which is his stage name). After “Shazaming” it, I pulled it up on my phone, and no joke, I must have listened to it on repeat about 50 times that day. I must have shared it a few dozen times on Facebook as well. I just couldn’t shut up about how amazing I thought it was! When I got home from work (I was living with my in-laws at the time), I pulled it up on father-in-law’s computer and literally said LISTEN TO THIS, IT’S AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He wasn’t too keen and neither were the rest of the in-laws but I had a feeling about this song and made sure to say “Just you wait! It will get to number one!” They all thought I was crazy.
Weeks passed and surely enough, “Somebody That I Used to Know” was gradually receiving more airplay. Father-in-law would call me at work during these weeks and put the phone to the radio speaker and say “I DON’T BELIEVE IT, IT’S THAT SONG AGAIN!” and I would just keep saying “I told you, its going to get to number one!”. I kept an eye on the charts and it was creeping up. About 5 weeks after I said it would hit number one…guess what?? It did!! And here I was wishing I would have placed a bet on it! The world was going CRAZY over this song. It was all over the UK, Canada (where a majority of my friends and family are whom I raved to about this song), and when we went to Greece in the summertime, there it was as well! It came on during my bachelorette party and I went WILD!
Although this song was actually released in 2011, it did not reach worldwide success until 2012 (except for Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and the Netherlands where it hit the charts in 2011). I mean check out this video, made by Gotye himself. it shows you just how much people love(d) it. This montage also demonstrates the artistic inspiration “Somebody That I Used to Know” gives to so many people. The melody is so hauntingly beautiful. It just captivates people and you can see by many of the examples in the montage that it is very emotive.
Going back to Psy and “Gangnam Style”: although “Gangnam Style” broke the YouTube record for most views, “Somebody That I Used to Know” has achieved more prestigious results in terms of chart success and sales (although “Gangnam Style” has also done quite well).
And according to these stats (thanks Wikipedia), it seems like “Somebody That I Used to Know” may officially be THE song of 2012 based on sales:
“Worldwide, “Somebody That I Used to Know” has sold 10 million copies, making it the biggest selling single of 2012 so far and one of the best-selling digital singles of all time. It reached No. 1 in more than 23 national charts and charting inside the top ten in more than 30 countries around the world. As of April 2012, it is the most downloaded song ever in Belgium, as well as being the third best-selling digital single in Germany with sales between 500,000 and 600,000 copies, and the most successful song in the history of the Dutch charts. It received nine Platinum certifications in Australia, accounting for shipments exceeding 630,000 units. In New Zealand, it was certified four times Platinum. The song has sold 1.3 million copies copies in the UK as of December 2012, making it the best-selling single of 2012 in the UK.”
The only down side is, I think Gotye will have a hard time topping this….and probably Psy will as well…but it seems like just by the success of these hits alone, these two are probably financially set for the rest of their lives. If only I could compose a hit to reach the success of “Somebody That I Used to Know” or “Gangnam Style”!
So in 2012, I got married, I moved to Kent, I sold my first business, I survived the end of the world (again) and I fell in love with and predicted a number 1 for Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”. It seems like the rest of the world (well, a lot of it anyway) fell in love with it too! Not a bad year for me or Gotye (or Psy). I wonder what 2013 will have in store for us all! Maybe I’ll write that successful number one hit and somebody will be blogging about it being THE song of 2013 next New Year’s Eve! Don’t laugh, it may just happen!
Do you agree that Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to know” is THE song of 2012? What other songs do you think would belong in a time vault representing 2012?
There are some Christmas songs that make me cringe the minute they come through a speaker. However, the following put me in the holiday spirit:
Since today is when the Mayans predict to be the end of the world, I found it fitting to talk about R.EM’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It”, in conjunction with some other songs, as my first blog post.
Every single time I hear this song by R.E.M, I can’t help but think of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” and find myself comparing the two every time I hear one or the other. Surprisingly enough, R.E.M’s was released in 1987 – two years before Billy Joel’s was released. I assumed it was the other way around simply because Billy Joel has been around longer and R.E.M seem to be more recent than the 80′s (that’s a scary thought! I’m getting old).
There are MANY similarities between these two songs but what always gets me linking the two is the style of the rapid movement of the lyrics in the verses. While they move quite quickly from word to word, the lyrics also seem random and incomplete. This is because Billy Joel’s lyrics refer to historic headline events that occurred between his birth in March of 1949 to the year 1989 when the song was released. There are over 100 historic events mentioned or referred to so one can imagine how rapid the singing would have to be in order to touch on all these events in four minutes and fourty-nine seconds! Over 100 events in 5 minutes means if there are 20 events a minute, each event gets three seconds BUT that doesn’t take the chorus into consideration and also it is 11 seconds shy of 5 minutes so it is probably more like 1 second of mention per event….that’s a definite reason for rapid singing!!!
R.E.M’s song sounds a bit more random and the the lyrics don’t seem to fit together. I came across an interview R.E.M’s frontman Michael Stipe did for Q Magazine in 1992 where he discusses this:
“The words come from everywhere. I’m extremely aware of everything around me, whether I am in a sleeping state, awake, dream-state or just in day to day life. There’s a part in ‘It’s The End Of The World As We Know It’ that came from a dream where I was at Lester Bangs’ birthday party and I was the only person there whose initials weren’t L.B. So there was Lenny Bruce, Leonid Brezhnev, Leonard Bernstein… So that ended up in the song along with a lot of stuff I’d seen when I was flipping TV channels. It’s a collection of streams of consciousness.”
This demonstrates that the lyrics are quite random as it is a stream of consciousness.
In contrast to the rapid verses, the choruses of the two songs are catchy and have a flow similar to many pop songs. They are easy to sing along to and easy to remember.
A more obvious observation is that the lyrics of both songs include the names of famous people (ie Doris Day, Joe DiMaggio etc in Billy Joel’s and Leonard Bernstein, Lenny Bruce etc in R.E.M’s). Another obvious observation is that the lyrics of both choruses involve the plural “we”, and the word “world”, along with lyrics that literally represent destruction (“end of the world” and “fire” although in the song, this is more figurative/symbolic rather than literal).
R.E.M’s song is said to be in the style of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and perhaps it can be said that Billy Joel’s is as well since it was released not too long after R.E.M’s and has lots of similarities. Perhaps Billy heard it and felt inspired by the style…or maybe it was a subconscious stylistic nod. Who knows….but what I do know is that every time I hear one of these songs, I can’t help but be reminded of the other…oh and also that the Mayans were not exactly right in their predictions.
Are there any songs that you find to be quite similar or remind you of other songs??