Recordings for the second Casa Mika season started on Sunday and I travelled to Milan on Saturday to have a possibility to spend a few hours both days learning to know Milan before going to the studio on Sunday night. I’ve visited the city many times for gigs and different events and recordings and even spent there time with my family but never really learnt to like the place. I’m sure there are many hidden treasures for those who know Milan well but for an average traveller it’s a distant place. I’ve always thought it’s expensive and a bit too fancy for my taste and I didn’t feel any different this time either. I’ve travelled in Italy a lot and seen many places much more suitable for me than Milan is.

I visited a couple of cafes I had seen mentioned in articles and a bookstore I had hoped to see for a long time but mostly just enjoyed walking around. The weather was beautiful both days, almost like in summer even it’s October, and loved being in the sun and watching dogs, saw many of them. An elderly very elegant gentleman dressed in a carefully chosen suit walked his likewise elegant elderly dog and I couldn’t stop admiring this amazingly stylish couple. I randomly discovered a small bakery near my hotel and it looked like a small family business with mother and daughter and grandmother and I visited the place twice and bought coffee and gluten-free little biscuits and almost felt I have a nice new routine and I like having small routines like that when I travel abroad.

I couldn’t wait to see the first recording but also knew that this time it would be quite short and that Mika would even leave the studio to go to another one in a different building to perform his new song and I had prepared myself to a possibility we wouldn’t hear him singing at all not to be too disappointed if that really happens. As soon as he came on stage he confirmed to the audience he needs to do another recording in the middle of our session but also explained he would sing both before and after that and that while he’s gone the girls would film their part and we could watch that.

Knowing we could finally hear his singing made me incredibly happy and was so unexpected that I actually started to cry the moment he started to sing. That was weirdly emotional even from me and quite embarrassing and Ani gave me a surprised ”woman are you serious” look but I really couldn’t help it, I felt overwhelmingly happy. My eyes became horribly red of course. You know all pretty young girls who get teary eyes and become even more beautiful than they already are like real life princesses? I cry and I become one of those new species scientists have been discovering from the bottom of the oceans. No one even knew those creatures exist and now there’s a possibility I was filmed for Italian television looking like one and I don’t even care. I was so happy Mika is singing again and thought I now have everything I can possibly hope for.

He did a couple of songs and the version of one his most impressive live songs was absolutely beautiful and the audience went wild and people were standing and clapping and screaming and making noise with their shoes – obviously I wasn’t the only one who had missed his singing – and he looked a bit touched of this spontaneous reaction and after seeing that I cried even more of course.

Then there was a break while Mika did his performance in the studio next door and to be honest it wasn’t as disappointing as I had thought in advance at all because his family took over the stage and we could watch the girls and I love watching them. Those dogs are adorable! I can’t tell how long it took and suddenly Mika was back and promised to sing us a couple of more songs and we watched some clips and filmed some introductions for Rai 2 to be broadcasted in the near future.

Everyone was super excited to hear the new song and the performance was really good and energetic and I was once again surprised how different a song becomes when it’s performed live. I had heard a clip and thought My House is extremely catchy and perfect to use as a tune for his show but maybe not as suitable to play at gigs as his other songs but he did it in front of us and it was just like any other energetic song he performs regularly and will surely work well also outside the television show (and it has been playing in my head non-stop since we heard it). Then one more Italian song as a surprise and it fitted his voice perfectly and I very much enjoyed listening to it.

Mika’s singing was beautiful even he hasn’t been performing much lately. There was a warm tone in his voice slightly hinting he had a flu but it didn’t make his singing any less lovely and I only hoped singing wouldn’t hurt him and that way disturb the upcoming recordings. We didn’t see any guests during the first recording (a dream recording for fans) but as I can’t give any spoilers I couldn’t mention them any way and just wanted to write a small post to describe how the atmosphere felt in the beginning of the filming and will probably blog more detailed after the first episodes are out. We got little sneak peeks to the fiction parts Mika has mentioned in interviews and after seeing them I expect people to love them and feel very curious about them myself as well. There will be a lot of new details in the concept!

Now back home for one and a half day (to hug my kids and my dog and of course my husband who has a birthday today) and back to Milan on Wednesday. Keeping my fingers crossed for tickets and hoping everything goes well. It was lovely to be back in Italy and to see everyone again xxx

 

I like to think people build personal relationships with places. Different cities talk to me – I mean it figuratively of course – and I either really like them or not. Berlin is one of those places I’ve been extremely fond of since the beginning. Good things have happened to me in Berlin. Berlin is where I met Mika for the first time during the acoustic tour and the energetic gig in Berlin 2010 was one of my favorite Imaginarium tour gigs.

Maybe for that reason booking a trip to Berlin to see the Rose d’Or awards ceremony without even knowing if Mika will be there or not felt a good idea. I followed the first Casa Mika season closely doing several trips to Italy and knew that seeing this ceremony would have a special meaning for me as well. I was thrilled Mika was nominated and his hard work for the show that way acknowledged. I want the world to see him like I see him and I want him to get the recognition he deserves. Golden Rose is an established award festival and I remember seeing it on media since I was a kid.

I heard just before my trip that Mika was expected to be present at the event and it cheered me up after feeling sad for missing the Peugeot gig in Paris. Being sad for missing one gig may sound silly after seeing this many concerts during years but I couldn’t help it. It was the only gig this year and I tried hard but didn’t manage to get a ticket. Realizing there was a super special acoustic gig and I wasn’t welcome to see it made me irrationally sad. Silly, of course, and I thought a day in Berlin would make me feel better and it did.

