Stromae IS the Biggest Megastar You've Never Heard Of
To call him a hidden gem would be not only too cliche but an insult to the brilliance of Belgian-Rwandan artist Stromae. Unapologetically awkward, Stromae’s melancholic dance music has hooked fans internationally. He is known best for “Papaoutai“, a creative catchy ode to absent fathers, which features a provocative music video that owns 315 million views (the song has made No. 1 in 16 countries).
Actually named Paul Van Haver, Stromae has been influenced by his life and others’ to create meaningful pop music. In a Vulture interview Stromae gave an example of how dance electronic can also inspire ideas:
‘Alors On Danse’ is the definition of clubbing. Because everyone is just trying to forget their problems but actually it’s so sad, clubbing. We try to sell happiness in clubs, but you can’t. Because life is life, and even if you try to hide it, you can read on different faces that they have problems. It’s not possible to plan the moment you will be happy.
His father was killed in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, and even the music video to his song about Twitter has a dark ending:
But besides his paradoxical symbols, Stromae is a true genius in detail. He released “Carmen” (above) on April 1, 2015, to coincide with April Fool’s Day and “emphasize how modern love is starting to become more and more a joke”.
Stromae, (the name is a rearrangement of ‘maestro’) has truly earned the title maestro, if only in directing listeners to stay glued to his music videos. In “Tous Les Mêmes” (“All the Same”), Stromae plays both a man and woman:
One of his most meaningful songs, in my opinion, is Humain Á L’eau. Evidence of his sharp intelligence and colorful originality, it tackles racism and imperialism in Africa aggressively. “But fly fly and travel / Go get your documentaries” he dares. For a great analysis of this song’s translation, see this post.
By this point readers may wonder how they can appreciate music in another language, but Stromae replies “we do exactly the same all the time in Europe,” as does the rest of the world: look at Top 20 charts in any country, and at least half will be American (English!) songs.
As to the future, Stromae hopes to change some impressions about him:
Outside the French-speaking world, many of the articles about you start in a similar way: “Stromae is the biggest megastar you’ve never heard of.”
S: I love that title. It’s so funny. I think I’m still anonymous even if the concerts here are sold out. It’s just the beginning. A good beginning, but let’s try to do better and better. – Vulture
It’s interesting to consider; why isn’t he well known? We want to hear you opinion! Tweet to @cara_conte with hashtag #BWA_com!
Watch this recent concert of his to gain a scope of how big his fan base is, and more importantly, how he puts an incredible amount of energy into true art.