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

This year will be long with no gigs to look forward to. I will miss adventuring, the gig excitement and the whole surprise element traveling to new places and meeting people bring in my life. I will definitely miss Mika and seeing him on stage. My stomach hurts just thinking of it.

Artists need breaks to be creative and to make new music. I made a collage for every album so far and hope we will get new songs before this spring, summer, autumn and winter are over. Every collage refers not only to one particular album but also to different seasons.

My favorite season is autumn and I was happy it matched with TOOL. It’s a love album and personally very dear to me bringing back lovely memories from the album listening party. I’ve always thought TOOL and NPIH are like two sides of the coin. At the moment my biggest favorites come from his fourth album.

Happy Valentine’s Day. In Finland we celebrate friendship. X

In this month it will be 9 years since I saw my very first Mika gig and later this year it will be 10 years since I discovered this artist and it doesn’t feel that long. I can remember the exact moment and even the days and weeks after hearing his music for the first time like it was yesterday. I was totally mesmerized. I still am.

When I think of this time period I realize how much has happened. I’ve travelled and visited more than 30 different countries, seen many concerts, festivals and events and watched Mika on stage at all kind of venues and learnt to know wonderful people from all over the world.

Discovering his music changed my life but during these years I’ve changed a little bit as well. When I compare the past few years to the beginning of this time period many things are similar but many things are also different or I see them differently than I used to.

For example I don’t want to apologize any more. During the first few years I always wanted to apologize for being in the audience so often because with the same people the audience is not fresh and new. However, a totally new fan base doesn’t appear overnight, it’s not realistic to expect that and people coming back simply means the artist has done something right and well.

I used to be embarrassed for being a fan, too. I’m not anymore. Considering the world and the situation around us at the moment we all should find strength and positive energy in everything good and beautiful, music being just one example. Years ago only a small group of fans travelled long distances  but now a bigger group of fans travels and we meet all around the world and I have friends who travel for other artists as well.

There’s this label we get when we become “fans”. People think we must be somehow weird or crazy or obsessed and I kind of understand it because being this dedicated is unusual but always try my best to be polite and respectful and give everyone privacy and space and think that putting someone high on my priority list should make them feel loved and not me embarrassed.

I’m astonished how much Mika has developed as an artist during the past few years. The same vibe I earlier got adding things up comes now purely from his singing. He is so much more open on stage than he used to be and somehow everything I want to know is suddenly there as soon as he starts to sing.

Also, he is braver than he was in his early days and not afraid to show his old-fashioned elegance. Despite of his age he sometimes looks like an old man (or at least definitely not the boy he was 10 years ago) and it’s so very charming. I love his sense of style and how we can see it in everything he does.

After all these years I’m still here because I know I can expect something special. Not just an album and then a tour and then the same again but something much more interesting. Symphony music, theater, a circus or other huge spectacle or something intimate and personal, even a monologue on stage. xxx

 

florence_menu

It’s been more than two weeks since our New Year’s Eve in Florence and I still almost can’t believe we could experience it all nor imagine any better atmosphere or better way to spend that special day. The opera in Florence offered pre-sale packages for the New Year including the symphony concert and a dinner at the opera afterwards and to confirm our seats many of us bought those packages months in advance.

I didn’t give the dinner much thought beforehand, I just wanted to have my concert ticket as early as possible and intentionally avoided having any expectations regarding to the dinner. In my experience things in Italy can be either absolutely amazing (I could give many, many examples) or go terribly wrong in which case people just say “oh well we’re in Italy” like those words simply explained it all (and I’m starting to understand they do, lol!).

This time everything went very well and the evening was really nicely organized. The dinner was served smoothly, the food was delicious, we got wines, a dj, an open bar and impressive fireworks exactly at midnight and it seemed everyone was in a good mood, eating, chatting, dancing and generally having a wonderful time. The Italian girls had helped the opera to organize our tables (for around 100 fans from all over the world) and named every table according to different Mika songs. Ours was called Dr John (such a cute detail wasn’t it).

The concert on New Year’s Eve was extremely intense and transferred us to another world and the best thing with the dinner was that it didn’t remove us from our magical atmosphere. We were quietly guided to our tables and given a glass of wine. The music started (mostly Mika and older party hits) and several waiters started to carry first starters and then other courses. It was all smooth and gradually more and more cheerful and somehow quite surreal.

The tables and food looked festive with many different glasses and fancy details. Not sure what the starter was, maybe chestnut, but my pasta after that as a second course was delicious! Weird to be this excited about food but I rarely get really tasty gluten-free pasta… The main course seemed good but was brought to tables at midnight and suddenly everyone run outside to see the fireworks and I left my food just like the others which was okay as I was full after the pasta anyway.

After celebrating the midnight we all came back to our tables and had a wonderful dessert (mine was a small gluten-free chocolate cake) and some sparkling wine and people danced or just sat and had coffee until the staff said it’s time to go and we started – very gently – to prepare our return back to the reality and a bit reluctantly left our fairytale party, feeling ourselves like real life Cinderellas, literally looking for our shoes (mine were under the table, my feet were hurting so much) and trying to find a taxi to take us back to our hotels.

It was a lovely day, first the stunning concert and then this dinner party with so many familiar faces. Definitely something to remember years to come. See our international table below. Front from right: Renate and her husband, Marion and Miri from Germany, Becks from Spain and Rose from the UK. Behind: me and my husband from Finland and Christina and her husband from Romania (her son took the pic).

