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Mika on Wikipedia
Mika Cannes 2014.jpgMika, 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Background information
Birth nameMichael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.
Also known as
  • Mica Penniman
  • Mika Penniman
Born(1983-08-18) 18 August 1983 (age 33)
Beirut, Lebanon
  • Pop
  • rock
  • glam rock[1]
  • new wave
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • Vocals
  • keyboards
  • piano
Years active2006–present
  • Casablanca
  • Republic
  • Universal[2][3]

Mika (/ˈmiːkə/; born Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr.;[4][5][6] 18 August 1983), stylised as MIKA, is an English singer and songwriter.

After recording his first extended play, Dodgy Holiday, Mika was named the number-one predicted breakthrough act of 2007 in an annual BBC poll of music critics, Sound of 2007.[7] Mika released his first full-length studio album, Life in Cartoon Motion, on Island Records in 2007, which sold more than 5.6 million copies worldwide and helped Mika win a Brit Award—winning Best British Breakthrough act, and receive a Grammy Award nomination.[8] In 2006, Mika started up his company, Dodgy Holiday Tours Limited.[9] Two years later Mika released his second extended play, Songs for Sorrow, of which limited edition copies are now sold out worldwide. In 2009 Mika released his second studio album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much. Finishing his worldwide tour, Mika recorded his third album, The Origin of Love, stating it would be "more simplistic pop, less layered than the last one".[10] The album was released internationally on 16 September 2012 and in the UK on 8 October 2012.[11]

His latest album, No Place in Heaven, was released 15 June 2015.


  • 1 Personal life
  • 2 Musical career
    • 2.1 Early career: 2004–06
    • 2.2 Life in Cartoon Motion: 2006–08
    • 2.3 The Boy Who Knew Too Much: 2009–10
    • 2.4 The Origin of Love, X Factor Italy and Songbook Vol.1: 2011–15
    • 2.5 No Place in Heaven: 2015–present
  • 3 Discography
    • 3.1 Studio albums
    • 3.2 Compilation albums
    • 3.3 Filmography
  • 4 Awards and nominations
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Personal life

Mika was born in Beirut, the third of five children to American parents, Joannie and Michael Holbrook Penniman. His father was a banker.[12][13] His mother was born in New York, to Lebanese parents. His father was born in Jerusalem, while his own father was a diplomat there.[12][14]

When Mika was a year old, his family was forced to leave war-torn Lebanon and moved to Paris.[14][15] The first piano piece he learned to play was Les Champs-Élysées, by Joe Dassin.[14] At the age of seven, he wrote his first song, a piano instrumental called "Angry", which he describes as "awful".[5] The family moved to London when he was nine years old. There, he attended the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, where he experienced severe bullying. He also had problems with dyslexia. In response to these experiences Mika was home-schooled by his mother at the age of 12, for six to eight months.[5] He then attended St Philip's School in Kensington, where he was the head of the Schola Cantorum (the St. Philip's Choir). Later he attended Westminster School and the Royal College of Music, which he left to record his first album at Casablanca Records.[16] As a child Mika was trained by Alla Ardakov (Ablaberdyeva), a Russian opera professional.

His given name was Mica but, frustrated at how often it was mispronounced, he changed the 'c' to a 'k'.[17]

Mika has one younger brother and one younger sister along with two older sisters. His sister Yasmine, who works as an artist under the nom de plume DaWack, painted the cartoon art for his two albums Life in Cartoon Motion and The Boy Who Knew Too Much, and is currently a fashion designer.

