What does Somebody That I Used to Know mean?

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Gotye: Somebody That I Used to Know Meaning

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Somebody That I Used to Know Lyrics

[Gotye:]
Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember

You...

  1. 1TOP RATED

    #1 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 23rd 2012 report

    This song is about a guy who would not accept that he had made the bad decision of letting the girl he loves go.

    I see a man who entered a relationship with a girl whom he saw loved him-a lot ('Like when you said you felt so happy you could die. Told myself that you were right for me'). In the relationship itself, he might have felt 'lonely' or 'isolated' at the time; contemplating how her enthusiasm towards the relationship did not match his uncertainty. But in the next line itself, he finally admits that he did love her after all and he ironically says he ‘remembers’ the ache but he uses the present tense-it obviously 'still' hurts i.e. he still loves her.

    He refers to a sadness you can get addicted to. I see this line as a follow-up to the last one. He just says it's something he's addicted to but he just doesn't want to admit that he still loves her-which is what fuels this addiction. In this sense, the 'resignation' he speaks of, is a reminder to himself. He resigned on his love for her so he must stay 'addicted' to it i.e. stay in this cycle of giving up on his love-especially when she's already cold to him. Hence he repeats to himself again, 'always the end'. Pretty much telling himself to lay in the bed he made.

    Back when they had the 'talk', he continued to resign his love for her. Not even defending his feelings when they said how they 'could' not make sense and continued to give up when she broached about being 'friends'. In this flashback, we can figure that the talk was just a discussion of where they were going as the word 'could not' was used not 'did not' nevertheless, he didn't give the girl enough reason to stay.

    This makes sense when the girl's part comes on. Every time she wanted to work on their relationship, he 'screwed her over' with his indecisiveness. To the point that she's made a habit in trying to read between the lines with this guy which is unnatural in a relationship. You're supposed to communicate clearly, that's why she said she doesn't' wanna live that way'. And to prove her point about him going around in circles, she quotes him 'You said that you could let it go.
    And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know' but the reality was, here he was singing about how hung up he was about her. And she knows better because she's so used to 'reading into every word' he says.

    And right after she finishes, the guy says 'but you didn't have to cut me off' this response shows that the girl was right in thinking the way she does. When she presented her argument; instead of confessing his true feelings, he chooses his ego over his love for her and he decides to argue that he was still in the right, keeping up the facade that she was just somebody that he used to know...

  2. 2TOP RATED

    #2 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 18th 2012 report

    So initially this song is about his sadness over her cutting him out of his life. But actually this song is quite deep and I think is actually about how selfish the guy is.

    So he was actually secretly glad for the break up because he was lonely in the relationship. That's why the music video started with him unpainted - no emotional baggage over the break up.

    But as she started to cut him out of her life, it made him feel rejection and pain. It's not because he lost her, it's because of how her cutting him off hurt his ego. This brought on emotional issues - hence the paint.

    We are made to believe that she's the bad one that "stooped so low" but when Kimbra starts singing you get see her side of the picture and her pain, which is she put in a lot of effort in the relationship but finally just to give up and move on. The pain from the break up is her emotional baggage - hence she starts off being painted.

    But as she starts becoming a stronger women and finds self-respect and realizes that's she better off without him, she heals and loses the emotional baggage - hence at the end she becomes unpainted.

    It's interesting to note that he's facing and singing to the camera, even when she starts singing at and facing HIM. He does not sing to HER. She sings to him over and over looking for a sign that he cares, but he always sings ahead. Finally, she gives up and leaves. THAT is when he finally looks over at her. This is interesting because it reflects their entire relationship where she has put in all the effort, but he doesn't really care until she finally decides enough is enough and rejects him.

  3. 3TOP RATED

    #3 top rated interpretation:
    anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 25th 2012 report

    my opinion
    1st verse
    he looks back on his past relationship evidently she loved him more. she was happy but he wasn't. - "so happy you could die." "felt lonely in your company"
    he had to convince himself he was in love but this isn't what love is supposed to be.

