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.

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 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

lovetoday

I wanted to write about love songs and chose three songs each describing love from different points of view. Relax is in the middle and inside of the emotion. It’s a love song – and for me definitely the most important love song Mika has written – despite of the background story not related to love at all. Origin is not only a love story but also describes how we are a part of the society and sometimes need to defend our right to love and Love Today is about the energy love creates that shifts from a person to another circulating among us.

The Love Today collage above was actually a doodle, hence the messy look. It was supposed to be a sketch and I planned to make another, more symmetric and more careful version later but drawing it was so relaxing I just continued and added colors and glitter and sequins until the messy result. It’s disturbing to see something so not perfect but it kind of describes how we see ourselves before we finally find someone who loves us exactly as we are. What a tragedy of human life to grow up only to learn we are totally incomplete and full of flaws until someone else sees us differently.

I listened to several versions of Relax before writing this post and noticed how my mood changed from serious to melancholic but still calm and finally smiling when I listened to first the acoustic, then symphony and finally the album version of of the song. Relax reminds me that whatever happens I’m never alone because I have someone who loves me and that is the calmest feeling in the world. The original recorded version makes me also smile because I can remember how hearing the first notes of the song many years ago made me fall in love with this artist and his music and I can still remember it when I go back to that moment and think it’s good to cherish those moments in life in general.

I’ve thought a lot about love lately because my husband and I had our big wedding anniversary last week. Magazines and their relationship articles tell us how there are ups and downs and what a hard work it is but I don’t know what they are talking about. It’s been only ups and not work at all and every day is little bit better than the day before. It never ceases to amaze me how that one day I could immediately knew that someone is right for me and how that certain and sure feeling never goes away.

I believe that with the right person love is a permanent state and also that all the talk about timing, place or circumstances being wrong or growing apart is just nonsense, that with the right person everything is possible and that in a good relationship people can grow as much as they need to. I know that not everyone agrees with me about this. People can’t always listen to their inner voice, maybe because the world is so loud, or they don’t even believe there is one but mine is screaming, would be impossible to ignore it.

The next song I was listening to was Origin and I’m surprised I’m not as close with this song as I am with Underwater which my favorite song on TOOL because it’s actually directly confessing love which I do like a lot. I guess it’s more about facts and less about passion and also more about making things to make sense putting love above everything and less about absurd. However, I love how genuine it sounds and how good it is as a song and have always enjoyed the live version and the airy, flying atmosphere in it.

I made the collage for Love Today sort of abstract and red and blue for several reasons. I got the idea from the psychedelic Imaginarium Tour background animations, I loved the red and blue patterns and can still remember them. The theme in the song is abstract, it’s all about energy, and I like the thought of having a possibility to describe it in many different ways. There are no limits for love, it can be anything and it can take different forms, circulate everywhere and fill our lives if we let that happen.

Love is a fascinating thing, I could endlessly think about it. No wonder there are so many love songs in the world. I have a few more collage ideas but they are not love related and I need some time to finish them so will add them into another post. I’m writing this one on my way to Milan to see Casa Mika recordings tonight and will hopefully write a report about that later as well. Take it easy xxx

goodguys

Some songs feel important the moment I hear them for the first time, some other songs ask me to be more patient. Songs working on two levels are easy, I can relate them immediately but also find deeper meanings during time. If I can’t relate the theme personally it takes time to truly discover the song. I have the feeling there’s something to catch but that something is like slipping away and I have to remind myself to be patient. Finally discovering that important vibe is always rewarding.

Good Guys is one of those songs. I couldn’t relate to the lyrics, I’ve never had that kind of examples in my own life and I knew I have to see the song from Mika’s point of view and it took me time even of course I could understand how important all those brave, bold, genuine artistic examples (which he calls “good guys”) must have been for him when he was a creative young person planning to be an artist. First it sounded he didn’t believe in those examples anymore, that he had become too old to believe in any heroes.

Then I thought that maybe the good guys still existed but the focus point had changed when he grew up and became an example to younger people himself. What made the song alive for me was hearing people talking about the meaning of this song and the importance of his example to their personal lives and I started to see the meaning of the song in reality. I wanted the live version to be soft and dreamy – to transfer me to the atmosphere of the past years – and it did happen even I can’t be sure if there was that kind of evolving in the live version for real or if it happened in my own imagination only.

Another challenging song was definitely Ordinary Man. In the beginning it was performed old-fashioned, musical style and instead of the vulnerability that was meant to be there I saw only some very theatrical self-pity and couldn’t understand why he had made a song like that. I couldn’t get it. I knew there must be another purpose for the song but I really couldn’t catch it.

I remember the exact moment in the end of the show in Cattolica where Mika, after giving almost his everything during the show, breathed a moment, put on a too small hand-decorated t-shirt given from the audience, sat down in front of his piano and did an amazing simple version of Ordinary Man, sounding wonderful, looking sweaty and exhausted, and I finally got the song and realized THIS is how it was meant to be, this is the vulnerability meant to be in the song. What an ending to that concert it was, just brilliant, will never forget that. Some songs are so personal they are best performed (figuratively speaking) naked, being a little bit uncomfortable, having no possibility to hide.

