How the pandemic made Michael Buble a better musician, family man

Totel V. de Jesus

Posted at Feb 27 2022 07:18 AM

“Devoted Papi and husband, keeper of The Great American Songbook, Sex Symbol and Humble Canadian and Sex Symbol.”

That’s how acclaimed crooner Michael Buble describes himself on Instagram. At least for now, as this article is being written. The “sex symbol” has got to be mentioned twice. 

But it shows how bubbly and charming Buble is. In a recent virtual conference with music writers from Southeast Asia for his new album “Higher,” he said he was thankful he has joined TikTok.

“It’s great. I love TikTok. I joined just to have fun. It has so much to laugh at yourself,” he said, revealing that he started a contest with his wife, Luisana Lopilato, on who’s going to have more followers. “I think she’s gonna kick my butt.”

There’s something about the pandemic that made Michael Buble thankful. It helped him create new songs while taking care of his family. 

“The pandemic, in a strange way, has made it easier for me to [do things]. People are willing to do Zoom. Unlike before you have to fly to LA [Los Angeles] or take off to London,” said Buble, who has made Vancouver his home. “[The pandemic] made the world smaller. I was so open to working with new people, and trying different things.”

The good news also is that his wife of 10 years is pregnant with their fourth child, as announced by Buble on Ryan Seacrest's show last Tuesday. The couple has three children already -- 8-year-old Noah, 6-year-old Elias, and 3-year-old Vida. 

He made the announcement just a few hours after the music video for the first single, “I’ll Never Not Love You,” was released internationally on February 22. 

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Obviously, it’s a planned announcement. In the “I’ll Never Not Love You” music video, Lopilato appears with their three kids in the end. The Buble family walks out of a grocery store together and Lopilato’s baby bump is very obvious. 

The video is a homage to classic romance movies as it features Buble and his wife re-enacting memorable scenes from “Titanic” (the floating door), “Casablanca” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” among others.

In the virtual media conference, Buble said the single is a sequel to his earlier hit, “Haven’t Met You Yet,” from more than a decade ago. It was also dedicated to Lopilato -- an Argentinian actress, singer and model -- who he got engaged with in 2009, married and started a family with in 2011.

When asked why he chose “I’ll Never Not Love You” as the first single, he said it’s the other way around, it felt like the song chose him. 

“The song is [about] promising to someone that if they trust you, they give you their vulnerability. You won’t hurt them. They can trust that they’re safe to fall in love. It’s scary to fall in love. Love has a great cost. Especially when you really love someone, you are putting yourself at risk. And the song says, ‘risk that for me and I’ll love you forever’,” he said.

“I felt so good in my heart. And I felt so open and so happy. I feel like I needed it. I feel like the world needed it, in a way. That’s why it chose me,” he added.

There were three or four choices for the first single. One is “Higher,” the next carrier single, but Buble felt it is better for the summer.

“’I’ll Never Not Love You’ would be really nice for cold wintery [season]. I wanna play ‘Higher’ when the roof is off my car and am driving,” he added. 

“Higher,” the album, is scheduled for release on March 25.

Noah as co-songwriter

Buble said the song “Higher” was inspired by a tune that Noah sang while he was giving the child a bath. While they were in the bath tub together, Noah simply blurted out he wrote a song and sang the lines, “when you go low, and I go high.”

The words and melody stayed with Buble, enough to inspire him to write the song and three months later, he was recording “Higher” with the help of composer-producer Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic. 

Buble said the pandemic may have made a big impact on the lives of everyone but it afforded him more time to take care of his kids and wife every day.

“We all went from pandemic when it was difficult to make music. Before that, I had come out of…. you know … my son ... and I was just taking care of my family. I don’t know if I was ready to come back. I was still hurting.”

Buble was referring to the ordeal his family faced when Noah was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2016. He was only three years old then. Buble took a break from touring and recording to be with him until he recovered. Then came the pandemic. Now, Noah is on remission and is turning nine in April this year. 

“What I found interesting was when the pandemic hit, it put everyone on a level playing field. For the first time, every single person, from every country. I don’t care if you’re black, white, we all felt the same thing. All of us were scared. We were anxious. 

“Our metal health became an issue. For the first time, we need to cling to each other for hope and I think, although some of us didn’t learn anything,” he said with a chuckle, “most of us did. There’s so much negativity, so many things to drive us apart. I was hoping I could have a small part in bringing people together.”

Interpreting the works of living music icons

Another exciting thing with the new album is his duet with his idol Willie Nelson, on the song “Crazy,” the legendary musician’s composition from the 1960s popularized by fellow country singer Patsy Cline. 

“When I think of Willie Nelson, I think of [Frank] Sinatra, Dean Martin and all the great interpreters. He [also] reminded me of Louis Armstrong. He has a distinct voice. [He’s the type of musician] you won’t think of appearing on ‘American Idol’ or some kind of pop singing show,” Buble said.

Also included in “Higher” is Paul McCartney’s “My Valentine,” an acoustic guitar-driven ballad he wrote for his third and current wife, Nancy Shevell. Although McCartney wrote it on the piano one rainy afternoon while he and Shevell was on vacation in Morocco, the recorded version had guitar accompaniment with inputs from Johnny Depp and Eric Clapton. It was part of McCartney’s 2012 album “Kisses On The Bottom.”

Buble was ecstatic when he revealed McCartney didn’t only give permission but actually produced it for him. 

“To know that someone I admire so much had trusted me to hold his art and to interpret a song…. He wrote it for his wife. He told me many times. It was an honor, a privilege,” said Buble.

Another song that would make “Higher” worth the wait is the inclusion of Bob Dylan’s hit “Make You Feel My Love” from his 1997 album, “Time Out Of Mind.” 

The song has been covered by Billy Joel, country singer Garth Brooks, Ed Sheeran, and Adele. Over the years, there had been hundreds of cover versions, including locally, Moira dela Torre. 

A song about undying devotion from the point of view of a god-like lover, some viewed it almost like a religious song. It may sound like a tough act to follow for Buble but if you’re a fan, you can almost hear him sing it and it is assured it’s going to be another hit. 

Released under Warner Records/Reprise Records, “Higher” also has Sam Cooke’s classic “Bring It On Home To Me,” among other surprises. 

Buble said this album has been the best thing he ever did.

“There is so much more in this record. You’re gonna be surprised. I was ambitious. Probably over ambitious. They are all special. Not one note that has ever left my lips has ever given away without thinking. They are all important. They are all my babies.”