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Article in PerthNow 24.3.07


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There isn't any new information in this article, just quotes from exsisting interviews.

 

Original here: http://www.news.com.au/perthnow/story/0,21598,21441511-5005368,00.html

 

Pure Mercury

Cameron Adams and Jay Hanna

March 24, 2007 10:00pm

 

Mika is onstage in front of a sold-out crowd in north London. His non-stop poptastic live show slows down briefly as the UK's hottest new artist performs his classically influenced ballad Over My Shoulder.

 

The show is Mika’s first since he topped both the single and album charts with the song Grace Kelly and the album Life In Cartoon Motion, but that doesn’t stop the audience talking over the top of his tender ballad.

 

A familiar-looking man with an impressive mop of dark curls turns his attention to a particularly noisy couple and issues a stern “ssssshhhhh”.

 

That man, who would make an excellent librarian, is none other than legendary Queen guitarist Brian May. As it turns out, May is one of Mika’s most ardent fans.

 

“He’s so supportive, to the point of defending me,” Mika (pronounced Meeka) says the following day. “I think that’s why he’s survived so long. He’s still awake to it all. He’s receptive. And he’s not up his own a..e, despite all the success.”

 

The shadow of May’s old bandmate, Freddie Mercury, will no doubt follow Mika all over the world as he starts on his road to global domination. His camp antics, flamboyant image and fabulous falsetto have fueled constant comparisons to Mercury.

 

“Brian says he sees things in me that he saw in Freddie,” Mika says. “He says there’s only about four people in the UK he’s seen that in and Freddie was one of them and there aren’t many left. If anyone tries to diss me in comparison to Queen, it just renders all their criticisms completely futile. That’s quite pleasurable.”

 

It’s been a giddy ride to fame for Mika, even though he considers himself “an overnight sensation 12 years in the making”.

 

The Mika story is as colourful as his music. He was born Michael Holbrook Penniman in Beirut in 1983, to a Lebanese mother and an American father, and the family fled war-torn Lebanon for Paris when he was very young. When he was nine they moved to London where Mika found it hard to fit in. He suffered at the hands of school bullies, who questioned his sexuality and taunted him relentlessly, and he admits he had a “little breakdown”.

 

“It was the combination of moving as well as a horrible time I had at school in the first few years of living in London that led me to forget how to read and write, and stop talking for a while,” he says. “I was pulled out of school for over six months so I could sort myself out and find a new school. This is when music really became important. It got me back on my feet.”

 

His family enrolled him in the Royal College of Music where he met a “terrifyingly tough” Russian opera professional who became his mentor. Taking his nickname as his stage name, Mika began writing and singing jingles for the likes of British Airways and Orbit chewing gum, and doing classical performances at the Royal Opera House.

 

He says working at opposite ends of the musical spectrum gave him respect for all styles of music.

 

“At the same time as I was singing in-flight music, I was singing with the Royal Opera House, so I have no snob attitude when it comes to what I do,” he says.

 

Indeed, it is his jingle-writing past that shines on his creative debut. His technicolour pop tunes are awash with memorable sunshine melodies. Piano and brass parts that could have been written for a Broadway musical meld with cheesy ’80s disco beats via modern production values.

 

Lyrically his songs ripple with the same cheeky wit that helped Robbie Williams to win fame, while his flamboyant delivery and fabulous falsetto are pure Mercury.

 

But, just like his misfit heroes, Mika is not all sweetness and light. Behind his bubblegum pop lies a heart of darkness that sings of fear, loss and rejection, as well as a more hopeful soul that longs to believe in love and happiness. His songs are tailor-made for outcasts, from the “Why don’t you like me?” plea of Grace Kelly to the tale of the sexually confused Billy Brown, who was a “victim of the times” and his Fat Bottomed Girls-style ode to his large mother, Big Girl (You Are Beautiful).

 

Back when he was still an unknown jingle writer, Mika caught the attention of music industry reps with his chiselled good looks, extensive vocal skills and obvious talent for penning a catchy tune.