Some songs, on the other hand, work best in special circumstances or settings. Heroes is one of these songs. The theme is so big the song was difficult to even understand before it was done in a huge way with a giant symphony orchestra. I knew to expect it would be a good way to perform it but it turned out to be more impressive than I ever imagined, the song felt like a force of nature. That time it worked in a big way, most times I dream of hearing songs in a small way and assume Beautiful Disaster could be amazingly beautiful done in a simple, acoustic way instead of the dance style we usually hear.

Sometimes I ignore songs myself because I can’t handle them. I never listen to All That She Wants. The theme is simply too sad for me. For some reason even the cheerful melody gives a little bit fake cheerful feeling if that makes any sense. The collage above is for Good Guys, hopefully that was clear without saying. Don’t come after me if the quotes are not totally correct, I just liked the idea and picked my favorites. Maybe Mika will soon finish his journals he is writing and we can travel with that and always have something sensational to read. Take care xxx

lola_2

I was writing a rambling post describing songs and needed something to illustrate it so I decided to do collages using photos, magazine articles and everything else that seemed to fit. I had clear ideas for these collages, I really did, but my artistic skills are very pre-school level so I’m not sure if it’s always possible to see the thought behind. I still added the pics. The collages and this text complete each other so if time please check them both.

For some reason I started with Lola. It’s not one of the most important Mika songs for me but I do like it a lot and saw a couple of fashion pics in my favorite color that reminded me of Lola and started with them. Autumn is my favorite season and watching this collage makes me want to travel somewhere bright and beautiful, maybe New York, to go to a small club and listen to Mika playing piano and singing songs like Lola. It doesn’t seem to happen this year but I would really enjoy it. It would be perfect for October.

npih_2

I used a lot of time and thought to put together the collage for No Place In Heaven and it’s my own favorite of these all. The left side of the collage is dedicated to the year 2009 and the right side to 2015. I can remember Mika gave some vague interviews about his sexuality in 2009. Most fans thought and assumed he is gay since the beginning – his songs refer to it and he has never hide it any way – but he felt very uncomfortable talking about it and respecting that his fans didn’t talk about it either.

I might be old-fashioned with privacy issues but making this collage made me almost feel like stepping into the area that doesn’t belong to me at all even it’s just a few magazine clips and quotes of the song gathered together. I wouldn’t be disrespectful on purpose, everything in this blog is said and done with love. I like this collage even it looks like an artwork by a pre-schooler because at the same time it shows both evolving and continuity. So much has changed during these years. On the other hand, I took the pic of the colorful house in Berlin 2009 and could use it in my collage 2016 for a song released one year earlier.

No Place In Heaven is one of my three dearest Mika songs. It has a genuinely personal feel and all the elements of a good song (melody, lyrics, theme). It also has a lot of soft, pretty singing I personaly love and enjoy. This was a challenging song for Mika to sing live at first and it looked to me he was fighting against the song before finally going to the natural direction of it. This a strong song and works better going inside of it instead of building something around it. I loved the versions we heard in France in July, absolutely beautiful.

Last Party is my another big – maybe even the biggest – favorite of all the songs Mika has done. It’s a good song on many levels but for me the melody and his voice are what makes it so important. It’s my favorite kind of singing and sounds like gently explaining something very serious. Serious things are better told in a gentle way, I could spend all my days listening to singing exactly like this.

The lyrics in Last Party work on two levels. I want to be able to relate to songs immediately, the message needs to be clear and easily transferred to real life which is the case here. There will be the day for bad news, for all of us, before that it’s all party. There’s a specific story on the background (important) and the song is dedicated to Freddie Mercury. Every good song has something to go deeper.

I could feel Last Party the moment I heard it for the first time and it touches me so much I practically burst in tears as soon I hear the piano in the beginning. Life can be so sweet. And then it can be heart-breaking. I don’t have words for it. I didn’t have an image to put on paper either. I love Last Party the same way I love Relax but somehow I always hope it would be kept as it is, my mind adapts to different versions of Relax much more easily.

drunk_4

I’ve always seen I Only Love You When I’m Drunk as a situation where someone realizes – maybe a bit pressured – that the love to another person works only in certain, ideal circumstances or in their own terms and want to be clear with that before the commitment is done. The melody makes the song funny and light and the album version with “wedding bells” creating panic in the beginning is cheerful but the final tone is serious, almost heavy. Like we are talking about a fact and not only a silly fear of commitment in the air. The wine circles on the paper are meant to be sad.

