Stromae – Formidable French Lyrics English Translation

Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Formidable song background and synopsis

Formidable” (pronounced fɔʀmidabl) is a French song released by Belgian singer Stromae in 2013. The English meaning of formidable is wonderful or terrific. The song lyrics depict a drunk Stromae stumbling around pleading with an unseen woman the day after getting dumped.

Formidable went to straight to the top of the charts in France, Belgium and Switzerland. The song’s video (see bottom of post) was shot around the Louise tram and metro station in Brussels.

Become an expert in French song lyrics!
French Learner has pages covering the lyrics of many French songs including Alors On Danse and Papaoutai (both by Stromae) and Dernière Danse (by Indilia). For classic French songs, you can find lyrics pages for La Vie En Rose and Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (by Edith Piaf), Ne Me Quitte Pas and Le Port d’Amsterdam (by Jacques Brel), C’est Si Bon and Les Feuilles Mortes (by Yves Montand), La Mer (by Charles Trenet), La Bohème (by Charles Aznavour) Les Champs Elysées (by Joe Dassin) and Dominique (by The Singing Nun).

Formidable lyrics analysis

In the following section we have handpicked lines in the lyrics which we think offer interesting insights into learning French grammar and vocabulary.

The lyrics use lots of advanced French grammar as well as slang.

In the song’s lyrics, Stromae is lamenting with himself for having gotten dumped by his lover, saying, “You were wonderful, I was pathetic”.

Formidable, formidable

The French adjective formidable is both the title of the song and the word word the chorus. Translations of formidable include great, terrific and wonderful.

Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable

This like translates to “You were wonderful, I was pathetic”. “Tu étais” translates to “you were”. This is the verb être (to be) conjugated in the imperfect tense.

The adjective fort often translates to strong. However, in literary contexts it can translate to “very”.

The adjective minable translates to pathetic. “Fort minable” (very pathetic) is almost a play on words as it sounds similar to “formidable” when pronounced quickly.

Nous étions formidables

The next line of the chorus, “Nous étions formidables“, is être conjugated in the imperfect tense in the first-person plural (nous or we) form.

Oh bébé – oups ! – mademoiselle

This line translates to “Oh baby, oops ! – miss”. Here, Stromae appears to be expressing some sarcasm towards his former female lover.

J’vais pas vous draguer, promis juré

This line translates to “I’m not going to pick you, cross my heart”. “J’vais pas” is a shortening of “Je ne vais pas“, which means “I’m not going to”.

The French verb draguer translates to “to hit on”, “to make a move on” or “to pick up”.

Both “promis” and “juré” both mean “promised”. When combined into promis juré, they form an expression that means “cross my heart” or “cross my heart and hope to die”.

J’suis célibataire, depuis hier p*tain !

This line translates to “I’ve been single since yesterday, f*ck!”. “J’suis” is a shortening of “je suis” (I am). when combined with the present tense, depuis translates to have been…since.

P*tain is a French obscenity that has many translations and usages.

Cinq minutes quoi ! J’t’ai pas insultée

This line translates to “Like five minutes! I didn’t insult you”. The word “quoi” translates to “what” but is used as a filler word similar to “like” in informal English.

“J’t’ai” is the shortening of “Je ne t’ai pas” to form the French passé composé (a French past tense).

J’suis poli, courtois, et un peu fort bourré

This line translates to “I’m polite, courteous, and a bit, very drunk”. The word “bourré” is informal language for drunk. “Un peu fort bourré” is meant to be an ironic contradiction, literally “A bit very drunk”.

Et pour les mecs comme moi, vous avez autre chose à faire hein

This line translates to “And for guys like me, you have other things to do, eh”. The word “mec” is French slang for “guy”.

The French interject “hein” has lots of meanings including eh and what.

Vous m’auriez vu hier…

We loosely translated this line to “You should have seen me yesterday…”. This line is in the past conditional tense (this page covers the French conditional in detail).

The literal translation of this line is “You would have seen me yesterday”.

