I bought my ticket to see the Top 14 grand finale as soon as Mika announced performing after the game but been busy with different family things and couldn’t be sure about being able to go until a couple of days before the event. I decided to do a short 24 hour trip and still managed to have a few hours to spend in Paris before going to the stadium. I walked up to Montmartre like I always do and had lunch with the girls at my favourite crêperie and it all felt like a lovely day off I had needed and the best part was of course coming at Stade de France in the evening.

We arrived to the stadium quite late and the game had already started when I finally entered and found my seat. The place looked giant and I was sitting far away but exactly in the middle and above the presidential area and the journalist/television space (see the first pic below). I had a beautiful symmetrical view, it gave me a lot of pleasure to watch it even of course it was more important during the gig than during the game. I couldn’t much follow the rugby part. I had tried to learn the basic rugby rules in advance but was still totally unable to focus on the game. Finally the match was over and it was time for Mika and his show.

Preparations started and a big, heart-shaped stage with wings was brought in the middle of the field. I loved it and thought this giant show element had an important role during the show. The impact wouldn’t have been the same with an ordinary stage and the heart made the setting look Mika style since the beginning.

148D1A16-BD64-4628-B0EE-922C34B20A30

What a fabulous show it was. Everything was huge and I immensely enjoyed watching it all. It was good to see Mika on stage again. Generally, a stadium size venue is rarely a flattering background for any artist to use. Giant, cold and impersonal space is always difficult to fill and this time the situation after the game was even harder as the audience was naturally not on the field like during ordinary concerts but all distantly seated and far away from the stage. This was a great opportunity to perform to a large audience though and to build a colorful show in the middle of the field and I could easily see what a big team of people had worked for it and genuinely thought every part of it went as well as possibly could and that it all was incredibly impressive. A fantastic, big-scale show, I couldn’t stop smiling watching it.

I added some small clips of my favourite parts on FB, nothing great quality, just tiny video clips I had on my mobile to give an impression what I’m talking about. The show started with a rugby inspired dance intro for Relax and then the song continued with a beautiful light show (the pic above). I think both the dancers and lights worked really well during the whole performance and for example glowing outfits and pink M formed by the dancers during EMD created a cool detail and the lights and fireworks during WAG an impressive surprise. My biggest personal favourite was “let’s talk about love” – a part of Origin – added in the middle of the songs and as always Underwater felt the most powerful song in circumstances this massive.

The majority of the crowd stayed for the music show even the game was already over and I had totally not expected that. I haven’t read any feedback afterwards but the reactions in the audience around me were very positive. People were listening and focusing on the performance (not always the case if they didn’t particularly come to see the artist) and seemed impressed by it. A stage this big and a venue this gigantic must be challenging as an environment (because it means moving a lot) but in the live situation I didn’t give that side any thought at all and was only admiring how well the combination of music, energy and show elements managed to fill the giant stadium.

It would have been a pleasure to watch Mika a bit longer – it’s too rare to see him on stage these days – but the show was meant as a highlight after a rugby game and as that it was generous, not just a couple of songs but almost a half an hour real mini gig and I felt so happy to be able to be there. I wish I had proper photos to share but stadiums don’t officially allow cameras and I wasn’t sure I could sneak in mine so left it home. Thanks again everyone I met in Paris xxx

8447363F-478E-44B5-BB23-53D711DAE755

Back home from Paris and The Voice after the third live show week (I think this one was called ”demi-finale”) and a quick update about the show. This time my focus was purely and only on two teams and three contestants in them meaning Pascal’s and naturally Mika’s teams and more specifically Xam, Frédéric and Casanova as the talents. I hoped Xam to show to the television audience that he’s clearly better than Ecco who’s the other talent in Pascal’s team and to be chosen for the final week, he’s smart and the only contestant I personally find genuinely interesting this year. Also, I wanted to see Mika’s team doing well and even I wasn’t sure which one of his contestants would continue in the competition I was curious to see them on stage and had high expectations as the both of them had been evolving and showing us better and better performances each week. Raffi Arto and Maelle from teams Florent and Zazie felt obvious finalists from their own teams and they both made it to the final and I thought and still think they both deserved their places being finalist or even winner level but for some reason wasn’t interested enough to really look forward to their performances this week.

Ecco started with Adele’s Rolling in the Deep and I knew as soon as heard the song title that Xam will have good possibilities because the song chosen for Ecco felt too big for her and it was that indeed. She did well but wasn’t impressive and it made me wonder if the song was chosen on purpose just to show the difference between these two contestants. After Ecco it was Xam’s turn and he did – like my local friends described – this ”monumental” French song and I loved his performance and of course didn’t know the song well enough to put it into perspective but could see just watching my friends’ faces that they loved it as well and knew to expect Xam to continue in the competition and he did. The first goal for the evening was that way achieved.

We had to wait Mika’s team until the end of the show but we could see his contestants when the teams gathered together on stage in the beginning. I noticed my two favorite teams stood out even in that situation and looked different than the other two teams. Xam in Pascal’s team could hardly stay still to be in the group and Mika looked adorably protective and proud holding his talents on his both sides Frédéric looking tiny on the other side and persistent Casanova who had been fighting against the expectations since the beginning on his other side – and I loved watching them and found the whole setting very Mikaish. I naturally also knew that despite of his small size Frédéric has both a big voice and personality and that even Casanova hasn’t been a favorite in any way he has two important advantages for a contestant. He’s eagerly learning and well using the coaching and advices given to him and also extremely likable. For those reasons he had already previous weeks won over and convinced both the voting audience and Mika, simply by doing better in each performance and being easy-going, easy to like contestant.