For the collage I used a B & W photo taken at Scala club because I connected it to alcohol. I thought the three wine circles could have a double meaning referring to either an extra person or just an extra glass and too much drinking. I asked my husband to buy some Barolo wine and told I need it for my collage and he promised to bring a bottle on his way home. I loved it that he didn’t question if the wine really needs to be that one, it’s one of the reasons I married him. I don’t need to explain everything all the time. I enjoyed having that detail right and it made me think how much I enjoy Mika shows because of the amount of effort he is ready to make to have things right.

wag_3

I made a collage for We Are Golden only to be able to use the glitter pic I took in Japan. I’ve learnt to enjoy this song live a lot even I don’t feel close with the theme. I can’t remember my teenage years well, that wasn’t an important phase in my life at all. I like it how Mika is throwing the glitter in the photo and I used tiny golden stars for my collage and have now those stars all over my house. Even my dog is covered with golden stars. I made the collage for Rain after We Are Golden. I wanted to fill the Rain collage with letters to make it look like the vibe in the song so full of “this thing is coming to the end” feelings.

rain_2

I might make a collage for Boum Boum Boum later. I adore the live version of this song. It has a light and happy sexy vibe which is rare to find in music, films or basically anywhere in today’s world where everything sex related is industrial and aimed to be consumed in an addicted way. This song offers a lovely live moment, it’s gentle, a little bit uncontrolled and makes me smile every time.

I can’t understand the lyrics and in this case I don’t mind, it’s almost an advantage. I focus only on the singing and melody and not a single word can disturb it. I’m picky with words. I’ve disliked some everyday Finnish words since I was a child. I never use them and wish no one else used them as well. My childhood family teased me with those words but my husband is so thoughtful he avoids them. I’m almost embarrassed to tell that I’m so spoilt and lucky I have someone who avoids the words I don’t like.

I really enjoy the BBB atmosphere created by the voice and melody, it’s different than in any other Mika song and makes the song feel a special treat every time we hear it. Even when it’s performed several nights in row I always think that we – as an audience – got something extra. It offers material for interaction between Mika and the audience and the joking is funny but I prefer the chatting kept short instead of a long monologue. The piano in the beginning is incredibly pretty, always one of the highlights.

uw_3

See the merman in my Underwater collage above? This is an emotional song but I didn’t feel like going deep and serious and wanted to do something light instead so I created a merman and added a few ocean facts around it. Have you seen a water character this gorgeous lately? I don’t think so. I was very pleased how it turned out. I have a few more collages left so I might do another collage post later. xxx

The repacked edition for No Place In Heaven with the OSM concert recording was officially out on the 13th November. Many fans had already received their copy so I was eagerly waiting for the night shift courier to deliver my parcel on Friday night and so happy to finally hold the pretty package in my hands! The cover art is absolutely beautiful. I love the blue/green color scheme and especially one of the official Montreal photos used inside, one of my favorite ever Mika photos.

There are two different country specific two disc editions available: the French edition with several new French and two additional English songs and the Italian edition with collaborations with Fedez and Battiato and the English songs. I decided to order them both and buy separately the two extra symphony songs (Heroes, Ordinary Man) available only on the one disc Canadian symphony edition.

I received my copy and immediately listened to my favorite symphony songs. I cried and laughed (at myself for being that emotional) and was totally amazed by the powerful symphony atmosphere. I didn’t expect to be that impressed after being lucky enough to experience all the three concerts live in February. I hadn’t finished listening to the album when the first shocking news from Paris reached Twitter. I couldn’t realize what was happening. Reading news felt like following a nightmare.

I felt especially shocked for France even similar cruelty happens around the world. Not because any life could ever be more valuable than some other life somewhere else – destroying life in general is too difficult for human mind to understand – but because violating an iconic place like Paris meant somehow violating everything that represents love and beauty and that way raised my fears on incomprehensible levels. I was worried about people I know in France. I knew my  friends were not in direct danger but not safely at home either so I waited for their updates before turning off the news. It came to mind Mika could already be in Paris for the Voice and his distressed tweets confirmed that. We could all see the anxiety in his words.

The Saturday morning felt an appropriate moment for listening to some specific symphony songs. Relax was originally written in the same kind of tragic atmosphere. In Any Other World we say good bye to the world we thought we lived in. Feels Like Love (an additional track on disc 1) felt selfishly soothing and comforting. It’s a sweet and tender song and I’m grateful I could discover it so unexpectedly with the repacked edition. In the middle of the original album I probably wouldn’t have appreciated it the way I do now.

Took me two more days to listen to the whole symphony recording. Now trying to find the right words to describe my feelings about it. I’m used to listen to music as a two dimensional experience. I enjoy pleasurable sounds and see songs and their stories as images in my head. This is why Mika is my favorite artist. I love his voice and can relate to his songs so well. Joy, happiness and other emotions come as a natural side effect with good music.

Symphony versions make his songs 5 dimensional. I’m not only listening, suddenly I’m in the middle of the stories. I’m in the middle of every single situation. I can hear and watch. I can feel the cold and wet. I can smell the autumn ground during Over My shoulder. I can taste the the salty water while struggling for real to keep my head above the wave in Underwater. I can feel a real physical force in the beginning of the Boum Boum Boum. During Rain I’m holding my umbrella with my both hands and oh how I hate days like this!

