L’enfer (translation: “Hell”) is a talisman to fight the darkest of thoughts, where Stromae skillfully juggles a spectrum of emotions, exploring the most intimate of themes. A depressive spiral that the artist lays bare in a few bars, from everyday boredom to the darkest forms of escape. The song debuted live on the French news channel TF1 on Sunday night, where Stromae created a true performance art moment on live TV and surprised viewers by answering the last question from the news anchor with the first few lines of L’enfer. He then continued to perform the entire song while sitting at the news desk.
The song acts as a further testament to Stromae’s ingenious and profound skills not just as a producer and musician, but as a lyricist; his signature dark sense of humor helps reinforce these very palpable emotions, each carried by strings and percussions set to punctuate the choruses. A deluge of reverb and haunting voices become elegiac, and when the vengeful synth enters the stage, the listener has no choice but to join the fight.
Following the release of L’enfer is the corresponding music video – co-directed by Julien Soulier, Luc Van Haver, Coralie Barbier, and Stromae himself — which is a sequence shot that starts on Stromae’s eye. As the camera pulls back, we discover him alone in a setting that is both sober and disturbing in its immensity. This continuous zoom-out is punctuated by the singer’s dark thoughts that gradually take over. The clip ends with a return on the eye of the singer, like the endless loop that can sometimes represent suffering and depression.
Following a sold-out arena tour across all continents – including headlining the prestigious Madison Square Garden in New York City, and becoming the breakaway highlight act from 2015’s Coachella Festival, the critically acclaimed Belgian-born artist, writer, performer, producer, designer, and director went on an 8-year hiatus to focus on other creative endeavors via his creative label Mosaert with co-founders Coralie Barbier and Luc Van Haver, including making award-winning music videos for the likes of Dua Lipa (IDGAF) and Billie Eilish (Hostage), as well as continuing to release high-end fashion capsule collections.
Fast forward to October 2021, Stromae made a much welcomed and surprise return with Santé, which accumulated 3.5 million streams in the first week and quickly became the 5th most streamed track on Spotify upon release, with the music video amassing more than 18 million views on YouTube. Last month, the song debuted on NBC’s, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.