Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


BUBLÉ, Michael

(b Michael Steven Bublé, 9 September 1975, Bunnaby, British Columbia, Canada) Pop singer. He came from a family of commercial fishermen; his grandfather, a plumber, introduced him to the music of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley and Ray Charles. In particular, he remembered later, it was a record by the Mills Brothers that sounded like something he might want to do. He sings a wide variety of material by Leonard Cohen, Johnny Mercer, Henry Mancini, Cy Coleman, Gamble & Huff, and many more, as well as Sinatra-style evergreens, and he has written or co-written a few himself.

His first album was Michael Bublé in 2003 on 143/Reprise; by 2008 he was said to have sold eleven million records. Subsequent albums have been Let It Snow, a Christmas EP in 2004; Come Fly With Me, a CD/DVD in 2004; CD It's Time, CD/DVD Caught In The Act and EP Home, all 2005; and Call Me Irresponsible in 2007.

He is a good entertainer who knows how to hire producers and arrangers and how to lead a 13-piece band with stage presence, remaining your grandma's secret boyfriend while also titillating the 14-year-olds. In Kansas City in March 2008, his audience of 12,000 was his biggest yet in the USA; after a Friday night gig in April in Des Moines' new Wells Fargo Arena, the fans in a shopping mall the next day were still overheard to be ecstatic. Whether Bublé's interpretations of the last century's best songs will be of lasting importance remains to be seen; more interestingly, he is a very successful provider of what may be called retro-pop.

Jo Stafford was one of the best vocalists of all time; she started out singing six-part harmony with the Pied Pipers in the 1930s, and the jazz-based music of her day just got more interesting; when Benny Goodman added a man to make a five-part saxophone section, she said, well, that was a big thrill. Then not long after World War II, pop music began to change, and the craft of songwriting began to suffer. 'For the first time in my life, the music I was hearing was going backwards,' said Stafford. 'We were losing chord changes. We were losing complexity.' The ultra-hip like to put down Bublé, but he may be a sign of hope for pop music. It may be that music fans are tiring of amateurish three-chord instant songs that sound like they're made up in the studio.

Those satisfying a new interest in grown-up music would range from the multi-talented New Orleans native Harry Connick Jr to Rod Stewart, who has made several albums of 'The Great American Songbook', each arguably worse than the last (who would have guessed that the rock mega-star had no sense of rhythm?) The veteran producer and songwriter Steve Tyrell is another revivalist, whose first album came out in 1999; then there's youngsters like Norah Jones and Madeleine Peyroux, who take their songs wherever they find them, provided they're good songs. Only time will tell whether there is a viable movement underway.