And this is not my usual musical experience. It’s extraordinary to feel music in this scale with the whole body and every sense. There’s a classical sound in his singing especially in certain songs and that alone is ecstatic! While listening to Heroes my whole body can feel it. My heart is beating, I can hardly breath! My every muscle is tired after hearing it just one time. After hearing it twice I collapse on the table feeling exhausted!

At the moment my favorite symphony songs are (in the album order) Underwater, Boum Boum Boum, Relax, Last Party, Happy Ending, Over My Shoulder, Good Guys, Any Other World and Heroes (last one from the Canadian edition). If I had to pick just one song it would be Relax. It’s always Relax. Took me a long time to get inside Good Guys even I now list it among my favorites. I could figure out what he was after with the song but I couldn’t catch the vibe. I wanted to see the illusions fading away like the lyrics tell but it didn’t happen until the late part of the Heaven tour. Finally the song opened up and I felt lucky to hear the symphony version again after that in Como.

I can remember the first concert from Montreal as a flawless and totally focused performance, but there were variations and emotions already in Montreal and the Como performance was extremely warm and intimate. I love hearing Ida and Max in the recording, definitely missed that in Como. This collaboration has been the most beautiful experience for a fan to follow. The direction is too good to turn away, hope there’s more to come in the future and the sooner the better. Go and listen to the Montreal recording if you haven’t heard it yet. I can warmly recommend it. xxx

I spent my Saturday listening to No Place In Heaven trying to choose my favorites. Nothing helps my mood and takes me out of my own, sometimes too little circles like listening to Mika’s music and I love it how serious the new album is and how it helps me to focus on important.

I already have my own routine with the album. I always listen to Last Party separated from the other songs, it’s such a piece of art on its own. This wasn’t originally my own decision. My iTunes simply plays Last Party from a different file than the rest of the album (I got it in advance after pre-ordering the album) so it’s not included in the album file. I’m fine with that. It’s passionate, depressive and so strong that the best way to listen to it (at least for me) is to focus on it as a song and not as a part of an album.

It must be my all time favorite Mika song if anything can ever be more favorite than acoustic Relax. It’s everything I want. I love the melody and the structure of the song and enjoy how it grows and gets more powerful towards the end. I love the lyrics and that there’s a story behind, even it’s a tragic one. There’s one or two tiny moments when I feel a small interruption with the lyrics and I like even that because I always look for something tiny out of place.

There are two more songs I prefer listening as individual songs: Porcelain and Les baisers perdus, both among my favorite songs on the album. Porcelain because it’s so fragile. I don’t want to mix the mood with any other song. Les baisers perdus because it’s so special and I like the moment when I listen to it. I can’t understand French but I love the idea behind this charming song and find the atmosphere incredibly sad and incredibly beautiful.

I start my proper album listening with Promiseland simply because it’s the easiest way to reach the Mika mood and because it has the same spirit and energy I fell in love in him so many years ago. It reminds me of Rain and it’s not a sad but incredibly determined instead with the message “I’ve had enough, you can’t treat me like this”. I love the determination and Promiseland is the first song I listen to every single time I listen to the whole album and I always think it would be perfect as an opening song at gigs.

After Promiseland it’s a turn for No Place In Heaven which is by far the most touching song on the album. I’m not religious and according to Mika’s own words the song is not written only to Father in heaven but also to his own father (if I got the interview right). I think he is showing the child in him – with all his fears – in this song and it was a huge surprise because I’ve always thought he doesn’t feel comfortable being this direct and rather says things more indirectly or hidden instead. Even his voice describes a child talking to his father and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it this soft.

If he wants to define the album with words “open” or “direct” No Place In Heaven is definitely the right choice for the title song. I literally cry every time I hear the song and find it both the most moving and the most important song on the album.

After No Place In Heaven I jump to Hurts which is (for me personally) almost equally important song on the album. Not sure if it’s because of the beautiful melody/the piano or because I can so well relate to the song and the lyrics. There’s a hint of “boy band sound” in it but I ignore it and definitely put the song high on my personal top song list.

These two songs are not only incredibly beautiful but also extremely emotional so after listening to No Place In Heaven and Hurts it’s time for something uplifting like Good Wife and Rio.

Good Wife is a balanced song and no matter how many times I listen to it I simply can’t find a tiniest thing out of place in it, it goes smoothly from the beginning to the end. It’s such a great song. The biggest reason why it’s not on my personal top3 list is that Mika is singing it as an outsider – watching the situation from outside – and I’m listening to it as an outsider – not relating to it – so it doesn’t touch me the same way some other songs on the album do. I still always enjoy it and people generally seems to like it a lot so I hope it will be on his regular set list.

Good Wife is clever and somehow cheerful even melancholic so it’s a suitable step before Rio which is the most comforting song on the album. Not the best or the most beautiful or my biggest favorite, just the most comforting. I’m not going to Rio. I don’t even want to go there right now but if I wanted I could do it. At least some day. Get lost and find an alter ego there. It’s a comforting thought, isn’t it?

