Michael Robert Henrion Posner, aka Mike Posner, (born February 12, 1988) is an American Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, poet, and record producer. Posner released his debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, on August 10, 2010. The album includes the US Billboard Hot 100 top 10 single “Cooler than Me” as well as the top 20 single “Please Don’t Go”. In 2016 he released his second album, At Night, Alone. A remix of his 2015 single “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” from the album peaked in the top 10 on the charts in 27 countries around the world, including hitting number one in many and the top five on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States. He has written songs for a great number of fellow artists. In March 2017, he released his first book of poetry, Tear Drops & Balloons. Posner is also a member of the alternative hip-hop and R&B duo Mansionz with Matthew Musto (aka blackbear). On April 15, 2019, Posner started to walk across the continental United States, from New Jersey to California. He completed the journey on 18 October 2019 (2851 miles in 186 days), after surviving a rattlesnake bite in August 2019 in Colorado. On June 1, 2021, at 4:35 AM, Posner summited Mount Everest with a team composed of guide Dr. Jon Kedrowski, Dawa Chirring Sherpa, and Dawa Dorje Sherpa.
Early Life and Education
Michael Posner was born on February 12, 1988, in Detroit, Michigan. He was raised in Southfield, Michigan, a northern suburb of Detroit. He has a sister who is 6 years older. His father is Jewish and his mother is Catholic. Posner studied at Bingham Farms Elementary School and graduated from Groves High School, where he ran varsity track and cross-country. He attended Duke University, where he was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, and graduated in 2010 with a degree in sociology and a certificate in markets and management, with an overall GPA of 3.59.
Posner’s father, M. Jon Posner, was a criminal defense lawyer who died on January 11, 2017; his mother is Roberta Henrion; and his sister, Emily Henrion Posner, is a civil rights attorney.
2008–2010: 31 Minutes to Takeoff
Posner started out as a record producer, working on some tracks with his hometown friend Big Sean. Posner produced and featured on Big Sean’s first mixtape on the song, titled “Smoke & Drive”. Posner’s second mixtape, A Matter of Time (the first mixtape being Reflections of a Lost Teen) started attracting industry attention in 2009. Working with Don Cannon and DJ Benzi, the mixtape was recorded and released through Small Town Records at Duke University on February 28, 2009, under the name, “Mike Posner & the Brain Trust”, the Brain Trust referring to Posner’s supporters. The release was unusual for being distributed for free through iTunes U, a channel designed for educational audio content. Although Posner was not the only artist to take advantage of this loophole, his release was the most organized and high profile, and attracted the largest response, immediately reaching the number one position on the iTunes U chart. Posner signed a record deal with J Records (RCA/Sony) in July 2009, after his Junior year at Duke University. He chose to return to Duke after signing and toured on the weekends while at the same time recording for his debut album.
Posner’s third mixtape One Foot Out the Door was released on October 28, 2009. The mixtape was accompanied by a web series of the same name which aired bi-weekly from September to December. Posner’s debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff was released in August 2010. The first single, “Cooler Than Me” reached number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100. He performed at music festival Bonnaroo and on the 2010’s Warped Tour. The second and third singles, “Please Don’t Go” and “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” reached the top 20 and 30 on the Hot 100 respectively. The latter was released with an added verse by rapper Lil Wayne. Posner won a 2011’s ASCAP Award from the publishing organization for “Cooler Than Me”. On October 7, 2011, RCA Music Group announced it was disbanding J Records along with Arista Records and Jive Records. With the shutdown, Posner (and all other artists previously signed to these three labels) will release his future material on the RCA Records brand.
2011–2014: Cancelled albums and The Layover
After the release of his debut album, he began working on his second studio album under the title Sky High and released the single “Looks Like Sex” to digital outlets on December 2, 2011. As a prelude to the release of the album, Posner released his fourth mixtape, The Layover. However, with the success of his first album, Posner began to feel uncomfortable with being in the spotlight and struggled with depression. He took a break from making music to write and produce songs for other artists. Posner later announced via Twitter that his next upcoming album would be titled Pages and would be released in early June or late Summer 2013. His single “The Way It Used To Be” premiered on digital outlets on June 11, 2013. In September 2013, it was announced that he had filmed a music video for his new single “Top of the World” which would appear on his upcoming Page 1 EP, set for release in October. The song was originally used for a Reebok campaign, and made available as a free download under the title “Tapada World” as a special remix. The song was released on December 17, 2013, featuring Big Sean, and the music video on December 19.
