After the disappointment of his last album, Miguel wants to be the biggest pop star ever. But will he get there by covering Pussy Riot songs?
Miguel is currently stripped off, right down to his gasps. I’m aware there are people who would pay good money is in accordance with the position I’m in right now, although I should point out that there’s nothing too sexy about the scene.” Almost there !” calls out the diminutive R& B superstar when I interrupt what appears to be a frantic wardrobe session. Our photographer has been waiting almost an hour at this point, but get the attire right is important business for Miguel. He turned up wearing a baggy white jumper, after all, and so an epic transformation is clearly in the works.
Another 20 minutes pass before Miguel eventually emerges, resplendent in … um, the same baggy white jumper and a pair of brightly coloured Gucci shorts.” OK, ready ,” he grins, before wandering off again to have his hair and makeup done. That turns out to be another lengthy process that doesn’t appear to make any perceptible difference to his appearance, although the demon will almost certainly be in the detail. After spending a couple of days with Miguel, I soon realise he’s a guy who thrives on perfectionism.
Earlier in the working day, when we gratified for a morning coffee, Miguel expressed a desire to talk to me about a “taboo” topic. This turned out to be a nagging frustration with his working careers so far.” You’re not supposed to say:’ I wanted it to be better, or to perform better ,'” he said.” But we all want our shit to win. So for artists to pretend they’re OK with their shit not being the best … I entail, that’s not real .”
Miguel’s negative appraisal of his success to date might come as a surprise to some, seeing as his last album, Wildheart, a critically acclaimed fusion of pop, soul, funk and boulder, went to No 2 on the US chart and earned itself two Grammy nominations. Yet its inventor was not content. He had poured everything into Wildheart- and was especially proud of the album’s underlying message about outsiderdom and self-acceptance- but when he went out to tour the album , not sufficient people knew the ballads or connected to the deeper messages he was hoping to convey.
” Apart from in the US ,” he points out.” Oh my God, there it was sorcery . I felt like I was actually helping, genuinely contributing. People were telling me how powerful and life-changing it was. But then we came to Europe and …” He pauses for a few moments.” Actually, here in the UK, it was amazing too, I love playing here. But when I got to the non-English speaking countries …”
Hang on, you’re basically saying that you’re disheartened because your Grammy-nominated album wasn’t making a big enough impact in Denmark? He smiles:” I’m pretty tough on myself, I guess .” To be fair on Miguel, Wildheart didn’t sell in the same numbers as his previous breakthrough album, 2012′ s Kaleidoscope Dream; it had great sungs but absence a single as killer as his Sexual Healing-esque Adorn. It was this failure, Miguel says, that led to a reporting period self-doubt that started to worry his friends and family.
” I lost touch with my emotions ,” he acknowledges.” It was a down period. I was just … quiet. Real quiet. And also putting up a front, like I was OK with everything when I really wasn’t. I put up a wall so it was hard for my friends and family to help. I was there, but not really present. We only did small talk- yeah, everything’s good- without getting to the meat .”
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