Mika’s team performed and Frédéric’s Nessun Dorma was wonderful and somehow done in his very own style which I didn’t know was even possible for the song and Casanova’s French meaningful song balanced and very pretty performed together with a young talented dancer boy. Frédéric is a better singer but Casanova pushed his way to the final the same way he had done every week and it felt deserved because like in life in general things happen when people want them and work for them enough. Mika’s face when he realized Casanova is going to the final show was absolutely priceless and even neither of his contestants did the best performance of the show the sum of the their solo performances was still better than for any other team and team Mika’s group performance definitely the best of all teams being genuinely funny and not forced at all. The second goal for the night was achieved.  All the success for Mika’s team is due to the coaching and the decisions and choices made during the competition and thinking that makes me happy and pleased for him and I think he can be very pleased with his work as well no matter what the result for the final week will be.

Everything seems open for the final show. I still think Xam is the best and most interesting of the talents but would naturally be happy to see Casanova and team Mika doing well or even winning. I also assume Maelle is popular among the voters but have no idea what the numbers are and feel that anything can happen depending on the songs and how everything eventually goes during the last show. No pictures of Mika or his contestants to share this week, sorry. I had no possibility to take any and just saw the show xxx

I started to read Uncommon People by David Hepworth while waiting for the 2nd The Voice live show and the book is full of interesting, funny and sometimes even dirty anecdotes about the biggest ever rock classics and it made me laugh out loud as I could almost hear Mika’s the Art Of Song voice in my ears while reading it.

The forewords for the book claimed that the age of the rock star, like the age of the cowboy, has passed. But the idea of the rock star, like the idea of the cowboy lives on. There are still people who dress like rock stars and do their best to act as they think rock stars would have acted in an earlier time…

I mention the quote because that was my first thought when I saw Xam from Team Pascal on stage during the auditions. That boy wants to be a rock star. He had the rock star attitude and gestures, he did his best to do them all, and I thought he immediately branded himself with all that and was clever and consistent while doing it. He was a good performer since the beginning but I wasn’t sure whether I will like or be annoyed by his possibly calculating attitude. Then I looked at his face. Such an innocent looking, young face. I can’t help it, I hope that kid can be a rock star and on television two more weeks until the final show.

We will see how it goes next week. This week Ecco was the audience favorite in Pascal’s team and can be too much for Xam to win. She’s a good singer and very sweet. The whole Team Pascal was super cute, see the pic below. Betty Patural was not bad at all either, just unfortunate to be in the same team with these two distinctively good other contestants. Xam’s performance was everything it was supposed to be, he was wearing leather pants, hanging inside and on a giant cage, singing, screaming, dancing and jumping like a rock star.

After Team Pascal came Team Florent Pagny and Raffi Arto was as awesome as he was during the previous rounds. He’s my another favorite and someone I would be glad to see winning as well. I love his style and why wouldn’t we all like this smiling and energetic young boy. Personally I didn’t like the Elvis song chosen for him because that kind of vibrating singing hurts my ears a lot but he did very well and both the audience and all the coaches seemed to appreciate his performance and he was voted to continue in the competition.

Otherwise I found Florent’s candidates a bit boring. During Hobbs’ performance I had my focus purely on the dancers. I turned my head on the left and saw Isa doing the same and then on the right where the coaches were sitting and it looked to me Mika was watching the dancers as well but I can be wrong of course and have imagined it all. Florent had to choose between Hobbs and Yasmine Ammari and he chose the girl to continue in the competition with Raffi Arto.

This time I didn’t know what exactly to think about Mika’s contestants. I knew both the audience and Mika likes Frédéric a lot. Casanova is smiling, charming and very pleasant and could be voted also for that reason and after the two previous performances Guillaume was my own favorite and I hoped him to continue. Mika’s team felt the most unpredictable of all the teams. I took quick pictures of his candidates earlier and they all impressed me being extremely nice and polite with everyone around and kindly agreed to have their photos taken (I was a bit shy to ask that).

During the live show I very much liked the songs Mika had chosen for his team. Frédéric is so theatrical that his every appearance is like a small scene and it’s almost too much, so the song without any extra show elements was extremely suitable for him and made him the audience favorite. Guillaume did well but maybe had too much happening on stage during his performance (I felt a bit distracted) and eventually Mika chose Casanova over Guillaume. He explained his decision, unfortunately I couldn’t totally catch it but he seemed very proud of what Casanova did after demanding so much from him. Obviously there’s a language barrier between us and I miss many details but I still try to enjoy the show and performances.

With Zazie’s team I didn’t have any strong opinion in advance or even during the show. I knew Maelle is popular and she was again voted safe by the audience and after that Zazie eliminated Eduard Eduard and B Demi-Montaine will continue in the competition.

I enjoyed watching the show. People often tell they don’t like talent shows and my first reaction to that is to ask why anyone would like talent shows. I find most of them boring and I haven’t even had a television in years. However, after all these years The Voice has become something much more than a talent show. It’s a world of its own and I enjoy following it. I generally like watching how recordings and especially live shows are done and I like it how familiar everything has become. I can recognize a half of the audience, not only those who come to see Mika but many other groups as well and of course people organizing, filming, doing technical stuff, styling etc. The organization is always nice to the audience and it’s something I appreciate a lot. I can’t know how it is for Mika and the other coaches to work for The Voice because we can’t see that side and there must be a lot of pressure behind the scenes but for us the atmosphere is good as long as people behave nicely and follow instructions and we all do our best to do that.

