It’s balloons for this pop star’s concerts





Pop singer Mika decks out his concert venues with balloons, confetti, clowns and all things reminiscent of a six-year-old’s birthday party.


“What I try to do is take reality and just hype it up to a level where it makes it more livable,” explains the 23-year-old newcomer, who exploded onto the music scene earlier this year.

Tall and lanky, Mika wears a bright orange hooded sweatshirt and his long curly hair sways in every direction as he talks about his debut album, Life In Cartoon Motion, which entered Canada’s SoundScan charts at No. 2.

Helped by massive hype and reviews comparing him to legends Elton John, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, Mika has already logged a five-week stay at No. 1 with his single Grace Kelly in the U.K. where his album also took the top spot.

For Mika, all this attention marks a sharp turnaround in a life full of instability.

Born Mica Penniman, the middle of five children, in Beirut, Lebanon, his family fled the war-torn country and moved to Paris before uprooting once again for London.

Mika has said the shifts made it difficult for him to fit in. He found himself the target of constant harassment in elementary school, which led his mother to briefly pull him from classes. He began to dabble in theatre and take singing lessons, which, eventually, led him to enrol in London’s prestigious Royal College of Music.

He left the college to pursue dreams of a music career, but found that most labels wanted to mould him into a marketable product. Frustrated by one producer in particular, he penned Grace Kelly, an upbeat ditty where he begs for some semblance of an acceptable identity and asks “Why don’t you like me?”

But Grace Kelly ended up being the track that convinced a label to invest in Mika’s plans. The song leads off an album rife with energy that, if it wasn’t for the lyrics, might sound optimistic.

Underneath, Mika is constantly skewering social conventions, such as in Billy Brown, a song about a married man that leaves his wife to be with another man, or Big Girl (You Are Beautiful), a cheeky ode to overweight women.

“I love the idea that you can take that underdog and put it up on a throne and praise it for just 3-1/2 minutes because no one ever does,” Mika said.

“I suppose it’s just my way of dealing with things. Dress up your demons in Technicolored frills and they become so much more livable.”

The singer is touring across North America, decorating concert halls everywhere. As the ringleader of his shows, Mika says he crafts each night different from the last.