When Stromae, the Belgian musical genius, played at SXSW this year, festival attendees were asking one another “Who is this guy, and why haven’t we heard about him?” It's about time we all take a moment to get to know Stromae and give this musical craze a try.
A diamond in the rough, Stromae shines in a music industry thirsting for his expertly crafted words, social criticisms and ingenuity. Stromae has mastered the tie between the lyricism and melodies of classic ballads with catchy and edgy electronic dance beats — a strange Daft Punkand Sam Smith love child.
Stromae is the stage name of Paul Van Haver, a 30-year-old Belgian singer-songwriter who realized that music was his calling from a very young age. Van Haver found comfort in his musical studies and companionship in the rap groups he formed in his youth. Van Haver’s stage name changed a number of times, but he settled on Stromae, a rearrangement of the syllables in maestro.
In 2009, Stromae was recognized by the European community after his chart-topping hit, "Alors On Danse," grabbed the attention of prominent Europeans when it aired on a Belgian radio station. In 2013, he released his second and most popular album, "Racine Carrée," which further showed his musical prowess. The album features the song "Papoutai," another chart-topping hit. A play on the words “Papa, où es-tu?” (Dad, where are you?), the song addresses what a boy’s childhood is like without a father.Like in all of Stromae’s songs, "Papaoutai" disguises a dark and powerful message underneath layers of entrancing beats and attractive melodies. The subject matter of his songs range from feelings after a break up to Twitter’s control over society to a song about men from the point of view of a woman.
Stromae is recognized not only for his music, but also for the artistic genius of his music videos and YouTube clips. The music video for "Formidable," another major hit from this album, was created from security video footage that captured the artist singing in the streets, people taking pictures and Stromae interacting with police officers.
After the release of "Alors On Danse" in 2009, Van Haver has received recognition by music lovers of all genres across Europe, and his worldwide fame is growing as well. He has received numerous awards, including the 2015 Victoires de la Musique "Concert of the Year." Stromae will be touring across the east coast this September and will stop at the Buckhead Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sept. 14.