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Last Updated: Friday, 5 January 2007, 08:20 GMT
Sound of 2007: Mika
By Emma Jones
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Colourful pop newcomer Mika has come top of the BBC News website's Sound of 2007 talent list.

He has been voted the most promising new artist in the poll of influential and impartial music writers and broadcasters.

Mika

Mika (pronounced "Meeka") is getting a lot of attention for an artist at the start of his career.

His first full single, Grace Kelly, has generated 250,000 plays on MySpace in less than four months and is playlisted on BBC Radio 1 and Radio 2.

The single and his album, Life in Cartoon Motion, have been described as a fusion of Beck, Prince, the Scissor Sisters and T-Rex - but there is one artist almost everyone compares his voice to.

"The comparisons to Freddie Mercury are fine," the 23-year-old says.

"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."

I got the mickey taken out of me at school - I twigged it was easier to say stuff in a song than to a person
Mika

But the media's attempts to pigeonhole him are "annoying", he adds.

"I have to remember that no-one knows who I am, or where to place me.

"I consider myself a singer songwriter, which can be a stigma - you're seen as singing self-indulgent dinner party music.

"I want to make big sounding pop records."

Born in Beirut in 1983, Mika and his family had to be evacuated and ended up in London via Paris.

Mika
Mika says he was initially rejected for being "too strange"
It is from this lifestyle, Mika tells me, that he has an "airport accent" - but it is also what led him to take up singing and writing when he was 10 years old.

"I found school pretty tough," he admits. "I got the mickey taken out of me at school. I twigged it was easier to say stuff in a song than to a person.

"I missed school for months when I first came to London and then I got a Russian music teacher. I started singing and it was awesome - music got me back on my feet."

He went on to take any music job he could - including writing a jingle for Orbit chewing gum, for which he was paid the handsome sum of 45.

His record deal, in typical flamboyant style, was signed after he played to Universal record reps in a hotel lobby.

"I was rejected for years though," he explains.

"The indie scene thought I was too melody-based and I was rejected by the commercial scene because I was too strange.

"I write songs about fat girls and about men who run off to Mexico."

The UK is an amazing atmosphere for pop at the moment - it's so full of artistry and innocence
Mika
The internet finally brought recognition after entertainment newsletter Popbitch described him as "the breakout superstar of the next few years."

"I woke up and suddenly there were 600 friend requests for my MySpace," he recalls. "And every time I deleted them, hundreds more kept on coming."

He is now embarking on a UK tour and says Europe and the United States are "shaping up pretty nicely".

He has a sold out gig at Koko in London in February and says his ambitions for 2007 are to reach more people by playing live.

Break the mould

"I really want people to know me, and if they like me, to stick with me and to give me enough of a chance," he says.

"I really want longevity. The UK is an amazing atmosphere for pop at the moment - by that I mean anything from Razorlight to KT Tunstall, anything that's popular. It's so full of artistry and innocence."

He seems far more assured than his years, but claims he has "been forced to know what I want".

"It's especially difficult if you don't want to be on the X Factor," he says.

"Grace Kelly was written after these musicians were trying to mould me into what I should be.

"I was really angry and so I wrote the song and mailed them the lyrics. They didn't call me back, but two years later it's come full circle."

  • More than 130 impartial UK-based music writers, editors and broadcasters took part in to the Sound of 2007 poll by naming their three favourite new acts.

    These tips were weighted to take account of each pundit's stature, genre and record in previous polls, as well as the order in which they ranked their tips, with the results compiled into a top 10.




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