I arrived Berlin on Tuesday morning and had a breakfast with Karin at a cafe near our hotel. I had read about this bike themed cafe and I wanted to visit it and the place served awesome gluten-free breakfast indeed. Ani joined us and we walked to Checkpoint Charlie to meet Kanni who lives just a couple of minutes from the place. How amazing someone can live like that in the middle of Berlin! The weather was beautiful and we walked around the museum Island and had coffee at the Bode Museum cafe just because the building is so glamorous. Then back to the hotel to get ready for the evening.

We arrived to the venue and the security told the nominees would go in first and the rest of the audience after that. However, if I wanted to take photos I was allowed to wait at the red carpet and I naturally did that. I couldn’t recognize any of the guests before Mika and turned out neither did anyone else so the girl working for the event showed a list of the most important people with their pictures and names.

The man in the pic above was the host of the evening. I took quite a few photos while waiting and guessed Mika would arrive last minute like he usually does. Finally he came and smiled and posed for cameras for a moment. He noticed me and started to chat while posing and was really sweet and that took my attention and I laughed later when realized that I don’t have any really good photos of the moment even he specially posed in front of me.

I joined the girls and we went in and had welcome drinks before going in to the auditorium to take seats for the official part. The schedule was nice and compact. First drinks, then announcing category winners and their short thank you speeches and after that food, drinks and chatting. I had a good seat next to the aisle and saw that Mika and his group were guided to the first row. He had Giulio Mazzoleni and some other people from his team and Rai 2 with him and the lady representing Rai 2 went on stage with him when the category winner was announced. Mika introduced her and thanked her for giving the opportunity (if interested what he said I uploaded a small mobile clip of his thank you speech on FB).

Casa Mika is a high quality entertainment production and I had assumed Mika will win his category and seeing him being guided to front very near the stage gave me even more hope. Of course it was possible they only wanted to be polite to their international guest and to give more space for his long legs so I hold my breath a bit when the winner was announced and was relieved to hear his name. Afterwards all the winners gathered together for photos and I thought Mika looked genuinely pleased and almost shined holding the award in his hands. People congratulated the winners and we could have a little chat with him and tell how happy and proud we felt for him. Everyone was probably a bit overwhelmed in the middle of the crowd but it was a lovely and cheerful short moment, see our group pic here.

After that interviews and maybe a private celebration for Mika and his team and food, wines and relaxed chatting for us. See “our team” below. I’m the one on the left and next to me Karin, Ani and Kanni. I added a couple of pics from my mobile in the end as I rarely have my photos taken, the first one was taken by Kanni before the red carpet and the second one by Ani after the event. Thanks ladies for your company! It was a pleasure to visit Berlin, hope to do it soon again! X

 

Watching Mika winning the Rose d’Or Awards Entertainment category and getting his award in Berlin last night was touching and made me so incredibly happy for him. It’s good to see him getting official recognition, so genuinely and well deserved. I asked the ceremony organizers if I could take a few pics for my blog and they were super nice and told sure, it’s okay, and I took my camera with me. I’m not much of the photographer so I stayed a bit side not to disturb anyone. Mika saw me at the red carpet though, looked surprised and smiled directly in front of me telling “one for you!” and I quickly used the opportunity to take a pic. The ceremony was nicely organized and we had a possibility to congratulate him after the official part. A report to follow as soon as back home. X

I’m always interested in hearing how people experience and process music. Musical people impress me. On the other hand, surprisingly many people ignore lyrics and just enjoy dancing or having music on the background. For me there’re pleasant sounds (melody, singer’s voice) and there’s a story coming from the song. I have sensitive hearing so I’ve always listened to less music than people usually do and have only very little knowledge about the technical side of it.

I like being able to to see where the sound comes so that’s why being too far away or not being able to see the stage takes away the pleasure of the concert. I remember concerts where I didn’t see the stage at all and those are weird experiences even sometimes just being there is valuable enough. Also, I’m like picky-eater kids who like to have everything separated on their plate. Carrots, green beans, potatoes and chicken all in their own areas. I like to be able to separate different voices and instruments. That’s why an acoustic gig with only few instruments or a symphony concert where everything is in order sound heavenly in my ears.

The story part is much more random and seems to have no logic at all. There are images and emotions related to almost every song. Sometimes the story comes the moment I hear the song. That happened with Relax. I knew immediately there’s something special in the song and whenever I hear the acoustic version of it I feel the same happiness and safety. It brings me peace. After seeing Relax at gigs so many times it has become exciting as well and gives me adrenaline. I have Relax as my ringing tone and I’m always a little bit disappointed to realize nothing exciting is happening for real, that it’s just my phone and means probably someone selling me something.

Sometimes the story is there since the beginning but becomes stronger and stronger during time. I loved Last Party since the first time I heard it but the background story made it even more powerful and I’ve given the song a lot of thought and read books and watched films about the topic (80’s HIV situation) and the song has had more effect and influence on me than any other song. Even though the issue is so heart-breaking I can still listen to the song a lot because the tone is gentle and somehow leaves me comforted.

Some songs make me see small movies in my head. This happens when there’re characters and a very clear storyline like with Karen, Lola, BIOTG or Good Wife to name a few. Often it’s still images or feelings and symphony versions make those multiply and I’m transferred to another place – I feel I’m physically in a new place – and I can smell (like the autumn ground in Over My Shoulder) or even feel wind or water or just feel very strong emotions in my whole body (like in Heroes or Overrated, for example).

Sometimes I know there should be an image or a special atmosphere but I can’t catch it and that’s what bothers me. I listen to a certain song again and again and nothing happens until I hear a particular version or there’s a trigger that helps me catch the song and that’s incredibly satisfying, I can remember several moments like that. That’s what happened with Ordinary Man and Good Guys. Both have such clear, meaningful lyrics so easy to understand but the image in my head just wasn’t right. For Ordinary Man it changed after hearing a certain, special live performance and Good Guys just kept growing in me until it finally felt right.