I tried to spot some special details during the night. Nikos had a lovely blue jacket and blue shoes instead his usual grey outfit and I liked them a lot. Zazie had amazing comfortable looking red shoes as an opposite to the female host who is very pregnant and was still wearing insanely high red heels. I felt for her so much. The funniest moment was Mika putting his brother to sit in his chair instead of him wearing his jacket and I was wondering if they’re planning to joke with that during the show but Fortuné escaped last minute before the filming started. We were not allowed to have our mobiles inside so no photos from the studio but below a couple of photos of Mika talking with the crowd. There were people between us so I had to crop the pics but I still add them so we can remember how he looks. Don’t you just love that hair?

Back at the Voice studio this weekend and it was exciting as always to see the change that happens in contestants between the battles and live shows. On television it’s just a week between, in reality it’s been months since the previous phase and the talents have gone through many – both external and internal – changes. I often think them going through a “machine treatment”. Styling, receiving coaching, practicing, getting confidence and getting used to the idea of this new possible career.

Young talents experiment with styles trying to find their own, older contestant stop holding back, show more of themselves and possibly hope to sharpen their original style to finally break through. Either way, the difference is always huge and fun to watch, not forgetting the rest of the package: familiar faces, live show excitement and busy atmosphere inside of the industrial looking studio building.

This time our international group was lucky to be located in the camera corner nicely close to the chairs and we had to stay focused and ready to move every time the camera man moved his equipment. I was surprised to realize our group of six represented six different countries (Poland, France, Bulgaria, Belgium, Korea and Finland). I hadn’t met my Korean friend Jieun for a while so I felt grateful for this good timing and for having a possibility to spend some time together.

The coaches marched in and I loved the outfits Mika and Zazie were wearing, a golden embroidered jacked for Mika and long grey/blue silk shirt for Zazie. I didn’t pay attention to what Florent and Pascal were wearing but Pascal made gestures to make the audience yell as soon as he arrived whereas Florent was quite quiet the whole evening and also furthest away from our corner.

Zazie’s team started with Maelle, then Eduard Eduard, Liv Del Estal and B Demi-Mondaine. Maelle and B Demi-Mondaine were selected by the audience votes as expected and Zazie chose Eduard Eduard also as expected meaning Liv was eliminated. Maelle is an interesting singer and seems quite popular already, B Demi-Mondaine has a strong character and style and Eduard Eduard is a charming showman. Very curious to see what will happen in this team next week!

Pascal’s team continued first with young, talented and very pretty, tiny and cute Ecco who sang Eurythmics and then with Xam and his French song. They both took my attention already during auditions and I must say I find it surprising if Pascal doesn’t win this year considering this is his first year and considering how good his contestants are. Crazy Xam is as much a rock cliche as a young contestant can be and at first I wasn’t sure how much it will bother me but I’m warming up to his performances and he seems smart so I’m already starting to think him as one of the four final contestants and kind of hope that will happen (but not sure about that yet Ecco being that talented and that pretty, tiny and cute). The third contestant in Pascal’s team was Betty Patural and fourth the electro duo who was eventually selected out (also as I expected).

Florent’s team started with very young and energetic Raffia Arto who I could easily remember from his Johnny Hallyday performance and who kept me awake with Blues Brothers this time as well. The rest of Florent’s team made me very sleepy and I can’t remember details, I just can’t remember. I checked the names and also Jasmine Ammari and Hobbs will continue in the competition.

Finally it was the turn for Mika’s team! Sherley Paredes started and Mika looked genuinely happy to watch her performance. Then Casanova and Frédéric Longbois who’s starting to show his super theatrical, funny side more than he did earlier and as the last one Guillaume who became my favorite in Mika’s team after Mennel was out of the competition and after hearing Guillaume’s version of the Harry Styles song which I liked very much. This time the audience result was different than I had expected. I expected Frédéric and Guillaume  to be selected by the audience votes, maybe Mika did as well. That way he could have chosen Sherley as the third contestant.

However, Frédéric and Casanova were selected and to keep Guillaume – which felt an obvious thing to do as Guillaume was the best contestant in his team this week – Sherley had to be out. I thought this was totally fine, I prefer male voices any way but not sure this was what Mika wanted. He looked sad for her elimination and comforted her with kind gestures.

An entertaining night in many ways. My favourite part was the small dance group seen quickly in the beginning of the episode. We could watch the group rehearsing before the show started and it was very impressive even the official part was over so quickly. After the show I took my bag and continued to the airport with Jieun who had an early flight as well. I spent a few days in Paris before Saturday so I collected a few Paris pics from my mobile below. Blog wise it would be more interesting to discover some new things during every visit but I’m not that kind of a person, it’s the possibility to have routines in foreign places that makes me happy.

I booked a hotel near Sacre Coeur to be able to climb the hill every morning and often also day and evening time. It’s hard not to feel grateful and very blessed in life while watching gentle morning colors and the beautiful view over Paris. I spent time with the French girls whom I’m very fond of (love the pic of us at the photo booth). I visited the English book store and bought 4 or 5 books like I always do (that’s my limit as I carry only a backpack). I chose a museum and this time it was d’Orsay which is one of my favorites the building included. I sat in cafes. Small things. Very much enjoyed my week, thanks everyone xxx

 

After auditions and final auditions in December it was now time for the Voice France battles and they were done during two Saturday sessions on the 13th of January and our full day was both interesting and entertaining so I decided to immediately write a description of it not to forget the details during the break which will continue until the live shows (starting in April).

