Learn French from Music: Decoding the Enigmatic "Les Mêmes" in Stromae's Captivating Lyrics

Stromae le maestro de "Tous les mêmes" © Martin Godfroid
Stromae le maestro de "Tous les mêmes" © Martin Godfroid
Stromae le maestro de "Tous les mêmes" © Martin Godfroid

Contemporary Francophone songs and their lyrics are a creative, fun and rewarding way to "apprendre le français".  Enjoy 212 free interactive French language exercises with "Paroles de Clips" on the website "Learn French with TV5MONDE".

Today, we are taking a deep dive into a song by Belgian artist extraordinaire Stromae, "Tous les mêmes" with an "accent circonflexe" which looks [Click "Lire la suite" to keep reading]


Copyright for the main image of this article:
Stromae le maestro de "Tous les mêmes" © Martin Godfroid

Today, we are taking a deep dive into a song by Belgian artist extraordinaire Stromae, "Tous les mêmes" with an "accent circonflexe" which looks like a little hat combining both the accent aigu as seen in the é of étoile (star) and the accent grave as in "à la plage" (at the beach) on the first e of "même".  You will find the accent circonflexe in English to French translation on the five vowels A, E, I, O, U in words such as: ton âge, une forêt, s'il te plaît, les impôts, j'ai dû le faire, among many others.

Unleashing the Melodic Secrets of Stromae's "Tous Les Mêmes"

Music has the remarkable power to elevate language learning, and within the enchanting realm of French music, the Belgian sensation Stromae (Le fabuleux destin de Stromae is streaming on TV5MONDEplus - Watch it now ) emerges as an unparalleled maestro, captivating audiences with his artistry.  Among Stomae's mesmerizing creations, "Tous les mêmes" stands out with hundreds of millions of views for its official clip alone on social platforms.  "Tous les mêmes" explores the complexities of romantic relationships, gender-related social expectations, and the impact of stereotypes on behaviors and emotions. The song encourages reflection on power dynamics, communication, and intrinsic values within modern relationships. "Tous les mêmes" is a song that beckons us to explore the significance of the phrase "les mêmes" and its linguistic depths in the French language.

In this lyrical journey, we delve into the captivating meaning and cultural resonance of "les mêmes," unearthing ten intriguing facts that unveil its relevance in learning French.


Unraveling the Linguistic Puzzle: "Les Mêmes" in Stromae's Musical Euphony

Stromae, talented musician from Belgium who mixes French into his music, introduces the mysterious phrase "les mêmes" in his song "Tous les mêmes." While it directly translates to "the same," in the sense that "men are all the same" this phrase holds deeper meanings in French. In his songs, Stromae cleverly plays with words and rhythms, creating interesting language puzzles for listeners to explore as in the first part of the song:

Vous les hommes vous êtes tous les mêmes (You men, you're all the same)
Macho mais cheap, bande de mauviettes infidèles (Macho but cheap, bunch of unfaithful wimps)
Si prévisibles, non je ne suis pas certaine, que-que-que tu l'mérites (So predictable, no, I'm not sure you deserve it)
Z'avez d'la chance qu'on vous aime (You're lucky that we love you)
Dis-moi "merci" (Say "thank you" to me)


Stromae's Rhythmic Mastery: Exploring Themes Through Lyrics

Stromae's exceptional lyrical skills are evident throughout his mesmerizing discography, showcasing his distinctive rhythmic patterns and thematic narratives. From the captivating "Alors on danse" to the emotionally resonant "Formidable," Stromae's lyrics beautifully capture the essence of the French language. In "Tous les mêmes," he skillfully weaves his innovative rhythmic style with the exploration of relational themes, resulting in a harmonious interplay of rhythm and meaning as evident in this part of the "Tous les mêmes" song:

Tu diras au revoir à ta mère, elle qui t'idéalise (You'll say goodbye to your mother, the one who idealizes you)
Tu n'vois même pas tout c'que tu perds avec une autre ce serait pire (You don't even see everything you'd lose with someone else, it would be worse)
Quoi toi aussi tu veux finir maintenant? C'est l'monde à l'envers (What, you want to end it now too? It's the world turned upside down)
Moi, je l'disais pour t'faire réagir seulement, toi t'y pensais (Me, I was saying it just to get a reaction from you, but you were thinking about it)


Intriguing Contrasts and Joyful Revelries: The Linguistic Duality Explored by Stromae

In the intricate landscape of language and music, Stromae consistently delves into a captivating duality. As "enfer" (hell) seduces with its somber connotations, "fête" (celebration) sparks feelings of elation and merriment, highlighting the expressive richness of the French language.

Taking cues from his second album "racine carrée," which translates to "square root," Stromae employs these two terms to represent distinct facets. Just as in a mathematical context a square root represents a foundational element, in his album, Stromae uses "racine" to allude to essential aspects.

In contrast, "carrée" signifies a squared concept, often symbolizing more complex layers. This artistic duality echoes his exploration of opposing themes seen throughout his discography.

