Mika (singer)

Mika (singer)

Mika in December 2009
Background information
Birth name Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.
Also known as Mica Penniman, Mika Penniman
Born 18 August 1983 (1983-08-18) (age 28)
Beirut, Lebanon
Origin London, England, UK
Genres Pop, rock, power pop, pop rock, glam rock
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, keyboards, Piano
Years active 2006–present
Labels Casablanca, Island, Festival Mushroom, Polydor, Universal Music
Website Mikasounds.com

Mika (play /ˈmkə/; born Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.;[1][2][3] 18 August 1983) is a British singer-songwriter.

After recording his first extended play, Dodgy Holiday EP, Mika released his first full-length studio album, Life in Cartoon Motion, on Island Records in 2007. Life in Cartoon Motion sold more than 5.6 million copies worldwide and helped Mika win a BRIT Award and receive a Grammy Award nomination. Two years later Mika released his second extended play, Songs for Sorrow, of which limited edition copies are now sold out worldwide. In 2009 Mika released his second studio album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much. Finishing his worldwide tour, Mika started writing and recording material for his third album, The Origin of Love, stating it will be "more simplistic pop, less layered than the last one".[4]



Mika was born in Beirut, the third of five children born to a Lebanese mother and an American father.[5] When he was a year old his family was forced to leave war-torn Lebanon and moved to Paris.[5][6] The first piano piece he learned to play was "Les Champs-Élysées", by Joe Dassin.[5] At age seven, he wrote his first song, which he describes as an "awful" piano instrumental called "Angry".[2] 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 12, for six to eight months.[2] He then attended St Philip's School in Kensington, where he was the head of the Schola Cantorum (the St. Philip's Choir). Later he attended Westminster School and the Royal College of Music, which he left to record his first album at Casablanca Records.[7] 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.[8]

Mika at the 2007 Glastonbury Festival

Mika comes from a family of seven (Mika was one of five siblings). 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 two albums Life in Cartoon Motion and The Boy Who Knew Too Much, and she is currently a fashion designer. His sister Paloma was severely injured in October 2010 after falling from a third-storey window and being impaled by railings.[9] Mika speaks French and Spanish fluently;[5] in an interview on 28 September 2009 with The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 he commented that he had taken Mandarin Chinese for 9 years but did not speak it very well; he also mentioned that his three sisters did all speak it fluently.

As a child Mika was trained by Alla Ardakov (Ablaberdyeva), a Russian opera professional, and later attended the Royal College of Music in London. His debut radio appearance was on Dermot O'Leary's BBC Radio 2 show in September 2006. He also appeared on Later... with Jools Holland, and on The Friday Night Project on 19 January 2007.[10] Mika is rumoured to have a vocal range of five octaves,[7] but claims that it is actually closer to three and a half octaves.[11]

Mika 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 an affair with another man. 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."[12] In an interview in the US gay magazine Out he stated that "there is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels."[13]

In a September 2009 interview in Gay & Night Mika commented on his sexuality: "I've never ever labelled myself. But having said that; I've never limited my life, I've never limited who I sleep with... Call me whatever you want. Call me bisexual, if you need a term for me..."[14] Later he stated in an interview with This Is London "I consider myself label-less because I could fall in love with anybody - literally - any type, any body. I'm not picky."[15]

In March 2010 Mika was named in France a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters for services to music.[16] He is the youngest person to receive the award.

Musical career

Early career: 2004–2006

Mika's 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 made Record of the Week by DJ Scott Mills. The Dodgy Holiday EP also became available for download. The song "Billy Brown" was available for free download for a week from the iTunes Store. A studio outtake titled 'Overrated', which was recorded in 2004, was "unofficially" released online.

Mika playing keyboard at V Festival, 2007

Life in Cartoon Motion: 2006–2008

In January 2007 Mika was on the top of the BBC News website's Sound of 2007 poll.[17] His single "Grace Kelly" was released by Universal Music for digital download on 8 January 2007. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart on 21 January 2007.

