My Name Is Michael Holbrook
With Mika it’s impossible to keep the music and the artist separated. Writing about his new album is like telling opinions about his life. His personality comes through his music and that’s why I love it. It’s not only the things said in the lyrics. It’s also and often especially the things transferred by his voice or the melody. My Name Is Michael Holbrook is as personal as the title let us expect. It’s almost shockingly personal. It’s so honest and real it makes us cry and we dance while doing it.
I listened to Paloma – the song about Mika’s sister and the serious accident that happened to her – for the first time and the topic was so private I almost felt the song is not for me to listen to. Of course it is. If Mika put it on the album it’s for everyone to listen to. I listened to it and it was so beautiful and touching I burst in tears and felt something is stuck in my throat and that I can’t breath. After a few more listening I had the song playing in my head in an addicted way and I thought only Mika could do something like that. Only Mika and no one else in the world.
I worried in advance that every song being totally different from each other, the mood going from one extreme to another, the album might feel shattered but that wasn’t the case. The structure works well. The album starts with Tiny Love and discovering Michael Holbrook and ends with Tiny Love Reprise and highlighting the meaning and importance of his family and between these two pieces the mood goes up and down introducing different sides of Mika and people close to him.
My name is Michael Holbrook, I was born in 1983
Sometimes one simple sentence alone can perfectly describe the essence of the whole storyline. It tells the core thought of the song, leads us inside of it and helps us to go through different layers in it. My name is Michael Holbrook, I was born in 1983 can perfectly summarize Tiny Love and must be my favorite sentence in any lyrics ever written.
Mika is not running away anymore. He wants to face himself, his roots, his relationship with music, his relationship with fame. Tiny Love represents him as a person and as an artist and maybe for that reason listening to it can immediately fill my heart with love. His presence in the song is so clear and so dear. As a song Tiny Love represents Mika’s music. Whatever mood or color I’m looking for and can usually find somewhere in his music, I can now find in this one song. Many people call Tiny Love a masterpiece and I agree with them.
As a love story Tiny Love describes almost a universal kind of love. It’s not about romantic love and even though Mika refers to his mother it’s not directly about parental love either. The orchestra version of Tiny Love is smiling and playful, the video gives it an intense, intimate and dark look and the live version is powerfully pop and energetic. At first all that confused me. Then I understood. He’s almost like studying love. Researching it, looking at different sides of it.
I want your ice cream can mean only one thing and is something so direct there could be a penis drawn in the single cover art and well, there almost is. After hearing Ice Cream for the first times I wondered if Mika really had to be that direct and then I realized yes, he did have to. Despite of the numerous references to his sexuality in many different songs it still wasn’t clear to everyone. Now it is. I love seeing this song performed live. On stage it becomes a joyful celebration and makes me happy to see Mika that confident.
I’m jealous of the man I used to be and the man I could become
There must have been several personal and family reasons why making the album took time and Dear Jealousy gives us yet another explanation. It must sometimes be hard for an artist and a creative person not to compare their work. To others, to their own previous work or even to something they know they are capable of. As a song Dear Jealousy is sexy in a very sensual way. It’s also the most danceable song on the album. I like listening to it when alone at home so no one can see me dancing and just thinking of the song makes me want to see a gig right this moment.
Sanremo is romantic, dreamy and light, almost slightly superficial, but the background story and the extremely powerful video give it a new meaning and it becomes a statement. I appreciate and respect it that Mika is now publicly and so openly speaking about sexuality. The heart-breaking video for Sanremo tells about homosexuality in 1960s and is even more impressive and visually beautiful than I dared to expect. Mika collaborating with the director who earlier directed the stunning, very intimate video for Tiny Love is one of the things that excites me next after his new music.
I expect so much from his albums, things I wouldn’t expect from any other artist. I expect not just pop music but meaningful pop music and not only music but also visuality that comes with it.
You and I we’re really really not so innocent, consequences won’t be easy, from here every road leads to regret.
I love Tomorrow and particularly the first lines in it. I love that almost unbelievably exact way this song can transfer the feeling it describes. The feeling of excitement and anticipation, when you almost can’t wait and not talking about tomorrow – who gives a shit about tomorrow – but that moment that’s right there and almost happening. Obviously, sex is happening but the feeling, that’s extreme excitement I can feel in my stomach. Tomorrow can immediately raise my mood and I feel I’m celebrating life when I listen to it.