Those are my favorites and the ones I listen to most at home but I’m looking forward to hearing also other new songs at gigs! As an album this is my favorite Mika album so far. Not a bad way to go. I feel I love his music more than ever and I’m still amazed that his new music is this direct and open. X

I feel drunken by the new album after listening to it on repeat for four days. I didn’t want to leave my house during the weekend. I quickly did what I had to do and returned to my magical bubble. Already wrote my first impressions about the album here. I have three kind of thoughts on my mind now.

Firstly, I never expected the album to be this sad. There’s always a dark side in his music but it’s hidden and covered with other elements and I never thought he is this vulnerable or at least that he would this openly show it and I feel both heavy (because of strong emotions) and extremely proud of him. I feel so heavy I’ve actually cried a lot but I’m proud and impressed that he had the courage to do an album like this. I saw him describing the new music joyful but that’s not how it sounds to me. I hear serious songs and I think he is handling some very important issues and that whatever he feels at this moment the path there couldn’t always be easy and joyful.

I’m almost equally impressed by the way he is using his vocal range, giving us a taste of every tone and – for once – letting us properly hear it without covering it too much. I love his voice so much I sometimes listen to him speaking a foreign language for hours but I prefer his singing and now when we finally have new music I can’t get enough of it. It’s filling my brain and heart and soul and every cell in my body like a new drug and I don’t even feel guilty of it. I waited this patiently. I’ve earned this.

Thirdly, I am a bit confused about the way the album was brought out now when it’s all there in front of us. They could have offered people the most fascinating and addictive song Promiseland to wake them up, then continue with powerful Last Party, then satisfy them with best-quality, balanced songs like No Place In Heaven and Good Wife or beautiful ballads like Hurts and Porcelain adding some quirky songs like Oh Girl You Are the Devil or more meaningful themes like in Good Guys. Instead of that they released Talk About You and it just doesn’t make sense to me but I guess they have their reasons and I don’t know much about the music industry any way.

I’ve watched him this year in New York, Tokyo and in Europe and he has this totally new confidence that I haven’t seen before. He looks like he is ready to seduce the world and now I want to see him on stage putting all that confidence on Promiseland. It’s the only song on the album where the tone is telling, not asking and there’s nothing more attractive than knowing what one wants and taking it, not in an arrogant way but because it’s deserved. I just want to see him taking what belongs to him (with this absolutely brilliant album). Trying to follow the album promotion via internet as much as possible. I’m off for holidays later this week and need to wait for my next gig for a few weeks. Be well you all xxx

Mika’s new album No Place in Heaven was out in my country on Friday and I was listening to it the whole day and wanted to write down some first impressions before they fade away – as they so quickly do – and before the songs start to grow and get new tones and directions in my head.

In advance he described the album honest, uncovered and stripped-down compared to TOOL. I totally get his words now. No Place in Heaven is like another side of the coin. It’s uncovered on every level. Where TOOL was about the happy, careless side of love, NPIH is about fears and getting hurt. Even the title songs introduce the opposite sides. Origin gives the impression of not caring about church or judgement, No Place in Heaven is begging to be accepted.

It’s a very sad album. I loved TOOL for its careless tone and several of my favorite songs (especially acoustic versions) come from that album. However, I prefer Mika being more honest and simple, less electronic music is more suitable for my personal taste. The majority of the songs on NPIH are strong and very Mika style and I have no doubts he can make excellent live versions of every song on the album.

For me every new album means getting new songs for live performances and I immediately start to pick out my favorites thinking of possibilities they offer for concerts. This time I wanted to do a very careful first listening to the album (as it is) because it’s important and tells about Mika as an artist. Who he is and what he wants to expose and share at this point of his career.

So I went through the album song by song. I listened to Talk about You and immediately smiled like I always do when I hear his voice. Talk About You is quite meaningless (as a song) and far away from the theme of the album but it gets a nice twist performed live and is one of my favorite gig songs at the moment. He is copying bits of Sara perche ti amo (openly and giving credit for it) and for me it’s nostalgia from my childhood and something that brings me happy memories and makes me in a good mood but I know many Italians see it just trash and I still think he took a big risk with the song.

Went from smiling to a sobbing cry with All She Wants which at the first listening felt the saddest song I’ve ever heard. Maybe it’s just too personal for me. I have three sons and in my priorities nothing goes over mother-son relationships and just a thought that any son – especially Mika – has ever felt they are not good enough or somehow not filling their mothers’ expectations is extremely sad. And again, where cheerful EMD was about mother pushing her son forward All She Wants shows the other, more painful side.

I couldn’t stop crying while listening to All She Wants. I wish I could ask Mika not to perform the song live because I don’t want to cry like that at gigs. I saw a Korean interview where he talked about set lists and what he said about “giving people songs they want” was the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard from his mouth. He decides and has always decided what people want to hear. I’ve always thought it’s his privilege as an artist. It’s his show. I can hear from clapping and little hey-heys that he is already planning to do All She Wants live so I better learn to clap in rhythm.