Mika speaks French,[14] Spanish and Italian[18] fluently; in an interview on 28 September 2009 with The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 he commented that he had taken Mandarin Chinese lessons for nine years but does not speak it very well; he also mentioned that his three sisters did all speak it fluently. He also speaks a little Arabic, in a Lebanese dialect, his mother's native tongue.[19]

His debut radio appearance was on Dermot O'Leary's BBC Radio 2 show in September 2006. He also appeared on Later... with Jools Holland, and on The Friday Night Project on 19 January 2007.[20] Mika is rumoured to have a vocal range of five octaves,[16] but claims that it is actually closer to three and a half octaves.[21]

Mika denied allegations that he steers clear of sexual taboos to appeal to the US market, pointing to the song "Billy Brown", which is about a married man who has an affair with another man. He is quoted as saying, "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."[22] In an interview in the US gay magazine Out he stated that "there is a way of discussing sexuality without using labels."[23]

In a September 2009 interview in Gay & Night Mika commented on his sexuality: "I've never ever labelled myself. But having said that; I've never limited my life, I've never limited who I sleep with... Call me whatever you want. Call me bisexual, if you need a term for me..."[24] Later he stated in an interview with This Is London "I consider myself label-less because I could fall in love with anybody – literally – any type, any body. I'm not picky."[25] In an August 2012 interview with the magazine Instinct, the singer described himself as gay.[26]

In March 2010, Mika was honoured in France with the Order of Arts and Letters (Chevalier (Knight)) for services to music.[27]

Early career: 2004–06

Mika's first single was a limited 7"/download release called "Relax, Take It Easy" (2006). It was play-listed by UK's BBC Radio 1 and was made Record of the Week by DJ Scott Mills. The Dodgy Holiday EP also became available for download. The song "Billy Brown" was available for free download for a week from the iTunes Store. A song titled 'Over-rated', which was recorded in 2004, was "unofficially" released online.

Life in Cartoon Motion: 2006–08

Main article: Life in Cartoon Motion

"The comparisons to Freddie Mercury are fine. They started long before I made the record – I've even referred to it in Grace Kelly. A Freddie comparison is a compliment. He's a genius and one of the best there's ever been."

—Mika following being named the BBC's Sound of 2007.[7]

In January 2007, Mika was on the top of the BBC News website's Sound of 2007 poll.[28] His single "Grace Kelly" was released by Universal Music for digital download on 8 January 2007. It reached number one on the UK Singles Chart on 21 January 2007.

Mika toured the United States in June 2007, with support from Sara Bareilles and Natalia Lesz. Mika's début album Life in Cartoon Motion was released on 5 February 2007, and has brought comparison with artists such as Freddie Mercury,[29][30] Scissor Sisters,[31] Elton John,[32] Prince,[33] Robbie Williams[34] and David Bowie.[34] "Grace Kelly," in fact, references Mercury in the lyrics: "I try to be like Grace Kelly/But all her looks were too sad/So I try a little Freddie/I've gone identity mad."

Mika was the musical act for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on 26 March 2007[35] and 14 February 2008 and for Jimmy Kimmel Live! on 27 March 2007.[36] He also performed live on So You Think You Can Dance on 26 July 2007.

On 10 October 2007, Mika began his Dodgy Holiday Tour, playing at venues across Europe. On 17 November 2007, Mika started the UK leg of his tour with support from Palladium. The North American leg of his tour began in January 2008 with support from The Midway State and Creature and continued through February with a stop in Los Angeles for the 50th Grammy Awards.

His debut album Life in Cartoon Motion has a coming of age theme and deals with his transition from childhood to the present, though he has stated that not all of the songs are autobiographical. His songs often deal with difficult topics. For instance, in "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" the theme of larger women suffering from discrimination is explored. Mika has said that the fact that his mother was a big woman, and that he had seen the prejudices against her, helped him to write the song.[37] In another example of dealing with more difficult subject matter, in the song "Billy Brown", Mika writes about a married man who has a homosexual affair.

On 20 February 2008, Mika opened the 2008 BRIT Awards with a live performance of "Love Today," "Grace Kelly," and a duet, "Standing in the Way of Control", with Beth Ditto. He was later awarded the BRIT Award for Best British Breakthrough Artist.

