Frankly, I can understand why so many people dislike Michael Bublé. His combination of fluffy pop songs and Rat Pack imitations are understandably grating to the uninitiated or guitar lovers, for example. However, he should not be dismissed so readily; taking the world by storm, there are few other artists as adept at Sunday afternoon wind-down music, or songs to sing along to in a traffic jam. His new album, To Be Loved, is as much of a success as what’s gone before.
Lead single ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ is Michael’s musical equivalent to the massive hit ‘Haven’t Met You Yet’, despite opposite lyrical themes; the music is happy and charming, offering him the opportunity of many bouncy TV publicity appearances (the video is also very cute with its bright colours and cartoony effects). Although this upbeat feel is maintained on other songs- opening ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ in particular- the other three original songs are not quite so special. ‘Close Your Eyes’ is perhaps the most clichéd song on the album, and the most obvious one to fit in the easy listening category, but the chorus has a certain passion to it; the same can be said for ‘I Got It Easy’. ‘After All’ is more in the single’s style, and has added contrast and interest in the guest vocals of Bryan Adams, as they make a surprisingly great team with some tight harmonies. Bublé himself is a co-writer on all four of these songs, and there is definite potential, although his most exciting work is still in his reinventions of old standards.
For example, the brass of ‘You Make Me Feel So Young’ matches Michael’s voice perfectly, and the orchestration creates a perfect Sinatra-ism, ‘To Love Somebody’ has smooth written all over it, from the strings to the backing vocals to the impeccable lead vocals of course, and ‘Who’s Lovin’ You’ has him really showcasing his vocal range, from the opening riff to the chorus. ‘Come Dance With Me’ is an amazing Latin treat of tight and groovy brass and percussion that Michael described as one of his favourites of the album, while ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ is a charming version of a brilliant Randy Newman song, complete with idiomatic keys, flute and bassoon. Reese Witherspoon, mega film actress, even pops up on ‘Something Stupid’- there’s nothing wrong with her vocals, but unfortunately this is the least special of the reinventions. Special mentions must go to Naturally 7 and the Puppini Sisters, who have come to prove themselves as invaluable additions to Bublé’s style.
Really, Michael Bublé is as on form as ever- if not more. I must admit I’ve been slightly harsh on some of the points there, but since it’s not quite a perfect album I had to weigh up the negative points. I have confidence anyway that all of these songs will sound tremendous live- and so I can’t wait to see him in July!