Stromae's exploration of this linguistic duality is reminiscent of the contrasting tracks "Carmen" and "Ta fête." This dynamic shines through in "Tous les mêmes," where the linguistic contrast adds depth to the intricate emotions within relationships, crafting a piece both poetic and universally relatable.


Beyond "Tous les mêmes" exploring the Power of "Ave Cesaria"

In another lyrical journey, Stromae takes us to "Ave Cesaria," a song where linguistic storytelling unveils the life of the beloved Cesaria Evora who had a real influence on Stromae's work, as his lyrics claim it in "Me font tourner la tête" (see brief extract from the lyrics below). Through the power of music, Stromae celebrates Cesaria's rich racine (roots) and cultural heritage, paying tribute to her "Diva aux pieds nus, restera", to her musical legacy and the resonance it holds in the hearts of many.

Le fabuleux destin de Stromae © TV5MONDE USA
Le fabuleux destin de Stromae is streaming on TV5MONDEplus - Watch it now 

Les effluves de rhum dans ta voix (The scent of rum in your voice)
Me font tourner la tête (Make my head spin)
Tu me fais danser du bout des doigts (You make me dance with the tips of your fingers)
Comme tes cigarettes (Like your cigarettes)


The Music Video's Visual Narrative: Language Beyond Lyrics

Beyond his lyrical genius, Stromae weaves a captivating visual narrative in his music videos. In the "Tous les mêmes" music video, the expressive language of dance and performance complements the linguistic significance of "Tous les mêmes," making it a multi-dimensional experience for French language learners.


From Rwanda to Belgium: A Harmonious Blend of Languages

Stromae's Rwandan roots add a beautiful fusion of languages to his music.  Although more than 99% of Rwandans speak Kinyarwanda – a Bantu language and the country's mother-tongue – Rwanda has three other official languages: French, English and Swahili.  Embracing the Rwandan and Belgian facets of his artistry enhances our understanding of the multilingual fabric of the French-speaking world. The significance of "les mêmes" in his songs transcends linguistic boundaries, bridging cultures through the power of music.


The Cultural Celebration of "Tous les Mêmes"

Stromae's "Tous les Mêmes" serves as an interesting musical creation to consider in our journey of learning French in an engaging, fun and rewarding way. It exemplifies the celebratory spirit of language and culture that flows through Stromae's music. As we immerse ourselves in the captivating world of "Tous les mêmes," we unlock the linguistic treasures woven within Stromae's artistry throughout:

Lorsque je n'serais plus belle ou du moins au naturel
(When I'm no longer beautiful, or at least in a natural way)

Arrête je sais que tu mens, il n'y a que Kate Moss qui est éternelle
(Stop, I know you're lying, only Kate Moss is eternal)

Moche ou bête (c'est jamais bon)
(Ugly or stupid (it's never good))

Bête ou belle (c'est jamais bon)
(Stupid or beautiful (it's never good))

Belle ou moi (c'est jamais bon)
(Beautiful or me (it's never good))

Moi ou elle (c'est jamais bon)
(Me or her (it's never good))


Melodic Inferno: The Poetic Impact of Stromae's Lyrics

In his songwriting, Stromae often traverses infernal depths, conveying poignant emotions through his poetic verses. His lyrical prowess accentuates the emotional resonance of "les mêmes," making language learning a deeply immersive experience. The fiery passion of his lyrics resonates with audiences, touching hearts with linguistic grace.


"Tous les Mêmes" une chanson pas comme les autres

As the curtain falls on our melodic journey through Stromae's linguistic labyrinth, the echoes of "Tous les Mêmes" linger in our hearts, resonating as a testament to the power of music and language to touch our souls in a very unique way.  If Stromae's songs are far from being "toutes les mêmes", "Tous les mêmes" is not "comme les autres" (like other songs).

Through his artistry, Stromae has invited us to explore the interplay of words and rhythm, to dance with the nuances of linguistic expression, and to find solace and celebration in the melodies that transcend borders. The lessons gleaned from "Tous les mêmes" extend beyond language learning; they remind us of the interconnectedness of cultures and emotions, and how music, like language, speaks to our shared humanity. 

If you enjoyed reading this article and improving your French with song lyrics, you may also like analyzing the French lyrics of the Tourner dans le vide song by French singer and songwriter Indila.  You can consider also incorporating French Daily newspapers into your daily French learning routine.


Stream more music performances and music documentaries on TV5MONDEplus

Enjoy personal stories from artists around the globe, including the recent 2023 documentary, Le fabuleux destin de Stromae which tries to understand why Stromae made the dramatic decision to end his April 2022 "Multitude Tour" prematurely. Or, celebrate the queen of pop's 40-year career with In France with Madonna and discover how France helped shape her artistic world.

You're also invited to watch recent album releases like that of Christine and the Queens "Redcar les Adorables Étoiles" which Rolling Stones called an ‘avant-garde pop opera‘ to moving performances by Jane Birkin in 2022 at the Paris Philharmonic.




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