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Crooner Michael Bublé picks up where Sinatra left off


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(CNN) -- Backstage at the Hollywood Roosevelt snaps with energy as Michael Bublé delivers a preshow pep talk to his musicians: "Get wild, get crazy," he tells them on his CD/DVD release, "Come Fly With Me."

The camera pans to the front of the stage, where an announcer promises the audience, "You're going to love what you're about to see ... please welcome Michael Bublé."

See indeed. The new disc features live music tracks as well as documentary-style video footage of the singer's tour.

The lights come up, the horn section pips out a mambo rhythm and the twentysomething crooner takes the stage. Before the first note even passes his lips, Bublé's body language spells it all out: This kid's got the brassy poise of Frank Sinatra with the rockin' swagger of Elvis Presley. His arm glides over the stage in classic Rat Pack style, while his knees kick out his hips in time with the music.

And then he starts to sing. Bublé's voice is so smooth, so lush, it blankets the dips and swings in the music like honey over gravel.

The Music Room's Shanon Cook sat down with the retro stylist to chat about his new release and what draws him to pop standards.

COOK: First things first -- how do you pronounce your name?

BUBLÉ: Michael BOOB-LAY... BOOB-LAY. Sounds French, but I'm a very proud Canadian of Italian extraction.

COOK: Did people call you Mr. Bubbles at school?

BUBLÉ: You don't even want to know what they called me!

COOK: At what point in our life did you decide that you wanted to sing standards?

BUBLÉ: ... I think even when I was a little boy ... I was listening to this stuff, but I had no clue I could sing this kind of music. And you know I discovered I could even do it at 14 or 15 years old. And from that point I sort of learned that I could make a sound and a sound that hopefully was flattering, and I knew right then that this was what I wanted to do.

COOK: A lot of people are comparing your voice to a young Sinatra. Is that overwhelming? It must be.

BUBLÉ: Well, yeah, obviously. I take it as a huge compliment to me. ... I would love to sound like Frank Sinatra. I think that he's one of the greatest vocalists that ever lived.

And you know I work very hard at stealing from him and people like Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn to find my own sound. ... I tried to become the healthy combination of all my idols.

COOK: Who's your biggest idol?

BUBLÉ: Oh, it's got to be between Elvis Presley and Bobby Darin, though they were both pretty cool. Quite versatile and charismatic and great showmen, and I thought I'd very much like to do that. Vocally, god, Ella Fitzgerald was a great role model and idol. ...

You know it's funny, I talked to Tony Bennett once about it, and I told him ... I said, "You know I stole from you, too." And he laughed and said, "If you steal from one, you're nothing but a thief ... but when you steal from all, you can call it research." I take that as good advice.

COOK: Your music is kind of a blur of genres. You don't just sing old standards, you sing some contemporary songs as well. How do you go about choosing what you're going to sing?

BUBLÉ: I think I just try to choose stuff that is, you know, complementary of my own personal style and taste in music. I think lyrically it has to be something that I believe in or something that I would say, or something that I can get away with saying. ... A lot of the stuff I sing about is quite light, about love and romance, heartbreak. ... I'm qualified to sing about that. I don't know if I could sing about heavier subjects. I haven't really lived much heavier than that.

COOK: Artists like you who opt for more traditional styles of music -- say Josh Groban, Peter Cincotti and Norah Jones -- are being embraced. Is that a sign that people are wanting real melody again?

BUBLÉ: Absolutely. I think it's a great sign. See, I don't think that people ever stopped wanting that. I think that what happened was for a while there they weren't given the choice. ... I think that the record companies, radio stations, the program directors, they put up you know a certain thing, and if you weren't the demographic you're out of luck. And I think it took the public actually sort of showing up and saying, "We want Norah Jones, we want Josh Groban, we want Cincotti, we want Connick." I think it sort of forced them into realizing that there was also a space for this kind of music. I think there's room at the top for everybody, and I'm just glad to see there's room at the top for this, too.

COOK: Um, we're roughly the same age, and I grew up listening to Nirvana and Kylie Minogue. What did you grow up listening to?

BUBLÉ: I grew up listening to everything from Harry Connick Jr. to Nat King Cole to the Beastie Boys to Michael Jackson, to Prince, you know Fitzgerald ...

COOK: So you're not a freak?

BUBLÉ: No. I mean I like all kinds of music, I just gravitated to a certain style, and I think to be even more blunt, whether it's written in 1930 by Gershwin or 2004 by George Michael, a good song is a good song is a good song. And I think that it's up to you to make it your own, you know.

COOK: Let's talk shop. You've got a new CD/DVD called "Come Fly With Me." What's the idea behind this release?

BUBLÉ: Well, my idea really was the DVD. ... I don't have a video, and the only way a lot of people have found out about me is having a friend show them the record [or] seeing me on a television show, blah blah ... and I wanted them to get an insight into what's happening and who I am.

And so I brought a documentary crew with me, and we went from country to country, and we just took a lot of parts of shows; we had a lot of concert footage and backstage stuff. I just wanted it to be a real ... not polished. I mean my CD is a polished thing. I worked with one of the greatest producers I think in the world, David Foster ... very smooth. And I wanted another part of me -- the real part of me to be shown. So I'm quite proud of it.

COOK: Speaking of David Foster -- he's a mammoth hitmaker. What is the most valuable thing you've learned from him?

BUBLÉ: ... He used to tell me all the time that "good is the enemy of great" -- that anyone can be good, but that it's quite difficult to be great.

COOK: Where does Mr. Bublé -- not Mr. Bubbles -- go from here?

BUBLÉ: Well, I just started. I've got a lot of work to do. I've got a lot of countries to conquer, including this one, America -- especially America. ... I'm gonna keep making records and doing shows for the people, not the critics. ... I love what I do, and I just want to be true to that and true to myself. And hopefully in the end, it all comes out the right way.


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