The trickiest for me personally are songs with mother/son issues and naturally I don’t relate to the son part but to the mother part and I always remember I’m not as good a mother as I want to be, I’m bossy and short-tempered and not patient enough and I complain too much (at least according to my sons) and I try to think surely that happens in every family but still don’t get good vibes from songs like All That She Wants. I basically never listen to it.

Sometimes I don’t get any images or special emotions from a song but it can be fine that way if the song works well performed live, the experience is still fun and very enjoyable, Celebrate or Talk About You are good examples that way. Some songs don’t have any interesting story to catch but with special intros or show elements or other added details they usually still find character and create little images and clips in my head. Boum Boum Boum is one of my favorite songs purely based on how it’s performed live, it’s exceptionally nicely done and I love the piano parts and sensual but still playful atmosphere.

I’ve always loved reading about artists and their lives. Writers, painters, rock musicians. Not just about their work itself but the people behind it. There’s something fascinating in their life style and in stories about people constantly creating and focusing on their work whether they are already famous for it or for time being only known in their own circles.

Artists can have as much influence as scientists and politicians. Art has made the world as it is today as much as inventions and political decisions. Artists look at the world and describe it for other people to see, pointing out what’s important, opening people’s eyes. They can make a difference and be an active part of change. I’ve always seen Mika as one those people. I’ve always known he is intelligent and creative enough to have a real influence on people and to be a part of a bigger change through both his music and his words and example.

Something I read the other day made me think of his albums and how he described the world in them. He changed his perspective in TOOL. LICM described the world using examples and characters. In TBWKTM he was watching himself watching the world. I’ve always wondered why I feel it’s the most distant of his four albums even I’ve been lucky to hear many of the songs live and really enjoyed them. Maybe something was lost in translation, like it’s possible when I read Murakami and the Finnish translation is based on the English translation instead of the original book. Or like watching things through two filters instead of one.

Origin and No Place In Heaven (especially the title songs) felt different from beginning. Like watching a photo without any filters. Like seeing the world described by someone who is brave enough to face it directly and I think this is the reason NPIH is my favorite of these four albums. I love it how listening to music can make everything different. There’s so much to see, so much to love. Can’t wait for new songs, for all these reasons.

I read Mika will be talking to young filmmakers at Giffoni Film Festival in Italy this week and remember clips of him answering questions at the same festival last year. The audience was young, creative and enthusiastic and he seemed so inspired and interested, such a big difference compared to many of his usual interviews and Q&As. I can only wish to have an opportunity to listen to him speaking like that some day and hope these young people know how lucky they are.

I love hearing him talking – through his music or in public – about life, love, tolerance, equality and being an artist. Whether he wants it or not he is an example to many young people. And I wonder how it is for artists (in general) when they grow up. Is it still all about being creative or does it become more like business management with busy schedules and decisions, finding the right people and managing projects.

The photo above was taken at Bercy during Underwater, an unforgettable moment. The lights look like stars. X

There’s a summer competition on Mika’s FB page with the theme “how Mika’s music makes you feel” and I’m not feeling creative enough to take part but still liked the idea of people sharing their love and wanted to write a few words about the topic and made a collage above putting together some lyrics and think it sums up my feelings.

Mika’s music is huge part of my life and obviously gives me strong emotions. I enjoy especially live music, for several reasons. I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie and concerts offer a safe, healthy way to get loads of it. Waiting for the moment, gathering together and sharing energy with like-minded people, gradually feeling the excitement coming from the stage and finally experiencing the music taking over the whole audience like a giant wave. There’re no words to describe it all. I can feel it my whole body, in my every muscle.

I enjoy observing as well. Watching people doing their work on stage, seeing the chemistry, paying attention to every detail and following how the show develops during the tour. Every song has a story and just knowing it feeds my imagination. I enjoy traveling and different cultures and feel amazed to watch how music brings us together time after time, concert after concert.

Listening to the singing is the most important part of the experience of course. That moment there’s nothing else in the world. Anxiety, tiredness, whatever was disturbing me is gone. I feel harmonious and happily aware how different and extremely beautiful the world suddenly looks. It’s a blissful moment, I can travel as far as it takes to experience it.

I carry the feeling back home with me and start noticing details and colors and feel a powerful urge to do something new and different and surprisingly have also energy for that. Sometimes I travel between gigs just to see his face to be reminded of his universe but I listen to Mika’s music at home as well. Not in my car or on the background (it’s too important for that) but for comfort and choosing songs carefully. Usually something soothing, maybe something I can’t hear at gigs.

What I particularly love in a live concert situation is how real it shows the artist. I used to think artists are more themselves outside the stage (naturally, because on stage they are performing or even acting a role) but I’ve learnt it’s the other way around. Stage is the place where they have to face everything exactly as they are.

It’s rare moments when any of us can be who we really are and not pretend anything. That’s not because people are generally fake but because this is how our society works. There are rules that tell us what to do and ignoring them can mean no job, no money, no status, no access, no friends or no likings in social media. People say things they don’t mean, pretend to care, are aware of opinions and try to fulfill expectations whether they want all that or not.

And those expectations can follow artists on stage but when the performance is extraordinary good, when the artist is truly inside the song, focused on the music and feeling pure enjoyment of being on stage there’s no space for them any more. There’s only that particular moment and the openness with no possibility to be distant, that’s not even an option. And it’s somehow so real. Well it’s as real as it can be.

