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Mika’s rise has been rapid. The Beirut-born singer – real name Mica Penniman – has scored UK number ones with his first single, “Grace Kelly”, and his debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion. His music is as bubbly, gaudy and saucy as a hen party, and it zeroes in with hidden ruthlessness on the British public’s insatiable appetite for camp.
Announcing himself tonight with a falsetto yelp reminiscent of The Darkness, he played a short set whose songs veered often within the space of a single beat between being catchy and irritating. They were unashamedly derivative – a sprinkling of Elton John, a helping of Robbie Williams, a lot of Scissor Sisters and Queen – as if distilled from some flamboyant pop formula. Not since Williams bellowed “Let me entertain you” has a performer been so blatantly eager to please.
I went harbouring deep misgivings, having found the album exhaustingly hyperactive, but was partially won round. The high vocals and disco abandon of “Relax, Take It Easy” were indisputably entertaining, “Billy Brown” with its jaunty horns and Britpop chorus came across like a sugar-coated Sgt Pepper, and I even found myself enjoying his inane ode to voluptuous women, “Big Girls”, which was illustrated by two plump dancers in cowboy hats. Never accuse Mika of subtlety.
In person, the singer looked like a cross between Rupert Everett circa Another Country and a children’s television presenter. Floppy-haired, beaming, bouncing up and down, he only faltered when he tried to slow the tempo and show off his lesser-seen sensitive side.
“My Interpretation” was a terrible power-ballad, and a moody number oddly reminiscent of Radiohead featuring a cellist and counter tenor (Mika briefly attended the Royal College of Music) was all but drowned out by audience chatter. In contrast, “Lollipop” – a song so sugary and childishly upbeat as to verge on imbecility – was greeted with fervour. Resistance was useless. ★★★☆☆
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