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Mike Posner talks about his cosmic ‘joke’ of a Grammy nomination

Mike Posner's "I Took a Pill in Ibiza" is nominated for song of the year at the Grammy Awards.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Mike Posner expressed all the usual feelings Tuesday about being nominated for a Grammy Award.

He was honored. He was humbled. He was gratified. But also? He was a little suspicious.

“I’m beginning to think the universe is playing a joke on me,” he said.

That’s because Posner was recognized for “I Took a Pill in Ibiza,” his clever pop hit about not wanting to have pop hits.

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The song, in which he details the burnout he experienced following an early brush with fame, first appeared in 2015 on an acoustic EP that signaled Posner’s happy retreat from high-gloss pop. (It was called “The Truth.”)

But then a sleek remix by the Norwegian duo Seeb took off, reaching No. 4 on Billboard’s Hot 100. Now Posner’s original is up for song of the year at the Grammys — one more accolade for a tune clearly set against them.

Most people who know “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” know it from the remix. Yet the Recording Academy singled out your songwriting — the words and the melody — rather than the production.

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That’s very meaningful to me. This wasn’t an overnight thing. I started writing songs when I was 8 years old, and I’ll turn 29 on the day of the Grammys, Feb. 12. So I’m ending my 20th year of writing, and I’d like to think that I’ve progressed over those 20 years. And to be recognized by your peers…

That feels especially important.

The Grammys is a voting process, and to be eligible to vote you have to have a certain amount of album credits. So it’s not a popularity contest, and it’s also not a bunch of rich white guys in an oak boardroom deciding who wins this award. It’s people in the music industry who think what I wrote is good.

Is “I Took a Pill in Ibiza” the best song you’ve written?

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I think the album I released this year was my 10 best songs at the time. And the songs on my laptop now — I have the next two albums done, and I literally just stopped working on the third to talk to you — I think there’s many, many songs that are better. But I’m proud of “Ibiza”; I don’t think poorly of it at all.

You’re old enough to remember when the Grammys were thought to be pretty lame. But this year’s nominations are more in touch with pop.

I actually never felt that way about the Grammys. I’ve always enjoyed watching them. I think all the awards shows are great for music, but for me the Grammys are certainly the show. That’s the most prestige you can have in music. And to be in song of the year — that’s a club within a club. My mom asked me, “Who are you up against?” I looked it up, and one of my best friends is nominated; Benny Blanco is nominated for [co-writing Justin Bieber’s] “Love Yourself.” So that’s incredible. And I love Lukas Graham. I’ve gotten to know him a tiny bit over the last year, and I think his song [“7 Years”] is so good.

For the show in February, the organizers will probably want to pair you up with a veteran artist. What’s the dream team?

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Oh, we’re working on that. I don’t wanna give it away.

Twitter: @mikaelwood

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