It may sound like something you might dig up on an early-’00s retro cocktail-lounge trip-hop compilation, but Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know” is still one of the more compulsively listenable Billboard #1 singles in recent memory. My finger definitely comes off the seek button when it comes on the radio. The song hit that chart peak, perhaps not coincidentally, the week after a couple of actors sang it on Glee. As it turns out, though, Gotye isn’t too happy with the Glee version.

As Entertainment Weekly points out, the Belgian-Australian singer tells the Sunday Herald Sun that the Glee version of the song sounds “dinky and wrong.” (I guess that’s as opposed to “dinky and right,” which is how the original sounds.” Gotye continues: “They did such a faithful arrangement of the instrumentals, but the vocals were that pop Glee style — ultra-dry, sounded pretty tuned. And the rock has no real sense, Like it’s playing to you from a cardboard box.” He’s not wrong, exactly, but that is some nuclear-grade ungratefulness right there.

Watch the offending Glee video below:

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Comments (86)
  1. yeah. i mean he’s right, but that was definitely rough. realizing i’m saying something terrible about myself here, but I enjoy Darren Criss’ voice but he was not up to the challenge of that song by any stretch of the imagination.

  2. Ungratefulness? I think you got it wrong, Tom.

  3. I want Kimbra in on this… I want Kimbra on a lot of things…

  4. He’s exactly right.

  5. Could have been worse. They could have brought Gwyneth Paltrow back to do this one.

  6. i agree. glee auto-tunes and over-produces the crap out of everything.

  7. i don’t watch this show, but I really don’t get the plot point here. At first I thought it was quarreling lovers, then there was some weird memory that looked like brother angst? Brother’s in a fight channeled through a Gotye song? Random

  8. Why so much snark Tom? This song totally rules, so stop pretending like you’re too cool for it just because you didn’t know it before it was cool

  9. While he has a point that the song is poppy, how could he have expected anything different? If you listened to ANY of Glee’s song you’d get a pretty good idea of what their sound is like, and that’s poppy and sometimes auto-tuned. I think that the cover was great, but, of course, doesn’t compare to the original. So, yeah, I think Gotye is right but is just coming off as rude. I think artists complaining about covers is ridiculous anyway. A cover is not meant to be a carbon copy of the original. Glee put their spin on it, and I don’t see how you can begrudge that.

    • I can agree that a cover is not meant to be a carbon copy, however many do come off that way, and when they sound close enough, but off, I imagine it can be very frustrating for the original artist. I do not know the Glee version, so I cannot judge in this case, but I do know many artists have their singles ruined by someone singing the song as close to possible. I do not know how The Who felt when Fred Durst sung “Behind Blue Eyes” but I cannot imagine they were all that impressed; it sounded more like a poor karaoke version of the song than a true cover.

      Edit: I just listened to this version, and although not bad, it does not feel like a real cover. Although I do not like the version so much, Glee’s “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was more of a cover, given it was an original take, than this.

      • There’s no such thing as a “true” cover. There are only ones that you do or don’t like.

        Anyway, once an artist gives permission for someone else to do their track they have no power over that cover. If they didn’t want their song to be “ruined,” then why let someone cover it?

        • I guess I can agree with the “no such thing as a true cover” to an extent, however there is no question that there are original takes on covers, and those that feel like covering artist is not contributing. A great example of this would be Jimi Hendrix’ version of “All Along The Watchtower” or even remixes, such as Wise Blood’s version of “Someday”. To be honest, even Rod Stewart’s version of “Downtown Trains” was exceptional given that he changed the feel of the song. There are also cases where nothing has changed song wise, except the singer, and even then, the difference is so small, the cover feels flat.

          Sadly, a number of artist do not have control over who get’s permission to cover their track (the record company does). Even those that do have a right to be disappointed by the outcome. Think about it this way, Gotye could have been expecting something more original or a completely different take, something Glee has done many times in the past.

      • Actually, their “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was an exact match to a previous arrangement of the song, from the movie “Across the Universe.” Which was absolutely an original take, it just wasn’t Glee’s.

    • Spin…… Ha.

  10. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  11. Glee ruins everything it touches. Fact.

  12. I can respect Gotye in this case. He is not complaining about Glee in general, but rather how they performed his song, believing that they did not do it justice. Although it may have propelled the single, it is not wrong to wish that the best version of the song was put forth. I know many musicians get pissed off when the radio fucks up the EQ on their songs, even though they are getting free publicity, so I can only imagine how someone would feel when their biggest hit is “ruined” in front of a wide audience.

