Mika tried to explain the genesis of this uptempo track in an interview with The Observer Music Monthly June 2009. He explained: "When you've had too much to drink and you're reminded of things you'd rather forget... I always wished there was this mystical figure I could talk to. I started to call him Dr. John. He's this triangular-shaped, perfect older man with just the right ingredients of madness and humility... he's got a big white beard and he's covered in feathers that he steals from his pet peacock." Seeing the interviewer looking baffled, he added: "There's this whole world that goes with my songs."
According to an interview with Billboard, Life in Cartoon Motion was envisioned by Mika as "a kind of rock opera about my adolescence." This song kicks off with Mika singing "I look for love in a strange place, in the back of a bar." He explained The Observer Music Monthly: "Well, it wasn't barbershop love, in a let's go to the dance, boys on one side, girls on the other and 'I'll buy you a couple of warm pints of Stella.' I was quite shy but there was a bit of a secret life going on. I made a lot of mistakes. There was a lot of very harsh rejection as well in relationships. Or make-believe relationships that had developed in my head. I wasn't a crazy promiscuous f---- up, but I was doing things I shouldn't have been doing, yes, just like any teenager."