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 disgusting. 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, well 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 he will show 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 their roles and finding 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

Mika Fan Club is celebrating the 10th anniversary and organizing fan meetings in different countries and on Sunday the Italian crew hosted another great Italian Mika party in Milan and we gathered together before heading to the studio to follow Casa Mika recordings. What a fun party we had! A huge, huge thank you to everyone who was involved in the preparations and special thanks to Marina who – as always – was once again endlessly patient and helpful with everyone and answered all my questions and kindly made sure I had suitable food to eat at brunch. Below a group pic of the organizing team and a photo we took together with Marina (thanks to Roberto for taking the pic).

The venue/restaurant was reserved only to Mika fans and the place was absolutely wonderful, it really couldn’t have been more suitable in any way. I took a few pics so everyone can see what I mean, the place was exactly like a house! Kitchen, dining room, living room area, hobby space… So colorful and cozy and the best thing was the amazing, friendly staff taking care of us. I’m trying to visit some cafes and restaurants during my each Milan visit to learn to know the city and this was honestly my favorite place so far, I couldn’t feel a hint of the cold attitude I’ve felt in some of those otherwise so cool, trendy places I’ve visited during my trips lately. The atmosphere on Sunday was lovely and it seemed to me everyone at the party felt the same.

Ani had an idea of a big card/poster we could all make together during the meeting to give to Mika later in the evening so we all draw a little house and the result was a big poster full of different colorful houses to celebrate Mika’s new single It’s My House and of course also the beginning of the second season of Casa Mika. The idea worked very well, I think! Most of our houses looked like pre-school drawings (I know my butterfly house certainly did) but I think the result was still quite cute and we definitely had a lot of fun doing the project between eating, dancing and chatting. Maybe not art exactly but I hope it means something to Mika his fans come from many different countries to gather together and to do something as a community.

The highlight of the party was a giant cake with the MFC colors and anniversary logo and the cake looked absolutely fabulous (again, thanks to the organizing team for this amazing surprise!) and we took some group pics around it.

I tried to walk around and take photos of every table and people having fun but as people were moving and doing things in different parts of the ”house” I probably couldn’t catch everyone but still collected as many different pics I had and made a big photo gallery below. I know several fans were periscoping during the party and hope all you who couldn’t be there enjoyed watching those periscopes and felt you were with us in spirit. So good to see everyone, until next time. xxx

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My husband and I spent a long weekend in Florence for these two symphony concerts and had two and a half days to walk around in this beautiful city. We arrived from Helsinki on Thursday and had no plans for the evening and decided to walk to the hill to see the city view and have a quiet, cozy meal after that.

We wanted to visit both the Uffizi and Accademia Galleries during the weekend but didn’t bought tickets in advance and were not sure if we are willing to queue long enough to see them both. Eventually we went to Uffizi early Friday morning just before the opening time, got in after a half an hour of waiting and had a peaceful experience in the museum, luckily only a decent number of people were let in at a time.

I love museums for their atmosphere… I love beauty and aesthetics in general but I guess I’m more interested in the artist life and those brilliant personalities behind the master pieces and the historical spirit living in old buildings than any form of art itself.

Botticelli’s Primavera must be the most famous piece in Uffizi and as it’s surprisingly positive compared to everything else it was my favorite as well and I especially loved it how Flora and her dress immediately brought my mind Ida and her lovely flower dress in Montreal! Uffizi art was full of mothers with their giant, fat, even muscled children and I couldn’t stop staring at them in all their fascinating weirdness. The colors of the round painting below made me think of this autumn colored sweater I had seen on a fashion catalogue. Everything modern designers do comes from history, doesn’t it.

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On Saturday we headed to the Accademia Gallery a little bit later than planned and the weather was chilly and the queue long already so we took a guided tour starting in a few minutes which turned out to be a good solution as we didn’t have to queue and got a nice history lecture before having time to walk around in the museum on our own.

