After Mike Posner's first single, "Cooler Than Me," cracked the Top 10 in 2010, the singer/songwriter appeared to have it made. But despite a pair of hits from his debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff, Posner got stuck in dreaded major label limbo, a space he once referred to as "artist purgatory." He put together two records that got shelved, and he was unable to release another full-length for six years. "In the industry, my career was generally considered over," Posner told NME. "People were calling me a one-hit wonder."
But in a Hollywood-worthy comeback story, this disappointment served as rocket fuel for writing what turned out to be his next hit, "I Took a Pill in Ibiza." "I'm just a singer who already blew his shot/ I get along with old timers 'cause my name's a reminder of a pop song people forgot," Posner sings in the plaintive ballad. The video found the singer all alone, holding up lyric cards silently in front of the camera, like the lovelorn sidekick who can't get the girl in Love Actually.
The morose track seemed unlikely to catch fire, but dance remixers gave it a major boost, especially the Norwegian duo Seeb. Suddenly Posner's sad-sack, learned-your-lesson tale came paired with a blobby, uptempo beat, leading to a pleasing dissonance between message and medium, and "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" climbed to Number Four on the Hot 100, earning a Song of the Year nomination at the Grammys on Sunday, where Posner competed with Beyoncé and Adele. Adele ended up winning the award, of course, but the success of "Ibiza" and the revival of Posner's career means that he has already triumphed. As he put it during an interview with The Guardian, "What's more beautiful than getting joy out of your sorrow?" Rolling Stone spent the day with Posner on his way to Grammy night, which also happened to be his 29th birthday.