Last Party is still my biggest personal favorite on the album. I love the passion in it and I love that there’s such a strong story behind it. It’s everything I want from a good song and I might even say Last Party is my biggest favorite of all Mika songs. More dramatic/powerful live versions put the album version in the shade though.

Good Guys is a 30s crisis song. It’s about realizing that people you have always looked up to are just human, realizing that the whole thought of having principles and high values is just an illusion, thinking you had role models but suddenly noticing you might be a role model to someone else. What can I say. There are still good people in this world. What else can you do than just try to do the right thing? He is a good role model for so many young people. Good Guys is not my biggest favorites on the album but Mika seems to enjoy singing it live which makes it really enjoyable at gigs.

I have absolutely no idea what Oh Girl You Are the Devil is about. It’s continuation (after Dr John and One Foot Boy) of the series of Mika songs I simply can’t understand. The melody is very teasing and the whole package extremely interesting! This could be great at gigs! I spent my day wondering who makes the low sounds. Mika really can change his voice like that? I’m very impressed.

No Place in Heaven. Did I really think All She Wants is the saddest song I’ve ever heard? I never thought he has struggled with these issues – sexuality, acceptance, church – this much. He has talked about it in interviews so I was aware of it but I never thought he is or has been this vulnerable and I’m only starting to realize how hurtful it must feel not be accepted as who you are. This is the strongest song on the album in many ways and deserves to be the title song. Love his voice in it, so incredibly soft.

Staring At the Sun is perfectly placed after No Place in Heaven. Love is stronger than any fear and beats prejudicing people. Such a sweet, almost cheesy song. I can already see big fangirl moments around the song. The lyrics tell about being far away from the loved one, staring at the same sun, being connected that way.  It’s not a sad song but there’s a longing tone so it fits the theme.

Hurts is one of the most beautiful and saddest songs on the album. I love the piano! Trying to read my little notes about the song but they are messed by tears and can see only little hearts. I would love to hear this song performed at intimate evening gigs as a little less “boy band” version but not sure we will get it, he never did Kids either.

Good Wife is such a clever song and been my favorite since the New York gig! It simply took over my mind and luckily it’s a bit lighter, not really sad but melancholic in a bitter-sweet way. It’s well-done and together with No Place in Heaven the best quality on the album and I especially love how he is using his voice in it.

Rio is like my from my life. My traveling is mostly escaping, not away the from people I love but just the failure I am as a person. The melody is not really interesting (it reminds me of something but not sure what) but I like the lyrics. I might go to Rio some day.

Ordinary Man is about pondering relationship issues and worthless, ordinary feelings and it fits the theme and has its place on the album but it slightly crosses the line between analyzing and self-pitying so it’s not for my personal taste. I’ve thought that since Montreal. It’s one of the rare Mika songs that make my mind wander. It’s not a bad song, I love his soft velvet voice in it. It’s just not my style of a song, I prefer smashing chandliers.

And then it’s time to listen to Promiseland and this is where I got stuck. I listened to it over and over and over again. There’s a song like Promiseland on the album and they make Talk About You as a single?? Seriously? Who makes these decisions? Promiseland is the strongest candidate for a hit he can find on the album. I would say it’s as close to a big international hit as he can go at the moment. It sounds familiar in many parts (I have a digital album and can’t read the credits so not sure if they are given) but so does TAY and personally I really don’t care, it’s quite his style to mix familiar elements. Would be total craziness to waste this song.

Porcelain is another big, personal favorite on the album. Very Mika style. Can’t wait to hear him doing this with piano, will be such a highlight. Such fragile song. Love love love his voice in this.

L’amour fait ce qu’il veut is the last bonus track and contains the familiar “China Boy” snippet I’ve always loved so much. It’s a beautiful song but to be honest I wish it was done more stylish (live version) way. Can’t say anything about lyrics, of course.

These are just my quick, short impressions. I’m extremely happy about the album. It meets his standards which for me means high-quality Mika style songs and there are several extremely good quality songs to make his devoted fans happy. There are options for successful, international hits (I mentioned Promiseland, didn’t I?) which would be useful at this point of his career. It’s a sad album and Mika being sad makes me sad but he is handling some serious issues in a very honest way which is extremely important and something that simply needed to be done. So proud to be a fan.

Most of you have probably bumped into a FB challenge asking your top 10 Mika songs with a special meaning to you. The fascinating and a bit surprising (imo) thing was to see how totally different these lists are compared to each other – no two lists are similar and it’s difficult to find generally popular songs. If someone hasn’t done their list yet feel challenged to do it now.

I added youtube links to the versions I regularly listen to and wrote a short explanation what these songs mean to me. Sometimes an image/story/theme comes through the melody, sometimes through the lyrics. Sometimes the song is somehow connected to my current situation or memories and gets a new meaning that way. I think we are all free to have our own interpretations. When songs reach to their listeners they are already living lives of their own anyway.