On March 4, 2014, Posner announced his Unplugged tour. Running seven dates in the major US markets, the tour highlighted music new and old from Posner’s discography, including some new material from Pages, while also giving fans a shot at learning new information from him through the stories and Q&A sessions interspersed with the tunes. The unplugged sets featured little more than Posner on predominantly acoustic instruments, save for the potential live production on “a song or two”—much like, he says, how much of his music starts. Posner began the tour on March 31 at the World Cafe in Philadelphia, wrapping up on April 10 at Los Angeles’ The Mint. The string of dates also included a hometown show in Posner’s native Detroit, his first such show, he says, in around two years. In an interview with Billboard, Mike revealed that he had signed with Island Records and that Pages would be replaced with another project. He also stated that he would like to let the world hear his recordings from Sky High and Pages.
2015–present: At Night, Alone, Mansionz, Tear Drops and Balloons, A Real Good Kid, Keep Going, and The Walk Across America
On April 15, 2015, Posner released a stripped-down single, “I Took a Pill in Ibiza”, on his Vevo account. Posner shared an exclusive EP with his fans titled The Truth through his email sign up list. He later confirmed that the EP would be made available to purchase from online retailers on June 22. In addition, Posner stated that his second studio album would be released after the EP.
“I Took a Pill in Ibiza” was then remixed by duo Seeb, whose version of the song has gathered around 750 million streams on Spotify and a charting position of two on the Global Top 50 Chart and five on the USA Top 50 Chart. The Seeb remix topped the charts in the Netherlands, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, Scotland, and the Dance/Mix Show Airplay of American Billboard, and peaked within the top ten of the charts in Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, Switzerland, and United States.
On December 18, 2015, a remix EP of The Truth was released. It featured Seeb’s version of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” as well as a remix by JordanXL of the single “Be As You Are”. Then, on March 17, 2016, Mike Posner announced his sophomore album, At Night, Alone, which was released on May 6, 2016, and featured both originals and remixes of “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” and “Be As You Are”. David Jeffries of AllMusic noted an improvement for Posner in the album, writing “this might not yet be the ultimate showcase for his talents, but At Night, Alone is both a welcome return and a significant step forward.” On February 17, 2017, Posner announced that the third single from the album would be a remix by American electronic duo Grey of Posner’s song “In The Arms Of A Stranger”.
2017 also saw Posner exploring new ground: Not only did he release a book of poetry, Tear Drops and Balloons, on March 17, but he also put out a new collaboration with American rapper Blackbear under the name Mansionz. A soulful hip-hop project with spoken word influence, the song was a collaboration with rapper Spark Master Tape titled “STFU”. Mansionz is currently signed to Island Records and has released three singles, which are listed here in their respective order: “Stfu” (ft. Spark Master Tape), “Rich White Girls,” and “Dennis Rodman (ft. Dennis Rodman)”. The duo’s self-titled debut full-length album was released on March 24, 2017, and featured appearances from Soren Bryce, G-Eazy, Cyhi The Prynce, Snooze God, Spark Master Tape, and Dennis Rodman.
Mike Posner was featured on Nick Jonas’ 2017 single “Remember I Told You,” the second collaboration between Posner and Jonas. The track also featured English singer Anne-Marie. On January 22, 2018, Mike announced a Poetry Album entitled I was born in detroit on a very, very, very, very, very, very, very cold day, which is set to be released on January 26, 2018. In September 2018, Posner released “Song About You”, the lead single from his third studio album, A Real Good Kid. A Real Good Kid was released on January 18, 2019.
He released his fourth mixtape Keep Going on October 9, 2019, to commemorate his trek across the country. On December 18, 2020, Posner released his fourth studio album, a rap-opera type album titled Operation: Wake Up.
Songwriting and Composition
Posner is well known for co-writing/co-producing “Sugar” by Maroon 5, “Boyfriend” by Justin Bieber, “Beneath Your Beautiful” by Labrinth and Emeli Sandé, as well as songs for Pharrell Williams, Big Sean, 2 Chainz, Wiz Khalifa, Nelly, T.I., Snoop Dogg, Nick Jonas, Avicii, Austin Mahone, Big Time Rush, Iggy Azalea, Riff Raff, Olly Murs, and Rixton – just to name a few.