Mika's début album Life in Cartoon Motion was released on 5 February 2007, and has brought comparison with artists such as Freddie Mercury,[18][19] Scissor Sisters,[20] Elton John,[21] Prince,[22] Robbie Williams[23] and David Bowie.[23] "Grace Kelly," in fact, references Mercury in the lyrics: "I try to be like Grace Kelly/But all her looks were too sad/So I try a little Freddie/I've gone identity mad."

Mika was the musical act for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on 26 March 2007[24] and 14 February 2008 and for Jimmy Kimmel Live on 27 March 2007.[25] He also performed live on So You Think You Can Dance on 26 July 2007.

Mika live in concert

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.[26] In another example of dealing with more difficult subject matter, in the song "Billy Brown", Mika writes about a married man who has a homosexual 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.

Mika has reportedly written songs for other musicians, saying "I write songs for other people under different names most of the time. I have a little family of three names. One of them has been discovered – it's Alice." [27]

The Boy Who Knew Too Much: 2009–2010

Prior to the release of his second studio album, Mika released a limited-edition extended play titled Songs for Sorrow on 8 June 2009.[28] 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.[28] The song "Blue Eyes" was used to promote the EP, and was A-listed on the BBC Radio 2 playlist.[29]

Mika's second studio album The Boy Who Knew Too Much was released on 21 September 2009.[30] 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.[31] 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.[32] He got a Bafta in 2006 for best Male Artist Worldwide.

The album was originally titled We Are Golden after the first single from the album, "We Are Golden". On 20 July 2009 in an on-air interview with DJ Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1, Mika revealed he was considering renaming the album, because he wanted "something a little more ridiculous."[33] On 6 August 2009 it was confirmed that the album's title would change to The Boy Who Knew Too Much.[34]

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[35] and was released for download on 6 September 2009, with the physical release following on 7 September 2009.[30] The single debuted at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart on 13 September 2009. Mika's promotional tour of the single included live performances at the iTunes Festival 2009 at The Roundhouse in Camden, London and on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in September 2009. It was reported that Mika spent £25,000 on drinks after inviting fans to join him at his local pub via Twitter on 7 September 2009 to celebrate the release of his single.[36][37]

"Blame It on the Girls" was released as the second single in the United States and Japan. This was alongside "Rain" being the second single in the United Kingdom which was released on 23 November.[38] It was confirmed that "Blame It On The Girls" will be the third single in the United Kingdom and will be released 15 February 2010.[39] His American promotional tour consisted of live performances on Good Morning America in New York City on 25 September 2009 and the Late Show with David Letterman on 14 October 2009.

In November 2009 Mika performed 'Rain' and 'We Are Golden' live at the Sydney Opera House for the Australian Idol Grand Final. He also performed on Sunrise on the Seven Network in Australia. On 30 November 2009, Mika performed "Let It Snow" in a duet with Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada.[40] On 21 March 2010 Mika performed "Gave It All Away" with Boyzone on ITV1 for Boyzone: A Tribute To Stephen Gately.

In May 2010 Mika released his new single "Kick Ass", the title track to the 2010 Marvel Comics film "Kick-Ass".[41][42]

The Origin of Love: 2011–2012

Mika has begun recording his new album. He has stated in numerous interviews that the new album will be more simplistic and less layered than the previous album.[4] Mika announced the title of the album, The Origin of Love in a French interview on 17 June.[43] Mika has said in numerous interviews that he will include a number of French tracks on the album, and has said that the musical style will include elements of Daft Punk and Fleetwood Mac.[44] He describes the album as less child-like and more serious. The first single released from the album is "Elle Me Dit", Mika's first French track. It was released online on 1 July 2011. The album is expected to be released in 2012.[45]



Studio albums
  • 2006: Dodgy Holiday
  • 2007: iTunes Festival: London
  • 2009: Songs for Sorrow
  • 2009: iTunes Live: London Festival '09


Awards and nominations

Year Organisation Nominated work Award Result
2007 BBC Sound of 2007 Mika Sound of 2007 Won
World Music Awards Best-Selling New Artist Won
Best-Selling Male Pop/Rock Artist Won
Best-Selling British Artist Won
MTV Europe Music Awards 2007 Best Solo Artist Nominated
"Grace Kelly" Best Track Nominated
The Record of the Year 2007 Record of the Year Nominated
Third place
2008 The 50th Grammy Awards "Love Today" Best Dance Recording Nominated
2008 BRIT Awards Mika British Male Solo Artist Nominated
Life in Cartoon Motion British Album Nominated
"Grace Kelly" British Single Nominated
Mika British Breakthrough Act Won
2009 MTV Europe Music Awards 2009 Best Male Nominated
2010 2010 BRIT Awards British Male Solo Artist Nominated

