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Stromae Returns With New Song And Video, 'Défiler'

"Like it or not, we have a market value, from childhood to the shroud," Stromae sings in "Défiler."
Stephan Vanfleteren
Courtesy of the artist
"Like it or not, we have a market value, from childhood to the shroud," Stromae sings in "Défiler."

After five years, Paul Van Haver is back with a melancholy new song that also serves as a promotional video for his newest clothing collection. "Défiler" [March] is Stromae's first official release in half a decade, since the release of his 2013 album Racine Carée[Square Root].

The clothing on display is the newest capsule collection for Mosaert, the unisex fashion line led by Stromae and his wife, designer Coralie Barbier.

As the Belgian artist's French-speaking fans already know to expect, Stromae's lyrics are packed with multiple layers of wordplay and meaning. With its dreamy electronic texture and plangent mood, "Défiler" contemplates movement — on the catwalk, in protest, in military formation, but also walking through one's life and experiences. (The word "défiler" has several meanings in English: to march by, as soldiers or models would, and to pass by, as in years passing — and also to scroll, as one scrolls on a phone.)

"We walk in ranks," he sings. "In groups or not, we walk alone. Like it or not, we have a market value, from childhood to the shroud." He then goes on to address our visuals-first world: "Child, before learning a trade, you must first learn how to retouch the photo on the resume."

The whole project is a family affair, apart from Stromae and Barbier's fashion collaboration. The song, written and sung by Stromae, was arranged by his brother, Luc Junior Tam, who also serves as Mosaert's creative director; Stromae, Barbier and Tam all appear at the end of the video to take a bow.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.