The song has sold more than 13 million copies worldwide, becoming one of the best-selling digital singles of all time.
Take 40 Australia elaborated on the audience's reception at the July 2011 Splendour in the Grass festival, "Gotye's latest song featuring Kimbra 'Somebody That I Used To Know' had become somewhat of an unofficial anthem for the festival ...every car was cranking it over their speakers all day, every day ...My inbox, on any given day, has at least five covers or parodies or remixes of it and there's only so many times you can listen to the one song." Despite an initial lack of airplay on major radio stations, the song reached number 1 in the week ending 15 August, becoming the first single by either artist to do so and their most successful single.In the United States, it debuted at number 91 on the Billboard Hot 100 on 14 January 2012.I guess the balance of sounds taken from records and samples I created myself is perhaps 50-50." It was written and produced by Gotye himself, while in his parents' barn on the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria.
Gotye commented that he wrote the song "in quite a linear way", explaining that "I wrote the first verse, the second verse, and I'd got to the end of the first chorus and for the first time ever I thought, 'There's no interesting way to add to this guy's story'. The track was recorded between January and May 2011 with Gotye struggling to find a suitable female vocalist, as a "'high profile' female vocalist" cancelled the collaboration at the last minute, and Kimbra "lucked out as the replacement".
"Somebody That I Used to Know" is a mid-tempo ballad.
It samples Luiz Bonfá's song "Seville" from his 1967 album Luiz Bonfa Plays Great Songs.
It was later released by Universal Music in December 2011 in the United Kingdom, and in January 2012 in the United States and Ireland.
"Somebody That I Used To Know" was written and recorded by Gotye at his parents' house on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and is lyrically related to the experiences he has had with relationships.
It shows Gotye and Kimbra naked against a white backdrop.