Who the Hell Is Stromae?
March 27, 2015 11:15 AM   Subscribe

"All over SXSW, kiosks were plastered with posters that posed a provocative question: "Who the hell is Stromae?" It's a question you wouldn't ask in many places outside North America. " NPR's SXSW showcase at Stubb's BBQ attempted to answer the question for an American audience who aren't necessarily too familiar with the superstar Belgian musician/rapper/fashion designer.

Stromae played his hit songs "Alors on danse" ("So we dance") and "Papaoutai" ("Dad where are you") in his brief set at Stubbs. "Papaoutai" is a moving and still danceable song about the absence of Stromae's father, who was killed in the Rwandan genocide, which seems like unlikely subject matter for a massive hit song. But it is definitely a hit with almost a quarter of a billion Youtube views. Stromae discusses the song and his music with NPR's Tell Me More for Black History Month.

Other singles from Stromae's sophomore album Racine Carrée have equally interesting videos: from singing as a woman at the end of a relationship in Tous les mêmes in a gender-bending video, to a joyful tribute to Cape Verdean singer Cesaria Evora in a charmingly homemade video shot at a family's party.

posted by yasaman (20 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
FYI, if you turn on closed captioning/subtitles on Stromae's official Youtube videos, you'll see English subtitles for the songs.
posted by yasaman at 11:16 AM on March 27, 2015

Stromae is wonderful. I especially like Sommeil and Meltdown, a re-creation of instrumental track Merci with vocals from Lorde, HAIM, Pusha T and Q-Tip. Great post, yasaman!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:28 AM on March 27, 2015

Stromae is fantastic. Racine Carree was one of my favorite records from last year.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:28 AM on March 27, 2015

Belgian musician/rapper/fashion designer...

So, basically, a Belgian.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:30 AM on March 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

The other day, I read the lineup for the Toronto music festival, NXNE, and realized that I hadn't heard of any of the acts. I thought, "Wow, I'm really ignorant of contemporary music."

I know who Stromae is.
posted by jb at 11:47 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Stromae and Angel Haze: Two Great Tastes that Taste Even Better Together.
posted by joyceanmachine at 11:53 AM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

He sang Papaoutais on Seth Meyer's show but I can't find a proper version of it anywhere now.
posted by bonobothegreat at 11:58 AM on March 27, 2015

Yeah, I looked for that Seth Meyers' performance because it had hard-coded subtitles in it, but couldn't find it either. I think the official Late Night channel takes videos down after a certain amount of time. It was a good performance though!

And jb, I wonder if he's actually more well-known in Canada because Canada has a larger French-speaking population. I don't get the impression many people in the States are all that aware of Stromae, collaborations with the likes of Kanye and Lorde aside. He's doing a brief North American tour in April, and then comes back in September, and the venues aren't exactly huge, aside from Coachella and an October show at Madison Square Garden.
posted by yasaman at 12:08 PM on March 27, 2015

For more of his rapping (history), here's Mixture Elecstro, his mixtape from 2009.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:09 PM on March 27, 2015

I'm a big Stromae fan, and in the last few years has been one of my favorite francophone musicians. So I'm excited to see this post and that NPR apparently has interviews of him; I had no idea (I think I've done searches in the past on the NPR website, but either I was idiot and couldn't find anything or they haven't put up interviews until recently). So seeing this posts makes me happy.

In case other people are discovering Stromae via this post, they might enjoy some of his "lessons" -brief youtube clips that go with some of his songs - he plays a few notes, inserts a bit of humor, and the song comes together in another way. He does the lesson format the same almost every time.

Some of my favorite lessons are:
Lesson 24 that goes along with tous les memes
Lesson 17, House'llelujah along with the actual song House'llelujah
Lesson 21 "Silence"

I know that I might seem like a weirdo linking to this video, but when he made his video Formidable, he went to another town and pretended to be drunk in public. At 2:59 in the video, the gendarmes/police approach him and talk to him. They tell him that they are fans, ask him if he is feeling alright, and would they like them to drop him off at home? I find that exchange amusing and heart-warming, mainly because, well, the United States has had phenomenal problems and incidents with the police over the past year, and so it is great to see police be kinder in other parts of the world.

Thanks again for posting this - will need to drop in later to check out those NPR interviews.
posted by Wolfster at 12:35 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

It says a lot about MeFi that I - a Belgian, living in Belgium - discovered about the Formidable video on this very site.
posted by Captain Fetid at 12:39 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

Great post, thank you! This is a good push to listen to more of Stromae's music. I heard him first a few months ago, when my mum came to visit and stayed in a hotel. She came over one morning and told me about two music videos I had to watch: 'Tous les mêmes' and 'Chandelier' by Sia. It seems a bit silly, but still kind of nice, that my sixty-this-year mum is the one who introduced those to living-in-Europe, genderqueer, supposedly-sophisticated me. :)

joyceanmachine: Stromae and Angel Haze: Two Great Tastes that Taste Even Better Together.

Oh wow, this is great!
posted by daisyk at 12:58 PM on March 27, 2015

I am a fan, Dodo is my favourite.
posted by Samuel Farrow at 1:25 PM on March 27, 2015

It says a lot about MeFi that I - a Belgian, living in Belgium - discovered about the Formidable video on this very site.

Don't worry too much, I found that video and hence the base for that post from a proper Belgian and occassional mefite.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:35 PM on March 27, 2015

Is "Stromae" Flemish for "Gabbo?"
posted by Captain l'escalier at 2:47 PM on March 27, 2015

His arrival at an awards show made me squeal like a little girl.

Such gorgeous movement language.
posted by sonascope at 2:49 PM on March 27, 2015

Stromae is verlan for Maestro.
posted by yasaman at 2:55 PM on March 27, 2015 [7 favorites]

Now I'm sorry I missed this show, even though my rule is "never try to get into Stubb's at SXSW". I broke it this year for MS MR and was successful for the first time in the seven years I've been attending SXSW. At least I'll get a chance to see the video!
posted by immlass at 9:24 PM on March 27, 2015

So, any way to buy the music with the videos attached? Because I want that and I want my friend to have it too.
posted by glasseyes at 3:53 AM on March 28, 2015

Brand New Stromae video animated by Sylvain Chomet ("Triplets of Belleville")!!!
"Carmen"is a story of a boy and a twitter bird... (brought to you via BuzzFeed and Facebook, semi-ironically)
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:45 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

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