On January 4, 2019, Posner tweeted that starting on March 1, 2019, he would begin a walk across America, indicating that the journey would take “most of my 31st year.” Posner subsequently received a significant amount of press and fandom surrounding the walk, including an interview on CBS This Morning. On April 15, 2019, Posner set out from Asbury Park, New Jersey to begin the 3,000+ mile trip across the country. On August 7, his walk was delayed a few weeks after he was bitten by a rattlesnake in Colorado and airlifted to a local hospital. He finished his walk across America on October 18, 2019, in Venice Beach, Los Angeles, CA.
On March 6, 2020, Posner endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in the 2020 Democratic Party presidential primaries.
In May 2021, Posner traveled to Nepal despite a US State Department travel advisory warning people of a massive COVID-19 outbreak in the country. In Nepal, he traveled to the base camp of Mount Everest and sang for climbers in the midst of a localized COVID-19 outbreak at base camp. On June 1, 2021, Posner summited Mount Everest with a team composed of guide Dr. Jon Kedrowski, Dawa Chirring Sherpa, and Dawa Dorje Sherpa.
Studio Album: 31 Minutes To Takeoff
31 Minutes to Takeoff is the debut album by American singer Mike Posner, released on August 10, 2010. The album debuted at number eight on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 29,000 copies. “Cooler Than Me” is certified Double Platinum. “Please Don’t Go” is certified Platinum.
Posner’s idea for the album was to make something that didn’t sound like anything that was already out. In an interview with Billboard, Posner argues: “My music doesn’t sound like anyone else’s, and it’s important for me that it stays that way”, and that “I want to make songs that will bring people together”, Posner has stated that he draws a great deal of influence for his music from his hometown “Where I grew up was a huge influence on my music.” He also said that “A lot of people have trouble putting into words what my music is, and it’s because of where I grew up”. Meanwhile, speaking to Blues & Soul about the album’s stylistic diversity, he described it as “A 21st Century album – meaning that, instead of listening to 12 different artists on your iPod, with my record, you can just listen to ONE! Because every song is refreshing and different from the one before and at the same time BETTER than the one before!”
The title of the album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, is in fact, a reference to something that occurs exactly 31 minutes into the record. As Posner himself describes it “Something happens 31 minutes into the record … All I can say is that both the listener and I will be in a higher place when it’s over”. 31 minutes into the CD, during “Synthesizer,” there is a sound of an airplane taking off.
Music and Lyrics
Musically, 31 Minutes to Takeoff consists of a blend of pop, R&B, and dance songs with heavy use of synthesizers straight out the 80s, influences of hip hop music while also incorporating electronic music with clever hooks and catchy beats. Songs like “Please Don’t Go”, “Cooler Than Me”, and “Cheated”, are up-tempo dance songs. “Please Don’t Go” is an electropop song with an R&B infused beat and heavy-use “video game” like synths in its chorus. “Cheated” follows a similar path, with a more dance oriented beat and repetitive hook, and “Cooler Than Me”, is electropop based with nu-disco influences. “Bow Chicka Wow Wow”, “Déjà Vu”, and “Do U Wanna?” are mid-tempo songs carrying R&B sounds, with “Delta 1406” following the same path with a faded beat. “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” carries it’s R&B sound with a rock music feel, while “Déjà Vu” blends 90’s R&B sound with contemporary pop and features Boyz II Men on background vocals. “Do U Wanna?” is a hip hop old-school R&B song, with stax horns, whistles, over a bluesy guitar that samples Ray LaMontagne “You Are the Best Thing”. “Gone In September” is a pop acoustic-rock tune, while “Save Your Goodbye”, and “Synthesizer” are synthpop ballads.
Lyrically, the album references Posner’s personal experiences, ranging from love, and rise to fame at age 22. Its first single “Cooler Than Me” is about a girl who thinks she’s cooler than anybody, and “needs everyone’s eyes just to feel seen”. In an interview with US Weekly, Posner says the “song was inspired by a girl I went to Duke with, but she doesn’t deserve any notoriety”. “Bow Chicka Wow Wow” is a song ‘to reel a women in’. “Cheated” sees Posner singing about his regret at not cheating on a former flame who cheated on him with lyrics like ’’I should have cheated on you / I was everything you wanted and more / I should have cheated on you / nobody told me I was dating a whore’’, while later calls out his ex by name. “Gone In September”, a song about Posner breaking up with a woman. “Delta 1406” is a song about Posner current rise to fame, written on his way back home to Detroit in the flight (he sat in seat 6A), after spending 5 months in Los Angeles, “I’ve got to book hotels for my Detroit shows” says Posner as a reflection of what he was dealing with at the time. “Please Don’t Go” shows Posner begging a girl to stay.