Mika has reportedly written songs for other musicians, saying "I write songs for other people under different names most of the time. I have a little family of three names. One of them has been discovered – it's Alice."[38]

The Boy Who Knew Too Much: 2009–10

Main article: The Boy Who Knew Too Much (album)

Prior to the release of his second studio album, Mika released a limited-edition extended play titled Songs for Sorrow on 8 June 2009.[39] The EP includes 4 tracks and a 68-page book featuring lyrics and exclusive illustrated interpretations of each song by some of Mika's favourite artists.[39] The song "Blue Eyes" was used to promote the EP, and was A-listed on the BBC Radio 2 playlist.[40]

Mika's second studio album The Boy Who Knew Too Much was released on 21 September 2009.[41] Mika recorded the majority of the album in Los Angeles with producer and musician Greg Wells, who also produced his debut album Life in Cartoon Motion.[42] The album has been described as Mika dealing with his adolescent teenage years and "in a sense is kind of part two" of his first album.[43]

The album was originally titled We Are Golden after the first single from the album, "We Are Golden". On 20 July 2009 in an on-air interview with DJ Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1, Mika revealed he was considering renaming the album, because he wanted "something a little more ridiculous."[44] On 6 August 2009 it was confirmed that the album's title would change to The Boy Who Knew Too Much.[45]

The first single from the album, "We Are Golden", made its radio debut in the United Kingdom on 20 July 2009, on BBC Radio 2[46] and was released for download on 6 September 2009, with the physical release following on 7 September 2009.[41] The single debuted at number 4 on the UK Singles Chart on 13 September 2009. Mika's promotional tour of the single included live performances at the iTunes Festival 2009 at The Roundhouse in Camden, London and on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross in September 2009. It was reported that Mika spent £25,000 on drinks after inviting fans to join him at his local pub via Twitter on 7 September 2009 to celebrate the release of his single.[47][48]

"Blame It on the Girls" was released as the second single in the United States and Japan. This was alongside "Rain" being the second single in the United Kingdom which was released on 23 November.[49] It was confirmed that "Blame It on the Girls" will be the third single in the United Kingdom and will be released 15 February 2010.[50] His American promotional tour consisted of live performances on Good Morning America in New York City on 25 September 2009 and the Late Show with David Letterman on 14 October 2009.

In November 2009 Mika performed 'Rain' and 'We Are Golden' live at the Sydney Opera House for the Australian Idol Grand Final. He also performed on Sunrise on the Seven Network in Australia. On 30 November 2009, Mika performed "Let It Snow" in a duet with Japanese pop star Hikaru Utada.[51] On 21 March 2010 Mika performed "Gave It All Away" with Boyzone on ITV1 for Boyzone: A Tribute To Stephen Gately.

In May 2010 Mika released his new single "Kick Ass (We Are Young)", the title track to the 2010 film "Kick-Ass".[52]

The Origin of Love, X Factor Italy and Songbook Vol.1: 2011–15

Before the release of his newest album, Mika stated in numerous interviews that the new album will be more simplistic and less layered than the previous one.[10] Mika announced the title of the album, The Origin of Love in a French interview on 17 June.[53] Mika has stated he would include a number of French tracks on the album, and that the musical style will include elements of Daft Punk and Fleetwood Mac.[54] He described the album as less childlike and more serious. The first single released from the album was "Elle me dit", Mika's first French track. It was released online on 1 July 2011. Nick Littlemore of Empire of The Sun, Paul Steel, frYars, William Orbit, Doriand, Priscilla Renea, Billboard, Hillary Lindsey, Ellie Goulding, Pharrell Williams, Benny Benassi, Martin Solveig, Klas Åhlund, Wayne Hector, and Greg Wells were involved in the production of the album. MIKA contributed his vocals to the production of The All-American Rejects' 2012 album Kids in the Street. On 8 June 2012, the video for "Make You Happy" was released on Vimeo.[55] The song served as a buzz single for the album.[56] On 14 June 2012, "Celebrate", which features Pharrell Williams, was announced as the album's lead single.[57][58] The album was released internationally on 17 September 2012 and in the UK on 8 October 2012.[11]

