dcdeb Posted March 31, 2007 Share Posted March 31, 2007 Just found this before hitting the hay: A Rising British Pop Star Revives a Mercurial Style By JON PARELES Published: March 31, 2007 Clowns handed out balloons and the sound system played perky Top 10 hits before Mika took the stage at the Gramercy Theater on Thursday night. Mika, whose song Ã¢â‚¬Å“Grace KellyÃ¢â‚¬Â was a No. 1 hit in Britain and is currently No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100, was branding his music as pure pop fun, and he wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t kidding. With a big smile on his face and in his voice, and with bright, bouncy, catchy tunes, Mika isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t flaunting any angst. Born in Lebanon but raised in Paris and London, Mika (whose real name is Michael Holbrook Penniman) looks like a pop star: skinny, strong-featured and impeccably tousle-haired even after heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been strutting across the stage. His voice is startlingly similar to that of Freddie Mercury, QueenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lead singer, from breathy baritone to swooping tenor to piercing falsetto. Mika has cultivated Mr. MercuryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mixture of hard-sell vocal gymnastics and arch, campy amusement. He has also latched on to one part of QueenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s sound Ã¢â‚¬â€ a brisk boom-chunk beat topped by scrubbing guitar chords or mock-classical piano Ã¢â‚¬â€ and coupled it with the power-chorded pop of 1970s British bands like Sweet. In songs from his album Ã¢â‚¬Å“Life in Cartoon MotionÃ¢â‚¬Â (Casablanca/Universal), the hooks are clear and conspicuous, and behind them is a cheerful gleam of calculation. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)Ã¢â‚¬Â proclaims just that; Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ring RingÃ¢â‚¬Â complains, with self-satisfaction, about someone who keeps calling and hanging up. For a polymorphous fillip, Mika has Ã¢â‚¬Å“Billy Brown,Ã¢â‚¬Â about a married man who falls in love with a man. He also sang a new song, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Holy Johnny,Ã¢â‚¬Â about a friend who Ã¢â‚¬Å“once was a whoreÃ¢â‚¬Â but joined the priesthood after his heart was broken. Neither is exactly controversial. Most of the time Mika stuck to songs about love, describing breakups while the music grinned through them. Ã¢â‚¬Å“LoveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gonna let you down,Ã¢â‚¬Â went the chorus in Ã¢â‚¬Å“Lollipop,Ã¢â‚¬Â but it happily bounded ahead, pure bubblegum down to its candy title; for a live bit of naughtiness, Mika changed Ã¢â‚¬Å“boreÃ¢â‚¬Â to Ã¢â‚¬Å“whoreÃ¢â‚¬Â in the lyrics. MikaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s songs promised that he was eager to please. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I could be wholesome/I could be loathsome,Ã¢â‚¬Â he sang in Ã¢â‚¬Å“Grace Kelly,Ã¢â‚¬Â and he offered half a dozen other options. In Ã¢â‚¬Å“EverybodyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Gotta Love,Ã¢â‚¬Â a song about breaking out of depression, he insisted, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Anyway youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve got to love, love me.Ã¢â‚¬Â ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little premature. At the moment, Mika shows off his pop skills with a determined superficiality. His heartbroken ballad Ã¢â‚¬Å“Over My ShoulderÃ¢â‚¬Â was more a falsetto showcase than a lament. If he figures out how to show some heart amid his pop frolics, he could turn out to be more than the sum of his hooks. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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