3 Reasons Why Stromae Matters to French Culture!
It is likely that you have never heard of Stromae before, but the Belgium-born pop icon is quickly breaking ground in the U.S. in ways that no other French singer has before. Since his number one hit in 2009, Alors on Danse, he's gained a huge following in Europe and, more recently, in North America. Since reaching number one, he's collaborated with producers like Kanye West (who remixed Alors on Danse) and toured music festivals like Coachella and SXSW. It's no easy task crossing the ocean in the music industry, but he is one musician that is bringing pride to French culture and we are here to tell you why. We hope you enjoy 3 Reasons Why Stromae Matters to French Culture!
1. He Promotes the Joie De Vivre
While many pop singers in modern culture are looking for ways to stand out, Stromae is reaching within. Just take a look at his interpretation of the song L’amour Est un Oiseau Rebelle from the famous opera Carmen. This video critique on social media is his clever way of creating a musical protest towards the over consumption of online living. Instead of sitting on Instagram all day, he would prefer that we focus on more real-life experiences. For example, maybe having a delightful meal with friends, a simple glass of wine with a lover, or strutting a perfectly tailored outfit amidst a busy city street. All of these things, living and experiencing life, is of most importance to French culture. It's the Joie De Vivre!
2. He's A Sophisticated Artist
Of the primary interests in French culture, Art would be among the top. Whether discussing Art or critiquing it, the French pride themselves on having a strong sense of sophistication. While some forms of Art are more celebrated than others, when focusing on the music genre, hiphop (which Stromae has a strong background in), the French are typically not satisfied with the flood of music videos focused on bling-bling and male dominated themes that objectify women. Stromae eventually took a stand to 'backseat' his hiphop career after no longer being able to get behind the message of what the genre promotes. When asked in an interview by Ebony Magazine, "Why did you abandon your hiphop career?," he responded:
It’s an important school for me, hiphop music, and still today. But I had this problem, the meaning problem of hiphop music. In the music that we know in Europe is mostly this kind of bling-bling hiphop, with naked women and limousines and stuff. And even if I was a big fan of the rhythm, the groove, I had a problem with the meaning. So all the time, I was criticizing this style. So my manager said to me, “OK, why are you all the time criticizing the music and talking about only the music? If you are not happy actually, just change.” [laughter]
And he was so true. So I was like, “OK, maybe.” It’s a good inspiration for me, the groove and stuff, but maybe I have to talk about something, real life actually. And he told me like, “Why you don’t try just to explain something about the real life?” And I was like, no, it’s gonna sound cliché. Talk about love, it’s always the same kind of… And actually, I discovered it’s not the way. (Source: ebony.com 'Stroma Invades America' interview)
Take a look at his music videos Quand C'est or Papaoutai below and you will immediately get the sense of how this artist is making a huge statement while maintaining integrity, authenticity, and poise. His sense of sophistication (while staying current and relevant to pop music) is what's making a huge impact on the French culture.
3. He's A Cultural Ambassador For French Speaking Countries
Rarely in the U.S. do we find a celebrity pop star singing in French. In fact, I can't think of any besides Lady Gaga who randomly throws a French (or German) word here-or-there into her lyrics. More than just being a popular music icon, Stromae is maintaining authenticity through his writing and performing music en Française - even as he breaks into new markets like the U.S. He is getting tons of attention for this and, while I may be slightly biased here, this use of French language is what is making him a super star. Even though writing music and performing it in French is natural for him, Stromae's stardom is raising awareness about French language and culture to Americans. The themes within his records are relative to his cultural influences and his lyrics portray a 'European mentality.' For many Americans who have yet to visit Europe, this presence is only creating more awareness about French speaking cultures and helping Americans to embrace them.
Now that you know a little bit more about Stromae, check out his music online via YouTube, iTunes, and more and continue to take notice of his career growth in the United States. One great way to learn French is to listen to French music, so we suggest adding a few of his tracks to your playlist. Are you already a fan of Stromae and have a favorite song? Don't forget to share it in the comments section below! Interested in more French language and culture? Sign up for one of our Group Classes or Private Lesson to advance your French skills. Bonne journée!