Michelangelo’s David was absolutely breath-taking! This was my first visit in Florence so I had no idea how stunning, impressive and huge it is in reality. The amount of love and admiration for the male body put in this sculpture is simply astonishing. The body and muscles in all their perfection combined to the giant hands and clumsy ankles and even lovely natural light coming from above, loved it all.

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After visiting the gallery we had a plenty of time to walk around before it was time to get ready for the New Year’s Eve concert and we had a small rest in a cozy, colorful book cafe we bumped into on our way to the river. It was perfect for us, we both love books and as it wasn’t mainly for tourists it wasn’t crowded at all and we could have a calm and relaxed moment before walking to the Boboli gardens.

The gardens – actually a large park – must be my favorite of all the places I saw in Florence. It was big enough not to feel too busy and crowded (people were mainly gathered in certain spots to take photos) and we could have walked there for hours, I would love to go back there in spring time.

I took a lot of pictures of the beautiful small green observatory because it was exactly the kind of a building where I would love to live but I guess a historical observatory with an access to a huge, private park in the heart of the most important renaissance city in the world can be too much to ask. What a lovely and pleasant long weekend in Florence and as always, the anticipation of these two symphony concerts made my mood even better than it already was. The experience would have been different without them, it wouldn’t have felt complete like this.

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My blog post about the first part of the Casa Mika season (episodes 1-2) is here, now a few words about the latter part (episodes 3-4). I missed the main recording for the third episode (so couldn’t wait to see that one on television) but was lucky to be there for the fourth episode. The recording was the weekend just before my birthday so I had planned in advance to be in Milan that time and kept all my fingers crossed for tickets for both nights and was lucky to get them. So happy!

First of all a huge thank you to the Italian fan crew, it was a true pleasure to be there and meet everyone again. This is the time of the year when my country is literally the darkest place on earth and it cheered me up to be in Italy in so many ways. Everyone was in a party mood and had so much energy that it would have been impossible not to catch a part of it for myself and I felt so much more energetic after the weekend than I did before it.

Secondly, can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed this project and how incredibly grateful I feel that I could follow it this closely, it was so important to me and it means a lot to have this memory. Casa Mika has been one of my favorites of the all projects Mika has done so far. I didn’t expect to feel this way in advance but this was such a big challenge for him and it was wonderful to watch how he made it happen. I’ve seen him doing television work many times before this but none of it can be compared to the amount of work and investment and presence he had to put into this one and the performances he did for his own songs during these shows were some of the most interesting I’ve seen so far and I’ve seen many.

I saw the third episode on television (despite of short parts filmed while recording the second episode) and my favorite part of the show was Good Guys with the dancers (loved it that he had chosen matured dancers and generally included all age groups in different performances) and especially the performance with Eros Ramazzotti. This was the song Mika has written for Ramazzotti wasn’t it? I had never thought I could like it so much, it was lovely to hear them singing it together! Such romantic song and not my usual style at all but lovely indeed.

Then it was time for absolutely breathtaking Underwater and it was so beautiful it almost made me a little bit sad because I hadn’t seen it live (how could I miss such special live performance, I should have made more effort to be there) and most of all because I suddenly realized there might not be any gigs next year, maybe not before the new album is out and I had to remind myself that Florence is only a few weeks away so it won’t be long until I can hear Underwater again even if there’s a break next year. This Underwater was one of my favorite Casa Mika performances (and will definitely watch it again later).

About my Milan trip and the recordings for the fourth episode. Rai has already advertised having Kylie in their show so I won’t spoil anything telling that one of the highlights for Saturday was naturally to watch her performance and warm chemistry with Mika. She is so tiny and pretty and cute! Definitely one of the guests I wanted to see live. I generally love watching Mika with his guests, he is a good host and very warm with people. They did their new Christmas song and it was lovely and christmassy to see them on stage together.

