Last year at this time, Miguel was a relative unknown. The 26-year-old singer was working on his second album, Kaleidoscope Dream, when his studio partner, Pharrell Williams, attended the celeb-studded Met Gala in New York. “I was like, damn,” Miguel recalls, “wouldn’t it be crazy if I were there next year?” And there he was this May at the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture opening, wearing a head-to-toe Lanvin suit complete with lapel buttons and studded creepers, alongside Wintour-approved pop stars like Nicki Minaj, Beyoncé and Kanye West. “To be honest with you, the majority of the people there didn’t know who the fuck I was,” Miguel says, even though he won a Grammy for his hit single “Adorn” in February, and his music has been topping Billboard’s R&B charts for most of this year. “So my look was perfectly like, ‘I belong here, but I’m not trying to shout it out.’” (Read More…)
Kelly Clarkson was a testament to the power of Grammy music discovery when she said during her acceptance speech for best pop vocal album at last week’s Grammys, “Miguel, I don’t know who the hell you are, but we need to sing together. I mean, good God. That was the sexiest damn thing I’ve ever seen.”
The first line of the album’s first song sets the tone: “These lips can’t wait to taste your skin.” You have entered Miguel‘s Kaleidoscope Dream, a fantastical, steamy, colorful, gritty-but-polished, polished-but-gritty, dripping-with-sex-sweat bacchanal of Marvin Gaye smoothness. The song is “Adorn,” and it hit the young Los Angeles–based Mexican/African-American singer like a flash of light, the chords coming to him on a cross-country flight, the lyrics following shortly after. He touched down, wrote the thing in a blur, and doesn’t remember much of anything about the process.
Miguel’s alcohol stash is low. He’s got a glass-worth of whiskey, which he says he prefers, and one bottle of beer. He offers me the whiskey. It’s 8PM on a Saturday in LA, and the plain, two-bedroom apartment he shares with his girlfriend of seven years, an aspiring actress named Nazanin Mandi, droops with the remnants of a recent party. A golden CONGRATULATIONS! banner dangles in a corner, tied up by one end, and deflated balloons wobble idly on the carpet. Taped to the wall, a plastic flag with stick-on letters reads: ADORN NO. 1. It’s a week before the release of Kaleidoscope Dream, Miguel’s second album, and its single, “Adorn,” a top contender for our generation’s “Sexual Healing,” holds the highest slot on Billboard’s R&B chart. He recorded the song last year in this very apartment, in the makeshift studio/second bedroom, where a microphone stand is now the sole piece of audio equipment visible beneath trash bags full of scarves, sweaters and black hats.