Miguel Jontel Pimentel (born October 23, 1985), who performs under the name Miguel, is an American recording artist, songwriter and producer. Signed to Jive Records in 2007, Miguel released his debut album, All I Want Is You, in November 2010. Although it was underpromoted and performed poorly upon its release, the album became a sleeper hit and helped Miguel garner commercial standing. After Jive's dissolution in 2011, he moved to RCA Records and released his second album Kaleidoscope Dream in 2012 to critical acclaim.
Miguel was born and raised in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California. He is one of two sons born to a Mexican father and an African American mother. Miguel's parents divorced when he was eight years old. At a young age, Miguel was introduced to the older R&B his mother listened to, and his father's musical tastes, including funk, hip hop, jazz, and classic rock. At age 5, Miguel wanted to become a dancer. However, at 13 he began pursuing a career in music. At 14, he was writing songs and developing ideas with a four-track recorder he took from his uncle. In ninth grade, Miguel was introduced by a mutual friend to a member of production company Drop Squad, and he subsequently spent the rest of high school learning his way around a recording studio before seeking a record deal.
Career beginnings 2000-2006:
Miguel signed a production deal with Drop Squad in 2000. In 2004, he was signed by independent record label Black Ice and started working on his studio album,Young & Free. It was scheduled to be released on November 30, 2006, but was ultimately shelved. Black Ice released the single "Getcha Hands Up" with a video debut on 106 & Park, but Miguel decided to change his sound and image and walked away from Black Ice Records. He later said in an interview for LA Weekly, "We shot a video, and if you ever see it, you will laugh your ass off. I have a fitted hat on and a white T-shirt and baggy jeans. I was 19 years old and it was the first time anyone had ever given me money."
Signing and belated debut 2007-2011:
For nearly a year, Miguel's manager at the time submitted several songs to music mogul Mark Pitts; after receiving a song titled "Sure Thing"--which Miguel described as a "highly personal...record that no one was ever supposed to hear"--Pitts scheduled a meeting with Miguel in October 2007. The following month, Miguel signed a recording contract with Jive Records. Miguel recalled that the signing of his contract took place in a "very small room in a very small office in a small corner of the building at Jive". After being signed, he recorded his debut album All I Want Is You, but was sued by Black Ice for breach of contract. Consequently, his album was not released for two years. In 2007, Miguel also contributed vocals to three tracks on the debut collaborative project of Blu and Exile, Below the Heavens, appearing under the moniker "Miguel Jontel."
That album was a huge learning experience. I left the marketing of my album and me as an artist up to the discretion of the label. They marketed me like the typical R&B artist, which I can't really blame them for, because that's what they know. But that's not what my lifestyle was.
-- Miguel, Billboard
For the following three years, he contributed to Usher's Here I Stand and Raymond v. Raymond, as well as Asher Roth's Asleep in the Bread Aisle and Musiq Soulchild's "IfULeave". Miguel also released Mischief: The Mixtape; he explained that the title referred to his attempt to "tell people that there is an alternative to getting sort of the same thing".
After his protracted contract dispute with Black Ice was settled,All I Want Is You was released in November 2010. It initially performed poorly, debuting at number 109 on the Billboard 200 on 11,000 copies sold, and was underpromoted by Jive, amid the label's dissolution. The album's title track attained radio airplay, while Miguel toured as a supporting act for Trey Songz and Usher. Its following two singles, "Sure Thing" and "Quickie", performed well on the charts, After falling off the chart for three weeks,All I Want Is You became a sleeper hit, as it re-entered the Billboard 200 and climbed the chart for 22 weeks, before peaking at number 37 on May 14, 2011. It ultimately spent 45 weeks on the chart, and sold 404,000 copies in the US.
Label change, second album, and controversy 2012-present:
After Jive was shut down and absorbed by RCA Records, Miguel was subsequently moved to RCA, where Pitts was named president of urban music, and received a new marketing team. His second studio album, Kaleidoscope Dream, was released on October 2, 2012, to critical acclaim. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200, selling 71,000 copies in its first week. As of February 2013, Kaleidoscope Dream has sold 322,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan. In February 2013, he released a politically driven video for the song "Candles in the Sun," the eleventh and last song on the album. The album's lead single "Adorn", which had been released on August 7, became a sleeper hit on urban radio. It was Miguel's second number-one single on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and his highest charting single on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 17. By September, the single had sold 190,000 copies. According to NPR's Audie Cornish, Miguel "broke through to a national audience in 2012" with both "Adorn" and Kaleidoscope Dream. The second single "Do You..." was released on September 18, and reached number 32 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. On March 3, 2013, "How Many Drinks?" was released as its third single. By February 20, Kaleidoscope Dream had charted for 20 weeks on the Billboard 200 and sold 321,400 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
In August 2013, the new single "#Beautiful" with Mariah Carey became Miguel's third million-seller in the USA, following "Sure Thing" and "Adorn". During an energetic performance of "Adorn" at the Billboard Music Awards on May 19, Miguel failed in an attempt to leap across the stage, injuring two audience members in the process. Barely missing the stage, Miguel landed on two women, hooking his right leg over one and knocking the other into the stage. The incident became an immediate internet sensation and has been satirized in numerous internet memes and gifs. It has also been the subject of controversy, with the show's producers claiming that they had denied the singer permission to attempt the leap, while Miguel's representatives have countered that no objections were raised during earlier rehearsals. Khyati Shah, one of the two women involved, has since claimed she suffered a traumatic head injury that was not sufficiently attended to by show organizers.
2014-present: Third studio album:
Miguel is currently working on his third studio album.
Right now R&B is filled with so many people singing songs that sound like other songs. But Miguel is letting his art rule his whole flow, and that's the best place for an artist to be. To me he kind of feels like Prince, where he's doing this eclectic blend but still coming back to focused songs.
-- Salaam Remi, LA Weekly
Miguel identifies himself as part of the new wave of R&B artists that include Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, and Elle Varner.About.com editor Mark Edward Nero characterizes his music as "eclectic, artsy R&B-pop". Miguel cites musicians Prince, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury, Phil Collins, Donny Hathaway, The Notorious B.I.G. and Kanye West, as influences, in addition to expressing his admiration for Stevie Wonder, John Lennon and Diane Warren. Miguel revealed his desire to have worked with James Brown, whom he considers the "last innovator for me when it comes to soul". In addition to singing, Miguel also plays the guitar.
Miguel incorporates R&B, funk, hip hop, rock and electronic styles into his music. Miguel described his sound as "nostalgic in a sense that it's familiar... it's shocking, edgy, energizing". In an interview with Paper magazine, he regarded his music as "fly, funkadelic, intergalactic-hip-hop-meets-sexy-orgasmic crazy, dope shit". Miguel is often compared to Babyface and Prince. His vocals are influenced by classic rock bands such as The Beatles, Queen, The Police, and Def Leppard. Brian McManus of The Village Voice writes that "Marvin Gaye, Prince, and (his comparison) Van Morrison all linger in his voice."