Michael Bublé – The New Bobby Darrin?

Michael Buble
Michael Buble

The kid from Canada, Michael Bublé (Pronounced ‘booble’ at the Tiki bar) has been swingin’ it up on the scene for a few years now…you’ve probably heard his tunes somewhere, at the mall, in Starbucks, in Canada, or on TV. He dresses vintage, looks like he stepped out of the early ’60s, can croon in the style of Dino and Frank and is just as laid back singing an R&B or corny modern pop tune. The kids like him, the grays like him, and the swingin’ kats and kittens in between like him.

Sound familiar?
Remember a kid named Bobby Darrin?

In the ’50s Bobby Darrin made a big splash with hits across the charts, from swingin’ tunes like Mack the Knife and Beyond the Sea to Rock ’n’ Roll hits like Splish Splash. One of the original “crossover” singers of pop music, anything Darrin touched (for most of his career) turned to gold.

Bobby Darrin’s Mack the Knife vs. Michael Bublé’s Mack the Knife

Bobby Darrin
Bobby Darrin

Bobby had class, he had style, he knew when to throw around a joke and knew when to get serious and not goon up the act.

We retro kats are always looking for someone to fill the openings left by the Rat Packers, Jazz giants and kids like Darrin. We’ve got Harry Conick, Jr. who fits nicely into the crooner slot. We’ve got chicks like Diana Krall who can sing and swing with the best of them and show them a thing or two. Even Natalie Cole has done her part to keep the old fires burning. So what about this Booble kid?

Requirements: In order to really, truly swing with the big boys you’ve got to have the main ingredients for the swinger’s cocktail.

1. Real Talent
2. A smooth, kool style.
3. Must be a hit with the ladies.
4. Must be funny, in an easy, off-the-cuff way.
5. Gotta look the part and look good doing it.
6. Gotta live the part.
7. Have to find that perfect blend of swinging the standards while maintaining that oh-so-important originality.
8. Gotta have a hat.

I’m not so sure about the hat, but I think the kid has many of the requirements needed to be accepted into the retro crowd. I’ve seen him sing live on SNL (not lip syncing) and he sounded good. He was also in a skit and was pretty damned funny, better than I expected. The only thing that will keep this kat from attaining Sinatra-esque status is his choice in songs. For every standard he croons, he adds some new, popbage (pop+garbage=popbage) to his act. Sure, that’s what he has to do to bring in the bigger crowds, get the kids’ attention, make the big bucks. I understand completely…Hell, I’d play a few crap tunes on the tenor if it made me the clams to be able to play the stuff I want, too. But you won’t catch me at a Booble concert, ’cause I just ain’t hip to the neo-jive the kat lays down for the 13-year-olds.

Michael Booble
Michael Booble

So the real question is, does he have the style?
Of course no one could take Bobby’s place. But some kats come close. I’ll ask you kids…yay or neigh on Booble? Can he really pull it off? Does he make the cut as a real, happinin’ retro-swinger, or is he just another pop music kid trying to be slick and falling short?

You at least have to give the kid credit for getting this famous on 60-year-old songs in the age of hip-hop fever and pop-tart mania.

Comments welcome, let’s hear what you have to say.

16 Replies to “Michael Bublé – The New Bobby Darrin?

  1. Michael Bublé our last hope to keep the great musical talents alive in history. Our great American songbook is fading away to hip hop, wrap and auto filled pop . I know Michael Finstein is trying. I have seen Bublé live in many concerts and he is a great entertainer of today. His live performance comes closest to that of a Darin,Davis,Sinatra and even Garland and Minnelli. My greatest pet peeve is that when they go and make a bio pic about these great talents they don’t even come close to using talented people to portray them. It’s an insult to them. If you going to make a movie about a singer and singing and entertaining talent was their forte then use a talented singer to portray them. . Bublé would be natural choice for a redo of Bobby Darin (good try Spacey but no cigar) or a full screen story of Sinatra. There needs to be a full screen version of Sammy Davis Jr life story as well as Nat King Cole. (Not sure who would do these roles) And a complete full life story bio pic of Garland that will celebrate the talent she had. (Judy was so depressing and disturbing why do we have harp on the negative).These stories have to be told in a positive way to ensure future generations will know and remember them. We can read about the negative and truths in books ( I love reading bios )but their positive talents need to be preserved for future audiences.
    I wish I could produce these future bios there are so many stories that need to be told but in a positive uplifting way. Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman comes close. I grew up watching all of the That’s Entertainment films and they inspire my children to keep watching and keep these talented legends alive and Michael Bublé is the definitive solution to continue this today. Also on positive note Glee was a great attempt to achieve future audiences in preserving our lost talents. We need more shows like that .

