Good Morning America recently asked Michael Bublé what he learned while working on his latest album, Nobody But Me.
“You leave your comfort zone, you grow,” he answered.
It seems as though he may have ventured too far.
The first album that Bublé has self-produced, Nobody But Me overreaches to be unique, while simultaneously reverting back to the same old, same old. The 10 tracks that comprise the record struggle to coexist. Each song either strives to break the mold in pop or, in some cases, rap, or settles into the comfortable pattern of covering other artists and performers. His original tracks, “I Believe in You,” “Someday” (feat. Meghan Trainor), “Nobody But Me,” and “Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow,” all leave something to be desired. Each carries the cliche themes of love won, lost, and pined for, while also achieving new heights (or depths) of mindless pop sound.
While Bublé’s vocals throughout the record, especially his surprisingly complementary harmonies with Trainor on “Someday,” speak to the album’s general quality, each song lacks substance and is void of any true emotion. The theme most explored is the search for the most perfect, beautiful girl, which grows tired and a bit superficial just a few tracks into the album. His cover of Frank Sinatra’s “My Kind of Girl” speaks to this point with the lyrics, “A pretty little face, that face just knocks me off of my feet / Pretty little feet, she’s really sweet enough to eat / She looks like an angel looks / Baby, I’m hooked after just one look.” This theme is revisited again in the title song, “Nobody But Me” with Bublé crooning, “And I know when you got a lovely lady / It might drive the boys crazy / When she’s looking so fine, woah.”
Ultimately, the overall sound is a mish-mosh of newfound pop and his classic, big-band tone. The majority of the songs included on the album are covers of legends such as Nat King Cole, Sinatra, and The Beach Boys, and Bublé continuously falls into the trap of delivering his strongest material in the form of someone else’s hit.
Alternatively, Bublé’s original tracks attempt to break new ground for him as an artist, but they only prove that he has a ways to go. The track “I Believe in You” has a simple guitar rhythm that develops into overdone pop outfitted with empty lyrics. “Nobody But Me” tries to capture the essence of the whole album and finally brings both sounds together in one song, but fails miserably as it introduces samples of rap and hip-hop into the already chaotic mix. Both seem out of place, disrupt the vintage sound of the song, and remind the listener that the whole album is just a bit off. Funky, fast-paced, catchy, “Today is Yesterday’s Tomorrow” is the perfect example of Bublé’s ability to effectively build up an original song, but let the chorus collapse into a heap of cliché pop tones and overplayed lyrics almost cutting the song’s magic off right as it’s getting good.
The true highlight and gem of Nobody But Me is Bublé’s stripped cover of “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys. The rendition, done with a slow, piano, allows the song’s message and Bublé’s voice to really shine. His unique take brings a strong and deep emotion that evokes the true, passionate message behind the song. His other covers, like “On an Evening in Roma” and “The Very Thought of You,” give the audience another taste of Bublé’s magnificent vocal range while some of his others, such as “My Baby Just Cares for Me” and “I Wanna Be Around,” do the same, but they’re nothing special in the grand scheme of things.
Bublé seemingly used Nobody But Me for hopeful experimental gain. Despite his eager attempts to craft unique mainstream songs, his efforts result in major error. Trying his hand at the hip-hop sound while twiddling with both the tones of overplayed pop and big-band jazz cause his downfall. His shining moments come at the hands of others’ masterpieces, which sadly demotes him from the position of artist to singer. There is no doubting Bublé’s vocal chops and his ability to revitalize an old-time melody, but in order to truly achieve the accolades as a songwriter that he longs for, he will have to get back to the drawing board.
Featured Image By Reprise Records