Written by – INGRID VAN VEEN
Italy has come to know him as the latest addition to the X-Factor judging panel: Mika. He stole the hearts of many Italians with his intelligence and charisma and proved to be a very valuable coach to the young hopefuls who he took under his wing. He has become quite the celebrity in Italy, but many don’t really know who the man behind the fashionable suits really is.
Born in Beirut in 1983, Mika, born as Michael Holbrook Penniman, was evacuated together with his family because of the gulf war. He ended up in Paris and later on in London, where he was soon taken out of school because he refused to speak after severe bullying. From that moment on he was home schooled and had to go through singing lessons with a very strict Russian teacher who would beat him when he wasn’t doing well. He quickly became better and at the age of 11 he started his music career singing jingles for a variety of companies.
Fast forward to 2007. At the age of 23, Mika released his first single Grace Kelly, which became a massive hit in many countries. His debut album Life in Cartoon Motion sold over 5,5 million copies worldwide. After years of rejections, he finally made it big.
Life in Cartoon Motion was followed by his sophomore album The Boy Who Knew Too Much and his latest album The Origin of Love. All those albums show not only the evolution of Mika as an artist, but also as a person. His first album dealt with his childhood, the second one with his teenage years and on the third one he deals with his newfound happiness and the love in his life. He never holds on to the same musical style for too long, which ensures that his music never becomes dull or repetitive. He is a very skillfull lyricist and master melody maker.
There are many artists out there who make good music, but one thing that sets Mika apart from all the others are his live performances. He tries his best to always build a whole new world on stage, in which the audience can get lost for two hours. No matter how tiny or large an audience is, Mika tries to make every gig feel intimate. Through his songs he connects people from different walks of life, be it children or adults, gay or straight, outcast or cool kid. He makes everyone feel equal and feel like they belong. Often he even takes his fans on stage to perform with him as dancers or as his choir. He is a true showman, a rare sight these days.
Mika is much more than just a judge on a talent show. He is a singer who doesn’t rely on autotune to make him sound better. He is an artist as he designs most of his sets and album covers himself together with his sister Yasmine. He takes his time to meet his fans and thank them for the support they provide him but most importantly, he makes truly good music which every poplover should have on their Ipods.
Mika is set to tour Italy and other countries next year. Don’t miss him. It will be a truly magical expierence.
To read the transcript of Mika’s intervention at Bocconi University, click here: