"Somebody That I Used to Know," by Gotye, has become one of the most unusual, and one of the most memorable, hit songs of 2012. Though the song describes an emotionally-harrowing breakup, frontman Wally De Backer tells ABC News Radio that the track wasn't actually inspired by one particular experience with one particular woman. "It’s a whole bunch of memories from different relationships I’ve had," he says. "But there are elements of fiction in it as well, so it’s embellished reality, I guess."
Fact or fiction, what makes "Somebody That I Used to Know" truly believable is the fact that Wally sings it as a duet with New Zealand singer/songwriter Kimbra, allowing him to deliver the female perspective on the track.
"It wasn’t until I got to sort of finishing writing the first chorus that I realized there wasn’t anywhere else for my character to go, and then I struck on the idea of introducing a second voice," he tells ABC News Radio. "I tried the vocal with some other people but it didn’t feel really amazing, so I can’t really imagine anybody other than Kimbra making it, you know, as special as it is."
Wally adds that the song's striking video, which shows him and Kimbra alternately naked and then covered in body paint, had a lot to do with the song's success. "It engaged a lot of people on YouTube and was shared very widely so it helped, I guess, that the word of mouth about the track," he says. "People seem to respond to the whole package, I guess, the video feels like it enhances for them already a very potent song."
Wally will perform "Somebody That I Used to Know" on Saturday Night Live on April 14.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio