meimei88 Posted March 15, 2007 Share Posted March 15, 2007 USA TODAY By Elysa Gardner, NEW YORK — When "bird" means girl, "hooker" describes a rugby player and "rock 'n' roll" in Cockney slang refers to welfare, it's no wonder that so much British music doesn't translate to U.S. charts. You only have to look at Robbie Williams. In England, he's the bomb (a towering smash). Here, he was also a bomb (a smoking crater). USA TODAY looks at four hot U.K. acts aiming to hop the pond and make some waves. He's only 23 and largely unknown in the USA, but the Beirut-born, London-based Mika could teach a master class in pop-star self-promotion. At a Midtown restaurant, the tall, striking young artist is fastidiously gracious and just cheeky enough to suggest an air of street cred. Told that his label boss, former Sony honcho Tommy Mottola, called his interviewer to rave about his talent, Mika laughs. "He's deliciously insane, isn't he? I didn't trust him at first. But I didn't trust anybody." Mika, whose last name is Penniman, has cause to be in a less suspicious mood these days. After signing with Mottola's Casablanca Records, the singer/songwriter released a debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, that shot to No. 1 on the U.K. charts, and also launched a chart-topping single, Grace Kelly. Life, which showcases an eclectic style that Mika has described on his MySpace site as "Beck via Queen and Elton John with a touch of Rufus (Wainwright)," won't arrive here until March 27. But Grace Kelly is already a rising radio and MTV hit. Growing up in Paris, where Mika relocated with his Lebanese mother and American father as an infant during the war in Beirut, and later in London, Mika turned to music "partly as remedy, partly as refuge. A lot of it had to do with having had a horrible time in school." Mika fared better at the Royal College of Music, cultivating influences such as Kurt Weill to Harry Nilsson. He also developed a talent for sketching. While working on Life, "I was handing in cartoons before (recordings). To me, it was the same thing. There is a circus-master element to what I do. I wanted to represent this fantasy world, very Alice in Wonderland." Mika isn't assuming U.S. fans will be fighting to get into his tea party. "Geographically, the country is very daunting. I just hope my performances are strong enough that I can win it over bit by bit." —Gardner Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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