Eh tu t’es regardé, tu t’crois beau parce que tu t’es marié

In this line Stromae is talking to an imaginary man. The line translates to “Hey did you look at yourself, you think you’re handsome because you’re married”.

Tu t’es regardé” is the passé composé of the reflexive verb “se regarder” (to look at yourself). This page covers reflexive verbs in detail. “Tu t’es marié” is the passé composé of se marier (to get married).

Mais c’est qu’un anneau, mec, t’emballe pas

This line translates to “But just with a wedding wring, man, don’t get ahead of yourself”. The construction ne…que is a French negation that means “only”.

Emballer means to wrap. In the reflexive form, s’emballer means “to get carried away” or “to get ahead of yourself”.

Elle va t’larguer comme elles le font chaque fois

This line translates to “She’s going to dump you like they do every time”. The verb “larguer” means to release and is informal language for “to break up” or “to dump”.

In this line, Stromae starts with the personal pronounelle” (she) then uses “elles” to suggest “all women”.

Et puis l’autre fille, tu lui en as parlé ?

This line translates to “And the other girl, did you talk to her about that?”. “Tu lui en as parlé?” employs two indirect object pronouns. “Lui” refers to “to her” and “en” refers to “about that”.

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This page covers French direct and indirect object pronouns in detail. This page covers the French pronoun “lui“.

Si tu veux je lui dis, comme ça c’est réglé

This line translates to “If you want I’ll tell you, as it’s been settled”. Again, “lui” means her. Réglé translates to settled or resolved.

Et au p’tit aussi, enfin si vous en avez

This line translates to “And to the child too, if you have one of them”. “P’tit” is a shortening of “petit“. Petit means small or short but can also mean child.

In the phrase, “si vous en avez“, the en is an indirect object pronoun referring back to an unspoken “des petits” (children) .

Attends trois ans, sept ans, et là vous verrez

This line translates to “Wait three years, seven years and then you will see”. “Vous verrez” is the future tense of the verb voir (to see).

The word “” translates to “there”. However, for this line we translated it loosely to “then”.

Si c’est…

This line translates to “yes it’s…”. The word “si” means both “yes” and “if”.

In the context of meaning “yes”, si is used to contradict a question being asked in the negation. For example, “Tu n’aimes pas la glace?” (you don’t like ice cream?). Answer: “Si! Je l’aime” (Yes, I like it!).

Et petite – oh pardon ! – petit

We translated this line to “And young girl – oh sorry! – young guy”. Stromae changes the gender from the feminine “petite” to the masculine “petit”. Again, he’s using this word to mean “child”.

Tu sais dans la vie y’a ni méchant ni gentil

This line translates to “You know in life there’s neither mean nor kind”. “Y’a” is a shortening of “il n’y a” (there is not). The ni…ni construction means neither…nor.

Si Maman est chiante, c’est qu’elle a peur d’être mamie

This line translates to “Yes mom is a pain, it’s that she’s afraid to be a grandmother”. The slang adjective “chiant” means to be annoying or a pain.

Elle a peur” is an avoir (to have) expression and means “she’s scared” or “she’s afraid”. This page covers the French verb avoir in detail.

Si Papa trompe Maman, c’est parce que Maman vieillit, tiens

This line translates to “Yes dad cheats on mom, it’s because Mom is getting older, hey”. The verb “tromper” translates to “to cheat on”. In the reflexive form, “se tromper” means to mistaken.

The verb “vieillir” means to get older or to age.

Pourquoi t’es tout rouge ? Ben reviens gamin !

This line means “Why are you all read? Well come back child!”. “Gamin” is French slang for child.

Et qu’est-ce que vous avez tous, à me regarder comme un singe, vous ?

This line translates to “And what’s wrong with all of you, to look at me like a monkey, you?”. The “à me” in the line can translate to “to me” or “at me”. This page covers ten ways to say me in French.

Bande de macaques !

This line translates to “Bunch of macaques!”. The expression “bande de + noun” is pejorative language for “bunch of”.

