Nous Etions Formidable

Surprising absolutely no one, I frequently check the Billboard France list of popular songs whenever I need something new to listen to. I wouldn’t say I’m really “current” in my music tastes (hello, Ace of Base and New Kids on the Block) and I only listen to classical when I put on the radio. So that I’m interested in a Top 10 list of pop music is weird, but then you realize the songs are mostly in French, and suddenly everything makes sense.

Cut to a few weeks ago when, at Billboard’s suggestion, I listened to the new Stromae song, “Formidable.” Stromae is a Belgian artist (his performance name is Maestro in Verlan, a French slang where the syllables of words are reversed), and Yelle and I have bonded over our love of his other songs, including “Alors on Danse.” “Formidable” has been on the charts for 14 weeks, often at the number one position, and it’s obvious why. This song is so damn catchy, despite being rather depressing.

(Something magical happens around the 3 minute mark, when Belgian police make an appearance)

I’m hooked on this song. What are you listening to?

25 thoughts on “Nous Etions Formidable

  1. Ace of Base was super-popular the summer I lived in Paris, and every time I hear “I Saw the Sign,” I am instantly transported back :) I will have to check out “Formidable.” Last year, when I was teaching French, my students loved “Alors, on danse”.”

  2. Charlie Haden, Mark Kroos (the double-neck guitarist that we saw a few weeks back), and the Chet Baker station on Songza. So different from you, it seems. Although Cal came home today having been introduced to They Might Be Giants (re-introduced, since he had their kids’ CD) in Ancient History so that might get into the rotation.

    I still vaguely remember the “pop” song we learned in French 3 in high school… too vague to go look it up of course, but boy we loved knowing something other than the stupid stuff in our text book!

    1. Ohh, Charlie Haden. Hopefully there will come a time when I can listen to his music and not weep all over the place. Now I’m wondering what the connection between history class and They Might be Giants is?? It sounds fun, at least! xo

    1. Ha, yeah! This song is on the French billboard as well! Stromae is just taking over the airwaves left and right. xo

  3. Our French exchange student in high school made me a mixed tape of French pop music and I was OBSESSED with it for a long time. I need to check out more songs by Stromae – love this!

    1. You had a French exchange student?! That’s awesome! We had one from Moldova and one from Germany. I think I would have been in trouble if we’d had a French exchange student. Especially a guy. ;) xo

  4. well i wasn’t able to relate with the NKOTB love but Ace of Base? yes! i thought i was alone in loving their catchy (if not repetitive) beats. and considering my taste in music lasts for decades i have been listening to a lot of aimee mann lately. it’s at least more current than ace of base, right? i like this. a lot. xoxo

    1. Hahah, girrrl, are you kidding?? I am STILL a huge Ace of Base fan! Their second album, The Bridge, is one of my all time favorites. And not in an ironic way. I actually have it on my iPod right now. Don’t judge :) I actually saw Aimee Mann perform in Princeton years and years ago, she was phenomenal. Good taste, twinsy. xo

    1. That version was blocked in the US, so I had to track down another version, but wow! Talk about catchy! No wonder you like it so much. Thanks for the introduction! xo

  5. Oh my days, Stromae. This guy blew up when we were there- you couldn’t walk down the street without some boyracer in a Peugeot blasting ALORS ON DANSE as he cruised by!

    If you want some REALLY annoyingly catchy Froonch music (that doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense, and is sung in bad English) you should check out Sliimy’s “Wake Up”. And- bonus! When we lived in 17eme, Warner Music was around the corner (on Ave. MacMahon) and one day Banoo saw Sliimy outaide having a cigarette and ACCORDING to him, Ole Sliimy was totally checking him out. But then Ban thinks if someone is friendly at the supermarket till they are flirting, so we can’t be sure.


    Also, I’m currently listening to a band from Toronto called Diana. They are 80’s dreamy synth pop wonderful!

    1. I think my favorite Banoo-gets-checked-out story has to be the one where he panicked when someone asked him for his phone number and he literally ran away. I giggled so hard at that one. I would have loved to see that interaction, or the one in Paris with Sliimy (also, what a name!!). Thank you for all the fun music recs! I need to up my game, clearly! xo

    1. Ha! We’re twins, then, because I think I might have burnt myself out on it from listening to it on endless repeat for a week! Over and over and over. So good. xo

  6. this is the first time i have heard this song of his! i am so out of the french music and culture scene having not been keeping up with french class. i was toying with the idea of taking french tutoring! once i find a french tutor of course… and that 3-minute-mark with the belgian police? c’est formidable!

    1. I bet you there is an Alliance Francaise somewhere near you! Taking classes with them has been the best decision I could have made, it’s been so incredible so far (it’s almost been a year!). It keeps you talking/thinking/listening to French, which isn’t a bad thing as you know :) If you’re looking for a fun app, check out Duolingo. Grace at Little White Whale recommended it and it’s AMAZING for brushing up on your French skills! You’ll love it! xo

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