European Superstar Stromae has the World's fastest selling album this week!

Posted on February 25, 2014


Europe's Dance Superstar Stromae has this week's highest gainer with "Racine Carre" at no.6 in the World's best-selling Albums chart! "Racine Carree" is Stromae’s second studio Album, and it’s still No1 in France after 26 weeks on the chart, and has already sold nearly 2 Million copies to date. He is the best-selling European solo Act of the past year having outsold top selling recording-acts like Robbie Willians and Avicii. 

Stromae just won best male artist at the French music awards 'Les victories de la Musique' and is not only the most successful musician in the French-speaking world, he's also the epitome of modern Belgium.

Paul Van Haver was born in Brussels to a Rwandan father and a Belgian mother by the name of Miranda Marie. His father, Dylan Steven, was mostly absent during his childhood, and was killed during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide. His mother was a Dutch speaker, but she raised him in a French community in the suburbs of Brussels. At the age of eleven Paul Van Haver already showed an interest in music and attended 'l'Académie Musicale de Jette', where he studied music history and learned to play the drums. This was his first experience with music theory.

In 2000 he appeared as a rapper called Opmaestro, though he later changed his stage name to Stromae (a syllablic inversion of "Maestro", a practice called verlan). It was with this name that Van Haver became successful.

Stromae is ceaselessly compared to his great Belgian predecessor Jacques Brel. Stromae, like Brel, pours emotion into his words. "I let Brel into my world," Stromae told DW. "What I like about him is the simplicity of his language. It's not so simple to be simple."

When Stromae was getting into music he filled his world with American and French rap and a kind of Belgian electronic music called "New Beat." In the video of his song "Formidable," watched by 60 million people online so far, Stromae had hidden cameras filming him on a grey morning in Brussels, apparently drunk after a long night out, bothering people on their way to work before being moved on by some gentle police. The rain drizzles, the trams roll by: It's all very Belgian.

Thierry Coljean, music editor of Belgium's biggest French-language newspaper, "Le Soir", says Stromae is particularly Belgian because, like Brel, he echoes the country around him. "Jacques Brel was talking about Belgium, about Brussels," Coljean says. The landscape - or lack of it - and the people with their dreams and their pretentions, their weaknesses and their miseries. "Most of Brel's songs are really realistic. For Stromae it's the same thing," Coljean adds. "He's talking about cancer, about drunks, about depression. 'Alors on dans', Stromae's first song, is perhaps the most depressed song with a dance beat!"

Stromae is a product of a boom in Belgian nationalism.
Veteran Belgian sociologist and author Claude Javeau gives another take on Belgium's new star. At his age, Javeau says, he really can't be bothered with Stromae's music. But as a phenomenon, he's fascinating. "Stromae came up during the wave of Belgian chauvinism last year," says Javeau. "With the new King, a new, glamorous Queen and especially the Belgian national soccer team, the so-called Red Devils." It was surprising, he says, because it was looking as if Belgium was going to disappear altogether, vanishing down the rift between its French and Dutch-speaking halves. "But then something happened and now we have Stromae," he says. "He looks like a new Belgian, like Obama is a new American and the story's about the same: a white mother, a black father. It's a new Belgium, it's multi-ethnic," Javeau continues. "We have to get used to that and surely Stromae helped us to accept it." 

Stromae is an interesting case of integration through music. And in his music he is a master of unlikely combinations.
Like in the song "Papaoutai," which translates to 'Where are you, Dad?' and contains the memorable line: "Everyone knows how to make babies, nobody knows how to make fathers."

In the video he plays a sort of blow-up doll or tailor's dummy of a dad that his little kid is trying to play with. The music is an extraordinary combination of electro and the Congolese rumba his parents used to dance to. These mixes are very Belgian, Stromae says. "The way we always want to compromise between everything, I think that's really Belgian," the 28-year-old says. "I think I'm really Belgian for that, because I never make choices. That's my problem actually. I have crazy, different influences in my songs. I want rap music, I want Congolese rumba, I want salsa, I want dance music, I want hip-hop music, all mixed into one! If it sounds really bad, it sounds really bad but that's my way of creating. We just take things that cannot match in theory and do our best to make it work."

Stromae is about to embark on an 80-date European tour!

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