Another trip to Paris, two more The Voice France auditions. I have so many thoughts in my head I don’t know where to start. Trying to organize them and sharing a few observations I find interesting/important.
First of all, it’s always easy to go to the studio as the atmosphere between different fan groups is good and relaxed. I’ve known some French Mika fans for years and always enjoy spending time with them. Talent shows bring new fans who can’t behave – and even stalk and disturb him – but these people don’t hang out with us, I don’t know them. I see them but I try to keep a distance and know who I can trust (and I’m sure Mika does as well).
Florent Pagny has a small and extremely loyal fan group. These calm and polite ladies have been his fans for almost thirty years. Some of them were Florent Pagny fans when Mika was still (literally!) wearing diapers! Respect. Most times they go in first as it’s like their natural place and it’s easy for the rest of us just follow them, they definitely know what to do. Jenifer fans are not as organized as Mika or FP fans (maybe because she doesn’t take much contact with her fans) but she has fans and they are easy to recognize (all pretty and Jenifer style). I haven’t met any Zazie fans yet. She is still new in her role as a coach but generally a liked person.
We don’t queue for seats (we are guided to our seats and most rows have a good view any way) but to just enter peacefully before big crowds and to spend some time together. If someone needs to work late they can arrive last minute and we just make space for them. There’s not much tension between fans. It’s not important for us who’s team will win the competition in the end as long as everything goes generally well for our artist and we all have fun. People often say talent shows are not a place for fans. It’s not actually true with The Voice. The production is expecting/encouraging fans to be there. I can’t know how Mika is experiencing it but long time fans try do their best not to disturb his work.
Mika gigs I’ve seen during the past 7 years have obviously left a permanent mark in my nervous system. I see or hear a small trigger – a security guy appearing at the door or sudden loud music (coming from a car passing by but sounding like a quick sound check) – and start salivating like a Pavlov dog. I can taste the excitement in my mouth. I have to remind myself it’s just a television recording. I will enjoy it but it won’t cause me an adrenaline rush. Everyone around me feels the same. Fans could be used for animal testing! Our minds associate little triggers – queuing, seeing other fans/security or going in to the venue – to concerts. Sometimes it’s frustrating to be that close and still not see him performing (especially when I know he is doing invitation only gigs I can’t see no matter how much I want) but it also gives comfort. It’s always good to see him, it’s always interesting to watch him working.
Traveling to see things in real life is generally important to me. It shows the other side of the coin, there’s a whole new world out there. I sometimes almost lose my faith with fan communities and need meeting people in real life to have it back. Communicating online (on twitter or forums) makes us often see our differences. Face to face we can see what’s common in us/what we share. I like being a real person instead of separate sentence in social media. I want us to make an effort to get along and to be polite to each other.
I’m often so focused on Mika/his performance that I ignore other people I meet. This time I paid attention and I realized people can be awesome and I want to say thank you to everyone I met. To people I’ve known for years and to people I’m learning to know. I had a lot of fun and enjoyed our time together. A special thank you to Melissa who patiently translated me both nights. Her English and knowledge are accurate, her translations were priceless. To make her job a bit easier we skipped some parts and focused on Mika and Zazie and their comments. It’s becoming awkward that I don’t speak any French or Italian so I’ve decided to learn and already booked some lessons. I wanted to do it ages ago but I’m poor at languages so my motivation wasn’t good enough (really hope I can make it this time).
It’s not just about seeing other fans in a different light. It’s also about seeing Mika in a different light. Seeing him only in photos – wearing his fancy suits, surrounded by his new, adoring fans – makes him distant. People say he has changed a lot. I don’t think it’s true, not the way people mean it. It’s still good to see it. He knows how to look lovable and not too important in his new suits. He comes and sits in his chair and just goes with the situation. He battles with the other coaches, rides on his chair and without a warning is lying on the floor in his white, shiny suit (his team probably tearing their hair out backstage). He is sighing and patting his tight jacket, stomach full after eating too much. Yawning and looking bored, not knowing where to put his long legs and suddenly sitting in a lotus like position. I was staring him my mouth open. I really had no idea his suits are that comfortable/flexible material!
It’s easy to be in the audience. I can watch contestants and still let my mind wander. Mika can joke with the other coaches (to entertain people) but when the song is over he has to be ready for a constructive comment, say something useful to the contestant who will possibly remember his words for the rest of her/his life. It’s a big responsibility and he wants to give a professional impression. And I don’t need to remember every contestants afterwards but he needs to learn to know his team well. It’s his job to make them sound and look as good as possible. It can’t be easy to separate two different concepts in two different countries/languages. I often wonder if he keeps these two jobs, his music and all the other projects neatly organized in their own spaces or if everything makes a big beautiful mess in his head. Either way, he is doing well.
It must be hard and tiring. Despite of that a part of him is always awake and sensitive for people. Small, sweet gestures that never cease to impress me. He sees a little girl with a drawing and goes and takes it and even gives her a little kiss. He goes to people who can’t have an easy access to him. He smiles to the audience, says thank you and waves good night. He pays attention and makes people feel special. It’s not possible to have chats with him after recordings (and I don’t want to disturb him by talking to him) but he lets people know he is aware of their presence and I appreciate it because I know he has far more important things to do and on his mind and I know he is being patient with people. I think he can still breath in France, the situation is not (yet) out of hands like it is in Italy where people stalk his house, try to invade his parties and bother his family.
About the two audition nights. On Monday the level was poor. I can’t remember any contestant, sorry about that. On Tuesday the level was extremely good. I felt for Zazie who already had a full team and couldn’t push the button that night. She was obviously suffering, some singers were really good and original! Mika got a couple of good/strong and a couple of extremely good contestants. He lost a couple of battles to Jenifer but I wouldn’t cry after these contestants as choosing Jenifer over Mika as their coach tells something about their personality, imo. These were the last two audition nights so everything was a bit “whatever”. During some particularly good performances the coaches wanted “someone” to choose the contestant, whoever it is (just to keep the contestant in the competition). The staff didn’t give us any instructions, just waved their hands, saying “do whatever you usually do”. We tried really hard to clap and stand up when needed, whatever we saw other people doing. In the end I was so tired I could hardly sit without falling asleep.
We saw Frero Delavega as a guest on the first night (interesting for me who doesn’t live in France) and Garou on the second night (not so interesting, tbh). The coaches performed their song again twice on both nights! Not sure if they really had that many problems or if it was just to entertain the audience but definitely not complaining, I really like the song. For a short moment it looked like Mika was tempted to let all his energy out but he controlled himself, of course, being a part of a group. A couple of late night photos below, the dancing pic is my favorite.