UPDATE: Singer-songwriter Michael Buble sat down with me Friday for an interview backstage at the “Steve Harvey” show where he had just finished taping a segment for an upcoming episode of the hit NBC chatfest. We talked music and touring (and championship hockey) and most importantly, the new little man in Buble’s life, his son Noah, born Aug. 27.
This article appeared Sept. 6 in the Sun-Times Agenda section:
To say these are the best of times for Michael Buble is an understatement. The 37-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter is about to kick off his new North American tour Sept. 7 in Chicago, and last week his 26-year-old wife, Argentine actress-model Luisana Lopilato, gave birth to the couple’s first child.
Buble’s giddy joy and anticipation came through loud and clear in a recent interview prior to the birth: “I walk around all day singing Loggins and Messina’s [“Danny’s Song] ‘I think we’re gonna have a son…’,” Buble sang, pitch-perfectly and then exclaiming, “I’m having a son!”
Ten days later the wait was over. Via Instagram, the proud papa beamed about the arrival: “Overjoyed and filled with gratitude at the arrival of our son Noah Buble. Born this morning, August 27 at 2.26 am in Vancouver, Canada.”
Michael Buble kicks off his new world tour in Chicago on Sept. 7.
Buble and Lopilato (whose full name is Luisana Loreley Lopilato de la Torre) became engaged in 2009 after he wrote his megahit — the uptempo and impossibly infectious, “Haven’t Met You Yet” for her (she also starred in the song’s video). They were married in Buenos Aires two years later.
In between getting married and becoming a dad, Buble has spent time making music — a lot of music — including a European tour, a hugely successful Christmas album and television special, and his sixth studio album, “To Be Loved,” released in April. A mix of covers and originals, Buble delivers his usual pop-jazz-swing in 14 cuts that pay tribute to Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Motown and the Bee Gees, among others.
“Is there a better place than Chicago to kick off a tour?,” Buble beams. “There’s nothing like going to the Madhouse,” the singer says in respectful homage to the United Center, home of the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. Buble, a lifelong Canucks fan, gives credit where credit is due. “I’m very happy for [Chicago],” he says. “I was actually pulling for you. [Laughs] Frankly, I just can’t stand Boston.”
Buble wrote four songs on the new CD, tapping fellow Canadian singer-songwriters Jann Arden, Amy Foster, pop hitmaker Bryan Adams, and American pianist and longtime Buble collaborator Alan Chang, for co-writing duties. The rest of the musical journey is part standards, part Motown and part Randy Newman pop. The album opens with the Sinatra classic “You Make Me Feel So Young” and ends with another Ol’ Blue Eyes staple “Young At Heart.” Buble and actress Reese Witherspoon ably tackle the Frank and Nancy Sinatra classic “Something Stupid.” In between, Buble covers the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody,” Jackie Wilson’s “To Be Loved,” the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Loving You” and the Phil Spector’s “wall of sound” classic “Be My Baby.”
Buble turned once again to his longtime man-in-the-booth, Bob Rock (Metallica, Bon Jovi, Aerosmith), for producing duties.
“Making a record with someone as modest as Bob Rock is incredible,” Buble said. “His job is to bring the artist’s vision to life, not to fight it. I got to walk in and have carte blanche. I wanted to make a Motown record, not sound like Motown, but make it the way they made it [back in the day]. So Bob and I worked to make that happen. We went to this beautiful studio called the Warehouse in Vancouver. We got all the writers, all the musicians, all the arrangers and basically set up a writers’ sweat shop,” Buble said. “It was a music factory where we basically made the record of my life. This is by far, the greatest record I have made to date, without a doubt, hands-down. Period.”
Early on, Buble was both criticized and praised for crooning much in the style of Sinatra, something he’s had to both battle and embrace throughout his career.
“When I started off, everyone said I was some Sinatra wannabe,” Buble said matter-of-factly. “They said that and I understand that. But it gives me great joy that after eight number one hits that I wrote, later those same critics have become believers in me and who I am as a singer. I stayed true to myself and stayed honest to what I wanted to do musically. I’ve earned a credibility that I couldn’t have gotten any other way.”
So will he be sampling “Chelsea Dagger” on his tour’s opening night?
“Nope,” Buble said with a chuckle. “I cheered for you guys to beat Boston and that was about it. Not going down that road.”