One singer in French who does make you sit up and take notice is Stromae. For one thing, he is a tall, lanky, gangly half Belgian, half Rwandan. And he is a great entertainer. According to this chart site here, he has three songs in the French Top 20, including the No. 1 song, Tous Les Mêmes (All The Same). Rather than play the song in its entirety, I have selected this amusing “the making of” clip, in which Stromae (a play on “maestro” – his real name is Paul Van Haver and he lives in Belgium) introduces it in an usual manner with the help of a Venetian gondolier. So you will hear some spoken French (with subtitles in English) as well as the song, which takes a woman’s point of view – she complains that men are all the same (i.e. heartless brutes, but lovable nevertheless). This explains his odd, half-done-up-in-a-bun hairstyle. This kid has the longest arms, and the sleeves of his purple jacket can’t accommodate them. Just watching them flailing about while he is dancing in the gondola is entertainment in itself.
The video to Papaoutai is just as splendid and the song is very catchy, with distinct African flavours. It was the first single from his second album, Racine carrée, currently the No. 1 album in France. It’s about a boy yearning for his missing father.
In a totally different vein, and somewhat disturbing, is this song, Formidable, filmed candid camera-style.
Those are the three hits from his second album. Finally, here is the song that first gained him fame and recognition, Alors On Danse, a No.1 in many European countries in 2009.
Kanye West did a really lousy remix of this in collaboration with Stromae a year later.