What is it with that Gotye song? Yes, "Somebody That I Used to Know" by the 31-year-old Belgian-Australian singer/songwriter is an earwig or ear wedgie - a song you can't get out of your head because of a catchy harmony, melody or lyrics. But there's more to it than that.
"It's a song that speaks to some-thing everybody can relate to - lost love," says Adam Thompson, assistant program director and music director at Sonic 102.9 FM. "I think everybody, regardless of where you are in your life, can think of one example where they can relate to this song."
Though personal experience and culture play into individual reactions to such songs, researchers at McGill University in Montreal have found that emotionally intense music also releases dopamine in the pleasure and reward centres of the brain, similar to the effects of food, sex and drugs. Dopamine makes us feel good and motivates us to repeat the behaviour, listening to a song over and over again, whether the emotions it provokes are depressing or upbeat.