Who? Oscillating between the personas of witty rogue and bubblegum pop diva in the blink of an eye, Mika (born Michael Holbrook Penniman) has exploded onto the British music scene with a number one album, Life in Cartoon Motion. Born in Beirut, frequent relocation (as a young child, his family fled war torn Lebanon), bullying at school and family stress (his father was once taken hostage at Kuwait’s American Embassy) caused the singer to seek solace in music. He received formal training at the Royal College of Music in London and was also coached by a Russian opera instructor. Before he turned 21, Mika was performing and recording music with the Royal Opera House. On the commercial side, he’s written in-flight music for British Airways and even a jingle for Orbit chewing gum. Now 23, his song “Love Today” currently is finally hitting American shores via a Verizon Wireless commercial.

What’s the Deal? Mika’s devastatingly powerful voice simultaneously evokes early Elton John, a sober George Michael and the androgynous quality of the Scissor Sisters’ Jake Shears. “Love Today” suggests the latter’s sexually charged falsetto vocals, while the U.K. hit “Grace Kelly” recalls John’s growling, sexually suggestive vocal style coupled with heavy harmonization and a killer chorus melody. The unabashed and almost gratuitous pop nature of tracks like “Lollypop” and “Relax (Take It Easy)” bring to mind something that Norwegian electronic songstress Annie would offer. Any way you slice it, each and every track on Life in Cartoon Motion will have your ass shaking in one direction or another.

Fun Fact: Mika is terrified of sharks and water. When asked in a recent interview about what freaks him out Mika said, “Well, just anything that’s in the water. I hate water. I’ll go to the beach and pretend but I won’t go in. What’s underneath you is really deep. It freaks me out. I probably would eat dog poo or eat dinner with Prince Harry for �1million but I wouldn’t swim with fish. TIFFANY WAN

Now Hear This: Mika – “Grace Kelly” DOWNLOAD MP3

On the Web: mikasounds.com

Talk: Who would you compare Mika’s mellifluous voice to?

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