Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Mika bomb

Introducing the sound of 2007: Mika. The man, the myth, the music

Good start. So we all know who Mika is now, and we've all gritted our teeth to varying extents at that "a little Freddie - mmmmmm-mmmmmm!" bit. There are lies, damned lies and statistics, perhaps even those that read "Views: 145,807 Comments: 401 Favorited: 1721 times" 401?! What can there be to say about him? Actually, plenty, if the article in yesterday's Independent is to be taken as gospel. In it "Guy Adams goes in search of the maverick behind 'Grace Kelly'" and seemingly doesn't find him, but does lose his way a little along the way, so bear in mind here that we're as much taking the piss out of journalism as we are Mika. So he starts:

Take Freddie Mercury without the handlebar moustache; throw in equal dollops of Elton John, Robbie Williams, and Scissor Sisters; garnish with matinee-idol looks and the lyrical dexterity of a young David Bowie.

Insert own Laughing Gnome line here. But...

if you believe the hype, he's the biggest thing to hit pop for a generation

Yeah, we'd quite imagine Robbie Williams and the Scissor Sisters are perhaps bigger things to hit pop during the last twenty years by dint of what you've just written. Not to mention the Spice Girls, Take That, R&B, rap's evolvement into the mainstream, rave culture, Britpop, Simon Fuller, production advances, the mums market... anyway.

He's just clocked up 22,000 friends on MySpace

25,448 in eight months, in fact, but surely we're not still banging the "OMG look at his friends count!" drum, are we? Especially when half of them have only added to post comments advertising trackers and club nights.

and was yesterday in New York attempting to crack America.

Well, at least he got in ahead of SXSW, where there'll be loads attempting to crack America. Then it goes all self-effacing on our asses:

Like any new pop sensation, he is about to enter the international celebrity stratosphere. He is, ladies and gentlemen, the official biggest thing since ... well, since the last big thing.

That's right, Allen might still be looking.

Yet, for all the praise now being heaped upon the track, its curly-haired singer is no ordinary plastic pop-poppet. He was trained at the Royal College of Music, plays piano like an angel, and writes and produces all his own songs. In an era of mass-market bubblegum pop, the boy is like a sore thumb.

What era of mass-market bubblegum pop is that, then? Yeah, the top 40's crowded out by Waterman-managed Hi-NRG bands these days. Not sure how him being "no ordinary plastic pop-poppet" fits in either, as every chart act now is immediately labelled extraordinary, just in case. Angels don't play piano, by the way. Their wings, and sentinency, get in the way.

"In the past four or five years, we've been force-fed a strict diet of stars who don't write their own material, can't play instruments and hardly ever play live," said Mika's manager Iain Watt.

No we haven't, Iain. NO WE SODDING HAVEN'T. Only people who believe Duncan James is a sellable act still think this is the case, albeit in the more positive.

"As this number one shows, he's different, the real deal."

But the writer just said he's Freddie Mercury without the handlebar moustache, with equal dollops of Elton John, Robbie Williams and Sci...forget it.

One interviewer said: "A lot of up and coming singers are excited about being interviewed, but with Mika I got the impression that he's been planning this his whole life. He's incredibly precocious."

This is just another way of writing 'overtly ambitious and steely eyed', but then he'd sound like an ordinary plastic pop-poppet. Then, quotes arrive! Not from a fresh interview, obviously.

"I was the unconventional kid in school," he said. "I used to dress in bright red trousers, with a matching bow tie and shirt. Looking back, I was asking for it, and I had a pretty horrific time."

You don't say. And there's arguments now about the strictness of uniform regulations.

He developed into a child singing prodigy, performing at the Royal Opera House and singing advertising jingles as a teenager... He went on to Westminster school, gained a place aged 19 at the Royal College of Music, then dropped out in an attempt to launch a solo pop career.

As a method of demonstrating that this is a unique home-brewed talent, it makes Lily Allen look altruistic.

"We never ever wanted this project to be hyped and forced on people, because if you want a long-term career it's better if people just discover your work," Watt said. "He's intelligent and eloquent and like great pop stars there's an enduring quality to him, so we didn't want to suddenly ram him down people's throats."

This snarkiness section has been left open for you to add your own rejoiner. Just remember, his debut full scale single is out next week. Can we not talk about enduring qualities when they've got more than one hit under their belts?

George Ergatoudis (Radio 1 playlist committee): "We were the first station in the world to play and playlist him," he said. "In the first week of hearing stuff, we thought this guy is really going to go. The timing is just right. There's still a place in the market for a dynamic solo male pop star, and he's got that. Songs in that niche between Scissor Sisters and Queen work in public consciousness, and nobody else is doing that right now."


Mika's interviews often touch upon his disdain for the record industry that ignored him during the early stages of his career. "I was scorned by the alternative crowd, because of my obsession with good melodies," he once said. "And I was rejected by the commercial crowd, the big record companies, because they thought I was too weird."

When was this when the Mika sound was deemed unsellable, 1992?

Yesterday, the pop magazine NME went so far as to announce that it would not be featuring the star because his music appeals to a broad cross-section, from teenage girls to foot-tapping grannies. "He's too mainstream," says a spokesman. "It would be like us featuring Take That. He's very pop, and although he's slightly to the left of mainstream, he's not something our target audience would filter into."

In a roundabout way, with "Grace Kelly" sitting pretty at number one, there could hardly be a greater endorsement.

It's probably worth mentioning that number one act My Chemical Romance are on the front of this week's NME. That stuff never usually stops them.


LB said...

yeah, but it's a *great* pop record, though....

The Daily Growl said...

Nice piece of deconstruction. I don't mind Mika but I do mind lazy journalism. Mainly it made me LOL. So cheers.

Mr Rossy said...

Nice one, i was having a mika conversation the other day with a mate who went to the same musical college as him.

I think the actual song is great, but he hasn't the stage presents to pull it off. Also, whats the point in ripping off Queen, there's only one Freddy !!!

Chris Brown said...

Nothing new in me praising to post - but I thought I'd better show my appreciation for the headline too.
Glad I'm not the only one who thought of that pun.

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