Someone to know: Gotye to perform at Merriweather

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Entertainment,Robert Fulton

If you haven't heard Gotye's "Somebody That I Used To Know," well, then, you probably don't listen to much music.

The song has reached the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold more than 6 million copies in the United States alone with millions of additional online listens, and has enjoyed constant airplay, making it one of the biggest hits of 2012.

Yeah, it's pretty popular.

"When I think about the scale of it, it's overwhelming," said Wally De Backer, who goes by the stage name Gotye, speaking from a tour stop in Connecticut. "I guess I can kind of see how it's happened. I guess it sort of skipped around the world and connected with a lot of people."

Onstage
Gotye
Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion
When: Doors 5:30 p.m. Sunday
Info: With Missy Higgins and Jonti; $35 to $45; merriweathermusic.com

Gotye performs Sunday at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

"Somebody That I Used To Know" tells the story of an end of a relationship between two hurt, confused lovers. The song is highlighted by soaring Peter Gabriel-like vocals competing with the honeylike lyrics of New Zealand singer Kimbra.

Gotye cites the song's universal tale of love loss for its popularity. But he also believes that the track's midtempo sound helps it stand out on the radio.

"It's not usually played in top 40 radio and on rock radio, especially in the States," said De Backer, 32. "They're intrigued and maybe they engage a bit more because it's not sort of run-of-the-mill, especially in those heavily streamlined categories, especially on American radio."

De Backer was born in Belgium, and his family moved to Australia when he was 2 years old. He got into music at a young age and referenced his parents as a strong influence.

"They were always very supportive and endured me playing drums for long hours and going through a phase of listening to grunge and heavy metal and things like that," De Backer said. "They were pretty cool with it, really."

De Backer has three full-length albums under his Gotye moniker. He recorded much of his most recent effort, "Making Mirrors," in a barn on his parents' farm in Australia. His influences vary, as does his sound, which includes the Motown-inspired "I Feel Better" from "Making Mirrors."

"It all sounds pretty boring when you try to categorize it," he said.

With the bar set fairly high by the hugely popular "Somebody That I Used To Know," De Backer realizes that matching that song's success with any future efforts is unlikely.

"I know it's not going happen," De Backer said. "It's not going to distinguish itself in the same way."

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Robert Fulton

Examiner Correspondent
The Washington Examiner