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Music / Stromae

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Paul van Haver (born 12 March 1985), better known by his stage name Stromae, is Belgian rapper, singer, dancer, and songwriter. Born to a Rwandan father and Belgian mother, he has managed to establish himself in the hip hop and electronic music genres.

He first emerged in the music scene in 2009 with his single, "Alors on danse", which became a number one hit in several European countries. His second album, Racine Carrée, was released in 2013 and became a huge commercial success. He is best known for songs such as "Papaoutai", "Ta fête", "Tous les mêmes", "Alors on danse", "Ave Cesaria", "Formidable", and "Quand c'est?". With his song "Carmen", he also gained new popularity in America.

With the end of the racine carrée tour and the release of the "Quand c'est ?" video in 2015, Stromae went on a hiatus to focus on other projects and to recovering from health problems and burnout. The hiatus was declared over by the fandom in 2018, when Stromae featured on Orelsan's "La pluie" and appeared in the accompanying music video. Stromae also released the single "Défiler" in April 2018 as the soundtrack to Mosaert'snote  first fashion show. In an interview three days after the release of "Défiler", Paul said he was starting to accumulate enough new material for a third album. On Dec. 8, 2021, he announced the release of said album, Multitude, set for Mar. 4, 2022. The first single off the album, "Santé", was released Oct. 15, 2021.


  • Cheese (2010)
  • Racine Carréenote  (2013)
  • Multitude (2022)

This page is still a work in progress and needs some serious love.

Tropes that apply to Stromae and his music:

