Pardon My French | Formidable - Stomae | Aesthetically Pleasing

Pardon My French | Formidable - Stomae


My absolute favorite album at this moment is Racine Carree by Stromae. I've been listening to it on repeat for weeks now. I knew I wanted to write about it, but I've been debating on how to approach it since I've grown distasteful for bland, formulaic album reviews.


What I pinpointed about the album in particular was one song: Formidable.

If you couldn't tell by the album name, this is a French production. Stromae is a Belgian born artist of Rwandan descent who is blowing up the international music scene since 2010's "Alors On Danse." The aforementioned album (which translates to "Square Root") and song have been #1 on the French and European billboard charts for weeks now- he's an international phenomenon.

That being said, that song is pronounced "Four-Mi-Dah-Bluh" and while it's the exact same word, it has a completely different connotation that's quite the opposite of the English "For-Mid-A-Bull"

Now, I don't speak French. I know a lot of basic vocab and sentence structure from when I tried to teach myself in the past but generally upon hearing this song, I couldn't tell you what it meant.

But I didn't need to know that to understand how it felt.

The song received an endless replay well before I translated it because of how much emotion it contains. His delivery and his musicality make the song incredibly moving; I felt sadness, longing, and hopeless before I even consulted WordReference.com.

"Formidable" in English is a negative word often used to describe an adversary or daunting obstacle.

for·mi·da·ble

  [fawr-mi-duh-buhl]
adjective
1.
causing fearapprehension, or dread: a formidable opponent.
2.
of discouraging or awesome strength, size, difficulty, etc.; intimidating: a formidable problem.
3.
arousing feelings of awe or admiration because of grandeur, strength, etc.
4.
of great strength; forceful; powerful: formidable opposition to the proposal.

Yet the same word in French has come to take on a positive connotation a synonym for "Terrific!" "Awesome!" "Wonderful!"

So, why don't you feel like using your exclamation marks when you listen to this song?

Well, the song is a tale of a drunk man reminiscing on a failed relationship that has clearly left him regretful. "Formidable" is used in reminiscent of "wonderful" times in an almost satirical yet matter-of-fact tone.

As a language-buff, I was intrigued by the use and manipulation of the language especially in comparison to my native tongue, English.

But, as a music lover, I'm more fascinated by the fact that I could be so consumed with melancholy from a song I couldn't even understand. It's one of the saddest break-up songs I've heard in a while and it's creatively done- not your typical Adele ballad or whiny Taylor Swift song. Stromae's story transcended his words and really completed the task that I believe music is supposed to accomplish.

The video only makes it better. Stromae wandered the streets of France appearing to be drunk- news reports even surfaced about his "shameful" escapade before it was realized that the stunt was for the music video. It's pretty genius to me- an unexpected and interesting way to deliver the story.

Fortunately, someone went ahead and captioned it in English so us foreigners could understand it. Check it out below.

Listen to the album, Racine Carree HERE



Here's another great song and video from the album with a powerful message: Papaoutai - Stromae




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What do you think of the song? What other songs really get you emotional? 

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-Anna Son

4 comments:

  1. I just wanted to thank you for your suggesting this album to your readers. Based on your suggestion, I downloaded the album and I am absolutely in love. In fact I'm listening to him right now. Papaoutai is one of the saddest songs I've heard in a long time and I love all the emotion I feel while listening to it. Knowing that he's singing it from a child's perspective searching for his father that died in the Rwandan genocide adds so many layers to the song. It makes me want to cry and dance at the same time ...

    Look out Yelle, I just might have a new favorite French artist :)

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    Replies
    1. I'm so glad you liked the post and downloaded the album! Hr is truly great at putting his emotion into songs, the entire album is fantastic! I love Papaoutai as well.

      Keep in touch! We love French music so share with us any good songs/artists you find!

      -Anna

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  2. Great song, I absolutely love it!

    He's Belgian though and the recording's made at Place Louise in Brussels.

    I am not native in neither French or English, but surely 'formidable' can be used in a positive setting also in English?

    "She was a formidable lady".

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