Mika – Ice Cream

“There’s some lovely catchy bits in here.”

Tom: I had to check whether this was a “he’s back” or “he’s still going”. It’s the latter: it’s just that he’s settled into the respectable “has enough fans to make a living” mould, rather than troubling the charts.

Tom: And with tracks like that, I reckon that’s fair enough. There’s some lovely catchy bits in here (that pre-chorus, in particular), and his voice and production are both still wonderful.

But despite all that, somehow, I don’t actually like this song.

Tim: Yeah, me too, although I’m, if anything, perhaps a bit more negative. I mean, yes, there’s good bits in here – but the first verse did nothing really for me, and it was only when it started sounding Mika-y that I really got interested. And, well, that didn’t last very long.

Tom: Maybe it’s a grower — I suspect that final chorus is the sort of earworm that sticks around after enough radio play. But it sounds like a Prince album track: competent, catchy, but not quite enough for a lead single off a new album.

Saturday Flashback: Mika – We Are Golden

“I’m annoyed I ever really forgot about it.”

Tim: Mika’s not up to much musically right now, what with being a coach on The Voice Australia (yep, the logic escapes me too) —

Tom: I’ll just assume it’s an exchange program with Kylie.

Tim: Not entirely inconceivable, I suppose — but I heard this in the pub the other day and was reminded of how brilliant it is.

Tom: Oh dear. Really?

Tim: And there we go – you’re welcome.

Tom: Gah, thanks. For some reason this grates on me: too shouty, just… too much. It didn’t the first time I heard it, but much like a lot of Mika’s tracks, after a while I just start to get a bit tired.

Tim: What? See, I was going to leave it at that, but now I want to say more about it – it has a great two-part chorus, with two great hooks and few other memorable ones stuck in for good measure, Mika’s voice going up and down playing to the idea of doing whatever the hell like because WE ARE GOLDEN – but overall it’s a fairly flawless track, and to be honest I’m annoyed I ever really forgot about it. Basically, you’re wrong: IT’S JUST THAT GOOD.

Saturday Flashback: Mika – Popular Song

“I CANNOT GET THIS OUT OF MY HEAD.”

Tom: His third album did… OK, I guess? Number 1 in France, but only number 24 on the UK charts. And partly this is due to it being a calmer, more stripped-down Mika, with less of the flamboyance that everyone remember from, well, that one big song he had.

It was with a bit of surprise that I stumbled across this single, released earlier this year. And here’s the odd thing: it’s not off the album.

Tim: Okay…

Tom: So here’s the history: start with one or two lines from a song from the musical Wicked. Write a whole new track around it; then sing the choruses and mostly-speak the verses with the woman who wrote Little Mix’s “DNA”, among many others.

The trouble is, that track isn’t really a big radio winner. It’s not bad, but it ain’t going to get airplay. The solution: throw out the songwriter, get a Nickelodeon pop starlet to sing with you instead, and go back to first-album Mika syrupy-sweetness.

Tim: Ooh, and speed it up a bit. That helps a lot. And your thoughts on this version?

Tom: I CANNOT GET THIS OUT OF MY HEAD.

Tim: Ah.

Tom: It’s a brilliant pop song. The return for that final chorus is just glorious.

Tim: It really is – it could come straight off the first album, with the happy pop attitude that was so prominent. (And back then in general, now I think about it, with Alphabeat around as well. Why isn’t pop so happy any more?)

Tom: So the question is: this could clearly sell a heck of a lot more records that Mika’s recent, less poppy style. I wonder how much of a battle is going on behind the scenes between the man making the music and the suits selling singles?

Tim: Ah, artistic integrity. Awful stuff. Just, make the tracks that sell, and that people like, and be done with it.

Mika feat. Pharrell Williams – Celebrate

Tim: New one off Mika, who was last seen releasing ‘Elle Me Dit’; this was all in French, and, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, got to number one in France, number 17 in Switzerland and entirely failed to chart anywhere else. So we’re back to English for this one, and if you have 3D glasses, try wearing them. I have no idea what might happen, but the video looks like it’ll be special.

Tim: Pretty good, no?

Tom: Mmf. I’ll give it “pretty good”, but I have some issues.

Tim: Really? Because admittedly part of me’s disappointed that he’s left behind a lot of the originality of Grace Kelly and that lot, but if he’s still got tunes like this up his sleeve then I say bring them out.

Tom: Okay, let me explain my reasoning: I love the build-up to the chorus, and the middle-eight – which are basically the same thing. Not the chorus itself: but the bits immediately before “I want the whole world to celebrate”. The last chorus ain’t bad, but the others are just too sparse.

Tim: Hmm, I’d not really noticed that, but now you mention it it does seem a bit off. Not so much that it puts me off, though. One issue I do have, though, is the whole ‘featuring Pharrell Williams’ thing, because he has one sentence in the entire song. Part of me likes that, because, well, we all know my thoughts on rappers interrupting pop songs, but part of me thinks – what’s the point of him being there? He’s got a writing credit as well, and if he’s just responsible for that bit I can’t help thinking Mika’s got slightly ripped off.

Tom: Perhaps it’s to help Mika break America? Just a theory.

Tim: That would not remotely surprise me. Overall, my feeling is still that the less of Pharrell there is the better, so I’m happy. And it’s song called ‘Celebrate’, with the main line being about the whole world celebrating, so what sort of a miserable bastard wouldn’t be happy?

Mika – Elle Me Dit

Sugary, but with a lot more than that.

Tim: Following a run of a few tracks that weren’t remotely successful over here, he’s gone all French on us for the first song from his next album; if my French serves me correctly, the title translates roughly as ‘She Tells Me’.

Tom: I remember his last album giving me musical diabetes – there was just too much sugar. Is this any different?

Tom: Ooh. It’s still sugary, but there’s a lot more to it than that.

Tim: Yeah, and I really like it – something along the lines of ‘her’, whoever she may be, telling him to dance, and as a piece of music it fits well with that.

Tom: He’s still got the falsetto in there as well, but it’s backed up by more this time.

Tim: And about the fact that it’s in French? Controversial, perhaps, but so what. It won’t sell as well over here, I suppose, but ooh, UNLESS! Maybe he could follow in Avril Lavigne’s footsteps, because what she did with Girlfriend was absolutely wonderful.

Tom: I reckon an English translation could be a proper singalong hit – as I suspect this will be in France.