Being able to experience all that is one of the biggest luxuries in life. I feel grateful to have this music in my life. xxx

I spent a long weekend in France and had a lovely time. I’ve visited Paris many, many times but I’m learning to know it properly and seriously falling in love with the city only now. I had a couple of extra days so I walked around, visited a museum, bought some books and checked a few gluten-free restaurants and cafes to visit them again with my family next time we are in Paris. I had looked forward to this final television show. I generally enjoy live television, there’s a particular excitement in it and I enjoy watching people working around the production. Of course there was the usual bittersweet feeling related to my trip as this was my last one once again and now there’s nothing to look forward to in the near future. The pics below are taken at the radio station where Mika did an interview for Saturday and fans used an opportunity to give him some gifts (thanks to Eriko, listen to the interview here).

I felt bad after seeing the results of the last week’s show because Mika had voted Audrey over Vincent (who still went to the final after the audience votes) and in my eyes his decision looked almost like an insult towards Vincent. Vincent hadn’t made much progress during the live shows but I had assumed that was partly because of the format which put him on the same level with the other contestants and instead of letting him be different asked him to be ordinary and like everyone else and he seemed to be only average at that. I thought since the beginning there’s something special in Vincent, not in his technical skills but in the way he performs, there was something passionate and even and a bit mad in it and I thought that Mika (if someone) could bring out whatever was special in him.

It didn’t seem to happen though. I wanted to think it will happen if we can just be patient. After seeing the results I thought even Mika had lost his patience and given up with Vincent and for that reason voted Audrey. That was an irrational conclusion of course. Maybe as a professional he understood why things didn’t work out and also, even if from my point of view only Mika’s opinion matters and all those audience votes meant nothing this contestant hardly thought the same and being among the final four talents was an achievement itself. I could see both Mika and Vincent were well prepared for their night this week and Vincent did really, really well and finally made some progress (at least in my honest opinion) and can be pleased with his part in the competition and how it ended.

We saw many actually quite interesting performances during the night. Nicola was clearly the weakest contestant during the final. None of his songs impressed me in any way. He might have tried a bit too much and had also bad luck and the least interesting special guest as his duet partner. Lucie was better than earlier and I liked her songs. She looked absolutely stunning during her New York performance and did well with it. I’m warming up to Florent’s music. I’ve liked him as a person since the beginning but never much paid much attention to his singing even I know he has a great voice. Lucie had Shakira as her another special guest and no one noticed anyone else than her on stage so Lucie was totally in the shadow of her but it was quite an opportunity for a young girl to be on stage with a star like Shakira and probably well worth sacrificing this one song especially taking in account Lucie wasn’t a favorite in the competition at all.

Lisandro was the big audience favorite and (I admit I’m biased in this as I’m a mother and in my world teenage boys can do small wonders every day) I kind of hoped and assumed Lisandro would win even I supported Vincent as my personal favorite. I watched Lisandro this week and he looked amazingly ready for his new role and was incredibly smooth with people shaking hands, giving hugs, smiling, posing in pictures, chatting and doing even small dances on the street in front of crowds (a pic of him below).

Lisandro’s first song was not his style and generally not suitable for him but as soon as he started his performance with Soprano every single person in the studio knew there goes the winner. There was no other possibility and at some point I turned my head and saw Mika’s face and imagined him thinking ”oh fuck there goes the winner” even of course it couldn’t be a surprise to him. I thought Lisandro is a better singer than his coach but Matt is a fantastic dancer and their talent/coach performance was for that reason quite impressive as well. Lisandro deserved to win the competition without a  doubt. He is still a kid and yet someone ready to be a pop singer and probably has a better possibility to make it than talent show winners in general.

Vincent did super well with his solo performance Take On Me from A-ha and I hope Mika feels proud of him. He performed well also with his guest partner but the French song was not familiar to me and I practically missed it because the guitarist took over both the stage and my attention. Yesterday – Vincent’s duet with Mika – was absolutely beautiful. They sounded lovely and balanced together and I thought Mika was very thoughtful and sensitive with his talent and well remembered he was was there not alone but had someone to take care of and also that Vincent’s singing didn’t disturb my pleasure of listening to Mika at all and that’s a big compliment and more than I can say about most people I’ve heard singing together with him.

I had so looked forward to finally hearing Mika’s singing and even it was only one song and together with his talent it was still breath-taking and put my life in order like it always does. I sometimes have moments when I question this weird dedication but he needs to sing one song only, just one, and everything makes sense again and every hour of traveling feels well worth while. The whole world becomes like a different place than it was before. Everything looks suddenly brighter, colors are much stronger and there’s a fresh, beautiful smell and I feel harmonious and happy and confident that everything is like it should be. In seconds. It’s like magic.

I wish he could make music all the time. He enjoys his busy cosmopolitan life and wants to try everything new and different and challenge himself and probably thinks business wise as well and I understand that all well and think he is extremely good at several areas, much better than most people can ever be. I still think he is at his best when he sings. And if he wants to stand out as much as he has potential and to be something truly special he should include singing and making music in whatever he is doing. Like do Casa Mika built around his music. The art of song covering great song writers. Musicals. Symphony. Singing is his super power. It’s like a part of his soul. I want to be understanding and supportive and I enjoy watching whatever he does (and will do it in the future) but for selfish reasons I cry just thinking of my life without his music.

