Special Report

This Is the Biggest One-Hit Wonder in Music History

Jason Merritt / Getty Images Entertainment via Getty Images

This article was written with the assistance of A.I. technology, and has been edited and fact-checked by Colman Andrews.

“Somebody That I Used to Know, ” is the biggest one-hit wonder in music history, based on the time it spent in the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts.

The smash hit, by Belgian-Australian indie singer-songwriter Gotye (born Wouter André De Backer) and featuring New Zealand singer Kimbra, spent 44 weeks in the Hot 100 – eight of those at No. 1. It also topped the charts in more than two dozen other countries; won two Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year; and racked up over 2 billion views on YouTube, at least in part because the two performers appear in the video discretely nude.

A catchy pop tune with a bitter breakup theme, “Somebody That I Used to Know” was initially released in Australia and New Zealand in July 2011, and hit the U.S. in January of the following year.

What accounts for the song’s success? It’s pleasant to listen to despite its heartbreak theme, and didn’t sound quite like anything else on the radio or the internet at the time – and it didn’t hurt that Universal Republic, which released it in the U.S., put unprecedented effort into promoting it.

Click here to see the biggest one-hit wonders in music history.

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