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MIKA - Life In Cartoon Motion

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Life In Cartoon Motion

Mika

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Mika's vivid, aptly named debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, borrows and builds on the glittery, glamorous, and not-so-secretly sentimental musical territory carved out by Elton John and Freddie Mercury, or more recently, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters. Fortunately, his name-dropping, shape-shifting pop is usually good, and genuine, enough to come across as eloquent homage rather than blatant thievery or a tired rehash. Mika's singles are his most charming moments, especially the instant sunshine of "Grace Kelly," which crams tap-dancing rhythms, filmic dialogue, Elton's pianos, Freddie's vocal harmonies, and Brian May's guitars into just over three minutes. "Relax (Take It Easy)" is in the same vein of hypnotic, danceable melancholy as the Scissor Sisters' reworking of "Comfortably Numb," albeit less showy, while "Billy Brown"'s brass arrangement, flowing melody, and soft-shoe rhythms give it the feel of an unusually witty show tune about pre-life crises and living in the closet. As Life in Cartoon Motion unfolds, it reveals more of Mika's musical identity, both for better and worse. His classical piano training gives the album an appealing fluidity, especially on "Any Other World," and lilting, Afro-pop-inspired guitars and harmonies pop up here and there, most effectively on "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)." However, while Life in Cartoon Motion has lots of enthusiasm and creativity, it doesn't have a lot of nuance. On songs like "Lollipop" and "Love Today," Mika straddles the line between adorable and annoying. And as the overly long, overwrought "Erase" shows, he also doesn't have quite the masterful touch with gentler songs that his influences possess. As admirable as Life in Cartoon Motion's eclecticism is, it could use more focus -- something that songs like the jaunty breakup song "Stuck in the Middle" and angry rocker "Ring Ring" suggest Mika is developing. While more restraint could've taken the album from good to great, its Technicolor, everything-at-once, borderline overdone feel makes it a fitting portrait of Mika as a young artist.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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Life In Cartoon Motion

MIKA

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1
Grace Kelly
00:03:07

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, Drums, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Dan Warner, ComposerLyricist - Lyle Workman, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mika, Keyboards, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - John Merchant, ComposerLyricist - Jodi Marr Horovitz, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2006 UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Lollipop
00:03:03

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, Drums, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mika, Keyboards, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Lee Thornburg, Horn, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Zook, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - The Spoons Orchestra of Chiswick, Vocals, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2007 Casablanca Music, LLC

3
My Interpretation
00:03:34

Greg Wells, Mixer, Bass Guitar, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Richie Supa, ComposerLyricist - Mika, Producer, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Matt Chamberlain, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jodi Marr Horovitz, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

4
Love Today
00:03:55

Greg Wells, Mixer, Guitar, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mika, Producer, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Derek Citron, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer - Jodi Marr Horovitz, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

5
Relax, Take It Easy Album Version
00:04:30

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, Programming, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Tim Pierce, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Nicholas Eede, ComposerLyricist - Mika, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmed Modi, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

6
Any Other World
00:04:19

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Buckmaster, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mika, Keyboards, Unknown, Background Vocalist, Other, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Chris Nicoladies, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

7
Billy Brown
00:03:14

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Jerry Hey, Unknown, Other - Mika, Piano, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Matt Chamberlain, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Dan Rothchild, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

8
Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)
00:04:07

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mika, Keyboards, Percussion, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Matt Chamberlain, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Dan Rothchild, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

9
Stuck In The Middle
00:04:08

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, Drums, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Lyle Workman, Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mika, Keyboards, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Dan Rothchild, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

10
Happy Ending
00:04:33

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Paul Buckmaster, String Arranger, AssociatedPerformer - Mika, Piano, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Matt Chamberlain, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ida Falk Winland, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

11
Ring Ring
00:02:50

Greg Wells, Producer, Mixer, Guitar, Programmer, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Mika, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Matt Chamberlain, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Joe Chiccarelli, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jodi Horovitz, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

12
Grace Kelly Acoustic
00:03:06

Dan Warner, ComposerLyricist - Mika, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - John Merchant, ComposerLyricist - Steve Musters, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jodi Marr Horovitz, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

13
Stuck In The Middle Acoustic
00:03:53

Mika, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Steve Musters, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

14
Relax, Take It Easy Acoustic
00:03:02

Nicholas Eede, ComposerLyricist - Mika, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Steve Musters, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Ahmed Modi, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2006 Casablanca Music, LLC

Album Description

Mika's vivid, aptly named debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, borrows and builds on the glittery, glamorous, and not-so-secretly sentimental musical territory carved out by Elton John and Freddie Mercury, or more recently, Rufus Wainwright and the Scissor Sisters. Fortunately, his name-dropping, shape-shifting pop is usually good, and genuine, enough to come across as eloquent homage rather than blatant thievery or a tired rehash. Mika's singles are his most charming moments, especially the instant sunshine of "Grace Kelly," which crams tap-dancing rhythms, filmic dialogue, Elton's pianos, Freddie's vocal harmonies, and Brian May's guitars into just over three minutes. "Relax (Take It Easy)" is in the same vein of hypnotic, danceable melancholy as the Scissor Sisters' reworking of "Comfortably Numb," albeit less showy, while "Billy Brown"'s brass arrangement, flowing melody, and soft-shoe rhythms give it the feel of an unusually witty show tune about pre-life crises and living in the closet. As Life in Cartoon Motion unfolds, it reveals more of Mika's musical identity, both for better and worse. His classical piano training gives the album an appealing fluidity, especially on "Any Other World," and lilting, Afro-pop-inspired guitars and harmonies pop up here and there, most effectively on "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)." However, while Life in Cartoon Motion has lots of enthusiasm and creativity, it doesn't have a lot of nuance. On songs like "Lollipop" and "Love Today," Mika straddles the line between adorable and annoying. And as the overly long, overwrought "Erase" shows, he also doesn't have quite the masterful touch with gentler songs that his influences possess. As admirable as Life in Cartoon Motion's eclecticism is, it could use more focus -- something that songs like the jaunty breakup song "Stuck in the Middle" and angry rocker "Ring Ring" suggest Mika is developing. While more restraint could've taken the album from good to great, its Technicolor, everything-at-once, borderline overdone feel makes it a fitting portrait of Mika as a young artist.
© Heather Phares /TiVo

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