Timeout.com calls him “the most famous pop star you don’t know.” He has won numerous awards, including Best Male Singer at the Globes de Cristal Awards (Crystal Globes Awards), and is the Best Selling Benelux Artist of 2015. Although, it is very hard to find someone at Loy Norrix that knows who Paul Van Haver, (Stromae) is, but when you do their reaction is priceless.
Stromae is a self described hiphop and electronic artist from Laeken, Brussels. He garnered critical acclaim for his first single, “Alors On Danse,” or “So We Dance.” At the time, Stromae worked as an intern at NRJ, a french radio station, where the music manager liked his single and put it into the radio cycle. Only a few weeks later, Stromae’s song was sitting at number one in Belgium as well as 18 other countries. And practically overnight, Stromae went from a radio station intern to a superstar. Many Americans will find it hard to connect with Stromae’s music because, well, it’s in French. This creates an extensive barrier to anyone who is accustomed to listening to music in English. However, when you look at translations of all of his hit songs, you can see how the themes and messages are the same in any language. Stromae’s hit song “Papaoutai,” or “Dad, where are you?”, is about the absence of his father during his childhood (His dad was killed in the Rwandan Genocide of 1984). “Formidable” is a song about a man going through a breakup and turning to alcohol. “Carmen” is about the dangers of social media, particularly Twitter. “Quand C’est,” one of Stromae’s darker songs, is about cancer and how it pollutes lives and families. Stromae’s songs have a powerful message accompanied by a fun exciting sound. Think of him as the Belgian Macklemore.
French teacher Rachel Larner is familiar with Stromae and his music “I listen to french music with Spotify, and it’s not all Caffe violin music,” said Larner. She gives examples of songs in different languages that have integrated themselves into American culture, like the Christmas song “Feliz Navidad” or the French “Frère Jacques.” Stromae launched his first North American tour in 2015, and played a show in Auburn Hills, Michigan on September 25th. It was an incredible showing of visual and vocal performance.
The energy that Stromae brought to the crowd was incredible, and he was able to showcase all his talents to make one coherent show. Stromae knows how to work a crowd, no matter what country they come from or what language they speak. I was lucky enough to be standing in the second row that night, and was amazed at all the people that showed up to see this guy from Belgium. Stromae’s influence has been ever expanding across the pond, and this first North American tour is really only the beginning. He only has one big-budget album out, and has already attracted attention from people like Kanye West, Lorde, and Pentatonix. American listeners will have to be able to manipulate their musical ear a little to be able to listen to Stromae, but it is very worth it. His musical talent is undeniable, and his messages are very important.