Sound: Released in 2007, UK singer/songwriter Mika made quite the splash. The album's first single, "Grace Kelly" went straight to the number one spot on the UK charts and the album "Life in Cartoon Motion" ended up being one of the top ten selling albums of the year. So what is it exactly about this curly headed Freddie Mercury-inspired writer?
The album, surprisingly enough is simply ok, relying heavily on the happy pop that people associate with Mika. (Pronounced Mee- kah) Beginning with "Grace Kelly", the album has about seven other songs that are just as poppy, yet not as catchy. "Lollipop" is annoying pointless and repetitive, not nearly as impressive as Mika begging the world to like him on "Grace Kelly". (It proves to be a biting satire at the media.)
The musical arrangements on the album however are actually quite good. The racing cellos on "Any Other World" are simply breathtaking. And the female harmonies on "Happy Ending" are also equally impressive. Mika also features many voice overs from various media, most notably line from Grace Kelly, "Anger doesn't solve anything" and "Humphrey, we're leaving". Or in "Lollipop", "Hey, what's the big idea???" It's innovative enough, but is more cute than poignant.
Overall, the songs are hits and misses. "Any Other World" is the album's highlight, placed strategically in the middle, to counter the sickening pop songs that layer each other one right after the other. But again, this is my interpretation. Some people like a good pop song. But it does get to be a little much. // 7
Lyrics: Mika is not the sole writer for many of the songs, and lord knows how much he contributes to the arrangement. But with that said, there are some amazingly poetic lines and clever stories involved in the album. A highlight is "Billy Brown" which tells the tale of a married man having an affair with another man. (Mika himself does not like to define his sexuality, and props to him.) Followed by "Billy Brown" is the equally humourous and delightful "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" which expresses Mika's desire to have big people find their inner AND outer beauty. Isn't he a sweetheart?
"Any Other World" remains one of the more lyrically vague songs on the album, yet still seems to touch deep with its phrases compared to the so-so lyrics of "Happy Ending". "If anything should happen, I guess I wish you well- A little bit of heaven, but a little bit of hell". It's simple enough, but not as poetic as "Any Other World".
Overall, it's still an impressive lyrical achievement with moments of greatness. The ultimate highlight of course is the much talked about voice. The falsetto on "Grace Kelly" and "Happy Ending" is so clear that it could induce chills. It's a must listen. // 8
Overall Impression: While Mika may not be the greatest writer around, he certainly is one of the greatest singers of the decade. The album's highlights include the iconic and soon to be classic "Grace Kelly" as well as the powerful, Rufus Wainwright inspired ballad, "Any Other World".
"Life in Cartoon Motion", with its flaws and slices of heaven remains a hit or miss album. If you can withstand pop song after pop song, it could be your new favourite. // 7