There’s something wicked about 29-year-old, openly gay, UK pop star Mika. His peppy single, “Popular Song,” culled from 2012’s The Origin of Love, sampled the contagious chorus of musical Wicked’s “Popular” (originally performed by Kristin Chenoweth). Yet beyond riffs on and from musical theater, Mika evinces a similar lyrical cheek and musical bounce to The Scissor Sisters, with soaring Freddie Mercury–esque vocals and a wall-of-sound, melody-rich production.
Half Lebanese and half American, Mika was born Michael Holbrook Penniman, Jr. in Beirut and raised from age nine-onward in the UK. His debut album, 2007’s Life in Cartoon Motion, made a major splash with its irresistible, Elton John-esque single, “Grace Kelly,” while the album’s colorful cover was illustrated by sister Yasmine, a.k.a. “DaWack,” ultimately led to Coca-Cola commissioning a limited-edition Mika “Happiness Bottle” and display box that benefited several charities.
The year 2009 saw the release of his second album, The Boy Who Knew Too Much, an international hit single, “We Are Golden,” and the video of an underwear-clad Mika dancing in his bedroom. After much speculation and many ambiguous interview answers, Mika officially came out in a 2012 Instinct Magazine feature. Having just concluded a USA tour for Origin (his most recent single from that CD, the insanely catchy Daft Punk–sounding electro-pop ditty, “Celebrate,” features Pharrell Williams), Mika sat down in our VIP Lounge to talk show tunes, being out, and, of course, travel.