Donnez-moi un bébé singe, il sera…

This line translates to “Give me a baby monkey, he will be…”. “Donnez-moi” is the French imperative (commanding tense) for the verb donner (to give).

Formidable French Lyrics & English Translation

Formidable, formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables
Formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables

Wonderful, wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful
Wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful

Oh bébé – oups ! – mademoiselle
J’vais pas vous draguer, promis juré
J’suis célibataire, depuis hier p*tain !
J’peux pas faire d’enfant et bon c’est pas – Eh reviens !
Cinq minutes quoi ! J’t’ai pas insultée
J’suis poli, courtois, et un peu fort bourré
Et pour les mecs comme moi, vous avez autre chose à faire hein
Vous m’auriez vu hier…
J’étais…

Oh baby, oops ! – miss
I’m not going to pick you, cross my heart
I’ve been single since yesterday, f*ck!
I can’t have a kid and well, it’s not – hey come back!
Like five minutes! I didn’t insult you
I’m polite, courteous, and a bit, very drunk
And for guys like me, you have other things to do, eh
You should have seen me yesterday…
I was…

Formidable, formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables
Formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables

Wonderful, wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful
Wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful

Eh tu t’es regardé, tu t’crois beau parce que tu t’es marié
Mais c’est qu’un anneau, mec, t’emballe pas
Elle va t’larguer comme elles le font chaque fois
Et puis l’autre fille, tu lui en as parlé ?
Si tu veux je lui dis, comme ça c’est réglé
Et au p’tit aussi, enfin si vous en avez
Attends trois ans, sept ans, et là vous verrez
Si c’est…

Hey did you look at yourself, you think you’re handsome because you’re married
But just with a wedding wring, man, don’t get ahead of yourself
She’s going to dump you like they do every time
And the other girl, did you talk to her about that?
If you want I’ll tell you, as it’s been settled
And to the child too, if you have one of them
Wait three years, seven years and then you will see
Yes it’s…

Formidable, formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables
Formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables

Wonderful, wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful
Wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful

Et petite – oh pardon ! – petit
Tu sais dans la vie y’a ni méchant ni gentil
Si Maman est chiante, c’est qu’elle a peur d’être mamie
Si Papa trompe Maman, c’est parce que Maman vieillit, tiens
Pourquoi t’es tout rouge ? Ben reviens gamin !
Et qu’est-ce que vous avez tous, à me regarder comme un singe, vous ?
Ah oui vous êtes saints, vous !
Bande de macaques !
Donnez-moi un bébé singe, il sera…

And young girl – oh sorry! – young guy
You know in life there’s neither mean nor kind
Yes mom is a pain, it’s that she’s afraid to be a grandmother
Yes dad cheats on mom, it’s because Mom is getting older, hey
Why are you all read? Well come back child!
And what’s wrong with all of you, to look at me like a monkey, you?
Ah yes you are saints!
Bunch of macaques!
Give me a baby monkey, he will be…

Formidable, formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables
Formidable
Tu étais formidable, j’étais fort minable
Nous étions formidables

Wonderful, wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful
Wonderful
You were wonderful, I was very pathetic
We were wonderful

Listen to Stromae Formidable – YouTube music video

The following YouTube video for Formidable has received almost 300 million views as of May, 2022. The video could be seen as some sort of publicity stunt. It shows Stromae emerging from a subway station in Brussels staggering and drunk.

He makes a spectacle of himself in front of the onlookers who film him in turn. At a certain point he is pulled from getting hit by a street car and is confronted by the police, who call him by name and tell him to go home.

The entire video is taken from security cameras in the area. Following along as you listen with the English subtitles.

Listen to formidable on Spotify

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About David Issokson

David Issokson is a lifelong language enthusiast. His head is swimming with words and sounds as he speaks over six languages. Of all the languages he speaks, he's the most passionate about French! David has helped hundreds of students to improve their French in his private online lessons. When procrastinating working on his site, FrenchLearner.com, David enjoys his time skiing and hiking in Teton Valley, Idaho.

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