When I listen to Mika’s music I do it firstly and foremostly for his singing. His voice is everything. I heard Ready To Call This Love feat. Jack Savoretti on the Italian radio before the album was out and thought the song – telling about fears and insecurity – is nothing out of ordinary. After that it has grown in me in a massive way. We still sleep with the light on… Mika’s voice is stunningly beautiful, I can hear new nuances in it on every listening. I’m not a fan of duets but I like Jack Savoretti, I’m getting used to his voice and he gives a warm, very charming impression.
The song I find the most challenging on the album is Cry. I can’t yet put it in words. I can’t see the complete story or the connection to the album. Not saying they are not there, just that I can’t see them. Platform Ballerinas is another song that is difficult to locate. I do enjoy it a lot. It’s catchy and joyful and that makes me think it includes a more serious, gender identity related, background story we don’t yet know. Even though I can’t locate it on the album I think Platform Ballerinas could work live very well if given a chance.
I Went To Hell Last Night is the biggest surprise on My Name Is Michael Holbrook. This song could be the most played song on the album, for me and generally speaking. The melody is really, really pleasant and easy to listen to, even mainstream, the song grows and has a proper highlight. There are some almost cliches in the lyrics but the story – not fully told but only hinted – is insightful and serious and something that can be deeply personal and that makes my mind fly in an exceptional way. Mika’s singing is so expressive and enjoyable that the whole song becomes a huge, huge pleasure. I feel it in my whole body and the easy melody lets me focus on it and I just want to listen to his voice until fully satisfied and in a heavenly state. In that darkest place I will follow you. That’s the paradox in the song I guess. Singing about hell can take the listeners to heaven.
All this to say that it’s okay no matter what life throws to you I will always love the blue in you
The way Mika talks about his family on the album is absolutely beautiful and makes me in tears. I love this song. If I need to choose only one favorite on the album which is something extremely hard to do it might be Blue.
Blue is something I can listen to and breath, calming yet incredibly intriguing. The theme in Blue is about much more than just sorrow and being sad. It’s about being something or feeling yourself something that is hard but in the end still okay. In certain ways Blue is like Mika himself. Sensitive, gentle and understanding yet extremely complicated and difficult to understand. I find this song poetic and gradually also very meditative. I prefer the live version but already know I will be listening to Blue a lot also at home.
Stay High is the most energetic song on the album and works successfully also and especially live. I can’t imagine any better song to end the gig than this one. It doesn’t end the album though, there’s one more left.
Tiny Love Reprise is a beautiful recap of Tiny Love. At least that’s how I thought in advance and after hearing the reprise live during the Tiny Tour. I knew Mika’s mother and his sister Paloma would be singing in the recorded version but I couldn’t imagine how it would be and how it possibly could work. It turned out to be something extraordinary and incredible.
I heard the album and Tiny Love Reprise for the first time and it was the most powerful, the most touching, the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I was listening to it and a massive, absolutely enormous wave of emotion came, I simply couldn’t stop it, and it made me cry. I have listened to the reprise many times and no matter where I am – at home or in a plane or in a cafe – I start to cry and I can’t control it, it’s such a strong emotion caused by not only hearing Mika’s mother and sister singing their parts but also by the music that is changing the mood drastically.
Tiny Love Reprise is not a song. It’s pure love put in a form of music. It’s a piece of these people’s life. It tells how close Mika’s family is to him and how they obviously are going through difficult times. It tells how his mother is the most important person in his life and the most important person behind his career and it makes you remember there wouldn’t be an artist called Mika without her impact since his very early childhood. It gives his sister an opportunity to have her voice heard. The reprise ends and the whole album ends and it has to be like that. After such a strong emotion we all need a moment to calm down and think. Maybe not even think but just be.
My Name Is Michael Holbrook is the bravest and the most beautiful album Mika has done so far. It’s an album I didn’t even know I could hope from him. He worked hard for it and I’m deeply in love with this collection of songs. It’s a therapeutical album and I hope making it gave Mika comfort he needs and deserves. It’s also extremely complicated. Mika expects his listeners as much as we expect from him and it will take time to understand different layers in the songs. Of course, they work on different levels and many of them can be danced and enjoyed also without thinking too much at all.