Rarely have I been as blind-sided by an artist as I was by the Euro-electro-pop sensation, Stromae. It all began during a routine combing of local venues’ calendars. I saw that some guy named Stromae had immediately sold out two nights at the Fonda. My interest was sparked. After some quick research I found that this Belgian electro-songsmith could very likely be the answer to all of pop music’s prayers.
Though not widely known in the US (yet), Stromae is at the forefront of the music scene in Europe. Sittin’ pretty with over six million fans on Facebook, Stromae continually produces music that shatters genre boundaries and breaks stylistic rules – I’ve never heard anything like it. American music fans probably only recognize his catchy 2010 track “Alors On Dance” because it was later remixed by Kanye, but in Europe he is a Gaga-esque force to be reckoned with.
With worldly, inspired subject matter, his music is intensely danceable with the thoughtful substance to back it up. This is no “Anaconda” or “Turn Down For What” —- Stromae’s brilliant “Papaoutai” laments a childhood without a father (his father was killed in the Rwandan genocide while he and his mother lived in a French area of Brussels). His beautiful video for “Tous Les Mêmes” uses androgyny to ask gender and equality questions.
Though Stromae began as a rapper, his music has flourished and grown into a complex blend of house, dance, jazz and poetry. His technique is flawless and his charisma is overflowing. He’s more than a triple-threat. On stage, his presence is commanding. I was lucky enough to catch his first sold-out show at Los Angeles’ Fonda Theatre this past month, and I was blown away. His character is a sensual blend of Frank Sinatra and Jack Skeleton. Tall and slender, his graceful theatrics tell a story. His sound is where big band meets electronic, Stromae himself is reminiscent of the MC from Cabaret—he is a world-class entertainer.
The audience was in the palm of his ever-so-charming hand. In case we weren’t completely wowed by the end of his all-encompassing performance, he and his four-piece band performed an acapella encore in five-part harmony to tell us goodnight.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen or heard something as fresh and intriguing as Stromae. Even if you don’t speak French, don’t hesitate to dive into his extensive collection on Spotify. Also take some time to watch his music videos, they are works of art in their own right. He’s the music industry’s best-kept secret, but I don’t think it will be that way for long. Kanye knows. Diplo knows:
Damn this @Stromae show makes me wanna give up ??
— PEACE IS THE MISSION (@diplo) October 6, 2014
It’s time that you know too.