Belgium may not be known for their music throughout the world but we sure have some fine artists. I could easily add more songs to the list but here’s my personal top 10:
#10 K’s Choice – Not an addict: a 90’s classic that brought the rock band international fame
#9 Milow – Ayo technology: originally written and recorded by 50 Cent, Justin Timberlake and Timbaland. There are also other records like “You don’t know” or “Never gonna stop” etc.
#8 Leki – Breakin’ out: the first female urban/R&B-pop star to rise out of Belgium. She is known for many hits including “Crazy”, “Spread my wings”, “Trouble”…
#7 Selah Sue – This world: The Belgian reggae-soul singer placed a few songs on MySpace at the request of her friends, and the rest is history. Her other hits include “Raggamuffin” and “Please” feat. Cee-Lo Green.
#6 Novastar – Never back down: this band is known for its deep, emotional ballads, led by Joost Zweegers, singer-songwriter and guitarist/pianist with a pure, high voice.
#5 Hooverphonic – Mad about you: a rock/pop band that quickly expanded their sound to the point where they could no longer be described as a lone genre, but rather encompass alternative, electronica, electropop, rock, and mixture of others.
#4 Lara Fabian – Adagio: the best-selling Belgian-born female artist of all time. She is a lyric soprano with a vocal range that spans three octaves and is better known for her French songs like “Tout”, “Je t’aime”, “La différence”, …
#3 Axelle Red – Parce que c’est toi: the most beautiful love song ever sang by this singer-songwriter with French soul (still looking for a good English translation for this song)
#2 Tom Dice – Me and my guitar: runner-up in the Belgian version of The X Factor and represented Belgium in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010 with this song.
#1 Stromae – “Papaoutai” and “Formidable”: couldn’t pick one of the 2 songs so they share the #1 spot for me. Stromae (slang for maestro) creates his own world with gloomy lyrics to dance music. His mixed heritage (he was brought up Belgian by his mother while his Rwandese father was mostly absent) provides the narrative of one of his biggest hits, “Papaoutai” (Dad, Where Are You?). In the video of the song, he adopts the pose of a mannequin, representing the absent father (his father was killed in the Rwandan genocide of 1994), while a younger version of him mouths the words: “Everybody knows how to make babies and yet nobody knows how to make fathers.”
For “Formidable”, amateur videos appeared on YouTube showing Stromae, apparently drunk and wandering at the streets of Brussels during the day. The images went viral. Some days later it was revealed that that was the taping of his music video.