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British Singer Mika Makes U.S. Debut

 

By NEKESA MUMBI MOODY

AP Music Writer

 

March 30, 2007, 12:49 PM EDT

 

NEW YORK -- Being different is a key trait if you want to make yourself stand out in the musical arena.

 

It is not a prized attribute, however, during those awkward adolescent years.

 

Mika, the latest singing sensation from across the pond, found out both lessons at an early age. Beirut-born and Paris-raised until he was 9, he found himself an outcast after his family moved to London. His interest in piano and singing, along with his dyslexia, further distanced himself from classmates, and he became the prey of bullies.

 

Away from school, he began to perform, and that became his respite. There, he found his flamboyance was celebrated, not taunted; he got respect for singing; and better yet, got paid for it.

 

So no wonder the first single in the U.S., the piano-heavy, falsetto-crooned "Grace Kelly," celebrates his refusal to conform. Like the musicians he idolized as a child -- Prince and David Bowie among them -- the 23-year-old does best when he stands apart from the pack.

 

___

 

The Associated Press: You gotten a lot of buzz in advance of your U.S. debut CD, "Life in Cartoon Motion." How has that affected you?

 

Mika: I think I'm lucky. Hype can be good and hype can be bad. The good thing that's happening to me is that the hype is about the project, it's about the music ... I'm not the son of anyone famous, I haven't really slept with anyone particularly well known ... it's really just about music, and that's something I think is very healthy.

 

AP: You got your start in a somewhat unusual way.

 

Mika: From a very early age I used to gatecrash parties and just get to the stage and perform, or I would just kind of walk around and push my face into everyone's face. But then when I started to try and get a serious deal, up until about a year and a half ago, I was just going around and playing the piano just about everywhere ... I climbed up the music executive ladder kind of quickly, because I was willing to perform for anyone and everywhere, so that's kind of how I got my deal.

 

AP: Your first single, "Grace Kelly," kind of pokes fun at the idea of conformity. How do you resist the temptation to copy what is commercially viable?

 

Mika: People were saying to me, if you just become a little bit more commercial, or you become a little bit more like what's selling at the moment, whatever that was at the time, whether it was Robbie Williams or David Gray, then you can make it. But to me, it was never an option. I think I figured out that I would rather be a total failure but be myself and at least give it a shot than be moderately successful, pretend to be someone else, only have it last a certain amount of time and be happy as a result.

 

AP: Were you surprised that you turned out to be so successful?

 

Mika: I'm surprised at the speed in which I've been embraced ... I think anyone deluded enough to go into the music industry as an artist has to have some kind of self-belief. But at the same time I was surprised that I got to No. 1, I never expected to get to No. 1 in the U.K. ... I never knew it would be a commercially bankable career.

 

AP: There are songs on the CD that are sexually ambiguous. That's gotten a lot of people asking about your sexuality. Were you hesitant to put records like that out for that reason?

 

Mika: I have no taboos about what I can use to tell a story or what stories I can actually tell, so I kind of gave myself that freedom. I certainly didn't think about it. It never even crossed my mind. I didn't think about the repercussions nor did I think about getting attention. Sexualizing music as part of getting sexy with music is amazing, but politically sexualizing music and making the artist's sexuality the defining point of someone's music is so boring. So as far as enabling myself to tell and use any kind of tool that I want to tell a story or use in my lyrics, I'm totally into that. As far as laying myself out on the table to almost a tabloid level and kind of sharing my entire personal life, I'm really not into that.

 

____

 

On the Net:

Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.

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Here is another article from New York Post:

 

NOT JUST FLASH IN THE PAN

By DAN AQUILANTE

Brit singer Mika's got style — and a voice to back it up.March 31, 2007 -- DON'T worry that he sings like a girl and dresses like a bear. In concert, 23-year-old Brit singing sensation Mika was one of the most entertaining and energetic performers to hit a New York Stage this year.

 

At the Gramercy Theater Thursday, the lanky crooner showed off a falsetto that would make a castrato cross his legs.

 

Mika is, essentially, a one-man boy band who references Freddie Mercury, George Michael and Andy Gibb. At this hourlong showcase, where he offered the music of his hit disc, "Life in Cartoon Motion," Mika's stage presence was theatrical as he struck poses and sang with operatic bombast. He was all flash, except when he got introspective at the piano for a couple of ballads and an excellent cover of "Everybody's Talkin'."

