I already did a post about my favorite gigs, this is a post about my favorite songs. I gave earlier some thought to all four Mika albums and was happy to realize so many of my favorite songs come from the last two albums which supports my usual philosophy and makes me think that what we have now is good and that the future will be even better.
It’s easy to mention Relax and tell it was the first song I heard from Mika, choosing another personally important song from Life In Cartoon Motion is not that easy at all. It’s a strong and balanced album. Happy Ending is absolutely beautiful both as a song and for stunning vocals. I’ve heard many extraordinary Happy Ending versions but still not adding the song on my list. It has such sad melancholy in it. It’s often performed during the latter part of the concert so I get the end of the gig feeling. Also, I live for happy endings. In my world there’s always one and I can’t relate to a song telling there’s no happy ending no matter how beautiful the song is. For that reason I choose calm and dark Over My Shoulder as my second favorite from LICM. I’ve heard several extraordinary OMS performances as well, performed at different gigs and symphony concerts with Ida, Max or Alex. The one I want to link here is from Casa Mika from last year.
Ring Ring was one of the reasons why I originally wanted to see Mika on stage years ago and I used to love the energy in it. I never became close with the song though (I heard it live only twice) and now I can’t imagine it being a part of the setlist for several reasons. For one thing, there’s annoyance and anxiety in the song which I would love to see (and it would give the audience a moment to channel frustration) but which Mika avoids showing on stage these days. If something goes wrong and annoys him we can barely notice the tension on his face, if he is in a bad mood he just takes shorter breaks between songs to be out as soon as possible. And seeing Mika annoyed on stage is a bit like seeing a police on the street. Have I done something wrong? Did I just walk during the red light? I don’t include Ring Ring on my list, it feels too distant for that.
Picking one song from The Boy Who Knew Too Much is easy. It’s I See You and it’s the only song on my list that makes me a little bit sad. Partly because Mika never let this incredibly beautiful song to grow to its full potential (not the same way he has done with some other songs) and partly because this is so clearly something from the past. I was lucky to see this song live many times though. This clip from Boston 2009 is still one one the my favorite gig moments ever, it was the first time I heard the song live. Such a special performance. Here is another and extremely pretty version from a television recording.
My first pick from The Origin Of Love is the title song and it’s quite easy to choose because it’s so good as a song and something that can be personal to all of us and something that sounds personal to Mika. The love and freedom theme is very much my style. I love the small clip made around the song, one of his best ideas in my opinion, I wish we could have seen more of these. As my other favorites from TOOL I pick – maybe a bit surprisingly – Make You Happy and Heroes mainly because I’ve been lucky to witness such stunning live performances for both of these songs especially at symphony concerts. This is the clip made for Make You Happy and this is my favorite live performance from Los Angeles.
I have several favorites on TOOL and the same goes with No Place In Heaven. The strongest song on NPIH is the title song again and I love it how similar it is compared to Origin. Like two sisters, one taking you to heaven, one to hell and you can’t regret either of them. Two sides of the coin, two things complementing each other. I heard some excellent versions of NPIH last summer, I’m still thrilled just thinking about them. This is No Place In Heaven from Nimes.
Last Party has become my most important song. I rarely listen to it at home but I think about it a lot. Mika has said the song is a tribute to Freddie Mercury and about his mad party after finding out about HIV positivity. I’ve read several books describing the 80’s HIV situation after the song was out and it’s a heart-breaking issue, I can’t find another word for it. The way our society made some people feel unworthy for no reason at all and the descriptions of how HIV came so unexpectedly and without a warning and like crashing the party and caused so many deaths is heart-breaking. I can’t stop thinking about it. The song is so strong it takes over me every time and I think Mika is very present in the moment when he sings it as well (like he has to be to perform it well). Here’s the official clip, I love how simple it is. Here’s the amazing orchestra version from Casa Mika.
There are several other songs I could mention from NPIH, Hurts being one of them. I’ve always thought both Stardust and Staring At The Sun were eventually aimed to get more commercial success and a certain type of big audience in Italy but funnily my mind doesn’t make that connection with Hurts at all even it was successful there as well. My favorite version of Hurts is definitely the one Mika did at Casa Mika with a group of children. I can’t end the post without mentioning one of the my favorite live songs Boum Boum Boum. The atmosphere in it is light and pleasant and I’ve seen many, many lovely versions. This one is from London and this one from Sollies Point, France. I didn’t count the songs in advance but I can see my list has exactly ten songs so this is it.