    2nd verse
    he had grown accustomed to this wierd relationship "Resignation to the end, always the end" - he had given up. he wasn't going to try to fight to get out of the relationship. the end would come when she decides to break up.
    finally, she does realize that their relationship isn't working and they mutually decide to break up. maybe she lied and said they could still be friends but i think that's just something generic we always say but never mean. of course he was glad it was over because he was never happy to begin with.

    chorus
    he's hurt. i don't think that he loves her like that as many people say. it's more of a selfish feeling he has. -"i don't even need your love". he doesn't want a relationship anymore, but he wants everything to be okay between them. he wants her in his life. obviously she doesn't and totally cuts him out. he's a stranger to her. hence she's just "somebody he used to know".

    3rd verse
    here we realize why she's treating him this way.
    apparently he used to "screw her over" and blame her for problems as if she was always the wrong one.
    but she knows the relationship is unhealthy. she has to always think about and analyze everything that he says (perhaps because she doesn't know what he's thinking or how he feels sometimes). that's why they broke up.
    "you said that you could let it go and that i wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know" - perhaps he had taken the break up very easy (of course, remember he was glad it was over). he could 'let their relationship go'. he wouldn't be hung up over 'her'. but she purposefully replaces 'herself' with "somebody that you used to know" to make her words hurt him even more.
    (notice how in the video she shouts this line at him in a very bitter way)

    chorus
    he acts like a child and goes on to fight his point. "you didn't have to stoop so low". but he doesn't understand. he could handle them being friends but she can't. i believe that she loved him more and hence her pain is greater. the only way she can deal with it is not having him in her life anymore.

    personal thoughts...
    i think this song is so deep because although the struggles of the couple are unique to their relationship, the end result is very common. there's always one who took the break up well and who wants to stay friends. but the one who is hurt more, would rather not have anything to do with his/her ex. hence, a lot of the times we see exes who end up being nothing to each other... just someone they used to know...

  4. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 12th 2021 report

    Well it's pretty simple,they were in a relationship that was one sided, he was not feeling the relationship so he broke up.

    Her being broken hearted wants a fresh start and trys to forget about him completely(in the attempt to reawaken the feelings)

    He doesn't like it and cries like a girl. Because he liked the attention.

  5. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 7th 2020 report

    When I wrote this song I wrote it with kimbra and she is nice and awesome woman she’s so talented. But when I wrote it with her Ben and gotye had some couple of strings to go with it so we can understand that story of our great friendship. But my grandpas friend passed away and so we wrote this song to my grandpas friend John who passed away. We wrote him a letter to his friend who might talk to but when Nathan is in heaven I can write songs about him then he can read my letter and became happy as he can be.

  6. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Mar 23rd 2019 report

    I believe that it’s going to be great and I would use for my song but it’s so fun. To record with Kimbra she’s nice, and also very wonderful woman.

  7. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Aug 28th 2018 report

    The song is pretty straight forward except for this line:
    “And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know"

    There’s two ways to interpret this line.
    1) He’s hung up on an Ex and she can’t be in a relationship where she’s the second choice
    2) She did change her number and have her friends pick up her stuff, it’s possible he’s gone crazy Ex Boyfriend on her, it’s possible she’s singing about herself and how he needs to let her go

  8. anonymous
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    Nov 1st 2017 report

    I get the impression that this guy is an emotional abuser. He's been manipulating the girl in their relationship, and now that she's grown a backbone and left, he's trying to hold on to that control and she won't let him and he's telling himself that he's the victim in this and minimising his role in their breakup.

  9. anonymous
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    Apr 11th 2014 report

    In my opinion it's about a man who has a shitty relationship he keeps hidden and decides to cheat on her. The new secret relationship gets too serious and he can't give the "other woman" all of him like he says and break it off with his old mate just to be with her.

    So the new woman gets pissed because he never leaves his first woman because all he does is talk about her and so the new woman splits on him harshly and calls his old woman like a psycho to get one last "dig" in on him and make her hurt like she is. But it all explodes in her face making her a home wrecker and him a lying cheating spineless snake in the grass. People are cruel.