Thanks everyone for that special evening and night, I felt lucky to spend the New Year with you! Last but not least, a huge thank you to the Italian fans for their preparations and of course to the opera for organizing everything so well! X

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A short update about the second night for the Voice France third round. Thursday night was naturally more boring than Tuesday because Mika had already chosen his team and we saw Florent Pagny and Matt Pokora choosing theirs and their style is different and not as interesting as Mika’s (a bit biased saying that of course, lol!).

Mika was chilled and his part was only to shortly comment every performance and otherwise there was not much to focus on except wondering what he was doing with his little notebook. He kept sending notes to the other coaches, maybe for his own amusement. I paid too much attention to different sounds myself and it made me feel uncomfortable throughout the night. Many of the contestants have the kind of voice that makes me shudder and just like on Tuesday, some songs were poorly chosen which added the effect.

Again, it was quite easy to guess which contestant is staying in the competition and which two are out so it looked a bit silly that the three other coaches many times chose different favorites even the performances were not that good and it gave the impression the production wanted to make the level look better than it actually was (what makes sense from their point of view of course).

However, I have no idea how the system works for real and if the production guides the coaches in these situations or not. Also, if the coaches make their own decisions, whether they plan them beforehand or in that particular moment after seeing every performance. Of course the coaches are professionals and can better see the potential in young people (than an average person in the audience) and I assume they know some background information from behind the scenes the audience can’t know.

Being a good singer is not enough for talent shows unless the talent is something absolutely spectacular. The contestants need to be interesting and have personality and a good story behind them the audience to remember them well. After the recordings on Tuesday and Thursday I can hardly remember everyone from Mika’s team and only one or two from the other teams. I can remember two boys from Matt Pokora’s team on Thursday simply because young male contestants are stereotypical talent show material and have always their own target groups.

This year Mika has a very interesting contestant who can go far and if all goes well win and I would like to see his team winning this season. I wonder if he is doing another season after this. The Voice can’t give him much challenge at this point – how could it – and I’ve always thought this man lives for new challenges. The rumors tell they pay him well though and maybe it’s all becoming a nice routine with familiar people. We will see, I’m only speculating here.

Live shows for this season will be later this spring. I really enjoyed spending a few days in France and would love to do that even more. A huge thank you to the French girls and everyone else I met during the recordings for your company, help, chatting, translating and trying to teach me French (not much progress there I’m afraid). Hope to see you all soon xxx

I’m doing a couple of quick posts to describe my trip to The Voice France third round recordings in Paris. It felt important to travel and see Mika especially now when we possibly have only rare other events to look forward to this year (in case he is planning a small break to focus on his new music). It’s comforting to see him at recordings and with translations I can quite well follow what’s happening. My usual translator Melyssa couldn’t be in Paris for the third round (and I missed her!) but I was luckily sitting next to Ani who kept me updated during the night, a huge thank you to her for that.

The first night (Tuesday) was reserved for Zazie’s and Mika’s teams and the other coaches only gave their opinions after every performance, not pushing their words too much so both Zazie and Mika could focus on making their own decisions which was especially hard for Zazie. She doesn’t want to sent people out, it seems she would like to keep them all and fortunately on Tuesday the others were helping her a bit with this issue saving some of her contestants and that definitely made her happy.

The idea of the third round is to group the contestants in groups of three and hear them all performing one song chosen by themselves. The coach for the team decides which contestant continues to the live recordings and which two are out of the competition. Every coach can “steal” one contestant from other teams to their own teams (so the stolen contestant is not out but just changing his/her team). Many of the songs chosen were not best possible at all and some contestants could have done better if the songs had been more suitable. The level was not really high and it was easy to guess who will continue and who is sent out even the groups were well and logically done grouping similar types together.

I’ve had two favorites in Mika’s team and I hoped in advance that they both can make it to the live shows. My first favorite is a contestant who seems both very strong and very vulnerable and sensitive (as a person) at the same time. I liked him since the beginning and was happy he chose Mika because I know Mika can be sensitive and caring and give the contestant good and careful guidance. However, the performance for the third round was nervous and not as good as the auditioning and I was worried Mika might choose not to keep this contestant in his team. He did keep him though and I loved him for that and felt a bit ashamed I didn’t trust him in this decision. It was all emotional and a bit teary and will cause a lot of emotions in the television audience as well, I’m sure people will like the contestant.

My other favorite in Mika’s team has been a colorful group I like a lot because all three in the group seem very different as personalities but after performing together for a long time have grown together and give a good impression as a group. The group seems ready and experienced and something that could be successful if they just got visibility and some help to sharpen their style. They did well during the third round and continue to live shows and after seeing all these contestants again these two (the individual contestant and the group) in Mika’s team were the ones I can remember best even Zazie has some strong contestants as well.

The first of these two nights was entertaining to watch. I felt a bit tired after taking an early flight in the morning and of course I do wish I could understand Mika’s commenting. I regret and have lately much regretted not learning French. Thanks to my friends I can follow recordings quite well despite of the language and the issue hasn’t bothered me too much. Still, the truth is if I can’t understand him when he shares his thoughts I can learn to know him only through his music and it’s the most important but not the same as understanding everything.

I didn’t have a possibility to wish Mika happy new year in Florence and hoped to do that in Paris but naturally he had such a crowd around him that it wasn’t possible. However, he saw my face from distance behind the crowd and said a quick hello and happy new year which was nice and kind of made my wish to came true. Thursday night can be more boring for Mika fans because his team is already done but I will write a short update after that one too. X