  • Abusive Father: The father on "Dodo".
  • An Aesop:
    • "Dodo" has the uncommon but very necessary Aesop that cheating on your partner is wrong, but that you are not justified in beating your partner for doing so—especially because you probably would have found another reason to beat them had they been loyal, anyway. Also, toxic masculinity is bad, and being a man does not justify your being violent, especially toward your wife and children.
    • "bâtard" explains that not taking a binary option in terms of identity is fine (and even to be encouraged), but that when it comes to sociopolitical issues like racism, you do need to take a side.
    • "moules frites" tells you to be careful who you have sex with, or else, you can and will die (almost instantly, apparently).
    • "Fils de joie" is about how sex workers are not only real workers, but human beings who deserve dignity and respect. Moreover, it is critical of the role law enforcement specifically plays in anti-sex-worker sentiment, depicting the cop character as a xenophobic misogynist who's Just Following Orders.
  • all lowercase letters: racine carrée and most of the tracks thereon.
  • All Men Are Perverts: The philosophy of the singer in "Tous les mêmes".
  • All There in the Manual: Andréa's name is revealed and used only in leçon 24. In any other appearance where she is named (including the credits of the "tous les mêmes" video), she is referred to simply as "Stromae".
  • Animated Music Video: Sylvain Chomet creates one for his song "Carmen".
  • Anime Hair: Every video from Multitude features a live-action example of this trope. "Santé" has Stromae sporting Odango Hair, in "L'enfer" he wears a tall Samurai Ponytail, and his hairstyle in "Fils de joie" (as well as the album cover) can be described as a flat round hat made of hair.
  • Anti-Love Song:
  • Art Evolution: There is a noticeable change in cinematographic and FX quality between leçon 22 and leçon 23. Lampshaded in the latter:
    "... I told myself that thanks to all the money you all gave me, I could allow myself to buy a supermarket!"
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Invoked for "Up saw liz": the song is about how nobody's going to listen to what the narrator is going to sing, so he may as well sing about whatever. Cue the chorus.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Andrea, Stromae's female persona for "tous les mêmes".
  • Audience Participation Song:
    • "ave cesaria"
    • "Alors On Danse"
    • "Papaoutai"
    • "La solassitude"
  • Ballad of a Sex Worker: "Fils de joie" is an ode to an migrant sex worker sung by her son, a proud "fils de pute"note .
  • Berserk Button:
    • Parodied with the French fry rant that precedes "moules frites" live.
    "They are BELGIAN FRIES!"
  • Be Yourself: The Aesop of songs like "bâtard" and "sommeil".
  • Black-and-White Morality: Discussed in "Bâtard" ("Bastard"), which is about society's insistence on putting people into boxes, and why "bastard" is even an insult. The first verse explicitly points out the dangers of this kind of thinking with the line "Are you Hutu or Tutsi?" Notably, Stromae is of Rwandan-Belgian descent.
  • Black Comedy:
    • "moules frites" is about a man who dies from an STInote . The song the mourners sing at his funeral is the same thing his last partner screamed while orgasming.
    • "Dodo"—except for the latter half of the second verse, where the narrator drops the humour and picks up an axe.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The "leçons" series depicts Stromae as this.
  • Camp Straight: Stromae is this. Paul van Haver retains elements of this but isn't as over-the-top as his stage persona.
  • Careful with That Axe: "Dodo", "Papaoutai", and "bâtard".
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Stromae, as a character, can be one. See the first example in Berserk Button above.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: In his music video for "Tous les mêmes", the lighting changes between pink and green for his female and male personas respectively.
  • Crosscast Role: "Tous les mêmes" is from the perspective of a woman. In the official video, however, Stromae only spends half the time as a woman.
  • Curse Cut Short: Most of "avf".
  • Destructive Romance: "tous les mêmes", big time.
    Cette fois c'était la dernièrenote 
    Tu peux croire que c'est qu'une crisenote  [...]
    Quoi toi aussi tu veux finir maintenant?note 
    C’est l'monde à l'envers!note 
    Moi je l'disais pour t'faire réagir seulement... toi t'y pensaisnote 
  • Disappeared Dad: Paul van Haver lost his father in the Rwandan Genocide at a young age. Many of his songs deal with feelings of Parental Abandonment, such as "Papaoutai", or "Papa, where are you?".
  • Does Not Like Men: The protagonist of "tous les mêmes", despite her passing claims to the contrary.
    Z'avez de la chance qu'on vous aimesnote 
    Dis-moi mercinote 
  • Domestic Abuse: The topic of "Dodo".
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Defied: unless he is in character as Stromae or discussing something directly pertaining to Stromae, Paul Van Haver would prefer you call him Paul.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Cheese ends with the title track, which is about a Stepford Smiler who has been groomed to be so since childhood.
    • The video for "quand c'est ?" ends with Stromae dead on a stage. Bonus points for: a) being the end of the racine carrée era; and b) being the last major Stromae project Paul Van Haver would put out for three years.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • The narrator of "Te Quiero" expects he will end up this way.
    • "L'enfer" reveals that Paul/Stromae has experienced suicidal thoughts before—something he's "not very proud of".