Posner opened up to Amaru Wilcox (AmaruDonTV.com) in an interview about a very sensitive topic to him: depression. Mike explained his relationship with depression and how he masked it in a song called “Save Your Goodbye”. “I’m writing a letter to my depression. I’ve struggled with depression, you know, all my life. And I kind of masked this letter through making it sound like it’s a song about a girl I have a crush on that I can’t get out of my head. But in reality, I’m talking about something different” he explains.
Studio Album: At Night, Alone.
At Night, Alone. is the second studio album by American singer Mike Posner. It was released on May 6, 2016, by Island Records. The album features guest appearances by Labrinth and Big Sean.
The album received positive reviews from music critics, who celebrated the record’s mature sound, and his autobiographic and introspective lyrical content. The album was considered a qualitative big step forward from his previous album 31 Minutes to Takeoff.
Mike Posner released his first single in two years, “The Way It Used to Be” in June 2013, and announced the release of his second album Pages. In October 2013 Posner said in an interview with Billboard: “I’ve made maybe over 100 songs since the last album, so I’ve got a good 12, 15 I’m proud of”. A second single featuring Big Sean, “Top of the World” was released in December 2013. In March 2014, Billboard reported that Pages would be released later that year, but the release never materialized. Instead, Posner released the extended play, The Truth in June 2015 on Island Records, featuring four tracks later featured on At Night, Alone.
“I Took a Pill in Ibiza” was released as a single on July 24, 2015, and found international success in a remix by Seeb. In August 2015, Posner said that he had recorded two albums (Pages and Sky High) since his debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff (2010), which were both shelved by his former label RCA Records because “they didn’t have a hit”.
Posner said country singer Jake Owen encouraged him to “tell the truth” in his songs” and showed him artists like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, which made Posner realize that “you can just literally say the truth and it’s beautiful, and it’s heart-wrenching and it’s funny”. The album is inspired by country music according to Posner: “So, like, the way I was inspired by hip-hop when I first started and would sort of sing hip-hop, this new (music) is kind of my take on country music. It doesn’t sound country and no one uses the word country to describe it, but it’s me trying to do country and it comes out weird and different.”
Studio Album: A Real Good Kid
A Real Good Kid is the third studio album by American singer Mike Posner, released on January 18, 2019, through Island. It was announced by Posner on social media on November 21, 2018. It was recorded by Posner over a two-year period. It was supported by the singles “Song About You,” “Stuck in the Middle,” and “Move On.” To “celebrate” the release of the album, Posner will walk across the United States from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean from April 15, 2019.
In the two-year period that the album was recorded, Posner was dealing with the end of a relationship, then moved back to Detroit to care for his terminally ill father, who later died of brain cancer, and his friend Avicii committed suicide. Posner said: “I had to go to the studio every day and I was trying to just show up and record all the songs and do a good job and I was sad.” In a press statement, Posner said the album “deals heavily with love, loss, and eventual acceptance.” The album includes recordings of Mike’s father.
Studio Album: Operation: Wake Up
Operation: Wake Up is the fourth studio album by American singer Mike Posner, released on December 18, 2020. It is a concept album, rapped from the first-person perspective of a fictionalized version of himself. The album features a singular guest appearance from Jessie J.
Operation: Wake Up was recorded and written in the basement of Posner’s parents’ house in Detroit, where he was staying following his father’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. His father succumbed to the disease in 2017. The album was released as a surprise album.
Operation: Wake Up shows the mental breakdown experienced by a fictionalized Mike Posner over a 48-hour period, with Posner playing every character. Posner described the album as “a fictional story that blurs the line between reality and performance art.” Following the introduction, where Posner insists the album be listened to in a single sitting and encourages those with mental health issues not to listen, the album begins with him staying in a rented mansion in Los Angeles, with the goal of writing songs for “other, more famous artists”. He then goes to audition material for Jessie J in the studio, and plays part of an already written song for her, pretending that he just made it up. This is followed by “Weaponry,” which features Jessie J. Afterwards he goes to dinner with Blackbear, who throws a party at Posner’s rented mansion.