Michael Bublé has released eight studio albums over a 15-year career. On the eve of his latest, he took a look back at the previous seven:
“Michael Bublé” (2003)
I felt powerless. I didn’t have as much control of how the project turned out, or at least the process. I was a songwriter, and I wanted to write songs. The joke was always: “You can do that on your solo CD.” And so the CD came out, and I worked it hard. It didn’t have success where I was signed, which is the funny part. The success came in places like Southeast Asia and Africa and Australia. You know how people always tell you that they’re famous in Japan? It was like that: “I’m big in the Philippines.” At the very least it afforded me an opportunity to go back into the studio to get to do it again. Because if it hadn’t had success, they wouldn’t have had me do a second one.
“It’s Time” (2005)
I had started to build confidence to sort of understandwhat I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. My confidence in my ability to know more who I was and what I wanted to say was becoming more apparent, [but I was] still really new and really young. On the first couple records, I had a hard time with a couple of the song choices — “Come Fly with Me” or “Under My Skin” — because they used the arrangements of Nelson Riddle that Sinatra had used. I remember arguing, “I know I am singing it in my way, but it’s karaoke. We have great arrangers. You and I are great arrangers. We can do this.” And it was sort of, “It’ll work. Just trust us.”
“Call Me Irresponsible” (2007)
The album was aptly named because at that time in my life I was just going crazy. As an artist, I felt I had earned the right to fight for what I thought was right. As a songwriter I started to feel more confident. But I remember shooting the video for “Everything” and one of the executives at the time took me around the back of a trailer and said to me, “Jeez, I just don’t feel like there is very much to this song. If I had known that you were going to put a couple (self-penned) songs on this record, I would have hired you songwriters.” I was crushed. But it turns out most times people don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. I don’t know. Do you know how many times I’ve been sent a song and I’d say, “Yeah, it’s OK,” and it becomes a massive hit?
“Crazy Love” (2009)
That was kind of the first times that Bob Rock had heavily come into the picture and philosophically, that’s the way I like to record or hear music. Most of what I dig is vibe-driven, so that was a lot of fun for me. That record was going down to Brooklyn and playing with the Dap-Kings. They’d play a track once and it wouldn’t be perfect, but Bob would be like, “No, its imperfection makes it perfect.” I felt like, “Oh, my God, this ride is really moving.” That was my first time getting on “Oprah.” I was like: “Wow.” That was amazing for me. It was a lovely time.
It was a joy from beginning to end. I had always wanted to do a Christmas album, but I had to make sure the timing was right. I was really egotistical about it. Management and friends were like, “Oh, you’re making a Christmas record!” And I kept saying, emphatically, “No, I’m not making a Christmas record. I’m making the Christmas record.” I was more than satisfied with that record and obviously, I really love it. Sometimes other stuff comes on and I self-critique: “Oh, God, I would have sung that differently.” And I hear this out shopping and I go, “Yeah, you guys were bad-asses.”
“To Be Loved” (2013)
This was definitely more of an effort. “To Be Loved” was coming out wanting to make a more organic record because the artists I love came from a certain way of recording, a process of getting everybody together and vibing out. Sometimes stuff comes so easy and sometimes it doesn’t — and that one was more of a grind, even down to coming up with the name of that record. I was very proud of it when I finished it, but it was never completely comfortable. I have such an eclectic taste in music, and people struggle while I’m making a record because they go, “But you can’t sing that one and put it next to this one.” And I would always think, “Well, f—, I don’t care what you think. It fits for me.” I’m as in love with Michael Jackson and George Michael as I was with Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. I am so lucky to be born when I was because I could look at the life’s work of all these incredible artists. I could go down the list of everything from Queen to Abba to Springsteen.
“Nobody But Me” (2016)
I had such a massive urge to grow. I really felt like I had made a few safe decisions, and instead of that guy who was enjoying the ride, there was this guy who popped up that started to get scared that the ride was leaving. And that part of me started to overtake the kid that had joy and was having fun on the journey. All of a sudden this guy started to pop up where I was saying: “What are the numbers? It’s number 2? Why?” I started to become fearful of losing whatever I had gained. And so in that fear, I thought: “Well, I need to change. I’ve got to go for something different.” So instead of David Foster, I went to meet Max Martin, and I met a guy who would end up becoming one of my best friends in life named Johan Carlsson. I wrote a song called “Nobody But Me” and everyone was like: “OK, trumpet solo.” I said: “No, for me it’s a hip-hop song. I would love to have somebody who is a great rapper.” And again, everyone was like: “You can’t f—ing do that. You’re you!” [But] I’m eclectic. And one day I was with Meghan Trainor because she was working with me on the album and she went: “Oh, my God. Black Thought: If you could get Tariq Luqmaan Trotter from the Roots to do this, it would be huge.” So I started to reach out to him, and thank God he accepted. Man, I don’t know if I’ve ever been so excited to hear something. I listened it in my car so loud — I was pumped. Listen, I wasn’t enjoying myself, but that’s not to say that the music I made isn’t what I think is some of my greatest. And it’s funny: It’s a really tough thing, obviously. The record was out for four days, and then the fourth day I got the news about my boy. And it became completely unimportant in the context of everything. I never thought about it again.