If we look “closer,” we notice that these two hit songs have striking similarities.
Structurally, “Closer” parallels “Somebody That I Used to Know” closely. The male singer sings the opening verse and the first chorus by himself. Then, the female vocalist sings the next verse by herself. Together, they sing the second chorus.
Lyrically, both songs allude to a breakup between the singers. Gotye laments the fact that the girl “changed her number” and the Chainsmokers sing that for four years there were “no calls.” In “Somebody That I Used to Know,” both singers express how badly they felt about the situation and don’t want to see them ever again. In “Closer,” the male singer doesn’t want to see the girl’s friends ever again. However, in the chorus of that song, the vocalists request from each other another passionate encounter. They want to put all the past stuff behind them and reconnect, at least for one more time.
Harmonically, both songs both make use of similar chord progressions, albeit in reverse order and in different keys. If both songs were done in E minor (which they weren’t), Gotye’s chorus would go from Em to D to C. On the other hand, the Chainsmokers would go from C to D to Em.
Melodically, the prechorus in this song is similar to the verse that Kimbra sings before the second chorus in “Somebody That I Used to Know.”
Commercially, both songs peaked at #1 in the U.S. and have both been covered by Walk Off the Earth. In a YouTube search, the top three covers include these two songs. Walk Off the Earth also covered Adele’s “Hello,” which is incidentally another song about the aftermath of a breakup.