Mika’s magic Monday: Walk out the door!
Since the web-release of his first single ‘Relax, Take it Easy’ in 2006, British pop-rocker Mika has never once peeked back. The song was quickly followed by the single ‘Grace Kelly’ in January 2007, which in less than two weeks climbed to the top of the UK singles charts. Just like that, Mika had established himself as a pop-sensation.
His first album, Life In Cartoon Motion, released in February 2007, led to comparisons between himself and pop icons such as Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Prince and David Bowie. One only has to listen to Mika to hear traces of Queen’s frontman in the quivers of his voice, and Mika’s onstage appearance, very often clad in tight and colourful clothing, has a frenetic and endearing energy – much like that of a Mercury or a Prince.
These influences aren’t lost on Mika either, who in ‘Grace Kelly’ sings: “I try to be like Grace Kelly/ But all her looks are too sad/ So I try a little Freddie/ I’ve gone identity mad.” Identity mad describes the album’s coming-of-age theme particularly well, as Mika faces the challenges of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, and of growing comfortably into your own person.
The song ‘Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)’ meanwhile is an ode to self-affirmation, regardless of prejudices, while ‘Billy Brown’ chronicles the complications of a closeted married man’s homosexual affair.
Born in Lebanon, Mika’s family was forced to flee Beirut for Paris before he was even one. At nine, his family again relocated, this time to London, where Mika – one of five siblings (two older, two younger) – was trained by Russian opera professional Alla Ardakov at the Royal College of Music.
An identity crisis seemed destined to brew in the oft-relocated, middle child, and despite being asked many times by interviewers about his sexuality, he has refused to label himself one way or another.
Mika is coming to Copenhagen to promote his third album, The Origin of Love, which he released internationally on September 17 and in the UK on October 8. This broke a three-year studio hiatus after the release of his second album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, in 2009.
Mika has described his latest album as more “simplistic” and less “layered” than his previous releases, as it deals with “the adult years” and is therefore more “serious” too.
Seriousness aside, the tunes are still poppy and up-tempo, with a wide range of influences evident in the album – from electronic headliners Daft Punk, to Woodstock-rockers Fleetwood Mac – as well as the inclusion of varied collaborators, all indicating that Mika still doesn’t define himself in black-and-white.
Instead he prefers to live in the grey, creating pop music that incorporates sounds from across the musical spectrum. While a couple of tracks from The Origin of Love sound almost too similar to something from OneRepublic, a band Mika’s primary producer has worked with in the past, Mika sets himself apart with wide-ranging vocal abilities that allow him to weave seamlessly in and out of a ‘typical’ pop genre.
‘Stardust’ – produced by Benassi – is an up-tempo track straight out of Italian electronic dance music, in which Mika belts out an ambitious club anthem. In ‘Kids’ the folksy influence of Fleetwood Mac can be heard in Mika’s soft, low (and unfalsettoed) voice, while ‘Origin of Love’ and ‘Love You When I’m Drunk’ feel familiarly Freddie, with Queen-like background harmonisations and peppy, poppy riffs that are truly Mika’s bread-and-butter.
Relax, take it easy and give Mika a chance. There’s bound to be a sound, or song, of Mika’s you’ll love, even if you have to get drunk first – which Stor Vega conveniently has a bar for.
Stor Vega, Enghavevej 40, Cph V; Mon 20:00; Tickets 300kr