(Un)covered: Somebody That I Used To Know

Mayday Parade vs. Gotye By | October 9, 2014 at 2:00 PM

“Somebody That I Used To Know”
Songwriter: Wouter Andre De Backer (Gotye)
Original Release Date: July 5, 2011

Gotye is a familiar name on everyone’s tongues now, after his hit single “Somebody That I Used To Know” dominated the radio, Billboard charts, and even the Grammys. This week, we’re looking at the unique indie-pop that became an unexpected success against the delicious pop-rock cover by Mayday Parade.

“Somebody That I Used To Know” is instantly recognizable from its first few notes. Every time that short acoustic strumming and accompanying xylophone chimes pour through the radio, you know it’s none other than Belgian-Australian artist Gotye, and you know this two-time Grammy winning song is about to get stuck in your head for three days. It’s a weird song, because it doesn’t seem like anything special on the surface, but who can say they haven’t been humming that chorus long after hearing it? Not me. Still, despite its odd ability to worm through my brain, Gotye’s original never quite stuck with me as a listener. The weird whisper vocals combined with the staccato xylophone and frankly haunting harmonies are intriguing on the song, but just not satisfying. However, the lyrics are the saving grace for this indie-pop ballad. Gotye’s heart wrenching line in the second verse “You can get addicted to certain kind of sadness” is striking enough to almost make me overlook my initial disappointment. The guest vocals from the New Zealand artist Kimbra also shine, adding another layer of dimension to the song which otherwise seemed to fall flat. There’s a hint of tension between Gotye and Kimbra, both lyrically on their respective verses and vocally. Yet, the dynamic between the two was not quite executed as well as it could have been. There is a lot of potential embedded in this song, especially with Gotye’s aching lyrics. While I do not think that Gotye fulfilled the entire potential of the song, it’s quite clear that the American pop-rockers Mayday Parade did.

Mayday Parade lighten up the severity of “Somebody” and transform this song into something completely addictive. That sharp staccato melody turns to a smooth, perfectly executed guitar riff. Vocalist Derek Sanders sings with conviction rather than caution, and adds a catchy flavor to the song. Though technically the band don’t change much about the song, somehow it sounds radically different on their cover. Their signature flair adds just enough to the chorus to make it truly fun to sing along to. Mayday Parade didn’t skip over the guest vocal part, either. They invited Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil to join on the track, and the vocal combination of Sanders and Fuentes is comparable to perfection.The band make it sound so effortlessly theirs. If I hadn’t known about the original, I would easily believe that this was another A+ Mayday single.  Plain and simple, Mayday Parade nailed this cover.

It’s not often that I assign a winner to cover songs, because the value of each version is important to me. However, “Somebody That I Used To Know” is a song I never thought I’d like before Mayday Parade released their cover on Punk Goes Pop 5. I was stunned with this version and I still can’t stop listening to it. Mayday Parade take the cake on this one, and I am happy to declare their version is better than the original.

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