new album release Sept 22nd
The Boy Who Knew Too Much
from the album - We Are Golden
Michael Holbrook Penniman (born 18 August 1983), known as Mika (pronounced /ˈmiːkə/, sometimes stylized to MIKA), is a London-based, Grammy-nominated and BRIT Award-winning singer-songwriter, who has a recording contract with Casablanca Records and Universal Music. He rose to fame at the start of 2007.
Mika was born in Beirut, Lebanon, the third of five children born to a Lebanese mother and an American father. When he was a year old his family was forced to leave war-torn Lebanon and moved to Paris. After listening to Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box," he wrote his first song, which he describes as an "awful" piano instrumental called "Angry". The first piano piece he learned to play was «Les Champs-Élysées» from Joe Dassin. The family moved to London when he was nine years old. There, he attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, where he experienced severe bullying. He also had problems with dyslexia. In response to these experiences, Mika was home-schooled by his mother at the age of 11, for six to eight months. He then attended St Philips School in Kensington. Later he attended Westminster School and the Royal College of Music, which he left to record his first album at Casablanca Records. He has also slightly altered his given name, Mica, changing the "c" to a "k" because he was frustrated by how often people would mispronounce it.
Life in Cartoon Motion: 2006–2008
As a child Mika was trained by Alla Ardakov (Ablaberdyeva), a Russian opera professional, and later graduated from the Royal College of Music in London.
His debut radio appearance was on Dermot O'Leary's BBC Radio 2 show in September 2006, Later with Jools Holland and on The Friday Night Project on 19 January 2007. While he is rumoured to have a vocal range of five octaves, he claims that it is actually closer to three and a half octaves.
In January 2007, Mika was on the top of the BBC News website's Sound of 2007 poll.
His first single was a limited 7"/download release called "Relax, Take It Easy" (2006). It was play listed by BBC Radio 1 in the United Kingdom, and was also made Record of the Week by DJ Scott Mills. The Dodgy Holiday EP is also available for download. His song "Billy Brown" was available for free download for a week from the iTunes Store.
Universal Music released his single "Grace Kelly" by digital download on 8 January 2007, and it reached number one on the UK Singles Chart on 21 January 2007. The CD, 12", and limited-edition 7" Produced and mixed by Greg Wells in Los Angeles, with three songs co-produced by Jodi Marr and John Merchant, who produced the original songs which garnered him his deal with Universal. Mika's début album Life in Cartoon Motion was released on 5 February 2007, and has brought comparison with artists such as Freddie Mercury, Scissor Sisters, Elton John, Prince, Robbie Williams and David Bowie.
He was the musical act for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on 26 March 2007 and 14 February 2008 and for Jimmy Kimmel Live on 27 March 2007. He also performed live on So You Think You Can Dance on 26 July 2007.
Mika toured the United States in June 2007, with support from Sara Bareilles and Natalia Lesz.
On 10 October 2007, Mika began his Dodgy Holiday Tour, playing at venues across Europe. On 17 November 2007, Mika started the UK leg of his tour with support from Palladium. The North American leg of his tour began in January 2008 with support from The Midway State and Creature and continued through February with a stop in Los Angeles for the 50th Grammy Awards.
His debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion, has a coming of age theme and deals with his transition from childhood to the present, though he has stated that not all of the songs are autobiographical. His songs often deal with difficult topics. For instance, in "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" the theme of larger women suffering from discrimination is explored. Mika has said that the fact that his mother was a big woman, and that he had seen the prejudices against her, helped him to write the song. In another example of dealing with more difficult subject matter, in the song "Billy Brown", Mika writes about a married man who has both a homosexual and heterosexual affair.
On 20 February 2008, Mika opened the 2008 BRIT Awards with a live performance of "Love Today," "Grace Kelly," and a duet, "Standing in the Way of Control," with Beth Ditto. He was later awarded the BRIT Award for Best British Breakthrough Artist.
The Boy Who Knew Too Much: 2009–present
Prior to the release of his second studio album, Mika released a limited-edition extended play titled Songs for Sorrow on 8 June 2009. The EP includes 4 tracks and a 68-page book featuring lyrics and exclusive illustrated interpretations of each song by some of Mika’s favourite artists. The song "Blue Eyes" was used to promote the EP, and was A-listed on the BBC Radio 2 playlist.
Mika's second studio album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, was released on 21 September 2009. Mika recorded the majority of the album in Los Angeles with producer and musician Greg Wells, who also produced his debut album Life In Cartoon Motion. The album has been described as Mika dealing with his adolescent teenage years and "in a sense is kind of part two" of his first album. The first single from the album "We Are Golden", made its radio debut in the United Kingdom on 20 July 2009, on BBC Radio 2 and was released for download on 6 September 2009, with the physical release following on 7 September 2009. The single debuted at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart on 13 September, 2009. Mika performed the track to an audience for the first time at the iTunes Festival 2009, which was based at The Roundhouse in Camden, London, with the performance being screened live on ITV2. The track was also performed on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on 4 September 2009. On the 7 September, 2009 to celebrate the release of "We Are Golden", Mika invited fans via his Twitter page to join him for drinks at his local pub. It is reported to have cost him £25,000. "Blame It On The Girls" has been confirmed as the second promotional single from the album.
Mika comes from a family of three girls and two boys. He has one younger brother and one younger sister along with two older sisters. His sister Yasmine, who works as an artist under the nom de plume Dawack, painted the cartoon art for his album Life in Cartoon Motion, and she is currently a fashion designer.
Because of his flamboyant stage persona, there have been rumours that Mika might be gay. In response to media speculation on this theme he has been quoted as saying "I never talk about anything to do with my sexuality. I just don't think I need to. People ask me all the time. But I just don't see the point." He added that "in order to survive I've kind of shut up different parts of my life, and that's one of them, especially this early in my career."
He denied allegations that he is steering clear of sexual taboos in order to appeal to the US market, pointing to the song "Billy Brown", which is about a married man who has a gay affair. He is quoted as saying, "If I was worried about sexual taboos I certainly wouldn't have made the record I made. It has nothing to do with that. It has more to do with self-respect." In an interview in the US gay magazine Out he stated that "there is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels."
He came out as bisexual in an interview with the magazine Gay & Night in September 2009.
Mika also speaks French fluently.
2007: Life in Cartoon Motion
2009: The Boy Who Knew Too Much
2006: Dodgy Holiday EP
2009: Songs for Sorrow