I had hoped that something I see or hear at the Voice would make me excited and look forward to the future but it didn’t happen. I was lucky to see Mika quickly a couple of times but there was no possibility to actually talk with him. He was sweet and polite and greeted me in English (paying kindly attention that way)  and then quickly continued discussion in French so I wasn’t in the conversation or wasn’t even expected to ask anything (only fair remembering we were in France) and didn’t get any excited vibes. I know he has mentioned a new album but to be honest I haven’t got an impression he can dedicate enough time for it in the near future and expect more television or other projects whatever they are. The second season for Casa Mika is confirmed though and I live in hope I can follow it like I did last year and I leave my blog here to wait for either that or something else that might come up.

I really enjoyed this The Voice season and especially the final night. We saw Shakira as an international guest and she came on stage giving a few handshakes to people on her way and I was surprised she assumed people are prepared for that and was grateful I wasn’t standing where I was last time (because I wouldn’t have been prepared) and was told that she is hugely, hugely popular and actually a big star. She was charismatic indeed. She started her performance showing some incredible – and I mean absolutely unbelievable – moves and you know, after watching her a while I kind of hoped she would come to me and shake my hand as well but she didn’t, just high-fived people on my right and left. Impressive lady.

The evening was entertaining and after midnight the show ended and we took a pic and said – reluctantly of course – good bye to Mika and to each other and left everyone our own ways. I left with Isa and Ani and we stopped at a restaurant to have drinks and crashed a random birthday party and were invited in to have wine and cake and to watch burning lanterns sent on the sky and it was a weird but funny ending for a wonderful day. We saw a crowd on our way out from the area and recognized Vincent in the middle of it and I took a pic with him but not sure how it turned out and will see it later. The girls gave me a lift to my hotel in their car (I was worried to walk alone) and I heard later they were robbed on their way to their own hotel and felt shocked about it. Luckily they are okay (just small bruises) but everyone please remember for the next season that the area around the studios is not safe at all.

Thanks everyone for this spring and the whole season. Special thanks to my dear French friends! I miss you all and hope to be back soon. It was such a pleasure to meet you again and to do things together. I add below a few pics I took this week. Take care xxx

Back home from Paris. I haven’t slept and have a really busy week ahead so just a very quick summary about the show this week. The weekend itself was sunny and also quite funny, I laughed a lot. The recording event was very crowded and I was totally lost both during and after it, a huge thank you to the French girls who patiently helped me to find my way in the chaos. 15 calls from the uber-driver while he tried to find me in the studio area. 15! I gave him five stars just for not leaving me there in the middle of the night.

The teams gathered together a moment before the show was supposed to start and Mika appeared on stage wearing his best stage outfit black trousers and a white shirt looking super, super, super stylish and making my heart almost stop. I’ve seen him doing some amazing concerts wearing that kind of an outfit but no concert this time, of course. He added a glittery jacket and sat in his chair between Florent and Zazie and the show started.

I had no idea what to expect this week. Matt’s team was the first one to perform. The young boy from his team is seriously good indeed. He is very confident and performs like an adult despite of his young age. He was voted safe by the audience again and after that Matt chose the girl as his second talent for the next week’s show. I wouldn’t have done that but I don’t much care about female voices any way.

Zazie’s team was next and the first guy from his team had the most interesting song in the group (With Or Without You) and he did it well and was therefor my favorite from Zazie’s team this week. Her two other talents had boring songs like most contestants this week. I wasn’t surprised the Italian guy was voted safe, he seems popular and is good even sounds quite similar every week. I hoped Zazie would choose the first guy as her second talent and she did.

Florent’s team was visually as stunning as last week but I didn’t like the songs chosen for them this week. The girl who did I Will Always Love You was saved by the audience and I totally agreed with the television audience. Not because I liked her version, even the song is massive and bold, but because I generally like her performing. She is a true show girl and a great dancer and I can well see her as a professional performing artist in the future.

Team Mika was the last one. Audrey started and she and Mika were extremely cute together having a sweet little dance moment in the end of the song. Audrey is sweet and I wish her well but I still hoped she would be out so Mika wouldn’t have to choose between the other two. She was saved by the audience though and Mika had to make the difficult choice.

Just like last time in a similar situation I hoped he would choose Vincent. Also just like last time I didn’t trust him to do so. He can be unpredictable and this week Imane was better than earlier and Vincent wasn’t having his best week even the song was a good one. He did choose Vincent – just like he did last time – and I was happy (and again, a bit ashamed that I had doubted his decision). Vincent is definitely my favorite, he has a very unique style.

This week was Florent’s turn to do his solo performance and I was happy for his fans who could see him performing. Sigh, we haven’t seen Mika’s performance yet, I selfishly hope it won’t happen next week when I’m not there (but don’t know the schedules at all). xxx

A small report after the first live show. The studio is officially outside of Paris but I was lucky to have a couple of extra days to walk around and enjoy the city so the weekend felt like a short holiday in Paris. Live shows are different compared to other studio recordings. There’s not as much possibility to observe Mika and the other coaches as during auditions but the atmosphere is very cool and it’s easy to feel the excitement coming from the live recording situation. Live shows are always quite entertaining because of added show elements and the level of contestants feels better than during the first recordings as the talents have gone through coaching and got advices and their songs are more carefully chosen and interesting than in the beginning.

Going in to the studio was crowded but I managed to take a place near the barrier which made my back hurt less during the long standing. I tried to avoid drinking anything during the day (there’s no possibility to go to toilet while recording) so I was happy the staff gave us water and this time we could even have our mobiles and take a few pics during breaks so everything was really quite comfortable and we could just enjoy the show.

Mika’s team started and all his talents did well but to be honest my focus was totally on Vincent who is my favorite and I loved watching how Mika lived through his performance note by note and word by word holding his breath a little bit and looking really happy after everything went so well. We could see on the screen how he showed a tiny part of the song to Vincent in the middle of his coaching and I could see it made everyone happy and would bet it made the television audience happy as well and I found it funny because all he did was a few seconds and it made us all so pleased.

