Gotye defies the mundane at Grammys
Grammy Awards ceremony 2013
Justin Timberlake performs at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Photo: Reuters
Isn't this awesome? Who needs an impressive number of Olympic gold medals when we can win big at the Grammy Awards?
It happened a week ago, but as I haven't had a column since then, I'll talk about it now, now that everyone else it already over it. For patriotic lovers of show business, saddened by the regular reminder that Australian actors aren't winning anything this year, it was a great consolation: the news that Gotye slaughtered them, ripped them to shreds, and danced around on their graves at the Grammy Awards. As one ABC radio announcer excitedly said, he won "more Grammys than God''. I'm pretty sure this is true, because he won three. (I believe that God only won two, and one of those was shared with Miley Cyrus.)
The thrill of Gotye's victory, of course, is tempered by the fact that the Grammys have a history of being a salute to incredibly uninteresting music. I'm not just talking about the way they ignored the Triffids or the Velvet Underground. That was to be expected. I'm not even talking about how they gave a swag of awards to Milli Vanilli, the Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis of the music business. These things happen. (Even the Oscars gave an acting award to Roberto Benigni for playing a goofball, before realising that he hadn't actually been acting.)
Gotye shone at the Grammys. Photo: Rohan Thomson
But Gotye winning three Grammys in one night seems very impressive, until you realise that, back in 1981, Christopher Cross won four. Remember him? Back in 1981, he did Arthur's Theme before fading from a state of blandness to a state of nothingness. Meant to celebrate one of the world's coolest industries, the Grammys have usually been slightly less cool than the "best native animal costume" prize at the Department of Finance Christmas party.
And when Gotye won the record of the year for Somebody that I used to Know, he was the first Aussie to do so since (wait for it) Olivia Newton-John for I Honestly Love You back in 1836 or thereabouts. Personally, I applauded (silently) when I read this, because it means that Kylie Minogue never won it. Even the Grammys occasionally get it right.
Obviously, I should mention that Gotye shared the trophy with a New Zealand singer named Kimbra. Even though she only got one verse, perhaps that makes this one of history's great Aussie-Kiwi collaborations, along with the Anzacs, the 1907 Davis Cup finals, The Piano, Crowded House and the invention of pavlova. (Let's not argue about that last one. It's time to celebrate, right?) I have been a fan of Kimbra even since watching her in my childhood in that great TV series Kimbra the White Lion. (Note: That might have been someone else.)
But in all the adulation last week, there were a few elephants in the room. Firstly, how do you pronounce "Gotye"? Got-ya? Goiter? Goat-cheese? Everyone seems to have a different pronunciation. Exactly what was wrong with Wally, his original name? What's with these musical artistes who change to one-word names? At least Sting and Adele I can pronounce.
Secondly, much as it was a fine song, and my patriotic heart was obviously over the moon (bringing back memories of past champions: Cathy Freeman at the 2000 Olympics, Pat Rafter at the US Open, Elizabeth Blackburn at the 2009 Nobel prize in physiology ceremony), I had a terrible clash of interests. I wanted the winner to be fun.
I'm not saying that Gotye's not a fun guy, or that his songs aren't fun, or that there's anything wrong with songs that are completely miserable and fun-free (so, Radiohead fans, please calm down). I just was hoping that the record of the year would be We are Young, by fun.
In case you thought that Gotye was pretentious for changing his name, this band's name is even more pretentious. For starters, it's one of the dorkiest band names ever. Secondly, it's all in lower case for some reason. Thirdly, it's supposed to be written with a full stop, so that (so as not to confuse the hard-working sub-editors), I really should only name them at the end of a sentence. Yet despite this, part of me was hoping that Gotye's big prize would go to fun. (See what I just did?)
Of course, I'm thoroughly ashamed of myself. In the Olympics, I can cheer for any Aussie, as long as he's not a thug. But in entertainment awards, it's different. Sorry, but of all the Grammy winners, the one I liked most was fun. Yes, they are plenty of fun, but that's also their name. Oh, we can joke like this for hours!
This Brooklyn band has obviously been raised on '80s British pop. They dress like Dexy's Midnight Runners and sound like Queen. They are now my favourite band, which is an improvement over two years ago, when if I'd been asked "What is your favourite current band?" I would probably have replied, "Um, Blondie is still back together, right?"
Besides, full stop or otherwise, I know how to pronounce fun.