Somebody That I Used to Know

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Cassie Clingan
Mr. Lamphear
English 1510
24 October 2012

When an artist composes a song, he or she will typically provide a music video to accompany it. These videos contain anything from choreographed dance routines to digital enhancements. The focus is rarely on the music or the lyrics and more on how outrageous they can make their video. In Gotye’s video for “Somebody that I Used to Know” the painting depicts a compelling visual description of what his lyrics covey. It demonstrates how combining simplicity and artistry can establish a very powerful message. The painting represents the complexity of his shattered relationship and the emotional baggage he still carries with him.

In the beginning seconds of the video he shows an ascending glimpse of himself naked, while a blank canvas stands behind him. This gives the illusion of a blank slate and exhibits the insecurities and vulnerabilities he felt at the start of the relationship. He looks down toward the ground as he sings in a very soft and somber voice. He begins to reminisce about his feelings during a past relationship, “Now and then I think of when we were together.” He convinces himself that she is the right person for him even though he feels lonely, “but felt so lonely in your company’. He attributes love with an ache he feels and currently carries it with him.

At this point the painting begins to take on its intricate shape. It develops various lines, diverse colors and distinct angles indicating the struggle within his relationship. The video starts to flip between him and the painting as it slowly engulfs the entire canvas. His facial expression changes slightly and exhibits a more wily and suspicious character. When a mutual decision was reached to end the relationship, he was informed that they would remain friends. “Well you said that we would still be friends”. He gives a slight eye brow raise as he recites this line. He seems skeptical that remaining friends...
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