Life in Cartoon Motion
tars in Their Eyes.” There’s a TV show that doesn't get its due respect. If you’re not familiar, it’s where the great British public gets a turn on stage to perform as their favorite pop stars, and it's been holding it down on Saturday night TV for 17 years now. That's a reign pretty much unprecedented for a light entertainment show. It still draws them in as well: 13 million for the final.
It’s had some classic moments (1999 champion Ian Moor performing a duet with the real Chris de Burgh in a double dose of Argentinian-born balladeer mastery, for one). But the show's high point came during its child-based spin-off, “Stars in Their Eyes Kids,” when this kid aged about 10 or 11 did Jake Shears. It was straight out creepy. Here was Shears's louche sexual stagemanship being reinvented by a prepubescent slip of a human being, the camp dynamics being watered down by a child who quite clearly didn’t know what he's doing. It was a performance by someone who Wanted To Be On TV and Wanted To Be A Pop Star and knew that the best way of achieving this was pastiche of what's already successful, even though he quite clearly didn’t understand what he was cannibalizing. So, the end result was this distasteful and creepy work of art put together by taking some hopelessly naïve human being, giving them a makeover behind closed doors, and shoving them out there until they embarrass themselves properly.
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Seriously, fuck Mika in the eye with a knife. Dude caught “Take Your Momma Out” on cable TV two years back, and went straight into Yosser Hughes “Gissa job, I could do that” mode. The Radio 2 playlist, Britain's spiritual home of tedium, has clutched the curly-haired cretin to their breast like one would a malnourished child, and thus the latest “pop” “star” “is” “born.” You get the cultural figureheads you deserve, Britain.
If Mika is really imbued with the spirit of anyone from the past, it's Stiltskin. Stiltskin were a bunch of overpromoted session musicians who spent swathes of their career making music for adverts, figured there was a popular music trend that they could exploit, had one smash hit single, and then promptly fucked off never to be heard of again. Listening to the art gallery PA radio of “Any Other World,” and you hope this is a career path Mika's keen on replicating.
Mika: former jingle-writer for Orbit Chewing Gum. Mika: composer of British Airways hold music. You can tell. Songs like “Relax, Take It Easy” seem to be an attempt at simulating the effect that Supertramp chloroforming you in your sleep would produce. It's quite possibly the blandest music ever. People get bland wrong. James Blunt isn't bland. Keane aren't bland. People get angry and aggravated and expend more passion over those two than they do over, I dunno, the Owls. Mika makes music that sounds like vegetables with all the flavour boiled out of them. Blandness born out of a fear of doing anything new, interesting, or provocative. Blandness born from a fear of alienating a single person with a single piece of conviction in your music. An attempt to appeal to all bases, but not appealing directly to any of them. Over singles, that's bad enough. Over the entire course of an album? Let's just say that I know now what it feels like to be beaten to death by a loofah.
It’s hard to understand what it is that’s led Mika to believe that there's something intrinsically shocking and challenging about his third tier effeminacy. (As the big man himself, Peter Griffin, would have it: he's not one of the "Oh my God, here they come, floatin' around, makin' noise” gay guys, he's one of the fix-up-your-house gay guys.) “Billy Brown” in particular, accompanied by a dreary horn section and more suited to a washed out East Yorkshire area village fête than a number one album, seems to think penis/anus contact is somehow shocking and going to make people splutter on their cornflakes. (Let’s ignore the fact that Britian's biggest pop star, a position you'd imagine Mika has designs on, is currently a gay politics graduate with an oversized mouth.)
Lead single “Grace Kelly” seems to suggest the boy has some level for musicals, being as it is all Broadway flittering and hackneyed attempts at conveying a story with its lyrics. But here’s the problem: he's got no tales to tell, just a tab at his local make-up supplier. “Am I too dirty, am I too flirty?” he sings at one point. Mika, my old son, I've felt more seduced by the talking clock. Now fuck off.
Reviewed by: Dom Passantino
Reviewed on: 2007-02-06