Review: French Hip-hop for Everyone With Stromae

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Commentary by Lilly Mather

As teenagers look forward to new albums and songs by their favorite artists, not many of them are thinking about music from France. An artist by the name of Stromae has been up and coming in France the past few years. He came out with a new song, “Carmen” this April.

The song is a personal social commentary on how social media, like twitter, affects our lives. The music video that came out on April 1 is made in cartoon style showing Stromae growing up and spending his life always connected and using twitter. A blue bird that respenables the twitter logo hangs over his shoulder the length of the video and messes with his relationship with his girlfriend and his family. At the end Stromae and other people are carried by their own birds to be dropped and feed to an even larger bird and the video ends with the next generation of kids starting to use social media themselves.

The video is a little strange but is a good example of how social media can take over our lives. The song itself is a rendition of oprah classic of the same name “Carmen” by Georges Bizet written in 1875. Stromae uses the instrumental music from the original song as  backdrop.

Sophomore French Student Peyton Culclager said she likes the beat used from it. “I thought it was clever to use that song,” said Culclager  As a fan of Stromae’s earlier music, I feel like this holds up to his other music while being different enough. I personally like the twist on the 1875 version of “Carmen” it. It gives familiarity of the song while its song in a different language.

Both Cuclacer and the French Teacher Julie Begnaud said they agree with the message of the song, but find the music video a bit strange. Begnaud said that even though she doesn’t use twitter “It made me feel guilty about my time on the computer.”

Though most of this generation has a strong attachment to social media doesn’t mean it’s entirely bad. While Sophomore French Student Haley Lykins said she thinks the song has a good message for the younger generation, she said she also believes social media is a good thing because “You can connect with people in other places.”

While not being an avid social media user, I still spend a lot of time on my phone and computer and can understand the worry people have of technology taking over our lives.

In French class, West students are introduced to Stromae and other French music as a teaching device. They’re shown music videos and fill in the blanks for the lyrics. At the end the class translates the song together.

Begnaud said she believes that showing modern music to students will motivate them to find more french music and learn what the lyrics are in English. She said she also finds Stromae’s music to have a message. With “Carmen” there is an obvious one. Culgacler said it helps her learn slang words in French and it helps her learn how speak casually. In French they are taught a more formal version of the language and Stromae and other artists give them a less traditional view.

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