I had assumed Audrey would be out this week because her voice is so unique it can be even too unique but the song this week was really suitable for her and the audience voted her safe along with Vincent so Mika had to choose between Imane and The Sugazz and he chose to keep Imane just like I expected. It’s a shame that The Sugazz is out, they were one of my favorites during the auditions, but I didn’t feel too bad for them. They are a group and have done this long before The Voice and will continue after The Voice and to be honest their song was the least interesting from the whole team this week and all I cared was that Vincent was safe anyway.

After Mika it was time for Florent Pagny and his team and how amazingly pretty his girls are and how beautifully they were all styled last night! I rarely pay this much positive attention to the styling at The Voice, it’s mostly quite awful. All the girls performed nicely and the girl in the metallic outfit was a wonderful dancer and one of the youngest girls looked so breathtakingly beautiful she could be the next Miss Universe as well. They were all such a joy to watch and surely also to listen like Florent’s contestants usually are. However, my taste is too far away from Florent’s style and I simply couldn’t keep my thoughts in the songs chosen so I didn’t listen to them carefully enough. Even Billy Jean which I would otherwise absolutely love was so unrecognizable I didn’t much enjoy it.

In the middle of the night it was a turn for Matt Pokora and his solo performance. He had a huge dance group, both fashionable looking guys and girls (in their underwear!) and I must say I hadn’t figured out if Matt is more a dancer or a singer but after his performance I would say a dancer? The audience seemed to really like him and his fans next to me knew all his choreographies and after seeing how much the audience liked him I could well believe he is as famous in France as my French friends have told he is. His style is very different from Florent’s but still equally far away from my taste and I can’t much remember his performance but I paid attention during the whole evening how genuinely supportive he seemed to be with his team and it was nice to watch.

The third coach was Zazie and she has an interesting team and I generally like her style and watching her. I can’t understand a word but always immediately get the vibe she doesn’t want anyone out and would love to everyone continue in the competition and it’s quite sweet. All her contestants are different compared to each other which makes her team the most colorful along with Mika’s team and I found the guy singing in Italian good and the audience seemed to like him.

Matt’s team was the last one to perform and I could still remember a couple of the boys from the auditions. A youngest looking member from his team is a kind of wonderkid singing and dancing and performing like a pro despite of his young age and it looked Matt was already celebrating him as a winner and you know, he can be right and the contestant will probably go far in the competition. Still fingers crossed for ”our team” and Vincent and hope he will do as well next week as he did this week.

Mika looked young and very charming in his new boyish hair style. It was nice to see him smiling and was such a pleasure to meet so many fans, the French girls who welcomed me as they always do (which is incredibly kind as I mean always extra trouble for them) as well as many international fans. Thank you so much, everyone! I had almost forgotten how much I love hearing French on my left and Italian on my right and seeing people from many different countries grouped together. So Mika style and an important part of this all. X

I can feel the lack of Mika gigs in my stomach. I’ve had this feeling before so I can recognize it. It’s not the waiting, I can be rational with that. It’s the uncertainty. I’ve never liked not knowing.

I enjoy live music in general so a couple of days ago I went to see a concert by a local artist I like. It was a huge, special celebration gig and made me very touched. Not just as a concert even everything went well but as an overview to someone’s career and whole life as an artist. What touched me most was the way this artist seemed to value both the opportunity to perform at the legendary venue and the crowd sharing the event with him.

Seeing this one of the kind anniversary concert made me automatically think of Mika and his big shows at PDP and Bercy and how grateful I am for seeing them both. Massive, special spectacles are rarely the best ever concerts (there’s too much pressure and expectations for that) but can have and often do have a huge personal meaning for the artist. For a fan it’s like seeing someone’s career and life-long dreams in two hours. If everything goes well and these people put their hearts and personality into the show we can see them not only as artists but also as persons and maybe even children they once were. This is what I thought while watching the Bercy show. I imagined Mika as a child. The dreams he had.

I discovered the local artist I mentioned a few years ago because of his story-telling skills. I went to see a gig after listening to his lyrics, enjoyed it and have seen several gigs after that. I was impressed by his professionalism both with the audience and as a musician. I don’t know much about music but have seen many artists and bands on stage and can recognize when people know what they are doing. I love watching Mika’s musicians as well and I’m always impressed by them and especially by the ones who ask only little attention but take a lot of responsibility. Watching Curtis taking his guitar and joining the wild playing during Love Today (in the middle of being busy in every way) is one my favorite moments during every gig.

The artist I saw the other day is known as a private, introverted person which seems typical for many artists even it feels paradoxical while watching how confident they look on stage. Sometimes people are born to be on stage. What happens outside it doesn’t matter, on stage they can be whatever they like. Sometimes artists learn to be good performers during time simply because they have to (to be able to make music). I’ve always seen Mika in the first group and thought performing is an instinct for him but of course he has come a long way during the past ten years as well.

Reading people and their reactions and connecting with the audience may start from natural sensitivity but to really value the audience and to truly understand the meaning of the crowd comes only after hard times when it’s clear not only how it feels to work for success but how it feels to work for it and still not achieve it. When it’s not taken for granted that people will show up. So cruel but also an important part of growing as an artist. I couldn’t help but thinking about all this while enjoying the music the other night.

Usually it’s all about music but these big, special shows make me emotional in many other ways as well. I love watching how artists shamelessly do something they have always wanted to do, no matter how grand it is and even if it means taking a risk of not everyone understanding them. I love watching them taking time to value the moment, the possibility to be on that particular stage that particular time and the audience around them. Something so easy to forget at regular gigs.

