Even in an age where Lady Gaga’s flamboyant extravagance has made all her contemporaries seem dull and plaid, it is fair to say Michael “Mika” Penniman is not your average pop star.
Mika may ply his trade in self-penned bombastic, bolder-than-brash, more giddy-than-a-child-at- Christmas pop tunes, but the journey from his problematic, nomadic youth (Mika lived in Beirut, Paris and London before he was 9) to multimillion-selling, award-winning artist has been as fast as his songs are colorful.
After modest success with his 2006 debut EP, “Relax, Take it Easy,” Mika’s star grew quickly: named on the BBC Sound of 2007 poll, his debut single proper, “Grace Kelly,” an insanely catchy, ostentatious, sugar-coated pop gem, went straight to No. 1 in the British charts, announcing Mika’s arrival as not only a pop star with an impressive five-octave range, but one with a sense of high-camp style.
His debut album, “Life in Cartoon Motion,” further cemented his reputation. Full of guilty pop pleasures, it was mainly panned by the press, but its commercial success was relentless, as “Life in Cartoon Motion” went on to sell well over 5 million copies worldwide, earning Grammy nominations and winning a Brit Award in the process.
His followup, last year’s “The Boy who Knew too Much,” lacked its predecessor’s potency, but its relative lack of success has been unable to knock Mika off course.
One reason for this is the Mika live show, which is as much fun as you’d imagine; in an attempt to to extenuate the campiness of the songs, Mika’s concerts have, in varying forms, taken in unseemly amounts of glitter, giant inflatable “big girls” and costume changes that even Kylie Minogue would deem excessive. Needless to say, those in attendance will be treated to quite a spectacle.
Mika plays June 7 and 8 at Zepp Tokyo, June 10 at Zepp Nagoya, and June 11 at Nambu Hatch in Osaka. Tickets cost ¥7,000. For further information, visit www.mikasounds.com