Stromae’s “Formidable” Lyrics Meaning

Stromae’s “Formidable” is a concept song, if you will. That is to say that instead of taking the standard singer-to-addressee approach, Stromae puts himself in a particular setting. And that setting would basically feature him wandering the streets, talking to strangers. Moreover he’s “a very bit wasted”, which would account for the off-the-cuff statements he makes to these people. But more to the point is that he just broke up with his significant other the day before this song takes place.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Stromae's Formidable at

Verse 1

So the first person he talks to is apparently a single lady. He claims that he is not trying to hit on her, even though he behaves a bit like he is. In the midst of such, he apparently reveals that the reason he was dumped was because of impotence. And he apologizes for his current, drunken disposition. She seemingly ignores him, but he believes that if she had only ‘seen him yesterday’, i.e. when he was still with his girlfriend and therefore in a better state, she would have been more impressed. She would have therefore entertained the idea of conversing with him.

Verse 2

Then in the second verse he addresses a married man. And what Stromae basically tells him is that he shouldn’t feel too good about himself due to such, because the relationship will eventually fall apart. Moreover he implies to the man that if he has any children, they’ll ultimately grow up not to appreciate him.

Verse 3

Then in the third verse he is addressing a ‘little boy’. And what he is fundamentally telling him also is that family life is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Now all of the aforementioned tirades ultimately point back to the singer, once again, being in an emotionally devastated state. And he looks back at his past life, dating back to just yesterday when he was with the woman he loves, as being “wonderful”. Moreover he is taking full credit for their relationship falling apart, referring to himself as the “pathetic” one in their relationship.


So conclusively, it’s easy to see that this song is meant to be comedic. But it also speaks to the real-life, all-encompassing pessimism let’s say men tend to feel when they’re dumped, as the singer apparently has been, especially if it was due to something as potentially self-esteem shattering as impotence. But it has also been suggested, considering the anger and rudeness he displays in the lyrics, that him possessing such an attitude may have also been what caused his sweetheart to lose interest in him.

What is the meaning of “Formidable”?

Meanwhile the title of this track is actually an exercise in wordplay by Stromae. For the English word “formidable”, with alludes to something being “wonderful” for instance, actually rhymes with the French phrase fort minable, which translates to very pathetic. So basically, he views his relationship with his ex as the former and himself as the latter.

Facts about “Formidable”

“Formidable” was both exclusively written and produced by Stromae.

This track was released by Mercury Records and another label called Mosaert on 27 March 2013. It is featured on Stromae’s album entitled “Racine Carrée” (tr. “Square Root”).

“Formidable” was a huge success for Stromae. It made it to number one on three different charts in his homeland of Belgium in addition to be certified triple-Platinum in the country. The song topped music charts in France and Switzerland as well.  At the end of the day, it charted in almost 10 European countries, including the Netherlands. Here, it peaked at number 2.

This track was covered by Dutch artist Cheyenne Toney in 2013 to notable success in her homeland. There is also an Arabic version of the song by a musician named Nadia Essadiqi. Nadia’s version came out in 2015 and instantly went viral.

In keeping true to the track’s storyline, Stromae plays a drunk on the music video to “Formidable”. In fact he did so convincingly that people who observed his behavior without knowing what was actually going on thought he was making a public fool of himself in real life. These people went on to spread the news accordingly.

Said video was filmed at a metro station in Belgium (Brussels to be exact). It was written and directed by one Alexis Breut.

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