 

Mika and his nuts 'n' bolts rock band (bass/drums/guitar and keyboard) can be as annoying as they are entertaining. At the close of the concert the entire band returned for their happy-happy-joy-joy encore song "Lollipop" wearing full-body plush animal costumes.

 

While that costumed pop confection had the young girls in the house enthralled, the real highlights of this concise concert were the disco rave "Love Today" and "Ring Ring." On each of these, Mika showed off his power as a singer and stylist instead of as a novelty act.

 

The ballad "Happy Ending, Over My Shoulder" was the show's mopiest piece, but there were many in the crowd who liked it just fine. In fact, it prompted one guy to hoot: "Mika, have my baby."

 

In the end, this gig showcased Mika as an artist with incredible range who can do everything from popera to dance rock, and he will certainly be one of the singers who dominates the radio for the rest of this summer.

 

dan.aquilante@nypost.com

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and.... New York Times:

 

By JON PARELES

Published: March 31, 2007

Clowns handed out balloons and the sound system played perky Top 10 hits before Mika took the stage at the Gramercy Theater on Thursday night. Mika, whose song “Grace Kelly” was a No. 1 hit in Britain and is currently No. 75 on the Billboard Hot 100, was branding his music as pure pop fun, and he wasn’t kidding. With a big smile on his face and in his voice, and with bright, bouncy, catchy tunes, Mika isn’t flaunting any angst.

 

Born in Lebanon but raised in Paris and London, Mika (whose real name is Michael Holbrook Penniman) looks like a pop star: skinny, strong-featured and impeccably tousle-haired even after he’s been strutting across the stage. His voice is startlingly similar to that of Freddie Mercury, Queen’s lead singer, from breathy baritone to swooping tenor to piercing falsetto.

 

Mika has cultivated Mr. Mercury’s mixture of hard-sell vocal gymnastics and arch, campy amusement. He has also latched on to one part of Queen’s sound — a brisk boom-chunk beat topped by scrubbing guitar chords or mock-classical piano — and coupled it with the power-chorded pop of 1970s British bands like Sweet. In songs from his album “Life in Cartoon Motion” (Casablanca/Universal), the hooks are clear and conspicuous, and behind them is a cheerful gleam of calculation. “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)” proclaims just that; “Ring Ring” complains, with self-satisfaction, about someone who keeps calling and hanging up.

 

For a polymorphous fillip, Mika has “Billy Brown,” about a married man who falls in love with a man. He also sang a new song, “Holy Johnny,” about a friend who “once was a whore” but joined the priesthood after his heart was broken. Neither is exactly controversial.

 

Most of the time Mika stuck to songs about love, describing breakups while the music grinned through them. “Love’s gonna let you down,” went the chorus in “Lollipop,” but it happily bounded ahead, pure bubblegum down to its candy title; for a live bit of naughtiness, Mika changed “bore” to “whore” in the lyrics.

 

Mika’s songs promised that he was eager to please. “I could be wholesome/I could be loathsome,” he sang in “Grace Kelly,” and he offered half a dozen other options. In “Everybody’s Gotta Love,” a song about breaking out of depression, he insisted, “Anyway you’ve got to love, love me.”

 

That’s a little premature. At the moment, Mika shows off his pop skills with a determined superficiality. His heartbroken ballad “Over My Shoulder” was more a falsetto showcase than a lament. If he figures out how to show some heart amid his pop frolics, he could turn out to be more than the sum of his hooks.

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Heyy, thanks for that!

Im not 100% sure but I think I've read this in here already tho...

 

But anyway I like the article.

The hype is about his music and Im happy it is.

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Heyy, thanks for that!

Im not 100% sure but I think I've read this in here already tho...

 

But anyway I like the article.

The hype is about his music and Im happy it is.

 

:blush-anim-cl:

If the articles have already been posted (whoops, i missed them), sorry for posting them again. I was looking for articles from NYT for days, because the NYT photographer was standing next to me at the concert. Since his musical taste was different than ours, he left at the end of the first song along with AP photographer.....

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