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Bouncy Mika


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Bouncy Mika





Mika’s flamboyant world emotes with earnest storytelling melded to uber catchy ditties. AREF OMAR discovers the rising Brit sensation in Hong Kong






THE first thing you notice about Mika in person is his height, a gangly 6-foot-3, then his crazy curly brown locks.



Couple that with an easy-going personality laced with a confident demeanour and you have the potential star bubbling with charismatic presence.


But, most important of all, whether in airtight radioactive green pants with rainbow-coloured suspenders, a pink coat or even in a cutesy lion costume, Mika never fails to entertain with his music.


The 23-year-old singer’s string of tunes are like a melting pot of chocolate and honey that takes listeners on an exhilarating sugar rush, right into Mika’s own wacky cartoon-coloured universe.


His impressive debut album, the aptly titled Cartoon Life in Motion, contains 10 yummy tracks of premium old school pop excellence.


Here, the Beirut-born songwriter sings a la Freddie Mercury with great theatrical abandon, bangs on the piano Elton John style and brings together the influences of pop glitterati such as Prince, George Michael, the Bee Gees and Michael Jackson.


Fans and Press members in Hong Kong were treated to the Mika experience recently when the charismatic pop jester flew there for a performance showcase, after making an appearance at the Japan MTV Awards.


Mika easily whipped the crowd into a frenzy performing eight of his infectious songs, with covers of the Jackson Five’s I Want You Back and Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams (Are Made of These) thrown in for good measure.


Backed by his tight grooving four-piece band, it was carnival time, with the crowd happily singing along like a bunch of cats in love, as Mika kept the energy high onstage throughout, putting his four-octave vocal range to good use.


After all, he was classically trained by a very authoritarian teacher and had a stint at London’s Royal College of Music.


“I had an odd childhood, always feeling displaced and confused,†says Mika, whose real name is Michael Holbrook Penniman, in an interview before the performance showcase.


The child of a Lebanese mother and American father, he grew up during the 80s in Paris and London with his four brothers and sisters.


Suffering from dyslexia and always being bullied by other children, Mika turned to songwriting at an early age, taking safe refuge in his own worlds of melody and rhyme.


“I wasn’t accepted into any scene. The classical people were snobs that didn’t listen to any other music.


“I was rejected by the indie scene because I had a fascination with melody and a three-and-a-half minute pop song. And I wasn’t cool enough to be accepted in anyone’s band.


“The one consistency was that my family life was great,†says Mika, whose artist sister Yasmine, painted all of the cartoon artwork for his album sleeve.


All these hardships added another memorable dimension to the talented songster’s tunes. Catchy melodic exteriors aside, they feature stories with lyrics that are not without humour or irony.


His first hit single Grace Kelly, a song about having identity and not bending to the wind, pretty much sums up the entire album.


“It’s the most angriest song I’ve ever written and it also sounds the happiest.


“I was having a hard time working with a music company in Britain at the time, and they were constantly telling me, ‘You’re talented but if you agree to change just a little bit then we’ll support you, give you a deal and we’ll turn you into a star.’


“Of course I didn’t trust that, it wasn’t real,†says Mika.


Furious and frustrated, he went home, sat down and wrote Grace Kelly which was a very direct “screw you†to the music industry.


“I typed out the lyrics and highlighted certain parts, sent it to them and they never called me back.


“People ask me how does it feel to be successful on a song that was written about the negative side of the record industry and I’m actually quite happy about that because I’m singing it to the listeners, not to the music industry and that’s what it’s really about,†says Mika.


“I am a product of the iPod and iTunes generation where all kinds of music sit in the same place.


“As a songwriter I have the freedom to be immensely inspired and do whatever the hell I want.


“As long as it’s all tied together by good songwriting and can be delivered effectively live, then it works for me,†says Mika, who is currently heating up the music charts in the UK.


During the Hong Kong Press conference with Mika, Cartoon Life in Motion received gold status for album sales in excess of 10,000 units in the country.


“Of course I’m surprised by the response but no one can predict this sort of thing. I’m just enjoying myself now although I’m not in this to get one song on a karaoke machine.


“I’m in this for the long haul, doing exactly what I’m doing today, just with more material and a creative vision.â€




You can catch Mika at the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan on July 29 together with Joss Stone, The Chemical Brothers and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Browse http://www.fujirockfestival.com for details.

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Thanks ! What a great article!!! :thumb_yello:


"His impressive debut album, the aptly titled Cartoon Life in Motion, contains 10 yummy tracks of premium old school pop excellence."

--> How true is this?! I'll never ever get enough of it!! :biggrin2:

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