Mika wrote this song after he felt frustrated with record label executives that wanted him to change his sound to fit the common pop mold. In the song, Mika points out how he can pretend to be anyone he likes to win approval - in this case the glamorous actress Grace Kelly. He wrote the song after the record company told him that they wanted to model his look and sound on Craig David, who was popular at the time in the UK. Mika rejected this idea and wrote "Grace Kelly" as a way of expressing his individuality.
This was only the second single ever to top the UK chart without selling a physical copy. "Crazy
" by Gnarls Barkley was the first.
Mika was born in Beirut, Lebanon and is London-based. He is a former jingle writer who wrote the theme for an Orbit chewing gum TV ad.
Mika has been compared with Freddie Mercury. He says in an interview with the BBC that "The comparisons to Freddie Mercury are fine. They started long before I made the record - I've even referred to it in Grace Kelly." In the same interview he says, "Grace Kelly was written after these musicians were trying to mold 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."
The melody is based on the aria "Largo al Factotum
" in the opera The Barber of Seville
by Gioachino Rossini.
At the 2007 World Music Awards, Mika won for Best Selling British Artist, Best Selling New Artist, Best Selling Male Entertainer, and World's Best Selling Pop Rock Male Artist. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The December 2007 Observer Music Monthly asked Mika how it felt getting to #1 in the UK with this song. The Lebanon born singer replied: "Very unreal. It still feels unreal. It's just a song I wrote in my room. By the time I'd written 'Grace Kelly' everything in my life had been called into question. Trying to find out what I was going to do with my life, trying to be a musician, to be independent, to give myself the remote chance of any kind of a relationship. I was just sorting every thing out in my head. That song sums it all up."
This went to #1 on the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Ireland, Italy, Norway and Turkey singles charts.
Speaking to BBC 1 Radio 1's Reggie Yates on his May 7, 2012 breakfast show, Mika explained why he ends the song with 'kerching!' "I was so desperate to get signed," he said, "not because I wanted to have a big record just because I wanted to Able to do this for a living, so I was taking my music around and I went to one record company person and he was 'listen, this is never going to sell, you're not weird enough , you're not indie enough, not pop enough, what are you? You're like a strange thing." I went home and I was so angry, I thought I was going to get signed this is nonsense, so I wrote out the song saying "I can be any color you want, what the hell do you want me to be, should I look older, should I bend over just to be put on your shelf. What is it that you want? You don't know what you want so I can be every color of the rainbow.' And at the end I was like, 'all you think about is money so kerching! take that.' And that was the song.
In the demos it went 'kerching' and there was a little swear word at the end, which I turned off. And that's why it went in."
The extracts of Grace Kelly speaking are from her Academy Award-winning performance in the 1954 film The Country Girl.
The video, directed by Sophie Muller (Gwen Stefani, Beyonce), features Mika singing to a young girl (played by the director's daughter Holly Muller) who mouths the bits of Grace Kelly dialogue used in the song.