Mika did a beautiful cover in the end of the Saturday’s recording (the girls on the couch with him) and I couldn’t wait to hear the song and totally didn’t expect another one of his guests to join him and neither did the rest of the audience and the collective disappointment when we realized it (that he won’t sing alone) was the size of a house! Lol! They did well together though. I would have loved to hear him singing the cover alone but on the other hand can’t blame him for being generous and sweet and wanting to share the moment with his guest. Lovely ending for that Saturday anyway and my favorite part of the whole recording.

We knew to expect an orchestra for Sunday but I still couldn’t handle my excitement when I saw the stage full of seats – enough for a symphony orchestra – and the short last recording was naturally the best part of the whole season. There’s nothing better than Mika with a symphony orchestra and I had thought in advance that just one song is more than enough reason to be there but we were lucky to hear first an Italian song (not for Casa Mika but for another purpose) three times and then the ending song for Casa Mika two times. Even his speech between those songs had the orchestra on the background. Lovely, lovely ending for the season, it couldn’t have been more beautiful.

During the third take of the Italian song some people started to feel restless and chat a bit. Well it was the third time we heard the song but still couldn’t believe it. There’s only one rule for symphony performances and it’s sit still, be quiet, listen to the music and think grateful thoughts. Talking is not okay unless someone needs urgent medical help and I won’t even start about singing along. I mean you want to sing along with a symphony orchestra? Well wait to be invited for their vocalist. I can’t control myself if someone is disturbing while Mika sings symphony, I will be watching everyone in Florence.

So it’s all over now with Casa Mika recordings. It all happened so quickly and they had to do all the work in such a short time period. I still can’t understand how he got everything done so well. I loved it how some people working there could already remember I was a foreigner and said good bye and see you next time in English. There might be another season, I wouldn’t be surprised and by that time I can hopefully understand Italian a little bit better.

Italian fans had organized Mika a wonderful Casa Mika themed cake for the final recording, it looked amazing and he came out later on Saturday to say hello to people. The cake looked stunning (it was made by a professional cake designer) but he was brave to cut it and share it with people. I wasn’t close enough to take any pics, there were a lot of people and I knew he wanted to meet and thank his Italian fans so I stayed a bit further away and used the opportunity to say hello to the girls. They weren’t interested a bit (poor exhausted dogs, I bet they couldn’t wait everything to be over) but it’s rare to see them from close distance and they are so sweet, so polite and so well-trained.

Hope to post a couple of blogs before Christmas. Take care everyone xxx

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!

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I’ve been traveling back and forth between Finland, Italy and France, watched recordings for Casa Mika and The Voice France and listened to the latest episode of The Art of Song while waiting at the airport and I talked about these three projects when finally back home. The response I got was “so Mika wants to be a media person?”. I can’t know what he wants of course but the question was sincere – media person meaning here someone who creates a career around different medias – and I got an idea to collect my thoughts about these television and radio projects in one longer blog post instead of just writing my usual travel reports.

As a fan I naturally hope for projects that are built around Mika and his own personality music being a major part of it. From this point of view his radio show on BBC2 in the UK and the one man show Casa Mika on Rai2 in Italy are especially interesting projects to follow. Watching him as an expert talking about contestants and coaching young talents is different even he is good at it as well. I still travel to see live recordings for The Voice so I can properly enjoy the long season and being in France, meeting my local friends and attending these auditions is always a good experience and worth traveling.

First about the radio show. I really, really like the concept and think it’s a good match between Mika and the UK and might give them a suitable possibility to find each other again. Music is his area, talking about it comes naturally. He plays classics and who doesn’t love them. My knowledge about music is limited but every single song he plays is still familiar and brings back memories and flashbacks from my childhood and youth, images and even smells I thought I forgot years ago. Music works in a mysterious way. He is well prepared and I simply love listening to his voice, so pleasant and soothing, it makes me feel calm. A couple of covers he performs every time are more important than he can probably ever guess, something that makes waiting for his own new songs so much easier.