Two sessions during one day means long hours. For a person like me traveling from far away (in this case from Helsinki) only to see these recordings this kind of a schedule is ideal and means good value for money as I can arrive on Friday night, spend the whole Saturday at the studio and be back in Finland and with my family already on Sunday.

However, it’s quite hard for the coaches to do two sessions in row and I could see Mika felt really uncomfortable in the end of the latter session. He had explained to the audience his eyes were hurting and that he saw things a bit blurry and spending hours and hours under bright studio lights probably made him feel much worse and his head hurt and I felt so sorry for him, I could so well remember my own horrible headache during the December recordings. Of course, with the full studio and big expensive team the production has no possibility to do any big changes and they just have to finish the work and all four coaches stayed relatively sharp even they had such a long day.

The afternoon session started late because of rehearsals and we were let in the building but still waited in the so called waiting area almost two more hours. Luckily it was early and I didn’t feel tired at all and waiting was just fine for me and eventually we had our places in the studio. The coaches did their song together as usual and this time it was David Bowie’s Heroes. They all had new outfits for the battle round and Mika was wearing dark trousers, a white shirt, a navy casual jacket and really cool red and gold shoes. Florent was totally in grey, Pascal had a metallic shiny outfit and eye glasses that reminded me of old-fashioned driving glasses and Zazie had a long black shirt and boots. No skirt or proper pants I think, but it wasn’t as weird as it sounds because she can really wear anything and look gorgeous.

The system was different than in previous years and included four rounds of battles (so afterwards every coach had their final teams of four)  but this time every battle duo did a song together instead of doing their own separate songs and it made the performances look like real battles and was very interesting to watch and showed how much of an effect the song choice can have and how it can make two totally different singers either closer to each other or make the difference between them even bigger (depending on what’s the wanted result). The audience was quite loud, partly because on Saturdays they always have more kids than during week night recordings but also because both of the sessions were entertaining so the audience was not bored at all.

Two times two rounds of battles. Every coach had chosen two singers for every round and Zazie’s team started the first round singing Sweet Dreams. I’m going to avoid mentioning contestants and songs by names to protect excitement but I mention Sweet Dreams because it’s one of the songs Mika used to cover years ago so naturally my mind started to wander through different versions he’s done, versions I’ve seen live and versions I wish I had seen and all that took most of my attention but I still got the impression the performance was good and one of the biggest favorites in Zazies’s team was in the first duo and went to finals as I expected. After that it was turn for Team Pascal and again, probably his biggest favorite and I imagined the battle would be clear but the song was chosen to make the difference look smaller (at least that’s how it looked to me, they could have made the favorite to look even more special) and it was really interesting that way, even though the winner was clear of course.

After these two favorites it was time for Mika and his team and obviously neither contestant in his battle duo was a favorite in advance and even though the song was really interesting – I really liked the choice – it didn’t start well and I already felt bad for Mika (because his team had to battle right after those big favorites from Zazie and Pascal) when suddenly something changed. The duo consisted of a girl and a guy and it looked like the guy suddenly realized this is his change to go to the final phase and got a weird amount of confidence and did an extremely good performance. A weird performance I think, somehow peculiar but the style fitted to the song and I really liked it and thought it was a very nice start for Mika’s team and much more memorable than the next performance by Team Florent from which I can remember only the dress the girl was wearing.

I was pleased Mika’s team got such a positive start and the same continued for the second round of the first session. It was time for his battle duo and I saw him staring the stage smiling and wondered what was happening when the most interesting contestant from his team appeared on stage. I’ve rarely seen anything as beautiful as this girl. She looks like a real princess in her exotic outfits and on Saturday I just stared at her and could very well understand Mika’s smile and his expression, she’s fascinating and it almost feels she’s taking the whole place under her spell, everyone was staring at her. Her voice is not that much my taste to be honest but I love her personal style, she’s very soulful and aiming to tell a story and to create different atmospheres and not only to sing, will be very interesting to see her during the finals. During this round we saw entertaining songs from the other teams as well. Team Florent did a Johnny Hallyday song (I think it was his song, please don’t blame me if I’m wrong) and I loved the energy and seeing the audience joining.

After the first session we had a small break and most people in the studio left and just fans stayed waiting for the second session. The staff gave people water and sandwiches (I had brought some bread with me) and we had a possibility to use a toilet. The second session started, also a couple of hours late. We had already seen the biggest favorite from Mika’s team and in the evening his duos were not as good level as in the afternoon. Both times I felt it didn’t make any difference who won the battle but during the last duo I really liked the performance, it was genuinely lovely (even I couldn’t understand the French lyrics, Melyssa translated me the idea though) and it was  a bit funny and very interesting and will look good on television as well.

Zazie had good quality battles also in the last session and the first performance from her team turned out to be an extremely emotional episode. A mature (I like to to use that word because it means more than just saying older) and a very young contestant did a song together and it ended up being strong and emotional, not only to the audience but also to the coaches and I can’t describe it more without giving spoilers but I imagine the production loved getting this kind of teary material. I felt weirdly sad after the performance.

