VMAs 2012: Self-Proclaimed 'Underdog' Gotye on Making His Nominated Music Video

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Singer-songwriter Gotye’s song “Somebody That I Used to Know” became a smash hit in 2011, epitomizing lost love, glorifying naked body painting and leading to a nomination for the top prize at MTV’s 2012 Video Music Awards for video of the year.

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The Belgian-Australian singer (whose real name is Wally De Backer) admits to The Hollywood Reporter that his fellow nominees—Rihanna, M.I.A and Katy Perry – have larger fan bases, which could work to their advantage – but don’t count him out just yet.

“So the numbers would suggest there’d be more support for their videos,” he tells THR just one day before Thursday's show. “But this video and this song have gone so wide in the last year, it’s been something of an iconic thing, so I guess there’s a chance it would be an underdog winner.”

Gotye’s unique music video, directed by Natasha Pincus, features the singer and featured artist Kimbra naked, and progressively covered with body paint through stop-motion animation. Along with a nomination for video of the year, the video is also up for best editing.

One day of shooting the intricate video involved 26 hours of work on the body paint.

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Gotye, 32, reminisces with THR about the music video that made him a household name in the U.S. He says that he’s read comments noting that he looked “stoned” or pointing out his “very red tongue," but he has an explanation for that.

“I remember how stinging my eyes were from the body paint, and my eyes are red in that video because I was supremely tired and I had paint in my eyes,” he tells THR.

As for his red tongue?

“I remember eating a Redskins -- which would be known to mostly Australians,” he adds. “It’s a hard candy, a raspberry flavored candy … so that’s probably why my mouth is so red.”

Gotye, who is currently touring the U.S., gives credit to Pincus for the storyline in the video, adding that his main contribution was coming up with the design for the body paint, which is based on 1980s artwork created by his father, Frank de Backer.

“When I saw the video after the final edit, I had a feeling it was one of those videos that made more of the song, enhanced it,” he tells THR. “Because sometimes you get those videos -- they’re lovely and feel good -- but you feel like they kind of lead the music astray or they add another meaning that doesn’t necessarily enhance it.”

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After such a phenomenal hit, where will Gotye take his music next?

“Metal!” jokes the singer, who has just seen ‘80s cover band Steel Panther in Los Angeles.

“It was f—ing amazing, basically,” he says. “It’s been awhile since I’ve listened to real hard metal, but I appreciate Steel Panther’s deep satire and celebration of '80s hair metal.”

But in all seriousness, Gotye says he’s still figuring out what his next work will sound like, but adds that he has a “few ideas.” It’ll involve traveling to different places, and playing with some “interesting old instruments.”

“My process is one of having no fixed starting point and experimenting and seeing where that takes me,” he says. “I think I will continue with that.”

MTV’s Video Music Awards air Thursday, Sept. 6, at 8 p.m.

Watch Gotye's nominated music video for "Somebody That I Used to Know" below.

Email: Rebecca.Ford@thr.com; Twitter: @Beccamford

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