The backstory: “I didn’t know how you’d market that music”
It hadn’t always been that way. Trying to get noticed as a singer had been tough for the son of a Croatian-Italian salmon fisherman from Burnaby, British Columbia, but Bublé had never given up hope of emulating the success enjoyed by his musical heroes Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Though he endured knockbacks during a time when lounge singers and jazz crooners were out of fashion, Bublé – spurred on by a mixture of single-minded ambition, steely determination and an unflappable faith in his musical ability – managed to get on the radar of the acclaimed Grammy-winning Canadian record producer David Foster.
That was in 2000 and purely by chance: the two met at the wedding of the daughter of Michael McSweeney, the speechwriter for the then Canadian Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, who had recommended hiring Bublé to provide entertainment after witnessing him sing at a corporate event. Foster was there as a friend of McSweeney’s, and though he was impressed by Bublé’s performance, he felt no inclination to sign him. “I just didn’t know how you’d market that music,” he later explained. Eventually, thanks to concerted pressure from McSweeney; Bublé’s manager, Beverly Delich; and, crucially, Foster’s close friend and ally, noted singer-songwriter Paul Anka, the producer agreed to sign Bublé to his label, 143 Records, before linking him up with Warner Bros.
The recording: A “record about love, happiness, fun and yummy things”
From that point, Bublé’s career took flight spectacularly, beginning with the 2003 release of his self-titled major-label debut album, which functioned as the first step in his steady ascent to super-stardom. Ten years later, when the singer unleashed To Be Loved, he faced pressures of a different kind from those he had experienced in his early days – the type that only an established artist feels, when a new album is expected to keep pace with its multi-platinum predecessors. Given that his previous album, 2011’s Yuletide celebration, Christmas, had become the best-selling release of his career, Bublé knew that equalling, let alone topping, that achievement would be a tall order.
Eager to build on the success of Christmas, Bublé went back in the studio with his trusted sidekick, producer Bob Rock, who had been part of the singer’s backroom team since 2007’s Call Me Irresponsible. A fellow Canadian, whose CV includes extensive work with heavy metal acts such as Metallica and Mötley Crüe, Rock may have seemed an unlikely choice of producer for Bublé, but he and Bublé had struck up a productive partnership over the course of three previous albums together.
It was under Rock’s watch that Bublé had proved there was more to his game than revisiting the Great American Songbook, and he had successfully reinvented himself as a purveyor of contemporary pop songs. 2009’s Crazy Love album, which featured one of the best Michael Bublé songs, Haven’t Met You Yet, co-written by the singer, had played a crucial role in rebooting his image, helping him gather a new audience of younger fans. Conscious that he wanted to develop that side of himself, Bublé reunited with his trusted songwriting partners Amy Foster – David Foster’s daughter – and Alan Chang, with whom he’d worked on Haven’t Met You Yet.