  10. anonymous
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    May 28th 2013 report

    Just my opinion,but I always took it as Gotye was singing the whole song about one person but from two emotional perspectives. His masculant side and Kimbra his feminent side. One person but his two emotions about the situation. As we all know we are our own worst enemy. Sometimes things are said, then later our other side has another opinion etc. What I took from this is he was hurt and he wished not to be hurt again so he shut himself off, well his feminent side anyway. Thats why she disappears in the video. Not only is he saying he has let his ex go but that she has killed the softer side of him. I'm sure I could say this more elegantly but I think you all get the just of my comment and my opinion of the meaning :)

  11. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Apr 12th 2013 report

    I think, that he's really obsessed with his ex and altough he was miserable in their relationship he still thinks on her and I guess he want all the bad stuff back so he could have the good. The girl is very disapointed, because he is still thinking on his ex ( but I'm not sure if she is his ex or his new girlfriend-I'm more for his ex because; 'Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
    But had me believing it was always something that I'd done') and probably she moved on but he is everywhere she go and she feels bad, because she thinks that it's all her fault.

  12. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Feb 14th 2013 report

    Our antagonist sabotages his relationships from the beginning. We know this because he resigns to the end so that he can feel the sadness he so desperately craves. This notion is borrowed from the saddest musician of all time, Kurt Cobain, when he sang, "I miss the comfort in being sad."

    Nothing makes you feel more human than when a relationship ends. The pain is completely real. Music sounds so much better as you revel in your self pity. But when the sadness fades you look to get it back and so you reach out to a past lover and claim you want to be friends, but subconsciously you crave the drama. "You didn't have to cut me off / I don't even need your love." The smart ones will reject your advances and tell you like it is, "Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
    But had me believin it was always something that I'd done
    But I don't wanna live that way
    Reading into every word you say
    You said that you could let it go
    And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know-oh-oh"

    He is addicted to sadness and therefore will never truly commit.

  13. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 11th 2012 report

    My opinion:
    Main singer is someone suffering from borderline personality disorder.
    They are terrified to be abandoned but usually they unintentionally end up pushing the person away.
    A person suffering from Borderline Personality disorder can find something "heart wrenching" or even "boring" from their significant other that allows them to stand up and declare the relationship over.
    But when the other person doesn't care to fix the relationship, the dumper may feel more like the dumpee. When Kimbra sings
    "And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know"
    She is really repeating the words he said to her and when he is crying about it..she pulls his quote out of her arsenal.
    In the music video he looks hurt by those words and she looks as if she was throwing hurtful words he said to her right back at him.


    Just my opinion though. I have been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder so that is how I see this song.

  14. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Nov 6th 2012 report

    What would one think if a former lover (male) that you had not had contact with for years put this song visibly online and knew you could see it? What message would you take from it?

  15. anonymous
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    Oct 28th 2012 report

    No matter whether its a week, or 10 years, there wil always come a point where the female just seems to lose interest, perhaps boredom or some other childish quality. At that point people like gotye start having a dual nature about them concerning their partner. Its sad and lonely to be in their company at that point, and low blows do come because you are mad about the situation.

    But all and all, like I said, he will never understand what warped priorities can cause someone to just lose interest in someone who was closer than family for so long.

    "I guess that I dont need that though" is just a result of this insult, not the cause.

    In the end he just will never believe that someone he loved so much could be so petty... and that makes him look like a jerk to all those who dont know better
    Read more at http://www.songmeanings.net/songs/view/3530822107858874763/#5Ectz6C7LcrrpGYM.99

  16. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Oct 27th 2012 report

    First off, this is a great song, straight from the heart and reality.

    Having said that I will also say that this interpretation will not be so helpful or popular. There are already great ones up there.

    Whatever the reason for the breakup, its universal qualities in men and women that make this song hit so close to home for so many people.

    While he isnt perfect, he valued the relationship and life more than anything else. Will never understand the sacrifice she made.

    Females being much more predisposed to social lives, and fun/excitment/distractions... She had an easier time letting it go because she had other people and things in her life to distract her that she was truly happy with.

    No matter what, females will always be selfish, shallow crunts for this flaw in their cpu chips.

    Which is why if you really do value these intimate relationships, it doesnt matter, because she will never as much as you. And it gets old. But not so old that it will ever stop bugging you guys.

    This interpretation has been marked as poor. view anyway
  17. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 29th 2012 report

    i think that the meaning of the vid. is the colors are his past (know and then i think of when we were together) and as he starts to talk about her the colors start getting painted on her as he remembers her and as they fight he starts to relize its time to move on and her colors start to fade as she becomes just 'somebody that he used to know

  18. anonymous
    click a star to vote
    Jun 28th 2012 report

    it's about a relationship that was broken up but they stil l love each other but think the other person hated them. so they tell their side of the story and blame the other person

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