Maybe it’s ironic that Stromae chose BuzzFeed, which bills itself as having “the hottest, most social content on the web” as the platform from which to release the exclusive premiere of the music video for his song “Carmen.” And just to take it a step further, the video actually debuted on BuzzFeed Music’s Facebook account.
The video and song warn of the gruesome consequences of social media addiction– “Tweetpocalypse,” as Buzzfeed puts it.
Watch for the cameo from French rapper Orelsan (who co-wrote the song with Stromae and who is also listed in the video credits as co-writer with Sylvain Chomet*). The video also features animated cameos from Barack Obama, Queen Elizabeth, Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and even Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. These celebrities seem to get the brunt of the social-media addiction portrayed in the video: even as they fall to their deaths, a cell phone rises from the muck to capture their images.
While he avoids complaining about his own success, Stromae has spoken of the challenges he himself has faced in his own new celebrity status. More and more, he’s recognized on the streets in Europe and beyond and has lamented “people with camera phones.”
The level of detail in the “Carmen” video shows how closely Stromae worked with its director, the award-winning Sylvain Chomet. Stromae fans will notice the poster of Cesaria Evora on the teenage Stromae character’s bedroom wall. Look closely at the wallpaper in both his and his sister’s rooms: it has a tessellated pattern similar to the other graphic designs Stromae uses in his work, but this time you can spot a repeated bird image in the pattern.
It’s impossible for subtitles to capture the original French lyrics’ complexity. In particular, the subtitle “of the back of a truck” should be “off the back of a truck.” The line is “Voulez-vous des sentiments tombés du camion?” (“Do you want sentiments that have fallen off a truck?”). In other words, do you want cookie-cutter sentiments that might as well have been mass-marketed and unloaded from the back of a semi? Still, the imagery in the video makes up for what the subtitles miss (let’s face it, we’re all going to have to learn French if we want to catch every nuance). Don’t watch this video unless you want to find yourself rethinking your relationship (and your kids’, if you have them) to social media.
Bravo to Stromae, along with the writers, director, animators, and all who created this powerful video: 5 stars from Stromaeometre!
*UPDATE April 6: Giving credit where credit’s due, Ouest France reports that Orelsan did write the script for the “Carmen” video with Stromae and Sylvain Chomet. Orelsan told the newspaper that work began on the project no less than six months ago, when he, Chomet, and Stromae spent three days together in Brussels. “On a déliré,” Orelsan commented: “We went crazy.”