  • Environmental Symbolism: During the debut evening news performance of "L'enfer", the LED background of the news studio behind Stromae slowly transitions from a glistening view of Paris in the evening, to a dark, nighttime one, and finally a grey and overcast cityscape.
  • Epic Rocking: "Défiler" is eight minutes and fifty seconds long.
  • Fidelity Test: The narrator of "tous les mêmes" alleges that's the reason she threatened to leave her man just a couple of lines earlier.
  • Funetik Aksent: "Papaoutai" note 
  • Gentle Giant: Stromae is about 6'5'', and he explicitly rejects the notion that his size gives him any right to be violent. He's much smarter than a standard example of this trope, though.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Stromae's 2021 appearance on The Tonight Show was aired uncensored despite using vulgar language. As it turns out, singing in French on English-language TV is one way to evade the censors.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: The apparent relationship between the narrator and addressee of "sommeil".
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: The mother in "Fils de joie".
  • Hurricane of Puns: "Défiler" riffs on the multiple meanings of "marche(r)", "pas", and "(dé)filer" multiple times during its nearly nine-minute runtime. Downplayed, in that the wordplays aren't meant to be comical but, instead, introspective.
  • In My Language, That Sounds Like...:
    • In his native French, "Quand c'est?" sounds almost exactly like "cancer"note . The lyrics give a very good reason for the title of the song.
    • In Europe and North America, "yo" is a general interjection. In places like Rwanda and Congo, it is an interjection of grief. This double meaning works for "moules frites".
  • Intercourse with You: The subject of "moules frites", and mentioned in "Papaoutai" and "tous les mêmes".
  • Ironic Echo:
    • The outro to "moules frites".
    • Meta example: Someone once yelled, "Bande de macaques,"note  at Paul and his friends. "Formidable" takes the insult and flips it onto the observers, who treat the narrator subhumanly—"like a monkey".
  • It's All About Me: The subject of "Ta fête".
  • Jerkass: Stromae's discography is replete with them.
    • The father in "Dodo".
    • The narrator of "tous les mêmes"—as well as her partner.
    • The narrator of "Formidable".
    • The customer on the second verse of "Santé".
    • All three men on the verses of "Fils de joie", to varying degrees.
    • The narrator of "Mon amour"—by his own admission.note 
  • Jerkass Has a Point: The narrator of "tous les mêmes" is arrogant, dramatic, and Does Not Like Men. However, the song reveals that her lover is shallow and dismissive, making the narrator's contempt somewhat justified. The music video emphasizes this, with the male characters being gross, slovenly, and licentious.
  • Jerkass Woobie: In-Universe: "Formidable" is from the perspective of a pretty terrible person who's been through some pretty terrible stuff.
  • Just Following Orders: The cop in the third verse of "Fils de joie".
    Je sais qu'c'est ton boulot note 
    Mais faut bien qu'j'fasse le mein, non?note 
  • Just for Pun:
    • "Formidable" plays with two expressions which sound very similar, which the narrator uses to refer to his former lover and himself respectively: "formidable" (wonderful/reliable) and "fort minable" (pathetic).
    • "Ta fête" ("Your party"): the subject of the song feels like they are wrongfully persecuted by everyone when they ough to be celebrated instead. In French, "faire la fête à quelqu'un" ("make a party to someone") means to harshly judge, torment or beat someone.
    • "Fils de joie" ("Sons of joy") is a play on "filles de joie" ("girls of joy", a euphemism for sex workers) and "fils de pute" ("son of a bitch").
  • Kids Rock: The unreleased "si tu veux me faire du buzz..." (and its remix, "... buzz des mains") has a kid (named Amaury) perform the hook.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Despite the upbeat melody of his songs, the lyrics can deal with some pretty dark themes.
    • "Alors on Danse" tells of all the depressing reasons (Work, family, debts...) one has to party.
    • "Dodo" is based on a lullaby. It deals with Domestic Abuse.
    • Mostly averted on Multitude, though songs like "Mon amour" and "Déclaration" dabble in it.
  • Madonna-Whore Complex: Mentioned in "bâtard":
    Sois t'es l'un ou soit t'es l'autre, t'es un homme ou bien tu périsnote 
    -cultrice ou patéticiennenote 
  • Men Don't Cry: "Dodo" has the father telling this to his son. That's not the intended moral of the song.
  • Me's a Crowd: The album art of Multitude, reflecting the title.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • "Dodo" and "Papaoutai" are both heavy on Lyrical Dissonance for the most part. However, during the second verses of both songs, the narrator starts yelling—only to return to his previous tone right after.
    • The sombre "Formidable" appears on racine carrée right between the upbeat "tous les mêmes" and the jaunty "moules frites".
    • Really, with how replete with Lyrical Dissonance Stromae's discography is, any number of his songs can become this if you only pick up on the song's lyrics partway through.
    • The video for "quand c'est ?" has this trope to an extent. The entire video is meant to be menacing and disconcerting, but most of it depicts its topics (cancer and death) with a measure of fantasy. The fantasy element is axed at the very end, though, when Stromae is shown simply dead.
    • During his appearance on TF1's evening news to promote Multitude, he appears to participate in a regular interview only to segue without prior announcement in the debut performance of "L'enfer". That included looking straight into the camera and proclaiming "I've had suicidal thoughts" in song.
  • The Oner:
