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Inescapable in 2012: Gotye's 'Somebody That I Used to Know'

8:53 AM, Dec 20, 2012   |    comments
Gotye had everybody clapping to 'Somebody That I Used to Know' in 2012.(Photo: Chris Pizzello, AP)
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This year seems to have had more than its share of inescapable hits, songs that jumped from radio to television to computers and beyond.

One, however, has been a little more omnipresent than the rest.

After topping charts in Australia and several additional countries in 2011, Gotye's persistently slinky Somebody That I Used to Know is shaping up to be this year's biggest hit in the USA, both in terms of sales and airplay.

According to Nielsen SoundScan, Somebody That I Used to Know has sold 6.7 million downloads, 2012's top total by nearly a half million. Carly Rae Jepsen's coquettish Call Me Maybe is the only other track to sell more than 6 million copies so far this year, with 6.3 million downloads.

Rounding out the top five sellers year to date are fun.'s We Are Young (5.8 million), Maroon 5's Payphone (4.6 million) and Nicki Minaj's Starships (3.9 million). According to SoundScan, 16 tracks have topped 3 million downloads thus far in 2012, with an additional 83 selling at least a million.

Adele has had the most of those, with five tracks, including her James Bond theme Skyfall, in the million-plus category. Minaj, Flo Rida and Taylor Swift each appear on four million-selling tracks.

Gotye's single also has the edge over Call Me Maybe at radio, according to Mediabase, largely as a result of its airplay on rock formats.

How much did radio play Somebody That I Used to Know? Think of it this way: If you put all the song's U.S. spins onto one station that played nothing else starting on Jan. 1, 2012, it would still be repeating the record well into 2017.

For many these days, YouTube is the new radio, at least when it comes to music discovery. And on YouTube, South Korean entertainer Psy's Gangnam Style easily outdistanced everything else: It's closing in on a billion views. Somebody That I Used to Know yielded two massive video hits: Gotye's official clip has more than 357 million views, while Canadian band Walk Off the Earth's one-guitar/five-players cover has an additional 141 million.

When it comes to albums, British boy band One Direction has the year's best-selling debut, moving 1.5 million copies of Up All Night. Even though Swift released Red in late October, she has the top-selling album released in 2012, having already sold 2.6 million copies.

Neither of those figures, though, holds a candle to the long-burning flame of Adele, who now has sold 10.1 million copies of 2011's 21 -- with 4.3 million of those sales taking place this year.

USA Today

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