But at the time Craig David was the blueprint for what the industry was chasing and Mika was told to change.

 

“Record companies were coming to me saying ‘You can be successful. We’ll support you, but you have to be this’,” Mika says of requests to make him more R&B.

 

“I wasn’t going to change. I told them to f... off and wrote a song about it and moved on.”

 

That song became Grace Kelly. Mika printed the lyrics like “Why don’t you like yourself? Should I bend over? Should I look older just to be put on the shelf?” and sent them to the person in question.

 

He was vindicated in January when, after signing a more creatively liberating record deal, the song became a UK No.1 and his global calling card.

 

“I forget sometimes where that song came from,” Mika says. “It’s ironic to break through with a song like that which is such a statement of honesty. It is really gratifying.”

 

But, he isn’t open about everything. Ever since becoming famous, he’s had to dodge questions about his sexuality.

 

“I don’t see any reason why you should talk about it,” he says. “I can see why people are interested simply on a pop-culture basis, but people don’t really care. They care for a little bit, because it sells newspapers and magazines, but as far as the work is concerned I don’t think it really matters.”

 

One gay newspaper suggested he was keeping his sexuality under wraps in preparation for his mentor Tommy Mottola (the ex Mr Mariah Carey) launching him in the notoriously homophobic US market.

 

“People say, ‘You don’t want to talk about sexuality because you’re worried about having success in the US and you’re worried about sexual taboos’,” Mika says.

 

“I say, ‘Have you heard the f...ing album?’. There’s a song called Billy Brown about a married man who has a homosexual affair and one of my lyrics goes ‘I tried to be like Grace Kelly’.

 

“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.”

 

Mika points to the old-school pop stars who didn’t offer their personal life up for mass consumption.

 

“I’m not creating an enigma or leaving mystery,” he says. “I’m just respecting myself enough as an artist to give myself room to grow and not to be devoured all in one go.

 

“We all have to be dishes on a plate eventually, with the way we are marketed, but I have no intention of being a cheap Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet.”

 

He says he deliberately knows nothing of the private lives of his musical heroes.

 

“I’d never compare myself to Freddie Mercury because I look up to him far too much,” he says. “As an artist, not necessarily as a person. I’m not interested in people as people. Never have been. I never had a poster on my wall. It almost ruins it.

 

“I’m a huge Harry Nilsson obsessive and I’m so uninterested in his personal life because he was horrible and it makes me like him less. So I just know nothing about it.”

 

Mika’s also ready for the backlash that comes with fast success. “The reviews of my album are polarised and that’s an achievement,” he says. “I know people like to have a sacrificial cow they can fatten up and then slaughter, but I’m not willing to play that game. People are talking about a backlash, but I’m at the beginning of my career and I’ve got a long way to go creatively and a lot of things to achieve.

 

“But I’m willing to go for it. I can get away with it now. Actually I’ve always gotten away with everything. It’s important to get away with everything.”

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Exactly!! It's so sick.

“I’m not creating an enigma or leaving mystery,†he says. (From the above article, and that's what I remembered reading the first time)

becomes

"There's no enigma" in the Daily Mirror, which ends up being quoted everywhere.

And the whole meaning shifts... very interesting lesson in spin.

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Exactly!! It's so sick.

“I’m not creating an enigma or leaving mystery,†he says. (From the above article, and that's what I remembered reading the first time)

becomes

"There's no enigma" in the Daily Mirror, which ends up being quoted everywhere.

And the whole meaning shifts... very interesting lesson in spin.

 

Yes!

Let's open our eyes here in MFC and believe nothing that hasn't came out from Mika's own mouth...

 

Anna, you article-posting sweetheart!!

Thanks again! :biggrin2:

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  • 1 month later...

“We all have to be dishes on a plate eventually, with the way we are marketed, but I have no intention of being a cheap Chinese all-you-can-eat buffet.â€

 

what a fantastic way to put it.

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