A singer/songwriter based in London, Mika's bright, kaleidoscopic music has drawn comparisons to everyone from Queen and Elton John to Scissor Sisters and Rufus Wainwright. His second single, early 2007's "Grace Kelly," proved to be his breakthrough, topping the singles chart in the U.K. as a precursor to his number-one debut album, Life in Cartoon Motion. Also charting well throughout Western Europe and in Australia and Canada, his second album, 2009's The Boy Who Knew Too Much, reached a career-high number 19 in the U.S. While those records were theatrical to the point of being described as campy, he introduced a more mature, still bright and highly melodic approach beginning with 2012's The Origin of Love. By the arrival of his fifth long-player, 2019's My Name Is Michael Holbrook, he'd sold more than ten million albums worldwide.
Born Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr. in Beirut to a Lebanese mother and American father, Mika and his parents moved to Paris while he was still very young, and eventually to London by the time he was nine years old. The frequent moves, incidents like his father being taken hostage at Kuwait's American Embassy, and bullying at school affected young Mika to the point where he stopped talking and was taken out of school for six months.
At this point, music became Mika's lifeline, and he soon began formal musical training, which included voice lessons. Along with studies at the Royal College of Music, in his teens and early twenties he also recorded with the Royal Opera House and created a jingle for Orbit chewing gum. He dropped out of school to concentrate on his take on pop music, inspired by freewheeling songwriters like Prince and Harry Nilsson. His debut single, "Relax, Take It Easy," appeared in the latter half of 2006, but it was its follow-up, "Grace Kelly," that broke Mika in the U.K. Issued in January 2007, the song hit number one on the singles chart. His full-length debut, Life in Cartoon Motion, did just as well when it arrived on Casablanca Records a month later; it topped the U.K. album chart around the time it received a U.S. release that March. Mika went on to win the Brit Award for British Breakthrough Act and the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year, as well as earning a 2008 Grammy nomination for Best Dance Record for "Live Today," among other accolades.
In 2013, Mika was added as a judge on the seventh season of the reality TV talent competition The X Factor Italy. The following year, he also joined the French TV singing competition The Voice: La Plus Belle Voix, where he remained as a judge for several seasons. Featuring the French-language hit "Boum Boum Boum," Mika's fourth studio LP, 2015's No Place in Heaven, found him working again with Wells. It became a Top Five hit in places like France, Italy, and Switzerland and reached number 19 in the U.K.
Mika had a cameo in the Ben Stiller film Zoolander 2, which hit theaters in 2016. He then spent two years writing his next album, My Name Is Michael Holbrook. It arrived on Casablanca/Republic in 2019. ~ Heather Phares & Marcy Donelson