Pascal had one of his biggest favorites in the evening session and I’m still not sure what to think about this contestant, something in him disturbs me. His every move is totally crazy but also very calculated. Not saying it can’t be his natural style but at least the contestant knows how well the craziness goes for people and how it makes his performances stand out and it’s all so arrogant. The contestant is good though. He’s really good and will definitely do well and might even be the winner. I don’t have much to say about Florent’s team in the evening session. The last battle for his team was genuinely awful. I felt a tiny bit bad for him but not too much, Florent is experienced and will without a doubt handle everything with style as always.

Then it was all over and Mika came to say good night to the audience and spoke mostly French but in the end said also something in English, that he will go and will be doing something, I hope that meant music. Would be so lovely to think he’s making music again. Thanks again everyone I met and talked with and everyone who helped me in so many ways. I felt Saturday was genuinely a very interesting recording day, maybe because of the new battle system but also because I liked many songs chosen and found them entertaining. I love these short trips. I’m starting to understand I’ve actually learning a lot during my regular visits to France. About the country and the culture and the people. I was watching a random French film the other day and so many things and details I didn’t think or even know existed a few years ago felt now so familiar. Love it. xxx

The view in the pics above is one of my favorites in the world and I try to climb to the hill Montmartre every time I have a possibility during my Paris trips. I love the color combination and different shades of white, cream, grey and pale green and I love how the light and clouds look always different depending on the time of the day. The place was not too crowded early in the mornings so it was lovely to walk there. I stayed in Paris five nights and had two whole days off between the Voice recordings on Saturday and Tuesday and used the time walking around, doing my Christmas shopping and visiting cafes.

All practical things went well I think. The recording sessions were quite interesting considering that this part of the recordings is generally less interesting than blind auditions or live shows. It was good to see people and it was good to see Mika and it made me happy to have a possibility to wish him merry Christmas. A small thing but always brings the holiday mood. He was very considerate and sweet to people both nights I saw him, paid attention to the audience and waved people good night and after the Saturday’s session tweeted both in French and Italian to thank his main fan groups. He came to have a little chat when saw us and after the last session made a small thank you speech in French.

The recordings were fun but I miss seeing Mika doing something that makes him genuinely excited. The Voice isn’t the kind of project where he can use his creativity or do anything new or really interesting and it’s the same for all four coaches, they all seem to have a very business like attitude. This season Mika’s team is not as strong as Pascal’s or especially Zazie’s. During the December recordings the contestants did the second audition in groups of three and the coaches had to pick the best one for the next round. A couple of times Pascal and Zazie had such good trios it was almost difficult to say which talent deserves to stay, with Mika’s trios I was once or twice relieved he could choose only one meaning he could let the other two go.

He needs to work with the team he has and he’s really good at it and no one knows for sure who will make the biggest progress. I like his style, he’s always kind but still extremely honest and I generally like that and that must be useful for his talents as well. All teams included I can now remember maybe four contestants quite well and think they will all go far but I don’t want to give any spoilers before live shows (at that point everyone already knows the teams).

This is my last blog post for this year so wishing Merry Christmas to everyone. Have a peaceful holiday time with your families and friends xxx

Back home after a long “The Voice” weekend in Paris. I saw four auditions on Friday, Saturday (x2) and Monday and it felt good to be back in France. Not as magical as watching Casa Mika but I enjoy seeing these recordings live and I generally enjoy being in France. I’m grateful to my French friends for making me feel accepted every time I visit the country. It’s not something I can take for granted, the local fans make a strong, tight group and I don’t even speak their language. Yet they make me feel welcome and are always kind and help in every way. I feel I can be there weirdly quiet and it’s just fine. It’s nice to enjoy these events without feeling any pressure or stress.

I can’t understand French or know French music so it’s a huge help to have someone who translates and gives background information during the recordings and Melyssa deserves all the chocolate in the world for doing the job again and again and for doing it so well. Her English is excellent (much much better than mine) and she can translate easily but what’s even more important is the information she can give me outside the translations. She has a good knowledge so she can very quickly decide what’s important for me to know to understand the situation. She tells things like the theme of the song and if it’s iconic or not, how the original version was and who performed and maybe even wrote it. She tells how people are connected and what happened in the past and all kind of facts and general references only locals can know that help me to follow the show and make it possible to put everything in context.

Recordings started with the usual warming up and then we could see Nikos who always chats with the audience for a while. After that it was time for the coaches to do a song together. They performed it in the beginning of three different recordings (actually twice every time making it total six times) and I really enjoyed watching it and liked this French song very much. The song was written for Florent Pagny by Pascal Obispo who is the latest addition in the coach team and I thought it fitted the coaches very well and it was of course lovely to hear Mika singing a little bit both on Friday and Saturday (always makes me feel the trip is worth while).

The new coach is very different compared to Matt Pokora I must say. Not sure how to put it in English but in Finland we would say he’s someone who wasn’t born yesterday and knows a trick or two. I can’t much describe his coaching yet (the local girls tell he hasn’t said anything really original) but he seems a very strong character and likes to entertain the audience. A half of the time his entertaining is funny and a half of the time it’s a bit gross. He takes a handkerchief and blows his nose in it and then very theatrically uses the same piece of fabric to clean his eyeglasses or puts candy in his nose and things like that. Things some men find irresistibly humorous, things gentlemen shouldn’t be doing if you ask me (I’m a mother of three boys and there’s no tolerance for things like that in my house). I’m mostly worried about him showing an example to Mika who will start to imitate him but so far that hasn’t happened. Very proud of Mika for being mature enough not to join the game.