  2. Buble’s voice is maturing very nicely. As did Darin’s. But Buble’s swingy moves look staged, forced, rehearsed. That is what was so great about Darin. His moves, his rephrasing, his repartée all seemed impromptu, natural; it was in his DNA. Country, Rock, Folk, American classic, he was truly under-appreciated.

  3. I am commenting on this topic late after a long weekend away…but I’m glad I waited to respond because of some recent personal observations.

    First, I like Michael Buble and I didn’t even know it! I have occasionally heard his music and thought about how upbeat and fresh it is.

    That brings me to my weekend musical experience. We’ve been borrowing my parents’ car recently and spent the weekend at a local mountain resort. Radio reception was sketchy, so we pulled out one of Grandma and Grandpa’s mixed cd’s labeled “oldies”. My boys, 5 yrs. and 10 yrs. responded with “noooooooo”, but it was listen to the cd, or talk to me…

    To my surprise, the boys were mesmerized by various Motown songs, Engelbert Humperdinck, early Elvis, Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson, The Monkeys, Tony Orlando and Dawn…seriously, the music took me waaaaay back. I told the boys that this was the music that Grandma and Grandpa fell in love to. I was moved on so many levels. Someday I will tell them the story of how Grandma and Grandpa eloped and got hitched in Las Vegas, baby!

    The clincher was when the boys recognized “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” from the movie The Lion King. It was at the same time familiar and connected to their grandparents’ history.

    I guess the message I am trying to relay here is whether you love Michael Buble or not, he is bringing an era to new listeners. He is making a musical style, and artists of days past relevant to a new generation. That is alright by me.

  4. I’ll try keep it short. I had hoped to be a fan of this cat when I first stumbled across his cd many years ago in a book store. Unfortunately that first listen was enough to convince me to put it in my collection. After seeing a clip of him performing in some movie on cable, I still wasn’t sure. I thought he had a great voice but something just didn’t sit right. Then he performed live on American Idol a season or two ago, filling in for an ailing Tony Bennett (I believe.) Well, he struggled to even keep up with the contestants that season. Sure he could be excused for performing under duress but these were American Standards, songs I’m sure he had performed countless times. Not sure what this all means when compared to Bobby Darrin and having never seen him live I’m not the best person to pass judgement, but at this point I don’t think he will stand the test of time.

  5. I have some Bobby Darrin on the ipod … Frank and Nat Cole …. just easy to listen too … takes me back in time when life was much simpler … I hope the kid makes it

  6. I saw a little interview with him once, and found that when he was starting out his uncle(?)would help him get gigs, anywhere he could. This included bars, stripclubs, etc.. places he shouldn’t have been (per him). To me that gives him some retro cred! I like his voice, and his songs when he sings the old songs, and when his new ones sound the the classics…

  7. The “popbage” is what keeps me from accepting Mr.B as a permanent cool kat. There are some people that stick to retro and others that just imitate to cause a trend (remember Christina Aguilera’s pinup phase?) I’m not denying Buble’s talent, I would just rather listen to the originals like Miss CherryBubbles. It wouldn’t surprise me if Buble branched out into Michael Bolton-style ballads or tried full-fledged pop. Time will tell if he’s the real deal. All I know is I change the station whenever “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” comes on (not sure if that’s the correct title) because it’s just cheesy and not in the good way 😉 But hey, he’s the rich guy so what do I know heehee


  8. Funny, I’m writing a piece about a related subject…

    I generally think he’s the bees knees, but I’m not a paragon of objectivity here. There’s just the one degree of separation between me and Buble, since “the boy next door”, so to speak, ended up in his band:


    Observing Randy Napoleon, and another childhood friend who’s gigged around the world with famous greats and esoteric nobodies, part of it is the oddball, red-headed stepchildren attitude Americans take towards jazz music (an American artform!!), part of it is commercial radio and the record companies. There is a very safe, sanitized idea of jazz many Americans have been brought up with (it’s either old swing, or “smooth jazz”), and then there’s a minority that doesn’t consider it real jazz unless it’s indecipherable to outsiders. These people have never forgiven Glenn Miller.

