MikaIn preparation for our upcoming trip to London, I thought I would check out Mika‘s debut album. I’ve been reading a lot about him lately (and seeing an interview with him on Logo), partly because his album just came out and partly because he refused to identify his sexual orientation, which is a little weird since his music is more than a little campy. He also has a track on the album, “Mr. Brown,” about a married man who has an affair with another man.

Mika is a 24-year-old London-based singer-songwriter who was born in Lebanon. His family fled the war-torn Beirut and moved to Paris before settling in London. One might hypothesize that his reticence to come out might be because of his Middle Eastern heritage. More likely, it’s a business decision — until he’s established as a major pop star (if he ever establishes himself as such) he can’t afford to be labeled a “gay artist.” While we all like to think America is less and less homophobic, I think it’s nevertheless true that it’s difficult for an artist to move beyond the gay label once it’s attached.

Here’s a sample of his music, “Grace Kelly,” which illustrates nicely his campy style:

After seeing what Youtube and his own webpage had to offer, I decided I liked his album, Life in Cartoon Motion, enough to download it. Now that I’ve listened to it, I have to admit that I really like it. It helps that he’s totally cute, but even apart from that I like his work. He’s a more enjoyable version of Elton John, whose music I’ve rarely liked (the musical Billy Elliott being the main exception). I like the camp, the several dance tracks, and his overall aesthetic. It’s a fun pop album with a queer sensibility, regardless of Mika’s own closetedness (gay, straight, or bi).

My favorite track so far is “Relax, Take it Easy.” Here’s the video for it:

I also like “Love Today”:

I also like “Happy Ending” and “Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) a lot. The whole album is very good. Ultimately, I’m a little bored by the not coming out part, but I can understand why he wouldn’t want to restrict his public image and foreground that aspect of his life at this point. (If he turns out to be straight and marries a woman in a few years, though, I’m going to be mad!)

I’ll end with one more Youtube clip, an interview and live performance of “Love Today” from the Graham Norton Show, another favorite of mine: