Daniel Bélanger, The Unbearable Lightness of Being


What a long way he's come since 1992! After gaining experience with the Humphrey Salade band and toiling on small stages, that was the year Daniel Bélanger dropped a small bomb called Les insomniaques s'amusent on the Quebec music scene. Blending unfettered poetry and incisive melodies with a folk, rock and jazz feel, this first album soon won over a wide audience and earned critical acclaim. Songs like Opium (winner of the Félix for Videoclip of the Year), La folie en 4 and Ensorcelée became an indelible part of our musical memory. A year later, with what was to become a legendary tour, sales rapidly approaching 175,000 copies and ADISQ award for Pop-Rock Album of the Year, this singer-songwriter had carved out his own special place in the hearts of Quebecers.


As he continued to accumulate honours (including ADISQ awards for Bestselling Album of the Year, Male Performer of the Year and Show of the Year in 1994), Daniel Bélanger's relationship with his fans became more profound. The bond was forged not only with the calibre of his songs but also with his personality: it was soon clear that he make audiences roar with laughter as well as he could move them to tears. Stage performances would often turn into a party.


In 1996, Quatre saisons dans le désordre confirmed our high opinion of Daniel Bélanger. This was a constantly evolving performer not content to rest on his laurels. His palate of sounds broadened and his lyrics were unfailingly inventive. Awards flooded in (Félix for the Pop-Rock Album, Singer-Songwriter and Show of the Year, in the singer-songwriter category), sales went wild (the album was certified Platinum), and titles like Les deux printemps, Sortez-moi de moi and Les Temps fous (Félix for Videoclip of the Year) topped the charts.


1998: Daniel Bélanger decided to travel alone in space. But far from being alone, he shared this experience with thousands of people, because the tour of the same name was a resounding success, revealing an artist able to inhabit the whole stage performing solo, with music and comic monologues; this led to the recording of an unusual album, Tricycle (1999), featuring excerpts from performances recorded at different points in his career.


2000: Daniel Bélanger thrilled his fans with Erreur d'impression, a collection of 150 whimsical stories and reflections bordering on the absurd, and founded the publishing house Coronet liv. He continued to take part in major shows, including the opening concert of the 12th FrancoFolies de Montréal, featuring legendary singers from three generations: Jean-Pierre Ferland, Michel Rivard and himself.


With the album Rêver mieux (certified Platinum) released in October 2001, this amazingly creative performer employed electro sounds with playful inspiration. Once again he wowed his fans and was showered with tributes (seven ADISQ awards in 2002, including Pop-Rock Album of the Year, and the following year, the ADISQ award for Videoclip of the Year for Dans un Spoutnik, the Juno for Francophone Album of the Year, and various other distinctions).


Daniel Bélanger has also made successful inroads into the world of film music (nomination for the Génie for Best Original Song for the movie theme Le Dernier souffle in 2000; Jutra for Best Music for L'Audition in 2006). And in 2003 he surprised many people with an unidentified artwork entitled Déflaboxe, a lively exploration in poetry and music offering a dizzying glimpse inside the mind of a boxer (paid to lose).


Since then, Daniel Bélanger has travelled widely, listened to the world and observed its contradictions. L'échec du matériel, the album due in record stores in April 2007, marks a new stage in the career of this major artist who is very much of our own time and is never quite where we expect him to be. This album is just as poetic and melodious as Rêver mieux, but more rooted in the concerns and aspirations of his contemporaries.