Pascal and Mika are next to each other so they had quite a lot interaction and a half of the time Pascal was joking and a half of the time kind of showing who’s the man in the house. Maybe just a role the production has given to him, I can’t know, and I noticed he kept lower profile on Monday so maybe they noticed the idea wasn’t that good after all. Or, maybe the coaches are just learning to know each other and testing what’s the best approach in communicating with each other. I really don’t know how much the coaches are instructed and how much they have freedom with finding their roles and the position in the group.

This time Mika is the one who doesn’t belong to the group the same way the other three coaches do. He’s not the same age group compared to the others and the other three know each other really well and have a long history together. Mika already knows Florent and Zazie from previous years and seems to even be quite close with Florent but that can’t be compared to decades of common history. Just watching the coaches sitting in their chairs makes me think Mika is different. Three of the coaches are wearing shirts open down to their waist, two times with leather pants and one time with a short black skirt. Then there’s Mika wearing a stylish and simple, darker green suit combined to a sweater with a pink glittery detail and white shirt under that. Oh I love green. And I love it when men wear proper shirts under their sweaters, looks so cozy and safe. Zazie can of course wear anything she likes, she looks always gorgeous.

Mika looks even more elegant and handsome sitting in his chair than previous years and we all look at him with very approving eyes. Not sure he can see that. What he can definitely see is people eating during breaks. He must think his fans have two alternative pleasures in their life and that’s either listening to his music or eating. That’s not far from the truth to be honest but there’s also another logical explanation why people like to have food with them in the studio. The recordings are done very late hours and sitting in that warm closed space for hours makes us not only hungry but also sleepy and having something to raise our blood sugar level makes it easier to stay awake. Mika might actually understand that and on Monday he kindly – as a special gesture to the French fans – handed the girls a bag of snacks (he even came in the middle of the audience just to deliver it himself, how sweet is that). I found some gluten-free food in the bag and I ate it and for once I wasn’t hungry after the session.

About the talents this year. I didn’t see anyone who would have immediately felt truly special but we saw several somehow interesting contestants and I believe that’s enough to make the season interesting enough. The coaches have all their own, particular style and year by year it’s easier to guess who’s going to push the button. It’s becoming easier to guess which coach the talents are choosing as well because the contestants are not used to be on television and can’t control their body language so just by paying attention to their reactions it’s possible to guess their choices as well (whether I agree with them or not, I don’t always think they choose the best for them).

Talents who make unique animal like sounds make me always worried because Mika seems to find them fascinating and often pushes the button for them. I can see how his eyes start to sparkle when the talent makes weird sounds and his hand gets ready to touch the red button. I assume his enthusiasm is based on the fact that some in my ears unpleasant sounds are extremely difficult to make and that way show a lot of talent and controlling the voice. I never expect much from those contestants though. If someone is not willing use their talent to do pleasant sounds in the beginning why would they be willing to do that later? This kind of contestants give some color to the competition of course. This year we didn’t see many really original contestants and especially on Monday similar looking guys with guitars walked on stage again and again (and again). It was very hard to see any difference but for final episodes they will of course cut and mix everything and it will look much more variable on television.

The organization around the recordings at the Voice is always nice to the audience and fans in it and I experienced it this time as well. I wasn’t feeling well on Saturday (I had a headache and no amount of painkillers seemed to help) and somehow one of the security guys in the studio noticed it and took me to get some fresh air and brought me water and coffee and insisted me meeting a doctor (I couldn’t keep my balance so I understand why he wanted to make sure I was okay even I said it’s just a headache) and the doctor gave me some more medicine which eventually helped and I could enjoy the evening. I could still feel the pain but it wasn’t overwhelming and I could focus on what happened on stage. They could have asked me to leave but instead they did all that and I could stay for the second part of the day and didn’t miss it. Super nice thing to do, very much appreciated it.

The recordings will continue in December. Thank you everyone for this weekend! In the pic below I’m with my translator Melyssa 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

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

A small report about The Voice France blind auditions from Thursday to Sunday last week. Every audition day was different from each other and I’m very glad I did them all even the recordings were not equally entertaining. It was interesting to see all the talents and final teams and get a bigger picture of everything. Mika was naturally very tired (as said earlier, his schedules are insane) and his moods went from trying really hard to can’t bother to pretend anything and from being funny and witty to even a bit biting and then simply just staring and blinking (it looked his contact lenses hurt his tired eyes) and then finally happily giggling when his team was almost full and then full and the work done.

Mika looked more tired than the other coaches and to be honest his fans looked more tired than the other fans, our lives are synchronized that way. But we all made it and he did very well with his team which is now genuinely interesting and colorful and he got two most interesting talents of all the contestants (more than hundred contestants auditioned). We can’t be sure one of these two will win – both Zazie and Florent got some very good talents as well – but Mika definitely got the two I hoped most for his team.

Thursday was better quality talent wise and much more entertaining than the previous audition a couple of weeks ago. The coaches were maybe in a better mood or simply made more effort to be more entertaining and the night was full of funny details. Mika was extremely lucky with the contestants and his team started to fill so quickly he might have even wished he hadn’t pushed the button as many times as he did. He managed to get in his team probably the most interesting talent in the whole competition, it will be great to see how everything turns out. It will be important to make careful decisions and I’m curious to see what he ends up doing.