We are all lucky every single time we can share a gig experience together. Can’t wait to do it again. Sending love xxx

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.

I read some old entries and soon realized how much I miss traveling. I’ve travelled crazy amounts during the past few years and loved every moment. I travel actually more than it looks because most times I travel back and forth to see my family between the gigs. Sometimes I do three gigs during one week and travel back to Helsinki after every gig and it’s a lot of sitting in planes and trains but I like it and don’t mind it at all. In the future my traveling will probably be easier because my boys are getting older and don’t seem to need me as full-time as so far.

The next thing I thought was how much I’ve loved every gig I’ve seen. I don’t much hide my love and it’s growing day by day and the first collage is referring to that. Even my family seems to think it’s something totally natural and they listen to me talking about Mika and his music like he was a distant relative who we don’t actually know but obviously still have a reason to be very proud of.

I wanted to do “my favorite gigs list” but it was surprisingly difficult. My memories are a mix of personal feelings not only related to music and performances but also to traveling, people and many special details I connect to different gigs. This and this day came to mind as examples of my favorite Mika related days with small intimate gigs in the both evenings. This day didn’t include a gig but is still one of my dearest memories.

It’s safe to say that Mika symphony concerts and his collaborations with Simon Leclerc have been my favorites of many different collaborations Mika has done during years. The circumstances for symphony concerts are unique and special every time and I can’t pick only one as my favorite and would say I just generally love the concept ( here is my report from Como and the blog post I wrote about the symphony album).

Listening to Mika at his piano at tiny venues comes very high at my list after that and I’m loving new The Art of Song covers and hope there will be something similar like the Intimate US tour (2013) in the future. The interaction between Mika and his audience at small club style gigs is warm, lovely and very special and I’ve seen also many other memorable small gigs both in the US and in Europe and even in my home town Helsinki.

It’s still important to see also colorful, high-energy band gigs and proper tours with many details and well-thought stage settings. I can so well remember the happy feeling I had after the first Heaven Tour gig in Rennes or the high-energy and cheerful gig in Strasbourg. Even some festival settings like the one with paintings and historical costumes have been extremely memorable and are definitely worth mentioning on my list.

I’m always super proud when Mika is doing high-quality headlining performances at massive old-school and well-known festivals like he did at Paleo or Sziget or Ostrava Colors and would never skip big and important one time only events like PDP or Bercy which both involved a huge amount of work, planning and personal investment from him and were not only big moments that time but also considering Mika’s whole career.

In the second collage the heart balloons are symbolizing love and not real balloons of course (I mean you release your balloons and they are gone forever). I don’t like the idea of forcing people to anything or setting them demands or limits and was thinking of that while doing the collage. The result is always better if people feel they are free to do what they want and if something doesn’t happen it was not supposed to. A little bit off topic but I still added the collage above. xxx

The Art of Song shows Mika has done for BBC radio 2 lately have been the highlights of my spring. These three episodes in April are continuing the series he did last year and focusing on three different artists one artist per week: Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Harry Nilsson. It’s been interesting to learn to know more about these famous artists and get deeper information about their production and lives.

Fingers crossed there will be more episodes in the future because Mika is amazingly good at this. Telling stories, adding personal anecdotes here and there and playing music, choosing unforgettable, big songs many people have a relationship with and – as the best part of the show of course – singing each time a cover or two at the Elton John piano. I love listening to his soothing voice and had hoped to hear him on the radio since those lovely early podcasts we heard years ago.

I can’t compare listening to a radio show to different television shows I’ve seen, of course. Television shows like The Voice and Casa Mika are recorded in front of a live studio audience and I’ve often been lucky to be there and seen how it’s done and experienced everything live. On the other hand, these radio shows are in English and the concept is everything fans can hope for. No guest speakers, just Mika telling interesting stories about music, playing everyone’s favorite songs and doing at least one acoustic cover each time.

His cover of Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides is my favorite of all these Art of Song covers so far. The funny thing is that I didn’t expect that at all. I have no personal connection with Joni Mitchell’s music so I can’t find it comforting the way someone who grew up with it can. However, the cover is absolutely stunning. I can’t even imagine Mika sounding better than this. Such a beautiful, simple and calming version. I’ve been listening to the song as the first thing every morning the past week and started my days happy.

I love the little stories related to the cover. In the first one Mika tells how Joni Mitchell wrote the song watching clouds on a plane (I love watching clouds and couldn’t resist adding the cloud pic above, it makes me smile) and in the second one about himself crying on planes and it was one of the funniest and cutest things I’ve heard lately. Obviously, you must hear it yourself, it can’t be explained.

Links below, a huge thank you to Eriko once again for keeping us updated with these clips.

Carole King episode

Joni Mitchell episode

Harry Nilsson episode

This spring it’s been 7 years since the big 2010 Imaginarium Tour and I had an idea to gather a few tour highlights in one post and collected some of my favorite videos below. The photo above was taken a few months before the tour during the TBWKTM album promotion and I assume preparations or at least planning for the tour had already started that time.

I like to watch how tours evolve from beginning to the end and it was important for me to see especially the first gigs in Belfast and Dublin and the last ones in Netherlands and Luxembourg and of course there were many fantastic shows between them. From Ireland the tour went to London, then to Scandinavia and then to other parts of Europe before continuing as “Arena Tour” (meaning bigger venues) in France and some other European countries. After Luxembourg there was a little break for me and then the tour continued with summer festivals including the Baltic area and my home town Helsinki which naturally was my dream come true. What a busy year it was.

