Stromae, an up and coming star sets forth to wow the U.S. in French

Smooth, light brown skin, pale green eyes, and some talent, is it enough to be a sensation in the U.S.?

Stromae, or in backwards French slang “maestro,” is a stage name for pop singer Paul Van Haver who was raised by a single mother in a French community in the suburbs of Brussels. Stromae’s father was absent for most of his childhood, and was killed in the Tutsi Genocide in 1994.

“My suffering” Stromae says “is to know that I will never know who he was. It was difficult to know he was dead. But when my mother told me, I said ‘What’s a father?’ ‘Cause I don’t really know what a father is.” And, his sufferings and problems are precisely what he prefers to talk about through his music.

Although Stromae was inspired by the rhythm and flow of American rap when he was growing up, he did not much appreciate the vision of life that he learned through that music genre. “I didn’t understand this kind of fake dream… As if life is about swimming pools, limousines, naked girls and stuff. No, I prefer to talk about our problems, to be proud of them, in place of trying to hide them.”

Stromae’s music is a combination of electro-pop, rap, French ballad, and Congolese rumba. His first hit “Alors On Danse” (or, “So We Dance”) is about unemployment, divorce, and debt.

Stromae plans to tour the U.S. singing in French. He claims that too many artists travel from various parts of the world to the U.S. and sing in English, and become American. Although his message is about daily struggles, his criticism of American culture seems naïve and impulsive; Brussels, as well as every other country (including the U.S.), also faces these struggles daily.

In fact, Country, the all-American music genre, is all about struggles and emotion; unemployment, divorce, and debt being recurring themes. And so is rap; Rick Ross with his “Hold Me Back” is a great example.

Stromae’s second big hit (in Europe) is a bitter break-up ballad called “Formidable.” In his video, he drunkenly exits a busy subway in Brussels, and struggles through the street. When some people help him, and others ignore him, he summarizes the experience as the nature of “our true humanity.” But perhaps he will be struck with a rude awakening when the “nature of true humanity” arrests him for being publically drunk in the U.S.

European customs and American customs are very different. Tell us what you think; will Stromae wow the U.S. with his All-French music?

Emma Tkachuk

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