From the very beginning of “Mike,” the most recent single by Danish artist Rebecca Maria Molina, it’s very obvious whom her newest song is about. “His name is Mike/He’s an underdog,” sings Molina (who uses her last name as her musical metonym) just under thirty seconds into the track. It’s tempting to assume that any song named after a person is a romantic tune, but not this one: “Mike” is Molina’s examination of the underdog, the person weighed down by societal stresses, the Mike that exists to some degree in all of us.
Mike is far from a perfect person—”Daughter hides from his lies/In trade, he gives her gifts and compliments,” goes one especially striking line—but for the most part, anyone can relate to how much he hates his job, how he self-medicates his stress with wine, how he feels the pressure of gender norms. “Oh Mike is a man, in some ways/Mike has a lot of friends outside/He treats himself with a glass of wine,” sings Molina during the song’s chorus, painting a picture of someone whose unhappiness might both stem from his loneliness and be the cause of it.
Even though “Mike” is merely four minutes long and employs mostly repeated sets of lyrics, it offers a remarkably complete vision of its subject. He’s a guy with bags under his eyes, fucked up shoes, and a general lack of respect from his peers; this we know even before the final chorus. The song’s music video instead takes Molina’s descriptions of her character in a different direction: although American viewers might be tempted to envision Mike as a beaten-down coal miner dad (see the single artwork for further evidence), in Molina’s eyes, he’s an incredibly pretty young man who could pass for a double in a Troye Sivan video.
As the “Mike” in Molina’s video slowly moves throughout beautiful natural environments, it becomes clear that his liberation from what holds him down is more abstract, something only he can provide for himself. Molina’s musical arrangements on “Mike” more aptly match this mindset—liberation is possible, it’s in all of us—than the broken man she depicts in the lyrics does. Molina’s breathy, layered, often deep vocals guide her gorgeous, calm palette of distant guitar loops and front-and-center synthetic pops, horns, and organs along a shimmering, constantly engaging line. Molina’s character might have crumbled and turned inward a while ago, but the song she’s written about him is as robust and engaging as art pop comes.