Acoustic Relax
I’m Falling
Underwater
Rain
Karen
Lola
Century Man
Ring Ring
Love Today (live)
origin

My absolute favorite of all Mika songs is and has always been (acoustic) Relax. There’s love and it’s there forever. That’s exactly how I want it and what makes my world go round so listening to the song gives me a good, content feeling. I guess I categorize Underwater the same way. I’m falling is simple and honest even sad. Rain isn’t as obvious on the list but definitely one of my favorite live songs.

Century Man, Ring Ring and Love Today are high-energy songs. I love the energy and think it’s an important part of Mika shows and his power on stage.

I love Karen mostly for its extremely pretty melody but also enjoy how French sounds in my ears. I’ve always imagined Karen and Lola as prostitutes. There’s a random story in my head and one of the characters is a mix of Karen and Lola and for some reason I can see this imaginary character in my head whenever I listen to those songs.

Origin is about freedom. Freedom to love, freedom to be who we are. I enjoy the flying feeling in the song – especially in live versions – and simply adore both the song and the short film made for it.

The kids in the hundreds tomorrow

Will march through the door

They’re fighting someone else’s war

They’ll have so many stories to tell

In exchange for a hero’s farewell

 

I wish I could

I wish I could make you return

And what if I’ll never discern

As you walk to the toll of the bell

You’ll be fighting for our heaven with hell

 

And you don’t understand

Why no on else can see

Your blood on me

And my blood on you

But to make you bleed

The only thing I wouldn’t do

 

And you know heroes aren’t meant to survive

So much harder to love when alive

Walk with the devil in your head

You would think you were better off dead

 

Where can you go?

We fight we earn

We never learn

And through it all

The hero falls

 

I wish there was a way

To give you a hand to hold

You don’t have to die in your glory

To never grow old

I always knew Heroes would be one of my favorites, I immediately loved the combination of the lower, serious part and the breath-taking, high chorus part. However, it’s definitely growing on me even more and I’ve been listening to it the whole weekend. Some parts of the lyrics were difficult to hear and understand with my poor English before seeing them written so I checked and wrote them above (just copied from the album cover).

Heroes is a song about a soldier coming from the war, looking unharmed but still traumatized and destroyed inside, having difficulties to integrate to the real world. Quite amazing he can take lyrics like this and make it sound so Mika? Even more amazing (imo) that he can include the song on the album next to songs like Love You When I’m Drunk and Lola and make it look and sound the most natural thing in the world. Here is about making of the Heroes, Mika himself seems to be very pleased with the song. Love seeing him this serious and understanding.

(Edit: I’ve edited my post with the video from Casino de Paris.)

Finally holding The Origin Of Love (the physical album) in my hands, reading the details, admiring the artwork. It’s a beautiful album, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. So much love in such small (physical) size. Something so exceptional and special. Below the track list for the French edition. Highly recommend watching an interesting interview where Mika tells about making of his new album and some track by track clips about making of each song.

Mika talking about writing songs and making of the album

DISC1
Origin Of Love (making of Origin Of Love)
Lola (making of Lola)
Stardust (making of Stardust, via Universal France but in English)
Make You Happy
Underwater (making of Underwater)
Overrated
Kids (making of Kids)
Love You When I’m Drunk
Step With Me (making of Step With Me)
Popular Song (making of Popular)
Emily
Heroes (making of Heroes)
Celebrate (making of Celebrateofficial video for Celebrate ft. Pharrell)
Elle Me Dit

DISC2
Karen (making of Karen, via Universal France, in French)
L’Amour Dans Le Mauvais Temps
Un Soleil Mal Luné
Make You Happy (cherokee remix)
Celebrate (Robbie Rivera remix)
Elle Me Dit (BeatauCue remix)
Make You Happy (LA Edit)
Tah Dah

I’m in love with this crazy, bizarre, chaotic song. Hahah, is it wedding bells causing a panic in the beginning of the studio version? It’s good to know he has grown up but there no need to get too serious. I love the energy and his singing in “I don’t want to be that guy, looking…”. Very Mika style. This is a great live song, so I’ve edited the post with a live version from Nantes.

I was lucky to be in Milan on Wednesday afternoon and take a part to the special album listening party Mika organized to his fans. I didn’t know what to expect in advance and we found out the exact time and place only night before. The ticket I won to the listening party was for two persons. My husband (who was with me in Luzern & Vigevano) had an early flight home and the person who wanted to come cancelled so I asked a US fan who I met in France and who was staying in Milan to come with me to the party. Thanks Lowell for being such fun company, I hope you enjoyed the listening! Also, was good to see so many Italian and German fans at the same time and have a small meet up!

I don’t think I need to explain you how much I appreciated being there. We didn’t actually know if Mika was going to be there, just hearing new songs felt special enough. The listening party was organized in a little cafe/club that looked more like a small gallery (the place was really unique) and everything was really cozy and intimate and our group was much smaller than I expected. You can imagine how we all felt when we arrived and Mika came into the room and told we would hear the latest version of the album (which is not totally finished yet) from his own laptop, played by him. The listening was a bit late because he had to choose which songs to play to us (we didn’t have time for every song so he had to choose what to leave out). He told us about making of the album and I can honestly say this was the most special Mika moment I’ve ever experienced. When you love an artist a lot this kind of thing is something you never expect to happen for real (but it did happen and I feel really grateful).