    Songs and arrangements used to reach a “MOR” (“middle of the road”) audience, are deliberately planned to be safe, out of fear of offending people and their dainty attention spans. I think Darin was under that pressure, like his old girl Connie, but I’m sure it’s even greater for Buble.

    You can also hear that fear in the way most radio stations are programmed today, regardless of what genre it is. Fear is why the talented thespians on “Glee”, all of whom can sing, are Autotuned (ick). For a guy who plays music that a wide number of people like, where do you hear him on the radio? I know I sure don’t. Even some of the niche offerings – e.g. satellite radio – are increasingly programming out of fear.

    No legitimate artist ever lost in the long run by being original or different. Neil Young’s synthesizer album, Bob Dylan going electric, the Doors’ “Vegas” cabaret sound, Stevie Wonder’s “Secret Life of Plants,” Stravinsky… Johnny Cash singing Trent Raznor.. Even the Monkees’ movie “Head”.

    Second, Buble has a great voice, great chops, but he’s also good-looking, and some portion (but not the majority) of his fanbase are in it for the sex appeal first and foremost. Now, Bobby Darin blew that horn too, sure … but industry-wide there’s so much more of an emphasis on that than musicianship. That is a direct result of all these media companies chasing youth. Record companies know that eventually, even the best-looking musicians won’t appeal to a disposable, fickle audience that currently cares about sex and rebellion, in that order, which is conversely (and perversely – long term customers, these people never think of?) the only one they care about… so, let’s sex all the music up!

    So, I think Buble probably is handed a lot more “torch” songs in a bid to get that younger audience (and the fanbase) excited. It could be worse: his record company could be asking him to shoot whipped cream out of his bra and roll around on a bed of cotton candy.

    Interestingly the most romantic work Sinatra and Dino ever did was when they were older and wiser. I hate to think of the kind of videos they would be pressured to make in today’s marketplace.

    Overall, you nailed it, that there’s a need to innovate and be original. I think Buble will stick around for a long time no matter what, but I’d like to see him experiment more, as Tom Jones, Dusty Springfield, and the Carpenters were all willing to do. Frankly, I’d like to hear Buble’s voice employed in some new ways, even as a one-off. If they can mix Gillian Anderson into a house record, why not Buble? Why not do a bossa nova album? Duet with someone unexpected, like, I don’t know… Linda Ronstadt. Bjork. Some of us will no doubt hate it, but it definitely gets the creative juices flowing. Or, he should do what Chris Isaak does, and branch out into a show with musical guests (and of course he’ll join in) – you’ll see Isaak’s versatility there even moreso than on his albums. Maybe Buble needs to restart the good old days of variety shows.

  9. Well, I don’t know, I’m not really a fan of Michael Buble… while he has a good singing voice, there seems to be a lack of substance/sincerity in his music and performance. He just doesn’t feel like the real deal to me… I think I’ll stick with the original croonin’ cats. 😉

  10. I will admit that I while know the name and the face, but I’m not particularly familiar with Buble’s body of work. What I’ve infrequently heard, probably on that episode of SNL that you mention, seemed pretty good.

    I do know this: while he performs covers of crooners that he admires, he’s no impersonator. It’s not a matter of liking him for how well he “does” Frank or Bobby or imitates a style of years past, but how well he performs on his own, in his own style, within his own era. And I think he’s doing that rather well.

  11. Whilst I admire his talent it always seems to me that I have to ask myself the question as to whether or not I would by generic brand coke at the shopping centre or would I prefer the real deal coke. Frank and Bobby are the real deal in my books. Still I am always happy to hear MB.

  12. Hmmmm…I think only time will tell, really, though I do really like Michael Buble. He is one of the very, very few modern-day singers I can tolerate.

    He’s been singing standards for as long as he’s been recording, so far as I can tell. Also, I seem to recall watching an interview with him, and he has always loved this music. So he could be the real deal.

    1. I enjoy Michael Buble. I’ve seen several interviews and found him very likable with a good sense of humor. He certainly went against the odds to pursue that style of music.He seems to love what he does.I tend to enjoy the oldies the most. I am happy for him because he worked very hard to achieve his success. He could use a few cool hats!

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