Sound — 6
Michael Bubl is an exceedingly famous Canadian singer-songwriter who topped the charts for over a month with each of his last two albums. And, if Amazon's album charts are any indication, he looks poised to do it again with his eighth studio album, "To Be Loved". Of the fourteen songs on the album, ten are covers, many of which are Frank Sinatra covers.
In a sense, the album's title sums up the album. All of his songs are cushy, ballad-like love songs. While the music on the album is fine, his voice, as usual, sounds like one of those singers from the post-Elvis '50s and '60s; pretty boys that dressed up in suits and never said anything inflammatory and were simple in every way. Rock and roll came along and artists like them off the proverbial musical cliff in the mid '60s with bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and The Kinks.
At least, that's how I picture it. Due in part to this, Bubl's audience is mostly middle-aged listeners, somewhat made up of the kids whose parents convinced them that KISS stood for Knights In Service of Satan (and similar situations). I know that this is taking a shot at some people, but I feel that it is necessary in order to get my point across.
In terms of the actual music, it is somewhat jazzy, often including horns. For the most part, pianos and synthesizers are used to compliment the occasional acoustic, Spanish, or electric guitar. Of the original songs, the poppy musical arrangements and chord progressions are nothing groundbreaking, but then again, they are not meant to be. As a result of Bubl's use of tried and true methods, the songs are musically pleasant. To complement the music, Bob Rock adds superb production to the album that helps the album to shine where it is able. As to the covers, Bubl almost faithfully recreates them and does not insult them in any way, though his constant vocal delivery diminishes the unique soul in each song.
"After All" is the only song on the album that approaches rock, and even that song featured a guest appearance by Bryan Adams. While I am on the topic of guest appearances, one was made by Reese Witherspoon, in her vocal debut, and one was made by the Puppini Sisters as well as Naturally 7. In my opinion, the Puppini Sisters and Naturally 7 fulfilled their intended purpose, but the appearance of Witherspoon was a mistake. On her song, "Somethin' Stupid", she just sings along with Bubl, copying his vocal delivery. Her voice isn't anything special and honestly, the song would have been better off if she had done nothing at all. It almost felt like her appearance fulfilled an obligatory, contractual promise.
Lyrics — 3
In terms of Bubl himself, I can see why rock had to get rid of people like him in the minds of young people. His overused, seemingly copied, vocal delivery just makes me want to punch him. I'm sure he's a nice person, and I respect anyone who can make a successful career in the music business while writing original music. However, when this album comes on, it is time to grimace slightly and slowly walk away. This album, especially the vocals, feels like the old mainstream, like the old establishment. It is honestly the perfect time to play "I Wanna Rock", the song that is basically the you-know-what to this type of establishment pop.
As one can infer, his vocals are infuriating. The vocals alone make me want to throw this album out of my window. While these feelings aren't truly justified, the focus that this genre of music places on the vocals just adds to the incorrect justification. To clarify, Bubl's vocals aren't musically displeasing; they just have this feeling, a nuance about them that makes them enflaming in the way I previously described. I understand his approach, I just dislike it.
In terms of lyrics, the songs that Michael Bubl chose to cover have simple, non-inflammatory lyrics that are meant to create no controversy and that any parent/grandparent can accept. With his original songs, Bubl continues on a trend that was once considered relevant, but what I currently consider outdated and uninspired, even if he did so on purpose.
Here are some of the simple, socially acceptable lyrics from one his original songs, "I Got It Easy":
"Never been in trouble,
And never got hurt.
Never had to struggle,
And never had to work.
Hard for anything before, believe me!
Lord, I've got it easy!
I feel guilty little, I've been given so much
People are dying in dark while I'm lying in the sun
And I sleep like a baby, every night it seems
I'm having the sweetest dreams!
I can say honestly, I got it easy!"
Overall Impression — 3
Overall, Michael Bubl stays on the safe and steady path with "To Be Loved". While I respect Bubl's direction, I sorely dislike it. I understand that he already has a formula that he considers a winning formula, but I think that at this point, Bubl has more to gain from pushing the envelope than to lose.
Alexa.com indicates that UG visitors are mostly 24 years-old and younger. This album will not appeal to that audience, unless certain people therein are big Sinatra fans. If Bubl's lyrics and delivery became as interesting as his music sometimes promises, then my opinion would change.
As it stands, I will (hyperbolically) push "I Wanna Rock" through my head like a child until I forget this album.