Somebodies: the endless mutations of Gotye

Last week my friend Peter Bihr tweeted about this Gotye mashup that was being played at the Wired 2012 conference. Yes- we’ve all about died of how many times this track has been played on the radio, tv, well everywhere and ALL THE TIME, but I must admit my interest was raised when I found out Wally De Backer (aka Gotye) was giving this mashup “back to the internet”. You’ll find a writeup of this talk here.

“I’m fascinated that people would spend all day covering themselves in body paint to create this humour, (…) I realised this song wasn’t really mine anymore, but belonged to the internet.”

So he gave it back. He downloaded 350 different adaptations of his own song and remixed those into something new. Here’s how 350 “Somebodies” look when sampled & remixed by the original artist:

(Unfortunately this video is blocked by GEMA in Germany, I’m sorry for the inconvenience)

Remix? Mutate!

This is no ordinary hype. Of course I knew that this terrible ear worm had traveled all corners of the world but that it managed to inspire so many people was impressive. And it’s not just a meme. Nor simple remixes of a sample. If you haven’t seen the documentary Everything is a Remix yet, go do it now. Remixing intellectual property is getting more common these days, but “That Gotye song” goes beyond remixing, this is on a whole new level.

People take the original song as a base version for their creative work to create something new. They adapt and mutate this song to celebrate their own creativity while at the same time inspiring others.

Just look at the numbers (and yes, those are millions):

  • The Star Wars that I used to Know – 7.6m views
  • That Gotye Song – 6.2m views
  • Dutch Choir cover – 1.2m views
  • Walk of the Earth cover – 138m views
  • Pentatonix cover – 9.2m views
  • Ivy & Gold cover – 1.6m views
  • Matthias Harris acappella version – 2.8m views

The reach of every mutation on itself as well has been huge. What I find also striking is the amazing quality of these videos. While most of these are sprung out of a fun idea or a want to create something cool, almost all of these mutations look like they’ve been made by a professional studio or producer. It’s quite uncommon to find a video that is not uploaded in HD, some use crazy camera effects and the post production is incredible.

If we call these creators bedroom producers, what happened to the amateur?

The Mutations

I’ve searched for the best mutations that where used in the video above and collected them in a Youtube playlist. Click on the playlist icon below to see all 19 of them.

Every single one of these has something special. The trembling sax, the two macho guys in the car, a complete choir humming the back vocals, 5 people on 1 guitar or that crazy acappella production, amazing!

When pondering about intellectual property, creativity and (viral) networks, I’d say we’re only just at the beginning of something great. Technology will become even cheaper, more and more of the worlds population will be connected to the internet and we all share a common language called music. The future will be awesome.

Have you seen hypes before that grew to a similar size? Which one of the mutations is your favorite?

Categorized as Blog

By Roel

Roel is a senior product manager at Spotify. He loves internet quirks, baking, running and tech.