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Racine carrée

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Album Review

After getting a sizable hit with "Alors on Dance" from his 2010 debut, Stromae chose not to fret and took three full years to deliver his sophomore album. Released in the fall of 2013, Racine Carrée went on to become one of the biggest records of the season in Europe, topping the French, Belgian, Dutch, Italian, and Swiss charts, helped by a string of smash singles such as "Ta Fête," "Papaoutai," "Formidable," and "Tous les Mêmes." At first look, Stromae's pumping Euro-disco with a dash of hip-hop and world music may seem fairly indistinguishable from offerings by many others artists on the Continent. As incongruous as it sounds, what sets Stromae apart from his peers are actually his lyrics — something that you do not hear too often (read: never) when discussing dance-oriented entertainers. Indeed, many would be bewildered upon hearing that Belgian and French critics were quick to point out Jacques Brel as a major influence, a statement that could only sound positively ludicrous or downright heretical to non-Francophone ears. And yet, both Stromae's diction and his scathing attack on prejudice and small-mindedness (updated to an urban, racially mixed society plagued with issues of identity, rather than the petite bourgeoisie) establish a clear link to the legendary songwriter, even if Stromae is more humorous than cruel and more compassionate than misanthropic. The Belgian-Rwandan young prodigy is at heart much closer to a singer/songwriter than to an EDM producer and DJ, which turns Racine Carrée into a very unusual kind of dancefloor filler. After all, how many albums designed for clubs feature songs that deal with subjects such as absent fathers, cigarettes and cancer, AIDS, racism, sexism, or social isolation created by the Internet? At the same time, Stromae's dual nature is also a two-edged sword: while their throbbing pulse can turn these tracks into hits and present his material to a bigger audience, listening to track after track being insistently punctured with seemingly the same grating horn-sounding synth can eventually become infuriating. In this context, excursions outside of the disco like the homage to Cesária Evora (another unexpected reference) "Ave Cesária," the sweet African cadence of "Moules Frites," or the slower grooves of "Formidable" and "Quand C'est?" function as much-needed pit stops. Rewarded with vast commercial and critical success, Racine Carrée will be remembered as Stromae's breakthrough album and a major validation of his considerable songwriting talents. Stromae's challenge from now on will be how to manage the seemingly contradictory tendencies inherent to his vision.

Customer Reviews

Amazed

Wasn't sure if the album was going to be released in the US. I'm ecstatic. I don't even know much French but I absolutely love Stromae.

Beautiful music

Carefully curated music is beautiful in any language it comes in. There's is an innate passion in all of Stromae's songs, even Alors on Dans. It comes out more raw in songs such as Formidable. Amazing music that fits for all purposes.

He's worth your money. Support him so that he can continue making melodies for us all.

Amazing

I don't speak or understand French but I love stromae's music love his beat , I can't put into words how good his music is

Biography

Born: March 12, 1985 in Brussels, Belgium

Genre: Dance

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Combining influences as diverse as Jacques Brel, Cuban son, Congolese music, house, and hip-hop into danceable songs with thought-provoking lyrics, Stromae is a Belgian vocalist, songwriter, and producer. Known for his clean-cut look and trademark bow tie, Born Paul van Haver in Brussels on March 12, 1985 to a Belgian mother and Rwandan father, van Haver was raised by his mother and developed an interest in music at an early age. When he was 11, Paul became a student at L'Académie Musicale de Jette,...
Full Bio
Racine carrée, Stromae
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