    • In the video for "Ave Cesaria", someone seems to have given the camera to a kid at a party.
    • The video for "L'enfer" is a slow zoom out of Stromae performing the song in an empty space, looping back to the first shot — a close-up on his pupil — at the end.
    • This also applies to the debut performance of "L'enfer" on the TF1 evening news, done in a single tracking shot with the singer looking straight into the camera while performing.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • The subject of "Papaoutai". The lyrics talk about the consequences of growing up without a father, and the fear that the narrator's generation will abandon their own children because none of them know how to fulfill that role.
    Tout le monde sait comme on fait des bébés note 
    Mais personne ne sait comme on fait des papasnote 
    • Touched on in "tous les mêmes":
    Tu sais la vie c'est des enfants note 
    Mais comme toujours c'est pas l'bon momentnote 
    Ah oui pour les faire là tu es présentnote 
    Mais pour les élever y'aura qu'des absentsnote 
  • Poirot Speak: Stromae in multiple interviews. He has trouble speaking English, has a thick accent and sometimes ends up using French words.
  • Police Are Useless: The cop in "Fils de joie" does let the sex worker go... but not before telling her she's an undignified burden on society and to "find a real job".
  • Precision F-Strike: "avf" plays into Curse Cut Short for the most part, but the end of the third verse gives us:
    Allez vous faire foutre; j'ai un match de foot note 
  • Pretty Boy: Just look at him.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: "Carmen" uses the tune of "Habanera" from Carmen.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A lighthearted example: in the "Multitude ı Track by Track" series on YouTube, Paul explains that poop is a recurring element on Multitude due to him being a new father—and having to change his son's diapers—during the album's conception.
  • Refuge in Audacity: When the narrator of "Mon amour" is caught cheating, he trots out the standard excuses before resorting to, "D't'façon, j'sais qu'au fond d'toi, tu les aimes bien, les connards".note 
  • Sanity Slippage Song: "Formidable" has elements of this.
    Et qu'est-ce que vous avez tous, à me regarder comme un singe, vous ?note 
    Ah oui vous êtes saints/sains, vous !note 
    Bande de macaques !note 
    Donnez-moi un bébé singe, il seranote 
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: The majority of Stromae's songs have him providing most of the backup vocals in addition to the main ones. There are occasionally other voices in his songs as well, but they can be difficult to pick out.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • This interview between Stromae and Andréa qualifies. It takes "tous les mêmes"' Jerkass Has a Point up to eleven by having Stromae downplay Andréa's contributions to the song and having him speak over her when she mentions her discomfort with the hook of the song, saying he couldn't possibly be sexist because Andréa was with him—and also, that this will be the last time Andréa appears with him on a television broadcast.
    • "moules frites" is about a man named Paulo who dies from a STI. Paulo is an endearing diminutive of Paul, Stromae's actual given name.
  • Shout-Out: "Carmen" parodies the lyrics of "Habanera" from, well, Carmen.
  • Significant Anagram: His label's name, Mosaert, is an anagram of Stromae that also calls to mind another famous composer.
  • Soapbox Sadie: "avf" accuses both politicians and artists of being this.
  • Son of a Whore: The narrator of "Fils de joie" is a self-proclaimed one of these—and is proud of it.
  • Space Whale Aesop: "moules frites" explains that you should be careful about who you have sex with, or else you will die (almost instantly, at that), and the mourners at your funeral will sing your Badass Boast—which doubles as your last lover's Immodest Orgasm.
  • Spoken Word in Music: From the beginning of "ave cesaria":
    "On y va?" "Si, on y va." note 
  • Spoonerism: His stage name is one on "Maestro".note 
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • "Alors on Dance", a song about partying and having a good time... because you have no control over your life and can't do much else.
    • The lyrics of "Sommeil" contain the line, "You smile too much to be happy."
  • Take That!:
    • "Carmen" and its video are a scathing satire of people can become slaves to social media, to the point that their amount of Twitter followers is more important than their actual friends.
    • "moules frites" is one directed at Serge Gainsbourg, as Stromae felt the song "Les Sucettes" was "unfair for [the woman]".
    • The second verse of "Santé" mocks people who harass and threaten workers.
  • Textless Album Cover: Multitude. racine carrée may also qualify, depending on whether one considers the "√" symbol highlighted in the background pattern as text or not.
  • Triumphant Reprise: "L'enfer" gets one of these on the Multitude tour. Stromae, having sung the whole song, sits despondently on the stage as the band performs the outro... only to gesture to the audience to start clapping to the beat. When the audience has done so, Stromae then punches up triumphantly and begins dancing to a more hopeful version of the instrumental outro.
    • "Papaoutai" also gets one of these in concert, with the narrator reuniting with his father, though it can be read as much as a Sanity Slippage Reprise as it can be a straight example of this trope.
  • Title Track: "Cheese" off the first album.
  • Troubled Abuser: Mentioned in "Dodo". It does not justify the abuse at all.
  • You Are Not Alone: "L'enfer" discusses how lots of people feel suicidal at different points in their lives — and how this knowledge does not necessarily make anyone feel less alone.