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Prends garde à toi! “Carmen” by Stromae Posted by on Apr 2, 2015 in Culture, Music, Uncategorized

Yesterday, Belgian singer/songwriter Stromae released le clip (the music video) to his new single “Carmen.” Stromae (verlan for maestro) came to major popularity with his song “Alors on danse,” which topped the charts in France and Belgium and peaked at 19 in the USA. A remix of this song with self-proclaimed music god Kanye West was later released in 2010. Popularity follows Stromae (although in a less pretentious way — looking at you, Kanye), as “Formidable” reached number 1 in France and Belgium and “Papaoutai” reaching number 1 in France and Belgium and 25 in the US. Check out Transparent’s previous post on “Papaoutai.” Pentatonix, a popular American a capella group, released a cover of the song that’s worth checking out, too.

This time Stromae sings about les médias sociaux (social media), et en particulier (and particularly) Twitter. C’est possible de devenir accro (Is it possible to become an addict?)? If so, what happens?

Ecoutons la chanson (Let’s listen to the song). Do you recognize the music at the beginning? The music, the opening lines, the refrain, and the song’s title are all inspired by the aria “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle que nul ne peut approvoiser” (Love is a rebellious bird that nobody can tame) from Georges Bizet’s opera “Carmen.” Mezzo sopranos singing the role of Carmen sing of love as a rebellious bird and what could happen if she falls in love with you. Stromae changes the metaphor a bit and sings of a little blue bird we’re all too familiar with. Love can take you over, but can Twitter? Can this bird be tamed?

Ce clip a des sous-titres anglais (this video has English subtitles), but below I’ve put a slightly altered translation.

L’amour est comme l’oiseau de Twitter
Love is like the Twitter bird
On est bleu de lui*, seulement pour 48 heures
We’re infatuated with him for only 48 hours
[*être bleu de quelqu’un is a Belgian expression meaning to be infatuated with someone]
D’abord on s’affilie, ensuite on se follow
First we meet, then we follow
On en devient fêlé, et on finit solo
Then we crack, and we end up solo
Prends garde à toi
Watch yourself out there
Et à tous ceux qui vous like
And all those out there who like you
Les sourires en plastique sont souvent des coups d’hashtag
Those fake smiles cut like a hashtag

Prends garde à toi
Watch yourself out there
Ah les amis, les potes ou les followers
Ah friends, pals, or followers
Vous faites erreur, vous avez juste la cote
No, no, you’re just popular
Prends garde à toi
Watch yourself out there
Si tu t’aimes
If you like yourself
Garde à moi
I’ll watch out
Si je m’aime
If I like myself
Garde à nous, garde à eux, garde à vous
Watch out for us, for them, for you
Et puis chacun pour soi
And then everyone for himself
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy

L’amour est enfant de la consommation
Love is the child of consumer society
Il voudra toujours toujours toujours plus de choix
He always wants more and more
Voulez voulez-vous des sentiments tombés du camion ?
Do you really want feelings fallen off the back of a truck?
L’offre et la demande pour unique et seule loi
Supply and demand is the name of the game
Prends garde à toi
Watch yourself out there.
Mais j’en connais déjà les dangers, moi
But I know the dangers out there
J’ai gardé mon ticket et, s’il le faut, je vais l’échanger, moi
I kept my receipt, and if I need to, I’ll exchange it.
Prends garde à toi
Watch yourself out there.
Et, s’il le faut, j’irais me venger moi
And if I have to, I’ll get my revenge.
Cet oiseau de malheur, je le mets en cage
I’ll put this cursed bird in a cage
Je le fais chanter, moi
And I’ll make him sing.

Prends garde à toi
Watch yourself out there
Si tu t’aimes
If you like yourself
Garde à moi
I’ll watch out
Si je m’aime
If I like myself
Garde à nous, garde à eux, garde à vous
Watch out for us, for them, for you
Et puis chacun pour soi
And then everyone for himself
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy
Et c’est comme ça qu’on s’aime, s’aime, s’aime, s’aime
And that’s how we love, love, love
Comme ça consomme, somme, somme, somme, somme
And that’s how we buy, buy, buy

Un jour tu achètes, un jour tu aimes
One day you buy, one day you love
Un jour tu jettes, mais un jour tu payes
One day you throw it out, but one day you’ll pay
Un jour tu verras, on s’aimera
One day you’ll see, we’ll all love each other
Mais avant on crèvera tous, comme des rats
But before that, we’re all going to die like rats.

 

******

If you teach an intermediate or advanced class, this could be a wonderful in-class #discussion. Show the students the video and ask some questions. Here are a few you could consider:

  1. What is your relationship with social media? What do you use it for, and how often do you use it?
  2. Why does the video show the bird eating Stromae’s food? What is he really feeding on, and what does this mean?
  3. Stromae waves to the little girl at 0:41 seconds into the video, and she waves back. After, the bird looks menacing and the girl is scared. This could be based off the idea that people feel braver speaking behind a keyboard than in person. What do you think? Why are our online personas different? Keep in mind that the bird in the video gets larger and larger.
  4. Stromae meets a girl in the park and goes back to her place. In bed, he takes a selfie before she kicks him out. Does social media destroy relationships? How so?
  5. When Stromae is being carried off by the bird, we see some familiar faces (or in Kim Kardashian’s case, ses fesses – her butt) including Lady Gaga, Barack Obama, The Queen of England, and Kim Kardashian. How do these people use social media to their advantage or disadvantage?
  6. After being defecated by the bird, a cell phone emerges, maybe to take a selfie. Why does society feel that social media needs to know everything we’re doing?
  7. In Bizet’s score, “l’amour est enfant de Boheme.” In Stromae’s song, “l’amour est enfant de la consommation.” Compare and contrast this evolution of l’amour.
  8. The little girl Stromae waves to near the beginning is on a scooter. Where do we see her again in the video? Now she no longer has a scooter, but a cellphone. When is a good age to give a child a cell phone? How has childhood changed with technology?
  9. Compare Bizet’s rebellious bird to Twitter’s blue bird. How are they different? How are they the same?
  10. Stromae first released this video on Buzzfeed, a site which posts trending material. In the YouTube video description, Stromae links to his Twitter account. What do you think of this video release tactic linked with the message in the song?
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About the Author: Josh Dougherty

Just your typical francophile. If you have any topics you'd like me to discuss, feel free to let me know!


Comments:

  1. sam:

    thanks a ton for this! i thought i found good translations on stromaeometre but i think they only had 2 of them