Tag Archives: Papaoutai

They’re All The Same

Here’s another stylish and catchy French-language pop hit from Belgian singing star Stromae, whose moniker comes from switching the syllables in the word “maestro.” All of Stromae’s videos are little works of art. Earlier this year I shared his beautiful and moving video “Papaoutai,” which I first saw on French TV when visiting Paris last year.  “Tous Les Mêmes” (“They’re All the Same”) was another number-one hit in France and Belgium recently, and it mixes delicious Latin rhythms, a hip-hop sensibility, world-weary cynical lyrics about gender stereotyping and fun visuals.


In 2013, the most popular video on French TV and the number one song in France and Belgium was “Papaoutai” by Belgian singer Stromae. The tune and rhythms are appealing and unusual; the video is compelling and, ultimately, moving. Though the title sounds like it could be a word in an African language, it is actually meant to be understood by French speakers as meaning “Papa, où t’es?” which translates as “Dad, where are you?” The song and the story of the video refer to the absence of Stromae’s father, who was killed in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The plaintive cry of the singer who feels the absence of his father is also expressed in the child in the video who begs his mannequin-like father to come to life.