I need something to listen to while waiting for new music and future concerts. Every new album is a piece of life shared with people, introducing new songs and collaborations, describing his thoughts and feelings, starting a new era and revealing a new fresh theme and look (and hopefully bringing us tour dates, of course!). I look forward to his next album a lot and when I really miss hearing his voice, I listen to small special acoustic recordings like these covers focusing on his voice and not the music behind it. They are so good and make my life so much easier!

About The Voice France. The atmosphere is warm and the organization around The Voice treats fans well (and I mention it because that’s not always the case). I enjoy seeing the familiar studio and spending time with my French friends. You remember the Voice logo and the theme music? On television it can look somehow fake and industrial but when you are there it’s not like that all. It’s Mika’s work and he takes it very seriously. The magic we feel at gigs is missing but it’s very interesting to see how things are done in reality and it’s comforting just to be there and watch him. Maybe not magical but comforting, yes.

During the first Voice recording for the new season in the beginning of November we heard 25 contestants. Most of them poor quality to be honest, 4-5 good singers could easily stand out. Mika got one contestant he especially wanted and looked excited about it. He was wearing a very elegant dark blue velvet suit and jokingly kept showing the other coaches how soft it was. The hairdresser was coming and going during breaks to put the stubborn curl on his left side in its correct place. I think I saw the same hairdresser also at the studio Rai in Milan and it totally hit me. He has his own hairdresser traveling between Paris and Milan just to make sure his hair is fluffy enough and that particular curl as it should??

I’m not sure if I saw right but I could suddenly remember he is actually a big celebrity, a famous person who lives a fancy life like famous people do and works with other famous people all the time. I have a huge admiration and respect for his talent and the way he makes music and of course also for his personality, he is so full of intelligence and creativity but I’m often blind to his celebrity side, he seems always so normal that I keep forgetting it and it feels so weird to think about it.

I’m going back to France in the end of the week and will hopefully write a more detailed report about the Voice after that. Now finally to the most important television project at the moment – well, during his whole career – Casa Mika on Rai2. I went to see the recordings for the first two episodes and was so impressed for so many reasons that it’s hard to find suitable words to express myself. The first episode was broadcasted last night and I can finally write about it without fearing to spoil the excitement. I don’t even know where to start. This show is a HUGE thing.

I think one of the fears fans sometimes have towards television is that it will show the artist we all love and respect so much in a different light than we see him and give a somehow shallow image of him. I’m generally open to all kind of side projects and had no doubts this one will be a big, big success but of course also always wish everyone could see Mika like I see him and understand how ambitious he is with his work and how seriously he takes it, how many different sides there are in him and how interested he is in people and the whole world and everything that happens around us. And I think it’s impossible not to see all that while watching Casa Mika.

It gives an accurate picture of him as an artist and a showman and generally a person. The amount of work and effort put in the show in incredible. The team is big and a lot of money is invested but as Mika is practically a part of everything he needs to be well prepared for every single moment, there’s no other way to do it. The show is full of content, the guests are high profile – not only on Italian scale but internationally as well – and his music performances are beautiful and very special. He is singing, dancing, acting and interviewing people. I didn’t even know he can do all that so well. I had no idea.

I loved Hurts he did in this first episode with the children’s choir (I saw them already in Trieste and now wanted to hug Mika for bringing them in the studio and even learning sign language for the song) and the orchestra piece with the Naples dialect and especially LP as a guest. What a discovery, I fell in love with her as soon as she walked on stage! We saw stunning, rare Mika performances done for both two episodes. He had chosen the songs well to show different sides of his music and style.

The studio looked like the best parts of all the shows he has ever done put together as one surreal colorful house full of new details (all amazing work by Studio Job). He changed his outfit (everything designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli from Valentino just for Casa Mika) and shiny shoes between almost every performance and before starting the shooting again walked around in his living room, kitchen or library smiling and looking proud and pleased like not believing he had finally done it and thinking: “This is MY house. My living room, my kitchen and my library and now I’m going to hug my own, most adorable in the world, dogs. Girls, sit!”. Like that was what he had always wanted as a child, his own fantastic place where to sing, dance, act and entertain people he had personally invited. So cute and a very sweet contrast to the professional side of the show.

