Mika’s comeback couldn’t be better-timed. Queen never went away, per se, whether in the rock or meme canons (their entire discography for the former, “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the latter), but it’s a particularly good time for Freddie Mercury devotees. Just this year, we’ve got fun.’s “We Are Young” and Some Nights, plus the entirety of Adam Lambert’s Trespassing. Mika was there before either; lead single “Grace Kelly” even mentions the guy. Pharrell never completely went away, either; he worked on Lambert’s album as well as (briefly) Usher’s Looking 4 Myself, among other collaborations this year. They’re natural collaborators.
Well. On paper, they are.
It’s hard to imagine what anybody involved in “Celebrate” was thinking. Pharrell doesn’t sound like Pharrell, which’d be remarkable and welcome if what he sounded like instead wasn’t the vaguely uplifting, slight groove you’d play after last call as clubgoers filtered out onto the streets. Mika, meanwhile, swaddles his voice in so much processing he ends up sounding like Adam Levine if he were whispering; he only gets to let loose on ad-libs buried deep in the mix, and the only thing Mika adds that a randomly selected male vocalist wouldn’t is that he doesn’t need pitch-shifting to become a tenor.
The whole thing ends up sounding like a subpar take of one of Adam Lambert’s weaker Trespassing singles. In fact, there’s a good chance Lambert turned this down. Hell, Usher may have turned it down. (If he did, try not to question why he went with will.i.am’s “Uptown Girl” leeching instead.) It might be best, no matter how annoying this practice usually is, for Mika and Pharrell to quietly bury “Celebrate” in favor of a real comeback single. They both deserve better.