Artist to Know: Stromae

Need more artists to follow? Check out the previous installments of Artist to Know featuring LizzoKaty TizLake Street DiveMighty Oaks, and First Aid Kit.

If you’re into the international music scene and, specifically, music in French, you should definitely listen to Stromae. Paul Van Haver, a Belgan singer-songwriter and composer born in 1985, created the music label Mosaert (an anagram of Stromae) in 2009 with his artistic director Luc Junior Tam to launch his first album, “Cheese.”

His music is upbeat and perfect for dancing; one of his most popular songs is actually called “Alors On Danse,” which translates to “so one dances.” Kanye West actually raps in one version of the song. The music video features Stromae, bored at an office job, escaping his daily life by dancing.

“Papaoutai” is another song that sounds upbeat, but this one has a dark history. When spoken out loud, “Papaoutai” is “Papa où t’es,” which means “Father where are you?” Stromae’s father died during the Rwandan genocide in 1994, giving the song an extra emotional punch.

“Tous les mêmes” means “all the same,” and in this song, Stromae reenacts an argument between a heterosexual couple and plays both sides. He sings about all of the stereotypes of men and women in relationships, especially the ones constantly breaking up and getting back together. The video is split as well; he switches between two lives, one in which he’s with a woman and wears men’s clothing, and the other in which he’s with a man and wears makeup. The lighting also reflects the split, and it’s overall just a very cool music video.

Some other good songs to listen to: “Te Quiero” (about a custody dispute), “Carmen,” (about the substitution of social media for actual human connection), “ta fête” (feeling like the world is against you), “quand c’est?” (when pronounced sounds like cancer, it asks when cancer will take its next victim), and so many more.