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2007 - Guardian Article, Part 1: Suddenly they all wanted to dance with me


dcdeb
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Don't see this posted yet... it's new to me, at least :)

It's so long... I'll have to post in two parts!

 

Here's part 1:

 

Saturday April 28, 2007

The Guardian

 

One minute he's playing to 20 in Glasgow, the next he has the best-selling single of the year. What are the deals and the muscle behind a shooting star? Simon Hattenstone - in gorilla suit - joins Mika on stage to get the inside story.

 

 

'Suddenly they all wanted to dance with me'

 

A strange thing happened at the tail end of last year. Anyone who knew anything about popular music started parroting the same word - "Mika". In November, I'd not heard of Mika. By December, the arrival of pop's new messiah was heralded everywhere. On Jools Holland's BBC Hogmanay show, every single inebriated guest said the thing they were looking forward to most in 2007 was... Mika, of course. They all said the same thing - Mika was the 70s revisited, Bowie and Bolan and Freddie Mercury combined, with an added sprinkling of noughties po-mo disco; he was gorgeous, cool, super-smart, androgynous, original but accessible, weird but not too weird: he was the future. Newspapers and magazines published articles with the headline Mika Shall Inherit The Earth. And so it came to pass, in the early months of 2007, Mika did inherit the pop world. How did it happen?

 

 

His signature tune, Grace Kelly, the biggest-selling single in the UK this year, is a wonderful identity crisis of a song. He announces that he could be Grace Kelly, he could be Freddie Mercury, he could be brown, he could be blue, he could be anyone or anything. But when he wrote it, Mika was nothing. The song asks two basic questions - who am I, and what do I have to do to be successful? It could be a knowing song about ambition and the music industry, it could be a song of straightforward desperation, it could be both. Like most things about Mika, it means what you want it to mean. Grace Kelly ends triumphantly, and infuriatingly, with the "Kerching!" of cash tills ringing - Mika's anticipation of his success today.

 

Mika, born Mica Penniman and pronounced Mee-ka, is a Lebanese-French-American-English, sexually-ambiguous, opera-trained pop star with a ridiculous vocal range. One second he's a falsetto, the next he's a baritone. He regards himself as a serious artist, though he's written some of the most obviously commercial tunes in years. The music is euphoric, but the lyrics are often introverted or even depressed. He refers to people (Grace Kelly) or subjects (the 80s civil war in Lebanon) that only people of a certain age will know about, and yet the tunes are like nursery rhymes. Toddlers love him, grannies love him, twentysomethings love him - and loads of people hate him.

 

We're in Dublin, and Mika is preparing for a tiny gig at a nightclub called Spirit. The venue was booked months ago, when Mika was just beginning to be hyped. Now he could sell out a space such as this many times over.

 

Is this what he's been aspiring to since he was a boy? "I wasn't aspiring to it," Mika says. "This is what I thought I did. Always." From the age of 11, he was singing jingles for Orbit chewing gum and doing bit parts at the Royal Opera House. But Mika wasn't interested in being a member of the chorus. He wanted to be the diva. "I was walking into record labels from the age of 13 with my demo tapes. Often I didn't tell my mum because I was embarrassed." Everybody rejected him, including Simon Cowell, who told him his songs were rubbish.

 

Mika was a year old when his family left Beirut. He lived happily in France until he was eight, with his American banker father, his Lebanese mother and four siblings. When the family moved to London, Mika went to a French lycée, which he detested. He was bullied, called a poof, ostracised for his difference and for his learning difficulties - he was bright but dyslexic. The more he was picked on, the more traumatised he became. Eventually, he lost the ability to read and write, and his mother withdrew him from school. He lost (and found) himself in music. By the time he returned to full-time education at Westminster public school, Mika considered school as good as irrelevant - he was a full-time musician.

 

He did his A-levels, started a degree in economics and lasted a day, studied at the Royal College of Music and almost lasted the whole course, but all the time he felt he was living a double life - training as an opera singer by day and sliding off by night to practise being a pop star.

 

It was only when he went off to America to develop his songwriting skills and bang on a few more doors that he made headway. He ended up banging on just about the biggest door in the American music industry, and Tommy Mottola liked what he heard. "Suddenly they all wanted to dance with me. Tommy Mottola wanted to sign me. I said no four times, because I didn't trust him, and I wasn't going to go into a deal unless I had everything confirmed on paper, and I needed to know I'd have the freedom to make the record I wanted yet with the same amount of support in terms of money and time and marketing commitments."

 

He was prepared to walk away? "Yeah."

 

Part 2 HERE

 

 

http://music.guardian.co.uk/pop/story/0,,2067214,00.html

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Great article, I've read all three parts and loved it!!!!

Not all-round positive, but it's even better, very realistic!!!!! :thumb_yello:

 

That's exactly what I liked about it -- it was balanced somewhat, at least more balanced than many other pieces have been. Painted a seemingly truer, more well-rounded picture of Mika and the business aspect of things. :)

 

dcdeb

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yeah, i think this article was different too..dunno why though...but i enjoyed reading it a lot...i'm so proud:blush-anim-cl:

(btw, i know i'm gonna look pretty dumb, but anyway, where can i find the other 2 parts?)

