Absent since 2015, the Belgian singer Stromae is finally back on stage. To mark this return, his latest album Multitude was released on March 4, 2022. It is his third album after Cheese (2010) and racine carée (2013). He was the guest of Anne-Claire Coudray on the 8 p.m. TV news on TF1 (one of the most important TV channels in France) on January 9, 2022.

Stromae had already released two singles Santé and L’enfer. The latter had been revealed, in a very original way, at the end of the TV news interview in the form of a response to the journalist. As for the title Santé, it was revealed during Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show in late 2021.

A necessary seven-year break 

He spoke about the reasons for his long seven-year break despite his successful career, “I just needed to live.” His over-mediatization, his world tour, Le Racine carrée Tour (a total of 209 concerts between 2013 and 2015), and the side effects of his anti-malaria treatment (Lariam) caused the Belgian artist to become depressed and burn out professionally. The 36-year-old Belgian singer took a long break for himself and his private life. He spoke on the set of TFI :

“From a private point of view, I was lucky to get married, I was lucky to have a child, who is now three years old. And I needed to live things in fact simply because one moment you are a little empty. Life on tour is not very interesting, although it’s nice, it’s a bit like a summer camp, but you don’t live normal things”

On the 9th of January during the TF1 interview

Indeed, he got married to Coralie Barbier, and had a little boy of 3 years, Stromae is a happy father. On the other hand, this singer has not really left the music because he continued to work with other artists such as Orelsan (in La pluie), Bigflo & Oli (co-produced Dommage), Billie Eilish (collaboration for the clip Hostage), or even with Dua Lipa (collaboration for the clip IDGAF).

“It felt really good to work for other (artists), because the attention was no longer on me, and that’s what I needed” Stromae says again on set.

On the 9th of January during the TF1 interview

His new album Multitude released on March 4, 2022

In his new album ‘Multitude’, his third album, Paul Van Haver, aka Stromae, we find twelve songs with exotic sounds: “Invaincu”, “Santé”, “La solassitude”, “Fils de joie”, “L’enfer”, “C’est que du bonheur”, “Pas vraiment”, “Riez”, “Mon Amour”, “Déclaration”, “Mauvaise journée”, “Bonne journée”. This is an album that marks his return to the world stage, this work gives him the opportunity to make new interpretations of characters that he has imagined.

On the other hand, Stromae worked on his lyrics with OrelSan (who released the excellent album Civilisation in 2021 with the song L’odeur de l’essence). They co-wrote the last two tracks of the album with “Mauvaise journée” and “Bonne journée”.

Multitude has sounds coming from several world music like South American, African and Asian. He wanted to mix several instruments and rhythms “without being able to point a finger at one country”. Paul Van Haver decided to pay tribute to his mother who made him travel a lot around the world during his whole life (from Mali to Mexico). 

“She has always had this desire to look elsewhere and I, in the same way, for this album I wanted to go and find grooves”.

On the 9th of January during the TF1 interview

Personally, I find it a pity that the album deals again with the same subjects as the previous album such as difficulties in love, illness, depression. I also think it’s a shame that the production of the tracks is very similar to racine carré album. I have the feeling that this new album, although successful, is the continuation of the last album.

Why did Stromae choose the name Multitude for his album? 

At first, Stromae did not want to name his album Multitude, but Folklore. He mentioned it during his appearance on the TV show Quotidien. Finally, he changed his mind because of Taylor Swift’s album that was released in July 2020, with the name Folklore. The album is therefore named by Multitude on which Stromae mixes music and instruments of the world.

Meaning of each song of the album Multitude

#1 Invaincu 

Invaincu (=unbeaten) is the opening song of the album Multitude and is full of anger. Using a rancorous rap flow in the style of a boxing fight, Stromae explains his struggle with depression. He ends the song with “I have trouble writing it. And it’s hard to say it. Even weakened. Until the last cry. As long as I’m alive, I’m undefeated”.

#2 Santé

In this song, the Belgian singer gives credit to the work of the women and men behind the scenes “Rosa, Rosa, when we mess up, you clean up. And you, Albert, when we drink, you collect the glasses. The character of Rose is real. It is the name of his cleaning lady “She is the one who gave me the inspiration. She was cleaning my house while we were partying and making a mess”. Probably the artist has also found the inspiration following the numerous confinements due to coronavirus. With this song, he shows his gratitude for the people we don’t see, but who still make society work. It’s a hymn to the everyday heroes.