The 2010 shows were based on the first two albums and offered massive theatrical elements and maybe for that reason became huge fan favorites we all like to look back from time to time. I loved the small tours we saw after TOOL (The Intimate Tour was my personal favorite) but it was still good to see something as big and colorful as the Heaven Tour 2015-16 where the massive, theatrical stage setting reminded me of the 2010 tour.

The Imaginarium setlist was based on both LICM and TBWKTM but naturally included only a part of the new songs and I felt very lucky I had heard a couple more songs during the 2009 North America Tour (One Foot Boy and Pick Up Of The Floor from Boston) and By The Time (with King’s Singers) at Union Chapel in London.

I’ve earlier added a photo gallery here and some additional photos on FB here. I went through my old notebook and found a few setlists from the tour and added them below to show how the song list evolved during the spring. There’s no city mentioned in the last one but it could be from one of the big shows in the end of the tour (maybe Marseille because I was on stage there) but in any case it gives an example of the changes.

The first song I want to share is Rain which in the beginning of tour started the show with a special school boy scene starring David as young Mika (a giant notebook on the background) and later during the tour included an impressive nightmare intro where a character with an animal mask took Mika under the stage. Even this happened years ago watching these videos can still bring it all easily back to my mind and I can well remember how exciting, almost scary the nightmare scene was.

As you can see from the setlist Relax was first done almost in the end of the show and I chose a video from Copenhagen with the chair dance in it. Later the song was in the beginning of the show like it often is with an amazing intro where Mika walks in the air as an astronaut and I chose a video of that from Lyon. The space walk and the newsflash related to it – a clip that was shown on the background starring sir Ian McKellen – is one of my favorite theatrical elements Mika has used in his shows because it was so Mika style and so perfectly described his personality.

2010 was not the first time I saw Ida on stage with Mika, I had seen her several times the year before, and she felt familiar already and her part in Good Gone Girl wearing a glamorous blue dress was one of my favorites during the whole tour. I added below Good Gone Girl from Amsterdam and Happy Ending from Stockholm (also with Ida). Below that Happy Ending from Dublin simply because it’s one of the my dearest Happy Ending memories.

Many songs on the setlist included something colorful and theatrical. Dr John was not among my favorite songs on the album and afterwards when it was not on the setlist any more I’ve often thought I didn’t give the performance enough credit and that the feather coat was really an incredibly fabulous detail.

Another detail I didn’t give enough credit that time was the weird puppet we saw on stage during Toy Boy. Luckily we still hear Toy Boy every now and then, even during symphony concerts, but I haven’t seen the puppet ever since and in a twisted way kind of miss it. Lol! I added a video from Vienna. In the beginning of the vid Mika thanks the audience and it sounds like another polite thank you but I think he really meant what he said because the audience was absolutely fantastic and the energy was wonderful and after all these years and gigs I would still list the one I saw in Vienna 2010 among my top ten favorite gigs.

I guess one of the reasons why this tour became so memorable for fans was the way Mika included us during every single show. Before every gig his team collected a group of fans and dressed them as Lollipop Girls and Big Girls and the group was on stage during the death march (wearing giant masks) and in the end of the show. The death march was a weird, dark element and I added a Love Today video from Berlin so you can see a group of fans marching in the beginning.

I can tell it wasn’t easy at all because it wasn’t possible to see much through the mask. I was on stage as a Big Girl in Marseille and it was one the funniest and most special experiences ever. Many flights were cancelled due to the volcano in Iceland and I had to take several trains to get from Helsinki to Marseille. I travelled a couple of days and arrived Marseille late afternoon and walked almost directly on stage to get instructions for the show, naturally in French which I couldn’t understand a word.

My second time on stage was also in South France (a couple of years later in Nice) and every time I travel in these parts of France I meet someone I learnt to know during those short stage moments. I rarely meet these people otherwise but I can always feel we have something in common just because we were on stage together. Such a cool experience.

Another dark detail on the Imaginarium Tour was the shooting scene where Mika “killed” his whole band and himself. It was funny at the time but the sad fact is I’m not sure he would do it again in the world and situation we live today, it might not feel appropriate, not now when many scary things are happening for real. I added videos from Paris and Helsinki. The Helsinki gig was later that summer and yes, Jimmy is desperately trying to bring that giant, soft toyboy back to life! So funny!

I started my post with the WAG poster so I’m also finishing it with WAG and chose this video from Luxembourg below. Luxembourg was the last gig of the official imaginarioum/Arena tour but of course not the last gig of that year. Those were exciting times, so many good memories.

love

dream

I need something interesting to think about all the time. My mind demands feeding the same way my body does, actually it’s often even more demanding than my body is. I don’t know any other way to live, I need constantly something to focus on to keep the traffic in my head smooth. Music is one of my favorite forms of positive mental energy. After a Mika gig my head is overflowingly full of new thoughts and ideas, all I need to do is to put everything in order.

Between gigs I have to find other ways to keep my mind fed. I read stories and non-fiction, watch films, documents and video talks, listen to podcasts and search internet. The theme can be anything as long as I find it interesting and it makes me think even it’s not really useful for my real life at all. I love weird stories and reading about human mind, psychology, creativity, artists, writers, design, different cultures, traveling, animals and the earth, just to mention a few themes.

When I spend time with my collages I just go back to my childhood and enjoy watching different colors and shapes together. I cut and glue and let my mind wander around. I miss Mika and his music and this time wanted to play with little hearts. The first collage is about tolerance and the second one about having courage to follow our dreams. In the third collage the fox is having a party in the confetti rain. Mika makes my life a party. I love it and kind of expect that from him. From other artists I expect nothing, from him I expect a little party every now and then.

I have some ideas for my blog and wish I could use them and had real photos or news to offer. We just need to wait something to happen. While waiting, take care xxx