For the most part, artists strive to write great music and reach as many people possible so everyone has a chance to listen and enjoy their creation. Sometimes these artists write a song that is not necessarily the most compelling piece of music they have ever created, but it’s released at the absolute perfect time in history. For some reason the song spreads like wild fire and the next thing you know, everyone including your mum has a copy of it.
The unfortunate thing is when a band works for years to put out countless records full of great songs but fail to break through that barrier into stardom then that one ‘big hit’ ultimately takes over the face of their career. Of course you’re thinking “that’s amazing, who doesn’t want a ‘big hit’? who doesn’t want a massive fan base who now know who you are?“ The problem is, from this point on, that artist is known primarily as the artist who wrote that ‘big hit’. No matter what they do, they will always be associated to that one track.
Let’s go down the list of a few notable artists in the last few decades that were unfortunately drawn into the plague of the ‘big hit’;
Nirvana. Undoubtedly Nirvana have a catalog of amazing songs, but to the average person (not the average music lover), they will forever be associated with ‘Smells like Teen Spirit‘. This song is a perfect example of being released at a time when the tone of music needed a change to something new, something fresh, and something that didn’t sound like 80′s hair music.
Oasis. Another band that had countless hits and possess a large catalog of records that have done exceptionally well. Again, they broke through at a time when the masses needed a change to something new and fresh and a break from the grunge takeover. However, if you were to ask the average person (not the average music lover) to say something about Oasis, they are going to say “Wonderwall“…especially if they’re from North America.
silverchair. 3 guys who, at the beginning of their career, were riding the wave of grunge and released their record ‘Frogstomp’. This record was hugely successful due to the track ‘Tomorrow‘. The band has released several records since, each one (in my opinion) better than the last, and each one a departure in sound from the last. To the average person, once again,(not the average music lover) they will only ever be associated with ‘tomorrow’.
(For the sake of trying to incorporate a Canadian act in this post because I am in fact, Canadian.) Matthew Good rose to fame during the alternative rock ‘explosion’ in the late 90′s with the record “Underdogs”. Today, I have been to several of his solo shows and the track that concertgoers want to see/hear the most is ‘apparitions‘ from that record. It’s the one ‘big hit’ that will forever be associated with the name ‘Matthew Good’.
The song and artist that inspired this post is “Somebody That I Used to Know” by “Gotye”. It seems like the guy can’t escape that tune. The song is EVERYWHERE. Gotye has been around since the early 2000′s, but only recently hit with ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. Like most artists that hit extremely big with a song, (Nirvana and silverchair included), Gotye has grown tired of the success of the song, as he told NME “Sometimes I feel like I’m a bit sick of it“. Obviously, given that the song has over 200 million hits on YouTube alone…i’m sick of it. It’s unfortunate for Gotye as like the other artists mentioned above, and the hundreds of others for the sake of time I didn’t mention, he will never escape the plague of the ‘big hit’. No matter how many great songs he has produced in the past and will produce in the future, the song will never become ‘That song That I Used to Know’.