Find the translation of Santé: Stromae | Santé Lyrics Translated into English

#3 La solassitude

Solassitude reflects on people collecting friends and adventures in the real or virtual world. The name of the title was invented by the artist, it is a mix between loneliness (=solitude) and lassitude. The chorus is very poignant with “Celibacy makes me suffer from loneliness, couple life makes me suffer from weariness.” Stromae plays the role of a depressed man (Nicolas) who goes on and on with blind dates.

 #4 Fils de joie

This song tells the daily life of prostitution from the point of view of the pimps, the women, the clients, and the children. The child who expresses himself says “I am a son of a bitch as they say”, Stromae sings in a nod to Aznavour’s “I am a homo as they say”. It is definitely a complicated societal theme to cover.

#5 L’enfer

This is one of the most important songs of the album Multitude, in which Stromae evokes his suicidal thoughts and his depression. The piano notes idealize the track and give more depth to the very dark lyrics. 

Find the translation of L’enfer: Stromae | L’enfer Lyrics Translated into English

#6 C’est que du bonheur 

In this song, in an exotic rhythm, Paul Van Haver tells the joys of fatherhood in a trivial vocabulary by rhyming and pronouncing several times “pee”, “vomit” and “caca”. He takes a high-pitched voice “You’ll see that it’s only happiness” to imitate and make fun of parents giving their feedback on parenthood to future parents. 

 #7 Pas vraiment 

It is about a love story of a superficial couple “We are beautiful in the photo, we are beautiful on the social network’s darling” which ended badly. This song is a criticism of the couples being together more by interest than by love. The dark lyrics target the people who put themselves in couple to conform to society and by the fear to be alone. 

#8 Riez 

In this song, the Belgian singer plays the role of four average people revealing their dreams, from the most material to the most down-to-earth dreams. The refrain “Riez, riez, riez” (=laugh, laugh, laugh) are the words of the protagonists addressing their mocking entourage. The chorus is probably a reference to the French expression “qui rira bien qui rira le dernier” (=he who laughs last, laughs best). This track is accompanied by a calm electro production with string and percussion instruments. 

#9 Mon Amour

It is a song that deals with a theme with lightness, infidelity. It is the story of a man who tries to make up for having cheated on his partner. Stromae composed this song with his brother Luc who is the artistic director of his label Mosaert. The melody of this song is light and rhythmic.

#10 Déclaration 

The lyrics of this song are a declaration to women. One will note the feminist reference in the text with “One is not born a misogynist, one becomes it”. It is a reference to the famous sentence “One is not born a woman, one becomes one” by Simone de Beauvoir. Stromae evokes topical subjects such as contraception, the mental load, and the difference in salary between men and women. 

#11 Mauvaise journée

Mauvaise journée (=bad day) is the story of a pessimistic man, who gets depressed about curfews, birthdays after 35 years, and his loneliness. The title echoes the next music “Bonne journée” with a childish joke “Et mon caca qui a mal fini” (=and my poop that ended badly). Stromae addresses the daily depression with a character who does not understand his unhappiness “Is all this not their fault to these selfish people with obscene happiness?”. This title was co-written with OrelSan, it is a still dark text with a rhythm with Latin sonorities.

#12 Bonne journée 

Orelsan also participated in Bonne jounée (=good day). This song answers the previous one with a childish joke “le réveil est facile, le caca est parfait” (=waking up is easy, poop is perfect). This song closes the album Multitude with very optimistic messages and a character breathing happiness “C’est la danse de la joie” (=it is the dance of joy). I particularly love this passage, “If other people’s happiness makes you unhappy, then you’re a rager. If other people’s unhappiness makes you happy, you’re a rager. 

I hope that you are happy to (re)discover this artist with this new album multitude. Stromae started 2022 with three concerts and 60000 tickets sold in 20 minutes. If you want to see him, he will perform for some festivals this summer before heading on a world tour until 2023. If you want to listen to French speaker artists, I would recommend you to read the two next articles :

Photo credit @Mosaert Label