Band members

Current members

  • Cherisse Ofosu Osei - Drums
  • Jimmy Sims - Bass and Keyboards
  • David Whitmey - Keyboards
  • Martin Waugh - Guitars
  • iMMa - backing vocals
  • Ida Falk Winland - backing vocals
  • Ben Epstein - Bass (temporary replacement for Jimmy Sims)

Former members

  • Luke Juby - Keyboards
  • Mike Choi - Bass
  • Saraynade - Backup Vocals
  • Sam Smith - Backup Vocals


  1. ^ Pareles, Jon (2007-03-31). "A rising British pop star revives a Mercurial style". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/31/arts/music/31mika.html. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  2. ^ a b c Mccaffrey, Julie; and Adam Luck (2007-01-29). "Mika, Teenage prodigy of the Royal Opera". The Daily Mirror. http://www.mirror.co.uk/archive/tm_method=full%26objectid=18545057%26siteid=89520-name_page.html. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  3. ^ Cotton, Fearne; and Adam Luck (2009-09-28). "Mika at Live Lounge". BBC Radio 1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/livelounge/artist/090928_mika.shtml. Retrieved 2009-09-29. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.digitalspy.co.uk/music/news/a263980/mika-music-gives-me-a-sense-of-identity.html
  5. ^ a b c d (French) Mika -> Vidéos -> Medley, mytaratata.com]
  6. ^ Porter, Hugh (2007-01-23). "A Prejudice Goes Pop", Time. Retrieved on 2009-05-17.
  7. ^ a b "Triumph of a tortured soul". The Times (London). 2007-01-05. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/music/article1289311.ece. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  8. ^ (21 August 2007). "Mika: 10 things you never knew about your favourite star", The Gold Coast Bulletin, p. 28.
  9. ^ "Mika sister impaled on railings after fourth floor fall". BBC Online. 11 October 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-11514126. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  10. ^ Mika - Biography, Photos, News, Videos, Reviews Contact music
  11. ^ "Live interview with". Rove. Channel Ten, Australia. 2007-03-06.
  12. ^ Adams, Cameron A (2007-03-15). "Cartoon hero". Herald Sun. http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,21387352-2902,00.html. Retrieved 2007-04-06. 
  13. ^ Krochmal, Shana Naomi (2008-01-28). "Mika's Second Verse (Same As The First?)". Out. http://www.out.com/detail.asp?page=1&id=23440. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  14. ^ Wareham, Hannah Clay (23 September 2009). "Mika: ’Call me bisexual’", Bay Windows. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  15. ^ Eyre, Hermione (12.03.2010). "Mika takes off - the rise of the Prince of Pop". Evening Standard. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/lifestyle/article-23814306-mika-takes-off.do. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  16. ^ "’Mika - Pop Knight Mika", Contact Music. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  17. ^ Youngs, Ian (2007-01-04). "Singer Mika tops BBC talent". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6230415.stm. 
  18. ^ "Mika uses Freddie's piano?". Metro. 2007-01-24. http://www.metro.co.uk/fame/article.html?in_article_id=34500&in_page_id=7&in_a_source=. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  19. ^ Jones, Emma (2007-01-05). "Sound of 2007: Mika". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/6231243.stm. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  20. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (2006-12-07). "Mika". The Guardian (London). http://music.guardian.co.uk/live/story/0,,1965870,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  21. ^ Bray, Elisa (2007-03-01). "V is for victory – and for virtuoso". The Independent (London). http://arts.independent.co.uk/music/reviews/article2316598.ece. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  22. ^ Phares, Heather (N/A). "Mika". AllMusic. http://www.allmusic.com/artist/p755037. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  23. ^ a b "Introducing the sound of 2007: Mika". The Belfast Telegraph. 2007-01-23. Archived from the original on 2007-02-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20070203102236/http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/entertainment/music-gigs/features/article2178632.ece. Retrieved 2007-03-20. 