    • i was mad at him until i read this, thanks.

      but he’s still a SELLOUT though bros, let us never forgive him for his sellout ways. live in the gutter and B real, or die a corporate whore to the media empire that is overlord to all of us sheep minions buy local.


  13. Since when did someone have to be grateful for some stupid show covering your song? I’m kind of amiss about that… Also this song is popular on its own – its not like Glee somehow spotlighted Gotye and all of a sudden he’s a hit. I’ll take the original anyday.

  14. I liked “Somebody That I Used to Know” better when it was an Elliott Smith song.

  15. Ungratefulness? Are you insane? If they chose to perform his song and it got popular because of it, he can enjoy that without thanking them or praising the performance.

  16. I was dissing Glee before it was cool.

  17. This was one of my favorite songs of 2011, and I’m still not sick of it.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

      • I also love mid-’80s Sting so that might explain it.

        • I don’t understand why your original comment got downvotes :(

          • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

          • sarcasm? or gotyesque biting the hand that feeds?

          • C. cranky from Coachella sunburn/wallet rape

          • ah, come on. sure, there’s more “interesting” music out there, but the gotye song is an earworm and a half, much more so in my opinion than most of the semi-unknown flavor-of-the-month-amongst-cool-kids blog songs out there. and keep in mind that the song’s success (seemingly) wasn’t the product of a corporate push; it was all from people sharing it with other people, because they loved it. i personally think it’s a good tune, and fairly sophisticated and unique insofar as the lyrics and instrumentation go. better than 95% of what’s on the radio.

            now that fun. song, that is garbage. don’t like that comparison one bit.

        • a genesis era phil collins avatar validates all opinions

          • crabtron  |   Posted on Apr 25th, 2012 +3

            I actually always assumed that was Scott’s real picture until I saw your comment. So I Google-imaged Phil Collins, and sure enough, up came a picture of “Scott.” No one is who they appear to be around here. . .

          • Come on, next you’ll be telling us Donnytilla and Raptorjesus use fake avatar pics too.

          • crabtron  |   Posted on Apr 27th, 2012 +1

            Well MINE’s real. In real life, I look exactly like a floating blue ajax-loader in front of a white background (except I’m a bit taller than I look in my avatar).

      • You wouldn’t like that “more interesting music out there deserving of raking in the $$$” if it did and you know it.

      • Dude come on. Even if you don’t like the song you have to admit it at least shows some welcome artistry, which is more than you can say for recent #1 artists like LMFAO, katy perry, maroon 5, etc.

  18. He sang for a whole minute while wearing a book-bag, that’s pretty impressive

  19. Honestly, I could definitely see why an artist would choose not to allow Glee to cover their song. I don’t really see it as being douchey or pretentious or taking themselves too seriously, but if you are going to allow Glee to cover your song then you can’t complain that they made it sound all Glee-y. They said hey can we make your song sound like what we make songs sound like and you said sure, it might not be completely ungrateful, but it is a little douchey. It’s like if I let an 8 year old cover my song and then I gave a disappointed interview saying “It just sounds like an 8 year old covering my song and it’s just all wrong”

  20. Hold, TRIP HOP? What?


      • “WUT WUT” – girl unit

      • Yeah, what pair of ears was Tom listening with when he decided “Somebody That I Used t Know” sounds like trip-hop? Er, ” something you might dig up on an early-’00s retro cocktail-lounge trip-hop compilation.” If you want to bag on Gotye for not having the most original sound in pop, why not point out, like every other music writer on the planet, that its all from the Peter Gabriel / Sting / 80s art-rock playbook?

        Also, didn’t Tom just give a fairly generous review of Santigold’s album, which mines exactly those influences but with a heavier dose of shit Rihanna and Beyonce have been doing for years? For the record, I like Gotye and Santigold, but its kind of stupid to ::eyeroll:: at one and gush about the other.

  21. Fuck Glee.

  22. Why does he have to be grateful? He wrote a great song, Glee should be thankful that any artist always them to fuck up their songs. Totally, fuck Glee.

  23. Who cares. Listen. MATT BOMER is in that video. What the hell? I don’t watch Glee. So I obviously have no idea if there’s some gayism going on. Not that it matters. It does however inhibit my ability to imagine Matt Bomer in body paint.

