'Cheers!' Gotye makes Grammy history
Aussie Gotye picks up three Grammys, but online abuse starts as Taylor Swift is attacked for singing out of key.PT2M23S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2e8cj 620 349 February 11, 2013
IT'S the moment we fear: one of our own hits the big-time in the US and we hold our collective breath: will it change them?
Wally ''Gotye'' De Backer might have been born in Belgium, but his family emigrated to the Melbourne suburbs when he was two. We knew he was 99 per cent Australian when we saw him momentarily thrown by meeting his musical hero Prince, as The Purple One handed him the prized record of the year gong at the Grammys on Monday, and admit in front of millions that he had been inspired by Prince to make music in the first place.
He's always been an artist who does things on his own terms.
''To hear Prince say 'I love this song' as I was walking up was cool,'' De Backer told Fairfax Media. ''We only found out two minutes before he'd be presenting. He has the aura around him. It was pretty exciting - both Kimbra and I are huge fans of his.''
Gotye and Kimbra accept the Grammy for best pop duo/group performance. Photo: Getty Images
Gotye snared a remarkable hat-trick of Grammys: best alternative album for Making Mirrors, best pop duo/performance for his global monster Somebody That I Used to Know and record of the year for the same song, a duet with Kiwi Kimbra, who was equally star-struck: ''We are unbelievably blessed to win.''
It was the best return by an Australian since Olivia Newton-John way back in 1975 and the
culmination of 18 months of dizzying chart success and songwriting accolades, mostly based on the success of Somebody.
Grammy Awards ceremony 2013
Justin Timberlake performs at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Photo: Reuters
The track was the No.1 iTunes single in 50 countries last year, selling more than 13.5 million copies. It was viewed a staggering 383 million times on YouTube and became the first song ever to top four American billboard charts, finishing last year as the biggest selling single in the US. It was also US video channel VH1's No.1 song.
So, deep within the juju of Grammys glitz, glam and schmoozery, could De Backer sum up that crazy 18 months in one word? ''Ka-boom!''
And does all this mean Gotye, having cracked the DNA of the American pop mega-hit, will now deliver a lot more just like it?
Olivia Newton-John with one of her Grammys for I Honestly Love You in 1975. Photo: Supplied
Not likely. ''We wrote an idiosyncratic song with no intention of fitting into a particular category,'' De Backer said, ''and it ended up connecting with people broadly. So, if anything, it gives me more confidence to make music I'm into and to trust my instincts.''
John O'Donnell, a former EMI chief executive and co-manager of Cold Chisel, said Gotye's achievement was stunning. ''It's a phenomenon … arguably the biggest selling song in Australian music history,'' he said.
The Grammy wins are ''the icing on a very big cake'' for Gotye after so much chart success and the inevitable financial rewards that follow.
''The financial benefits have already happened,'' O'Donnell said. ''But this validates for Wally the way he works; he's always been an artist who does things on his terms. But it'll open even more doors for him in terms of opportunities and collaborations … I know film directors have been talking to him.''
That said, this particular ride is far from over for Gotye. The extra attention on Somebody and Making Mirrors will see the single and album climb back up the charts all over the world. And with a nomination as international solo artist of the year at next week's Brit Awards, there's even more to come.
While all the focus was on Gotye, another Australian musician managed to nab a further two Grammys from under the noses of the Americans and Brits. Flautist Tim Munro, a Queenslander, and part of the group Eighth Blackbird, won in two categories: best contemporary classical composition and best chamber music/small ensemble performance.