  24. ^ "Episode 16.142". The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. NBC. 2007-03-26. No. 142, season 16.
  25. ^ "Episode 5.111". Jimmy Kimmel Live. ABC. 2007-03-27. No. 111, season 5.
  26. ^ "Player – Art explosion from Mika". BBC News. 2007-07-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/player/nol/newsid_6890000/newsid_6896300/6896323.stm?bw=bb&mp=wm&news=1&nol_storyid=6896323&bbcws=1. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  27. ^ "Mika – The Things They Say 14407 – Contactmusic News". Contactmusic.com. http://www.contactmusic.com/news.nsf/story/the-things-they-say-14407_1123774. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  28. ^ a b "PRE-ORDER THE 'SONGS FOR SORROW' EP". MikaSounds.com. http://www.mikasounds.com/news/view/433/SONGS_FOR_SORROW_EP. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  29. ^ 10:00 – 13:00. "BBC Radio 2 Playlist". Bbc.co.uk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/music/playlist/. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  30. ^ a b "Mika Goes Golden". MikaSounds.com. http://www.mikasounds.com/news/view/588/Mika_Goes_Golden. Retrieved 2009-06-15. 
  31. ^ "Caspar Llewellyn Smith tails singer Mika, from Los Angeles to London and beyond | Music | The Observer". Guardian. 2009-06-14. http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2009/jun/14/mika-pop-music. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  32. ^ Mazumdar, Tulip (9 June 2009). "Mika pens 'teenage' second album", BBC Radio 1. Retrieved on 2009-07-08.
  33. ^ "BBC - Newsbeat - Music - Mika promises fans 'gig at home'". BBC News. 20 July 2009. http://news.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/hi/music/newsid_8159000/8159436.stm. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  34. ^ "MikaSounds / Latest News / The Boy Who Knew Too Much". Mikasounds.com. http://www.mikasounds.com/news/view/613/The_Boy_Who_Knew_Too_Much. Retrieved 2009-09-27. 
  35. ^ "Radio 2 Programmes – Ken Bruce, 20/07/2009". BBC. 20 July 2009. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lqdq0. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  36. ^ "MikaSounds / Latest News / Check Out The Baying Mob At Mika's Single Launch!". Mikasounds.com. http://www.mikasounds.com/news/view/643/Check_Out_The_Baying_Mob_At_Mikas_Sinle_Launch. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  37. ^ "Mika spends £25k on bar tab for Twitter followers | The Sun |Showbiz|Bizarre". London: The Sun. 9 September 2009. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/2628107/Mika-spends-25k-on-bar-tab-for-Twitter-followers.html. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  38. ^ "MikaSounds / Latest News / Watch 'Blame it On The Girls'". Mikasounds.com. http://www.mikasounds.com/news/view/704/Watch_Blame_it_On_The_Girls. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  39. ^ "MikaSounds / Blog / Next Single - 'Blame It On The Girls' - Out February 15th". Mikasounds.com. 5 January 2010. http://www.mikasounds.com/blog/post/750/Next_Single_-_Blame_It_On_The_Girls_-_Out_February_15th. Retrieved 2010-05-16. 
  40. ^ "Mika celebrity Twitter – mikasounds: Was joined on stage by Hikaru Utada tonight. We sang". Celebritytwitter.com. 30 November 2009. http://celebritytwitter.com/twitter/Mika/1656245. Retrieved 2010-01-09. 
  41. ^ MikaSounds / Latest News / Mika's new 'KICK-ASS' single MikaSounds.com - 1 March 2010 - Retrieved on 6 April 2010
  42. ^ "Ass to be a screen hit". The Sun (London). 15 March 2010. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/2892186/Watch-exclusive-video-of-Mikas-title-track-for-film-Kick-Ass.html. 
  43. ^ France Soir, Mika: “The accident of my sister made me think”. Retrieved 25/06/2011
  44. ^ Cisneros, Salvador (24 July 2011). "Mika regresa en francés", Mural, p. 26.
  45. ^ MikaFans.net - New album released in 2012., Retrieved 24/06/2011.

External links

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Sound of... (BBC poll)
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