On 6 March 2013, Mika announced a new tour and that after taking some time off, he had begun writing his fourth album as well as songs for other artists. Mika also hinted that new material might be released towards the end of 2013.[59] On 23 April 2013, Mika was revealed to be the new judge on the seventh season of The X Factor Italy, replacing Arisa. He was the first international mentor on the Italian edition of the show.[60] Mika returned to the panel for the eighth and ninth series, of the show before leaving the panel to focus on other projects. Arisa will return as his replacement, for the tenth series. On 18 November 2013, Mika released a compilation album in Italy titled Songbook Vol. 1 including music from his three previous albums, plus new re-worked tracks.[61] On 17 January 2014, Mika took part in the Italian television show Le Invasioni Barbariche on La7, and performed a duet with the Nobel Prize in Literature recipient Dario Fo of the song "Ho visto un Re", written by the same Fo and played by Enzo Jannacci.[62] On 17 February 2015, Mika announced that he will be releasing his first live album, recorded during his concerts with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra.[63]

He joined The Voice: la plus belle voix, replacing Louis Bertignac, in the 3rd season. The series saw Mika return for the fourth and fifth season, before leaving the show, as well as The X Factor (Italy), to focus on other projects. His replacement for the sixth season will be Lara Fabian.

No Place in Heaven: 2015–present

Mika's fourth and latest album, No Place in Heaven, was released 15 June 2015.


Main article: Mika discography

Studio albums

  • Life in Cartoon Motion (2007)
  • The Boy Who Knew Too Much (2009)
  • The Origin of Love (2012)
  • No Place in Heaven (2015)

Compilation albums

  • Songbook Vol.1 (2013)


  • Live in Cartoon Motion (2007)
  • Live Parc des Princes Paris (2008)
  • Zoolander No. 2 (2016)