We were allowed to have paper and a pen with us so I decided to write a couple of words next to every title. I knew I couldn’t remember much afterwards, I always need to hear songs several times before knowing them well and the situation was really exciting and new. About the album in general. There are some songs I already love more than I love any of his older songs (and that’s a lot because some of his old songs are the ones that made me a huge fan in the first place). There are also songs I don’t love from the first (or second) listening but will learn to love and I’m just happy with that. I like the idea that the album can grow in me and has several levels so it will be a long-time experience and will also be very dear in the end. Some things I wrote during the listening party sound already random and are not making any sense but I still want keep them as a memory and a funny thing to read later (when I know the songs better). I’m actually very curious to see how much my first reaction will change after hearing the songs properly again.

First we heard The Origin Of Love and I realized that Underwater is not the best song on the album. It must be TOOL? I really loved the recorded version, I can read from my notes the recorded song felt softer than the live version (softer?) and that it makes me feel I’m flying. And really, it’s quite amazing any song can make you feel you are flying? I genuinely think that TOOL is everything a good song needs to be, that the way it’s built is just brilliant and that it can be a huge hit. (Edit: The version we heard at the Milan listening party was absolutely amazing and powerful and much better than the version heard in the UK radio day after. He is probably still doing changes. I really hope he will keep the flying feeling in the end, because the song is maybe the best song he has recorded. Am I really saying this? Hahah, I’m absolutely fascinated by it and can’t have enough of it.)

Lola was very different than it is live and it was not a surprise, I was expecting it. But, the whole tone is different, it has a mysterious, dreamlike atmosphere with a stronger, colorful ending (really like it how it grows in the end). Lola will be one of my favorites on the new album and I will probably  always prefer the studio version over live versions, to enjoy it without any audience disturbance.

The first really new song was Step With Me and all I could think was that it sounds like a boy band song (with Mika’s voice). I believe my opinion will change a lot when I hear it properly but my English is not good enough to handle the lyrics after only one listening and this is all I can say so far, I’m sorry. This can be one of the songs I learn to love but it wasn’t love at first listening. I’m really curious to see my own reaction when the album is properly out.

The next song was Stardust and I really liked his voice in the song and the line “stardust in your eyes” made me smile every time. I have mentioned his voice twice in my notes so this must be one of the songs that will only grow in me after a few listening. (Edit: I don’t think any song has ever made me smile this quickly, so I have high expectations for this one, really looking forward to hearing it again).

Underwater made me think of I See You. I already know that I will always love the live version more than the album version because there’s some absolutely beautiful vulnerability in the live version that can’t be heard in the album version even it’s well done and even I think it’s one of his best songs ever. So it looks I still have the reason to travel to see his shows live? Congratulations to my husband (hahah, NOT). The UW version we heard in Luzerne was best I’ve heard so far and there’s just no way the recorded version could beat it. Still, the album version is very good and not disappointing in any way and I already know UW is my favorite Mika song ever.

Kids is a song we already heard in Tallinn and it’s one of those songs I was really curious to hear again. I love his voice in the song (but the live version was softer and somehow different). I really look forward to hearing this song with proper written lyrics (again, my English is not good enough to understand everything after only a couple of listening) because I want to know if the lyrics are really as sad as the song makes me feel. (Edit: after a few days and also hearing the song actually three times all together I can’t remember it properly and it’s bothering me. However, I will probably enjoy this song more live, can’t explain it clearly atm.)

Emily was so much fun! Lol! Everyone was smiling, giggling, laughing. I can’t believe he made EMD Emily (but I do love it). Shut up and listen to me, dance with me, Emily!! (Edit: I don’t remember the exact words, it all happened too fast. I still find the whole idea hilarious, it’s like mocking the non French speaking world but in a funny way, I love it that he doesn’t take things too seriously.)

Popular is done together with Priscilla Renea and is my least favorite song so far. Not that it is a bad song (I think it’s a clever song and the way their voices are put together is quite brilliant) but because it didn’t cause me any emotional reaction and I like to have an emotional reaction when listening to music. This is another boy band style song (lol, I admit I wrote to my notes “boy band rap”).

The last song was Heroes and it’s a beautiful, growing/raising song where his voice is absolutely beautiful! Really looking forward to hearing this one again as well as another edition of Make You Happy (high expectations for that one too).

My first impression is that the album consists of very different kind of songs. Some of them will be like treasures to me – the others will be like treasures to someone else (there are many different people behind the songs, there are different sides in Mika). The album sounds more commercial than his previous albums but there’s no doubt it’s made with love and that he’s really proud of it (it was so obvious when he talked about the album). I believe and hope it will do well and bring him new, wider audience. Really curious to hear Overrated (also curious to see if the rumor about BIOTW in French I heard in France is only a rumor or not, haven’t had time to read news properly). Feel v tired now, I might want to edit my post after processing things in my mind.