New Albums: Mika – The Origin Of Love
Freddie Matthews writes from London: It’s got to be difficult for any artist to consider releasing an album ever again after their debut sells over 5.5 million copies. Even music legends weren’t that successful from the offset. That was Mika just five years ago when his album, Life In Cartoon Motion, went ballistic and the awards came flooding in. He won the BBC Sound Poll, three World Music Awards, a Grammy and the following year – in 2008 – the British Breakthrough Act at the Brit Awards.
Now at the age of just 29 Mika returns with album number 3, The Origin Of Love. Regardless of your opinion of the man, Mika is globally successful. He sells multi-millions and in France he’s a superstar. On this new album – very synthesised in places – Mika has worked with the musical heavyweight elite, including PNAU and Empire Of The Sun’s Nick Littlemore, Pharrell Williams, William Orbit, Benny Benassi as well as the industry genius Greg Wells who’s best known for his work with Katy Perry and Adele. OK, the album has already cost the record company, Island, an absolute fortune but that’s only worthwhile if The Origin Of Love is another 5 million plus seller.
It’s difficult to assess whether this overly autotuned and multitracked piece of work will sell because there’s a huge problem: the absence of one killer single and that is a real shame. The new song Celebrate featuring Pharrell ‘is’ a pretty good single but it’s not one of Mika’s greats and won’t emulate the likes of ‘Relax, Take It Easy’ or ‘Grace Kelly’ which leaves the album in a kind of musical no man’s land.
For me Mika has always been guilty of trying far too hard and I find it very difficult to take him or his music seriously.
Eight million record sales later, could The Origin Of Love be Mika’s True Blue, which in case you’re a music philistine was Madonna’s 25 million plus seller? I’m sure Mika would like to think so but in a word, NEVER. One tenth of the 25 million mark is a far more realistic figure.
New Albums: Mick Hucknall – American Soul
Mick Hucknall has one of the most sellable British singing voices of all time, fact. Together with the band Simply Red, Mick Hucknall has sold more than 50 million records worldwide. What is it with that 50 million marker that provokes artists to cop out of writing any new material and either regurgitate back catalogue or record a collection of classics? Or perhaps it’s more a case of rushing an album out just in time for Christmas. Whatever the explanation, it’s a poor show all round.
American Soul will, without a doubt, be well received by the musical industry circles it targets, like the BBC Radio 2 listener. The question is, should we allow Mick Hucknall to get away with such a lack of effort or is this what we can expect from him for the remainder of his career?
There’s no denying his voice is still smoother than Bailey’s Irish Cream. It is perfectly matched for this collection of soul classics, from the likes of Otis Reading and Etta James. But is that it for Mick Hucknall? Should we expect a covers album from him every year for the next 20, until he’s in his 70s?
American Soul is perfect elevator music for boutique hotels.
Not dreadful but disappointing.