What I wondered in advance was the contact between him and his guests and the audience because as we all know the contact he has with his audience during concerts is something extraordinary, like there’s a direct line from his heart to people’s hearts. Outside the stage he is open with people when he wants it and during regular television shows it’s basically enough just to be focused and professional. This was different, he opened the doors of his house to the whole world and literally asked people to join his space, it was absolutely necessary that everyone could feel welcome. And I did, even I’m a foreigner, both in the studio and at home while watching the live streaming last night. Also, the way he welcomed his guests and took care of them was sincere and appreciative and his overexcited burst “it’s a huge, huge, huge fucking pleasure to have you here tonight” to Sting was the perfect way to greet one of the biggest musicians in the world.

Funnily my husband randomly mentioned Monica Bellucci yesterday and I could casually mention how I saw her last week at Casa Mika. “No you didn’t!!!”. Hahahah, yes I did, how priceless is that. Life is good. I hope you all are as excited for Mika and his new show as I am. My only worry is that Rai will actually realize his real value and never let him go and a one man show like this is a massive, many ways scary commitment. More later xxx

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The second Mika “pigiama party” was organized in Bergamo last night and even I have only a few pics to share I still wanted to write a small report to describe how my experience was. First of all it was good to see everyone again! Thank you so much for everything, I had already missed your familiar faces! I had looked forward to meeting also Lucrezia who has been kind and helpful and translated me all kind of Italian material I couldn’t otherwise understand but she wasn’t feeling well last night so we need to reschedule our meeting next time I’m in Italy. So sorry you couldn’t be there, sweetie, I hope to see you very soon!

The event (filming a few clips for the upcoming Casa Mika show) was at Piazza Vecchia, the pretty old part of Bergamo. It was very wet and cold (it was raining the whole day), the event wasn’t as much a ”pajama party” as the event in Aosta night before but more like a ”singing In The Rain” group action but Mika was super sweet and it was interesting for me to see how the filming is done and it was all totally worth both traveling and waiting in the rain.

I’m trying to shortly describe what happened starting from gathering together at the piazza. Okay, I’m an extremely awkward person when it comes to being in a group or in front of cameras or people. In guided group activities I’m definitely too slow or going to the wrong direction. In pictures I’m the one eyes closed and mouth open and in front of Mika I certainly say the most random and unplanned things. I shouldn’t be near cameras during recordings and I know that but somehow always forget it and ignore my common sense and do these things again and again. I guess I’m optimistic and for Mika I’m willing to go through even awkward situations.

This time I hadn’t seen him since the summer and had missed him. He was kind and sweet and just seeing him there made me feel better. The weather forecast told it will rain the whole day and I was worried the production would cancel the event. The buildings around the piazza offered some roof though and it was possible to place cameras/lights and the bed under the roof. There was no space for the crowd so we all stood in the rain during the event. For me this was obviously still the best option, my flight was leaving early morning and I couldn’t have rescheduled my participation and was happy to see the party and recording even it was raining.

We gathered at the piazza late afternoon and got instructions at half past six but waited a few hours while the team was preparing the set. We had been told to wear colorful pajamas but most people were actually wearing animal costumes and other silly outfits. I had my striped pajamas and felt surprisingly comfortable wearing it in a public place as for me that was the least awkward part of the whole situation. I had gotten the email telling about ”colorful, unique pajamas” the moment I was leaving at the airport and all I could do that time was to add a giant soft Moomin toy and a very colorful umbrella to my outfit. I bought both at the airport and looked a little bit like a travel ad but couldn’t help that and noticed later that the toy definitely got Mika’s attention when he saw it.