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Thats one great article! I loves it next part please:biggrin2:

 

I'm so glad you all have found it and are liking it -- wish I had written it! (especially since it means I'd have had the chance to interview MIKA! Maybe one day...):wink2:

 

I've just bumped up parts 2 and 3 -- they had sunk to the bottom of the barrel since I posted them a few days ago! :)

 

dcdeb

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God! It's wonderful!!!

 

I've read the whole article and He's fantastic as always...and I like the way the journalist made the thing: not only general infos..he was IN Mika's world...he talked with many people (even Martin :thumb_yello: ) and writes also about people who doesn't like MIka (stupid people of course :sneaky2::roftl: )

 

I definately LOVE IT!!!!

 

THANK YOU!

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  • 1 year later...

Thats a great article! Found it on the net some days ago, then realized it was already posted on MFC: its really worth reading!

 

The parts I like most:

 

"Mika". In November, I'd not heard of Mika. By December, the arrival of pop's new messiah was heralded everywhere

 

he was gorgeous, cool, super-smart, androgynous, original but accessible, weird but not too weird: he was the future

 

(about Grace Kelly) Like most things about Mika, it means what you want it to mean

....opera-trained pop star with a ridiculous vocal range. One second he's a falsetto, the next he's a baritone.

 

The music is euphoric, but the lyrics are often introverted or even depressed. He refers to people (Grace Kelly) or subjects (the 80s civil war in Lebanon) that only people of a certain age will know about, and yet the tunes are like nursery rhymes. Toddlers love him, grannies love him, twentysomethings love him - and loads of people hate him.

 

Is this what he's been aspiring to since he was a boy? "I wasn't aspiring to it," Mika says. "This is what I thought I did. Always."

 

He lost (and found) himself in music. :wub2:

 

Tommy Mottola liked what he heard. "Suddenly they all wanted to dance with me. Tommy Mottola wanted to sign me. I said no four times, because I didn't trust him, and I wasn't going to go into a deal unless I had everything confirmed on paper, and I needed to know I'd have the freedom to make the record I wanted yet with the same amount of support in terms of money and time and marketing commitments."

 

He was prepared to walk away? "Yeah."

Edited by mari62
highlighting some words
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Thats a great article! Found it on the net some days ago, then realized it was already posted on MFC: its really worth reading!

 

....opera-trained pop star with a ridiculous vocal range. One second he's a falsetto, the next he's a baritone.

 

The music is euphoric, but the lyrics are often introverted or even depressed. He refers to people (Grace Kelly) or subjects (the 80s civil war in Lebanon) that only people of a certain age will know about, and yet the tunes are like nursery rhymes. Toddlers love him, grannies love him, twentysomethings love him - and loads of people hate him.

 

Is this what he's been aspiring to since he was a boy? "I wasn't aspiring to it," Mika says. "This is what I thought I did. Always."

 

He lost (and found) himself in music.

 

Tommy Mottola liked what he heard. "Suddenly they all wanted to dance with me. Tommy Mottola wanted to sign me. I said no four times, because I didn't trust him, and I wasn't going to go into a deal unless I had everything confirmed on paper, and I needed to know I'd have the freedom to make the record I wanted yet with the same amount of support in terms of money and time and marketing commitments."

 

He was prepared to walk away? "Yeah."

 

these are my favorite parts of the article too!

thanks for bumping all those interesting old threads mari:thumb_yello:

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Just re read that again .. 20 people in Glasgow .... amazing

 

I saw clips of that gig somewhere .. mmm now where was it

 

<thinks>

 

really? you watched clips of one of the earliest gigs!!! you must remember where and post the link!

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Just re read that again .. 20 people in Glasgow .... amazing

 

I saw clips of that gig somewhere .. mmm now where was it

 

<thinks>

 

wow!! really? would really love to watch them!!

Was it in 2006?

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Guess you're referring to this gig FD: thats all I found about it

 

Date: 22 November 2006

 

Nice'n'Sleazy, Glasgow, Fri 17 Nov 6

 

POP

 

First mentioned in the same places as fellow quirk-pop doyens Lily Allen and The Pipettes, it’s unlikely that the Beirut-born, London-raised Mika will be playing many more venues as intimate as Sleazy’s. As he played here, he was also making his national television debut before the nation on Later . . .

 

The main superlative already flying around is ‘the new Freddie Mercury’, and - much like Freddie and another similarly crystal-voiced troubadour, Antony of ‘ . . . and the Johnsons’ fame - Mika is a singer you will either adore or despise. 23-years-old and gangly of frame, he’s like the slightly awkward school musical prodigy, a more than capable pianist and a pyrotechnic singer. His repertoire ranges from sensitive ballads to theatrical pomp-pop, but it’s the latter that will no doubt propel him to huge fame. ‘Grace Kelly’ is a truly original song, all vaulting falsetto and dynamic chord changes, while ‘Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)’ is an (apparently unintentional) descendent of ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’. He and Freddie have plenty in common, it seems.

 

http://www.list.co.uk/article/715-mika/

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