    • I only watched the video long enough to realize Matt Bomer all over the place. Upon further wikisearching… He’s gay. So alright. Damn. I miss everything.

  24. Should he be grateful to be on the worst show on TV?

  25. This song gave me erectile dysfunction, true story.

  26. Not to nitpick but the song has been number 1 in 18 other countries aside from the US. I’m not exactly sure that he has to be grateful to Glee for anything. Just sayin’…

  27. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  28. Not that I have, like, ever, uh, watched The Voice, but someone told me that a girl on that show did a really terrible version of the song too:

    Why isn’t Gotye fighting back about that?

  29. “_________ disses Glee” should not surprise anyone. In fact, we should all be a bit happier than we were before learning that ____________ dissed Glee. Even if the name in the blank is our mortal enemy. Even if the name in the blank is the creator of Glee who relies on income from the show to support a really great cause like ending scholarships for clown college and his/her dis compromises the show forever, we should be happy. Glee is like finding out that God and the Devil have been working together the whole time, and you’ve either been really religious, or really atheistic, and then you discover that it was all for naught. They were just fucking with you.

    On the other hand, Belgian + Australian + music = Glee, so it was really mathematically impossible for this to work out any other way. Face the inevitable, Gotye; you’re shit, and you’ve seen Glee holding up a mirror and the picture wasn’t pretty. It was shit.

  30. Ungrateful? Yeah it’s not like it had already topped the charts in many (17?) other countries before that or anything..


    Sorry to tell you Americans there’s this whole other world out there , in which it was a big hit before Glee covered it…you know those bits where Kangaroos, weird food, warm beer and coffee comes from? /sarcasm

    I’m not a massive fan of the song; this Glee version sounds identical to my ears apart from the lack of Kimbra. But the OMG Glee MADE IT FAMOUS! is utter bullshit, this song has been floating around for nearly a year before it hit their radar.

    But I’m sure that won’t be allowed to get in the way of a good story, or piercing the bubble. Even if wrong.

  31. He didn’t have to stoop so low. Now he’s just somebody that I used to know.

  32. “It may sound like something you might dig up on an early-’00s retro cocktail-lounge trip-hop compilation”

    What the shit does this even mean?? I have suspected for a while that Stereogum has been slowly turning into the hilarious early naughts version of Pitchfork that everyone makes fun of and this does not detract from that argument (see also that unreadable nonsense on that Thom Yorke post the other day).

    There still time to steer the ship away from that iceberg guys!

  33. The glee version sucks. It has almost identical instrumentals with super lame sounding vocals. Go Wally!

  34. He took his satchel off. It’s on.

  35. beyond awkward

  36. This is the pot calling the kettle black.

  37. Gotye needs to get over himself. Its his only good song he should be grateful.

  38. For me there is only one “Somebody That I Used to Know”

  39. Why on Earth should he keep quiet if he thinks somebody hasn’t done justice to something he created? He’s more than entitled to his opinion on his own work.

  40. Having Glee, one of the biggest piece of shit shows ever created, cover STIUTK one of the better songs written in the past 5 years is just an insult to the artist. I don’t even know where they get permission to do these covers, but any association with that show cheapens any song involved. I think Gotye was being polite. There isn’t a single thing on any network television station that any artist should want to be involved with.

  41. To me, it just feels so rough…

  42. Who is Gotye? I thought this song was Peter Gabriel.

  43. He’s a pop artist and now he’s acting as if there’s some kind of artistic merit to how he puts his music out like some kind of hipster. As a boyfriend forced to put noise cancelling headphones on and listen to good music for an hour once a week, and as an audio engineer, it’s pretty apparent that everything they do on that show is in the studio and run through various plugins to get their covers to the level of cheese required. He either has no control over where his music is used (likely) and is complaining about his label’s decision, or he’s never watched Glee, because anyone who’s watched Glee and has a brain knows that half the instruments in those songs aren’t played live.

  44. Dan Nancarrow  |   Posted on Apr 29th, 2012 0

    Doesn’t sound much different.

  45. Hi everyone, I’m Karen and I love to find the best music, covers, and videos out there to share with the world! I’m just starting out on twitter so follow me at!/KarenGreenberg4

  46. no question.. this is weak

  47. well he’s going to shit a brick when he hears the karaoke version.

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