We were organized and we practiced dancing with our umbrellas until nine or ten PM. Then Mika finally came, looked smiling and talked to the audience. He did a small speech to honor Dario Fo and just before it saw me with my Moomin and smiled (and commented something in Italian). He must have been surprised to see people coming from far away just to see a filming. After that we started recording the clip of Mika dancing in the middle of the audience and did the same part several times because the crowd didn’t give him enough space and the team had to eventually organize us again.

The lady from the production was determined to push me as far away as possible but Mika started to walk around and saw me and came to talk to me so there I was in front of the camera again. I didn’t first realize they were filming (I thought he was having his tea break!) and generally had no idea what he said in Italian so I’m afraid that was embarrassing from my part but he was super sweet coming to say hello of course and it was lovely to see him there and made me very happy. He did his dance a few more times and said good bye to people after that but still continued filming his own part and we were allowed to stay and watch until it was done and he waved and left.

The whole night was very wet and cold and most of us probably caught a cold. Mika was wearing a dark blue pajamas with white clouds on it and had a blanket or hoodie on his shoulders while having breaks. The audience wasn’t following the instructions all the time (and some people were quite excited about him in general) so the recording was a lot of work for the production team. I hope my face won’t show in the final clip but if it does it will definitely be a good lesson for me to stay a little bit further away from cameras in the future, lol!

I know many fans wouldn’t bother to travel only to spend time in the rain but it was definitely a good and interesting experience for me who appreciates seeing everything first hand and as this is the first own television show for Mika it feels that way important as well. A few pics of the area and fans above, the one with the moomin is me (we were allowed to use mobiles between recordings but it was raining and I had my hands full with my umbrella so this time no pics of Mika, sorry!). xxx

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I was in Milan on my way to Cernobbio and decided to go to the Mumu signing session organized by Swatch at their local store. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had heard some events similar to this in other countries were hectic and of course I already knew that the celebrity culture in Italy is different from what I’m used to in my small Nordic home country.

I often worry about security arrangements in advance. I’m not worried for my own safety, I’m a bit scared of the security people. I want them to give polite instructions (which I’m happy to follow) and I want to feel they are there to protect me and the others and to keep the situation controlled and calm. Giving rude orders, coming too close or treating everyone as a security threat is always unpleasant.

The event turned out to be very well organized, I was impressed. I arrived (together with some other fans) to see a queuing area surrounded by barriers, calm and nicely dressed security and a stylish smiling lady, probably in charge of the store or the campaign, who greeted and guided me inside. I bought my Mumu and was explained that I could have it signed only if waited in the line until the official event in the evening. I told I’m happy to wait, got my number and joined the queue.

I was over-tired and not feeling well but the queueing went still smoothly. We could stay in the shade and use toilets and get coffee from cafes around the square as often as we liked. Mika arrived as scheduled. Some girls further away screamed a bit but it just made him look popular (everything was filmed). The whole situation was extremely organized. We got in the store in groups of ten and everyone had a possibility to get their boxes signed and exchange a few quick words with Mika.

I have met him many times during years so it doesn’t make me nervous but of course it’s always exciting. I like him and I’m not used to talk with him and even I know he can remember my face I’m still always a bit insecure if he can recognize me in a busy and crowded situation or not. After waiting for a while it was my turn and we greeted each other. He was kind. First he said something nice referring to something that happened earlier and it made me very happy. We told how tired we both were and looked, he signed the Mumu I had bought for my son and we exchanged a few more lines too random to explain.

I always dream that some day we will have a discussion not that random and I will say something if not smart at least normal. It could happen, it’s not that unrealistic. However, in this situation where he had to improvise discussions with 200 people and have something to say to everyone and I was so over-tired I could hardly remember my name, we both did fine. He was kind and sweet and I was happy to have that short meeting with him.

Thanks to Mika for being so polite and patient with people and to Swatch for organizing such pleasant circumstances. Sorry I don’t have more pics to share. There was a professional photographer but I didn’t ask a pic (I wasn’t feeling well and looked awful) and regretted it later. It’s rare to have a possibility like that, maybe some other time.