Life in Cartoon Motion is the debut album released by British recording artist Mika. The album was produced by Greg Wells and Mika himself, mixed by Wells, with co-production on two songs by Jodi Marr and John Merchant. The album was released via Island Records on 5 February 2007 in the United Kingdom, and via Casablanca Records on 27 March 2007 in the United States. The album's lead single, "Grace Kelly", stayed at number one on the UK Singles Chart for five weeks straight and became a number-one hit in many countries.
The album debuted at number 1 in the United Kingdom, selling 7.8 million copies worldwide since its release. The Life in Cartoon Motion album cover has since been used in a commercial for the iPod Touch. It was the fifth-best-selling album in the world during 2007.
Prior to obtaining his record deal, Mika sent demos to many record companies in Britain, but was never signed. One record label in particular claimed that Mika had a good voice, but insisted he write more conventional songs like Robbie Williams in order to become more commercial. Mika rejected this advice. The song "Grace Kelly" was inspired by these problems. In 2006 Mika signed with Island Records and began recording his debut album. His musical influences are based in classical music. Before Mika released his debut album he promised the media that "It was a magical world that you could live in. A parallel universe for people that is illusory and enchanting and amazing." Some songs on the album are sexually ambiguous, prompting some questioning regarding Mika's sexuality. On this, Mika comments that he has no taboos about what he can use to tell a story or what stories he can actually tell. He believes that sexualizing music is great, but politically sexualizing music and making the artist's sexuality the defining point of someone's music is "boring". He says about his own sexuality: "...laying myself out on the table to almost a tabloid level and kind of sharing my entire personal life, I'm really not into that." The songs on the album have different subjects. "Grace Kelly", as stated before, is about the struggle of getting a record deal. Mika stated that the song is a very important song on the album mostly because:"...it's a flagpole for the record in terms of lyrical content and the whole pop vision I wanted to get across." The cover for the album and booklet was designed by Mika's sister, Yasmine, who works under the pen name DaWack, Richard Hogg and Mika himself. In March 2007 the album was released in the United States. Before its release there was much publicity about the album, mainly due to its success in Europe. Mika commented on the hype by saying: "I think I'm lucky. Hype can be good and hype can be bad. The good thing that's happening to me is that the hype is about the project, it's about the music ... I'm not the son of anyone famous, I haven't really slept with anyone particularly well known ... it's really just about music, and that's something I think is very healthy."
Initial critical response to Life in Cartoon Motion was very mixed. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has received an average score of 55, based on 23 reviews. In January 2007 it was considered the best new talent in the BBC's Sound of 2007 music poll. About 130 music critics and broadcasters from the UK agreed that Mika was the sound of 2007.
It has received highly polarized reviews, earning one star from The Guardian and four stars in the London Evening Standard. The album received 1 out of 10 from the Drowned in Sound website, and prompted Brian May of Queen, a fan of Mika, to criticise the website for making unnecessary personal attacks at Mika.
The original version of the album, released in the United Kingdom and Europe on 5 February 2007, contains a total of twelve tracks, including the hidden track "Over My Shoulder" and the bonus track "Ring Ring". It also includes an enhanced section, with links to music videos and live performances, as well as other exclusive content. The version released via the iTunes Store in Europe featuring three additional acoustic recordings as bonus tracks. The American version of the album, released on 27 March 2007, is essentially the same as the British release, however, it includes the exclusive bonus track "Erase", not included on the original release. American versions of the album bought at Best Buy stores also carry two exclusive bonus tracks - acoustic versions of "Love Today" and "Satellite", while the American iTunes Store version also includes an exclusive acoustic version of "Grace Kelly". The version of the album released in Japan is essentially the same as the original British release, however, it also includes the American exclusive track "Erase", as well as the Japanese exclusive track "Your Sympathy", as well an enhanced element containing the music video for "Grace Kelly".
The demo version of the album, issued to media journalists and critics, has a very different track listing than any of the main versions of the albums. It does not include the tracks "Lollipop", "Big Girl (You Are Beautiful)" and "Over My Shoulder", but does include the Japanese only bonus track "Your Sympathy", as well as including "Gave It All Away", Mika's original version of the track, before it was given to Boyzone. Mika's version had never appeared on any other release, until the release of the Asian Tour Edition in March 2008, which includes the eleven standard tracks from the British album, the European bonus track "Ring Ring", "Gave It All Away" from the demo version, "Erase" from the American version, "Your Sympathy" from the Japanese edition, and the B-side recordings "Satellite", "One Lonely One" and "Instant Martyr". The album was also packed with a bonus disc, including six acoustic recordings, four live recordings, and the single mix of "Happy Ending".
The album had a lot of success in Europe, it charted in all the charts and had certifications in most of them, the album actually has 1,650,000 sales in United Kingdom and 1,450,000 sales in France the countries where the album had bigest success. The album is 5 times platinum in Belgium and 2 times platinum in Switzerland, 3 times platinum in Irland, the album also has gold and platinum awards in Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Serbia, Russia, Norway, Sweeden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Germany and Greece. The album also charted in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia and the rest of European countries. In Asia the album was certificated in Lebanon, Japan, China and South Korea but charted in most countries. In Oceania the album was 2 times platinum in Australia and gold in New Zealand. In America the album was 2 times platinum in Canada and has more or less 500,000 sales in the United States. The album has gold and platinum awards in 32 countries worldwide, and has approximately 7.9 million sales.
All songs produced by Greg Wells.MIKA – keyboards, backing vocals, percussion, piano, guitar, programming
Greg Wells – producer, mixer, guitar, bass, drums, programming, percussion, keyboards
Tim Pierce – guitar
Dylan Schiavone – guitar
Lyle Workman – guitar
Dan Rothchild – bass
Matt Chamberlain – drums
Derek Cintron – percussion
Fabien-Waltmann – programming
Backing vocals by: Zuleika Penniman, Paloma Penniman, Fortuné Penniman, Audrey Moukataff, Alexander Millar and Ida Falk
Larry Corbett – cello
Lee Thornburg – horns
The Spoon Orchestra of Chiswick – orchestra
Studio Gospel Choir – backing vocals
Maxi Anderson – choir leader
Paul Buckmaster – string arrangement
Jerry Hey – brass arrangement
Jodi Marr – producer, percussion
John Merchant – producer, recording engineer
Joe Zook – recording engineer
Carlos Alvarez – recording engineer
Joe Chiccarelli – recording engineer
Chris Nicoladies – recording engineer
Drew Pearson – recording engineer