The coach team is very good in my opinion. I’ve always liked Florent Pagny, he is very pleasant in an adult, warm way. His fans are very kind and calm ladies and it feels natural to think both the artist and his fans are alike (otherwise they wouldn’t have stayed around him for so long). Zazie is funny in a smart, clever way. I can’t understand the language (which is a shame as I’ve heard she is extremely good with words) but still get this impression just from her gestures. Matt Pokora is the latest addition in the team and I don’t yet know how to describe him. Not that I have anything bad to say, he makes effort to be energetic and seems to be a nice guy. I just can’t catch anything about him and can’t yet remember his team as well as the other teams.

Friday wasn’t nearly as entertaining as Thursday because talents were not as good quality and none of the coaches except Matt Pokora made much effort to be funny. He kept trying to impress the talents and gave a red heart to a talent he wanted to his team (jokingly made from the cover of his notes) and even recognized one talent because had seen him on Youtube but every time he seemed to bond with the contestant they still chose Mika which was slightly awkward. The coaches did their song together in the beginning of every recording day and it was really the best part of the show (along with Mika doing an audition one night, almost forgot to mention it!). All other guests were somehow related to The Voice (contestants from previous years) and not familiar to me but still entertaining as performances.

Saturday was a long day and we spent inside the studio building more than 12 hours all waiting included. However, the contestants were better quality than on Friday and the coaches used all their experience and professional ability to get through the long day and to add good talents in their teams. In the end of the recording our part of the audience looked a bit restless but the production didn’t say anything and I guess they could understand how long the audience had been there and how tiring it was. We saw some very touching moments during the day and because of tiredness every emotion felt a bit stronger than usually. I had tears in my eyes several times!

Mika fans were very international both on Friday and Saturday and in addition to the French fans (and me from Finland) there were also a strong representation from Italy and fans from Belgium, Germany, Spain, Bulgaria and China. It was really nice to spend time together and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who already missed being at gigs and was grateful we have recordings like this to gather together between tours. The French group made me feel incredibly welcome, I can’t thank them enough. Solange took care of the practical side (like tickets) and Melyssa made sure I always had my place next to her and patiently translated me every single recording (everything!). Isa (from Belgium) had a car and she took me back to my hotel every night so I didn’t have to walk alone which always makes me a bit afraid. A huge thank you to the girls and the whole group!

Then it was time for the last recording day Sunday and the night turned out to be the funniest of all four nights! The coached had to fill their teams so they seriously had to compete for every talent and it made them use all their charm. Mika was very sweet and smiling and he got himself a very colorful and interesting singing group and we all screamed when the group (after being on stage for a long time) finally chose him. Definitely my second favorite in the whole competition! Then all the teams were finally full and the last contestant didn’t really have a proper chance even his performance was good and it was sad but that’s how the system works. That’s all for now, the season continues in December with battles!

summertour_1

When I was a child my mother used to watch only movies based on true story – otherwise they would be nonsense – and I never understood her logic. It still makes no sense to me. What’s the point of making movies look like a real life when we can make our real lives look like a movie. These days I often have a feeling I live inside a screenplay and I love it. I love every moment.

I’m not talking about fancy and glamorous Hollywood style films, those things mean nothing to me. What I have in mind is more like a low-budget, really weird alternative one. Even my home life is quite colorful, but when I travel, I see places as beautiful as any movie scenes, meet people who could totally be film characters and get in situations I can hardly believe myself even I’m there. And there’s a soundtrack. My life has a soundtrack, for real.

When I watch Mika on stage I can see a weird combination of an adult fairytale, old-fashioned musical and Marvel super heroes, happening right in front of my eyes. Regarding to traveling this summer was all my French and Italian favorites put together. The tour itself was probably my favorite summer tour so far and I’ve looked forward to writing a small summary and collecting my thoughts about it.

This tour was different compared to any previous summer tours I’ve seen during years. It was very carefully considered. By that I mean every night was separately planned as an opposite to the old system with a basic structure songs added or left out depending on the current feeling. This time I got the impression every setlist was separately considered which felt thoughtful and very professional.

I appreciated it that the show was significally different every single night. Of course I did. It made a big difference and not only to fans like me who saw many shows but to everyone because it meant there was an extra excitement before every gig. Every night could stand out as it was and there were particular, detailed news and individual memories after all of them just based on the structure.

Having everything so carefully planned in advance means inevitably less spontaneous, random interaction between Mika and the audience which is something he is so good at and something people who are used to it might miss. I can see their point.

However, it looked to me that all the planning allowed Mika to be focused on his singing and that’s basically what I hope him to do. I just want him to sing to me. So if he is now more focused on his singing and performing than he has been for a while I definitely won’t complain. I have absolutely nothing to complain. I’m just happy I saw all these concerts.

Molfetta was the most idyllic location with the sea, salty smell, fishermen and cats. Palermo had the most amazing setlist of the whole tour. Not sure people even realized how challenging and generous it was. Perugia Jazz festival was one of the coolest events I’ve seen and I’m not even a jazz person. Padova was one of my personal favorites. I didn’t think anything during the whole gig, just enjoyed the music and maybe for that reason it seems to be so hard to write a report (but I will at some point).

La Rochelle was big, messy and colorful. Nimes was special (the venue, stunning performance and very special atmosphere). Carcassone and Sollies Pont were the same, fantastic style as Nimes in a bit smaller scale. Then back to Italy. I spent a beautiful, pleasant day in Trieste but the gig was a bit loud. Chieti was like an opposite to it, one of my favorite summer gigs ever (I wrote about those two gigs here). Rome was a bit peculiar but we got some gems and Cernobbio was simply put super emotional. Very touching indeed.

I noticed that if something was wrong during any of the gigs it was quickly fixed before the next one which added the professional impression (I had always thought they don’t have time for that). I could see Mika was relieved in Cernobbio like always in the end of the tour. For him it means first holidays and then something new and interesting to do in the future. For his fans it means another ending (which I don’t like but can deal with).

Usually we are all tired together. Now I was exhausted and my friends probably felt the same but Mika could still do high-energy, very high quality shows until the very end of the tour. It made me wonder if he takes good enough care of his health. I didn’t worry much though. I used to worry that something bad will happen to him. I don’t worry much anymore. He makes me feel safe.

Even those rare times when we happened to be in the same plane I felt totally safe and calm. I can’t explain why I automatically assumed that someone who travels with his mother could possibly protect and save a whole plane but that was my first thought. He would figure something out. He will figure something out.

I can’t thank enough everyone who I met this summer. The German fans from my another, adoptive home country (how cute it is to say that). Isa and Ani (you ladies know how much I appreciate it that sometimes we can just have a glass of prosecco and deal with everything after that). The whole French group (I love it that I can refer to you all as “one group”). Italian families (Grazia, Valeria and the others who I meet also outside Italy, the long-time Italian fans, the gorgeous younger generation and also new fans who I now learnt to know better). My Korean friends and all my international friends from different countries.

Thank you. I will miss you. Hope to see you soon again. xxx

SP_6

I chose the photo above because it reminds me how fantastic the stage and the whole setting looks. The whole summer tour has been even better than I ever expected and I feel so much love and only want to express how wonderful everything both sounds and looks.

Despite of the busy tour schedule Mika’s voice is in a very good condition. He sounds beautiful and gives no signs of tiredness at all. The sound works really well at the moment, we have seen some amazing venues and I could write a whole post just to describe the heaven stage which has been evolving a lot since the original Heaven Tour, with a few big elements it looks colorful yet simple enough.

Summer tours like this are not for everyone. July is hot and queuing in the burning sun is not easy at all. Schedules are busy and crowds big and at some events it’s necessary to stand hours or the whole day watching other artists while waiting for Mika. For me it’s still all a part of my usual summer program and I love it and have really enjoyed this tour first in Italy and then in France.

Italy is my favorite summer holiday area and visiting places like Molfetta, Palermo, Perugia and Padova and spending time with my Mika friends at events like Perugia Jazz Festival was definitely the best possible way to start my holidays. I generally love gigs in France. Mika is close with the country, the atmosphere is always special and it gives me a warm feeling to meet the local fans. I know well and admire their loyalty and group spirit and connect them to many of my concert memories since the early days. It was so wonderful to see all the familiar faces in La Rochelle, Nimes, Carcassonne and Sollies Pont!

SP_supporting_1

The festival in Sollies Pont started with a supporting act with a very peculiar, almost painful style which is typical for France but not my cup of tea at all. I loved it how beautiful the chateau behind the stage looked before setting up the backgrounds and took a photo of the pink color that reminded me of the color of The Grand Hotel Budapest. So pretty!

Mika started with No Place In Heaven which one of my favorites on the album, makes me happy to have it back on the setlist again. It’s not for the biggest festival crowds because people need to focus for it but worked still fine in Sollies Pont. It’s one of the best Mika songs and I know that people who properly know his music love the song. I adore this simple version!!!! See a video below.

I don’t know who takes care of the lights but the stage looks fabulous. I don’t have many good pics of the full stage but it does look amazing and I tried to film a couple of videos to show it. I love it how dreamy the lights looks in the beginning of Good Guys making the atmosphere more gentle. During the best parts of Happy Ending the whole stage is glowing in different shades and the Heaven sign sparkles like pointing out this is it. This is heaven. It looks magical. There are so many details like a short rainbow glimpse also in Billy Brown and I pay a lot of attention to them while watching the show.

I loved the special ending in Relax (below), so beautiful! Maybe only a coincidence but the blue, white and red scene looked suitable. I don’t speak French but I could recognize parts of the speech Mika did already in Nimes. Happy Ending was absolutely breath-taking. It’s not as emotional or touching as Relax or Last Party but it’s kind of his signature and definitely impressive every single time and makes me always think of how extremely lucky I am to hear it live (also vid below). I wish I had a video of Last Party to show the foggy lights but it’s my most important moment of the show and I have a rule not to disturb it by holding or focusing on my camera. Boum Boum Boum was so funny, make sure to watch the whole clip.

This was the last concert of the tour in France and I was aware Mika mentioned it several times but tried to ignore the thought. I can’t handle endings, they make me too sad. I’ve been traveling the past 18 months. I perfectly know how lucky I am being able to do this and I’m grateful for every single concert I’ve seen so far. Also, I know Mika needs a break to do new music and I know both my resources and my family’s patience are limited so a break is not a bad idea and I’m even kind of looking forward to it. Still, it’s always hard to know that something is ending and that I can’t be sure what will happen in the future… Makes me cry a little but just thinking of it.

My husband and I had a long drive after the show and he would have preferred to leave immediately but was kind and waited so I could say good bye to everyone. In the car I fell asleep but he woke me up to see three foxes walking on the side of the road. They all looked cute, young and a bit silly. Traveling to Finland tomorrow and then back to Italy for a few more gigs. Some pictures below.