  1. ^ Heather Phares. "Mika | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Artists". Universal Music. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  3. ^ "Global Pop Phenomenon, MIKA, Releases Sophomore Album, WE ARE GOLDEN, September 22". Business Wire. 14 July 2009. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon (31 March 2007). "A rising British pop star revives a Mercurial style". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  5. ^ a b c Mccaffrey, Julie; Adam Luck (29 January 2007). "Mika, Teenage prodigy of the Royal Opera". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  6. ^ Cotton, Fearne; Adam Luck (28 September 2009). "Mika at Live Lounge". BBC Radio 1. Retrieved 29 September 2009. 
  7. ^ a b "Sound of 2007: Mika". BBC News. Retrieved 10 February 2015
  8. ^ "Brit Awards 2008: The winners". BBC. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Dodgy Holiday Tours Limited". Company Data REX. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Mika: 'Music gives me a sense of identity' – Music News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b "Mika confirms new album 'The Origin of Love' details.". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  12. ^ a b V Festival 2010: Mika interview - Telegraph
  13. ^ Mika Teenage Prodigy Of The Royal Opera - Mirror Online
  14. ^ a b c d "Mika". Mytaratata.com. 
  15. ^ Porter, Hugh (23 January 2007)."A Prejudice Goes Pop", Time. Retrieved 17 May 2009.
  16. ^ a b "Arts and Entertainment : Music". The Times. Retrieved 18 July 2015.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ (21 August 2007). "Mika: 10 things you never knew about your favourite star", Gold Coast Bulletin, p. 28.
  18. ^ "È Mika la nuova star di X Factor "Studio l'italiano e guardo Sanremo" – Musica – Spettacoli". la Repubblica. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 18 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "Mika in Beirut – Speaking Arabic". YouTube. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  20. ^ "Mika – Biography, Photos, News, Videos, Reviews". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  21. ^ "Live interview with". Rove. 6 March 2007. Channel Ten, Australia. 
  22. ^ Adams, Cameron A (15 March 2007). "Cartoon hero". Herald Sun. Retrieved 6 April 2007. 
  23. ^ Krochmal, Shana Naomi (28 January 2008). "Mika's Second Verse (Same As The First?)". Out. Retrieved 15 February 2008. 
  24. ^ Wareham, Hannah Clay (23 September 2009). "Mika: ’Call me bisexual’", Bay Windows. Retrieved 18 August 2010.
  25. ^ Eyre, Hermione (12 March 2010). "Mika takes off – the rise of the Prince of Pop". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 October 2010. 
  26. ^ "Mika confirms sexuality: 'I'm gay' – Showbiz News". Digital Spy. 6 August 2012. Retrieved 8 October 2012. 
  27. ^ "’Mika – Pop Knight Mika", Contact Music. Retrieved 19 August 2010.
  28. ^ Youngs, Ian (4 January 2007). "Singer Mika tops BBC talent". BBC News. 
  29. ^ "Mika uses Freddie's piano?". Metro. 24 January 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  30. ^ Jones, Emma (5 January 2007). "Sound of 2007: Mika". BBC News. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  31. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (7 December 2006). "Mika". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  32. ^ Bray, Elisa (1 March 2007). "V is for victory – and for virtuoso". The Independent. London. Retrieved 22 June 2007. 
  33. ^ Phares, Heather. "Mika". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 May 2008. 
  34. ^ a b "Introducing the sound of 2007: Mika". The Belfast Telegraph. 23 January 2007. Archived from the original on 3 February 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2007. 
  35. ^ "Episode 16.142". The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Season 16. Episode 142. 2007-03-26. NBC. 
  36. ^ "Episode 5.111". Jimmy Kimmel Live!. Season 5. Episode 111. 2007-03-27. ABC. 
  37. ^ "Player – Art explosion from Mika". BBC News. 12 July 2007. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  38. ^ "Mika – The Things They Say 14407 – Contactmusic News". Contactmusic.com. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  39. ^ a b "PRE-ORDER THE 'SONGS FOR SORROW' EP". MikaSounds.com. Retrieved 14 June 2009. 
  40. ^ – 13:00. "BBC Radio 2 Playlist". BBC. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  41. ^ a b "Mika Goes Golden". MikaSounds.com. Retrieved 15 June 2009. 
  42. ^ "Caspar Llewellyn Smith tails singer Mika, from Los Angeles to London and beyond | The Observer". The Guardian. 14 June 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  43. ^ Mazumdar, Tulip (9 June 2009). "Mika pens 'teenage' second album", BBC Radio 1. Retrieved 8 July 2009.
  44. ^ "BBC Newsbeat – Music – Mika promises fans 'gig at home'". BBC News. 20 July 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 
  45. ^ "MikaSounds / Latest News / The Boy Who Knew Too Much". Mikasounds.com. Retrieved 27 September 2009. 
  46. ^ "Radio 2 Programmes – Ken Bruce, 20/07/2009". BBC. 20 July 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  47. ^ "MikaSounds / Latest News / Check Out The Baying Mob at Mika's Single Launch!". Mikasounds.com. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  48. ^ "Mika spends £25k on bar tab for Twitter followers |Showbiz|Bizarre". The Sun. London. 9 September 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  49. ^ "MikaSounds / Latest News / Watch 'Blame it on the Girls'". Mikasounds.com. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  50. ^ "MikaSounds / Blog / Next Single – 'Blame It on the Girls' – Out February 15th". Mikasounds.com. 5 January 2010. Retrieved 16 May 2010. 
  51. ^ "Mika celebrity Twitter – mikasounds: Was joined on stage by Hikaru Utada tonight. We sang". Celebritytwitter.com. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 9 January 2010. 
  52. ^ "Ass to be a screen hit". The Sun. London. 15 March 2010. 
  53. ^ Magali Vogel (17 January 2011). "Mika: L'accident de ma sœur m'a fait réfléchir". France Soir (in French). Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  54. ^ Cisneros, Salvador (24 July 2011). "Mika regresa en francés", Mural, p. 26.
  55. ^ "Mika Is Back With New Song And Video For 'Make You Happy' From 'The Origin of Love'". Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  56. ^ "New Music And Short Film From Mika: "Make You Happy"". Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  57. ^ "Mika previews new single 'Celebrate' – listen". Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  58. ^ "Mika Teams Up With Pharrell on New Song "Celebrate"". Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  59. ^ "A Message From Mika 06.03.13". YouTube. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  60. ^ "Mika – X Factor Italia". Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  61. ^ "Newsic Italy – Songbook Vol. 1". Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  62. ^ "Tv, Dario Fo e Mika cantano Jannacci: "Ho visto un re"". Il Fatto Quotidiano. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  63. ^ "MIKA Announces Live Album With OSM". Retrieved 17 March 2015. 

External links

  • Mika's official website
  • Mika at the Internet Movie Database

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