In 2003, faux-80s rock band, The Darkness released Permission to Land in America, and with an impressive falsetto, heavy guitar work, and all the leotards money can buy, every fan and music critic began to invoke Queen in not-so-hushed tones when praising this future one-hit wonder. Lead singer Justin Hawkins and the rest of The Darkness quartet spent a summer in deep radio play before fading into obscurity over the winter. After all, there was nothing particularly original about their sound, and comparisons aside, The Darkness couldn’t hold a candle on a still night to Queen.
Well, it’s 2007, and it’s time to crown the next Queen. His name is Mica Penniman, though he goes by the stage name Mika. According to Wikipedia, he was born in Beirut to Lebanese and American parents, but raised mostly in London. His first album, Life in Cartoon Motion, doesn’t come out until late March, but thanks to some buzz (largely attributable to MySpace and to YouTube) his first single, “Grace Kelly”, and his accompanying video can be purchased now. The video is embedded below. Mr. Thursday especially recommends keeping an idea on the little girl in the green dress.
Mika clearly has a dynamic singing voice, with a rich natural range and a Himalayan falsetto. Where The Darkness recalled Queen in their “We Will Rock You” and “Fat Bottomed Girls” without actually capturing the drama of either song, Mika invokes Queen’s “You’re My Best Friend” and “Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy”. The bridge of the song is especially reminiscent of Queen, with the song slowing to almost nothing before resuming the song’s early energy and hand-clapping emphasizing the backbeat as Mika throws out his most Mercurial “Hey!”. The most referential Queen moments are intentional, as acknowledged by the chorus, “I tried to be like Grace Kelly/But her looks were too sad/So I tried a little Freddy/I’ve gone identity mad”.
For fans of pop music, Mr. Thursday recommends the song, though wonders if Mika show follow in The Darkness’ footsteps, falling too deeply in love with his falsetto, and fading into obscurity with music that lacks the dynamic of the song that will bring him fame in the first place.