'Bublé!': Michael Bublé Talks Getting Personal in His Seventh NBC Special

Emily Aslanian
Q&A Chris Haston/NBC

With the March 20 "documentary-slash-performance," Michael Bublé says he's ready to tell his story: "You get to really look into the loves of my life — my family, music and [the audience]."

The Grammy-winning crooner and his 36-piece orchestra deliver standards ("My Funny Valentine"), originals ("Haven't Met You Yet") and songs from his 10th studio album, Love ("When You're Smiling") — but the special also hits a somber, reflective note.

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"I've been to hell," admits Bublé, whose son Noah was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2016. (As of late 2018, the 5-year-old is cancer-free.) "And wherever I am now is not it." Bublé spoke to us from out on the road.

This special — your seventh for NBC — has been billed as the most personal one yet. What does that mean exactly?

Michael Bublé: Well, I think everything I do now is personal. I’ve been through a lot, and the perspective has given me the [desire] to be myself. I just wanted this to be really real. I wanted to enjoy myself musically and I wanted the opportunity to tell my story. It’s funny…I was flying home, and the flight attendant told me she was a fan. And she said, "Don't take it personally, but did you win or place on [American] Idol?"

What?!

Yeah! And I had this epiphany: "When I do this special, I don't want to assume everyone knows where I've come from." I thought about how interesting it would be to make this organic romp through my career and tell the story of where I came from, how I got here and where I’m going.

(Chris Haston/NBC)

Any favorite numbers?

I've never done a medley in my life, but we did an ode to Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Louis Prima [that was] too much fun. The [musicians] were screamin' and we're all laughing. I also sang a duet with my friend Cécile McLorin Salvant ["La Vie en Rose"] that was the most beautiful thing I have ever done for television.

What makes this special different?

The concept for this special is really different. The [other specials] were to a little bit of a different audience. And, God bless the Muppets, but I had Muppets in my specials. You know, listen, I’m so proud of them. They were beautiful specials, but this is definitely different. This is so different. This is music, and the authenticity of the music, first. It celebrates the history and the rich tapestry of the music that inspired me through my life. I had really wanted this to be real.

And more than that, I didn’t want to do something that you see every day on television. I didn't want to do something for people with small attention spans [that has] a thousand edits. I told the producer, "I don't want all those cameras. I want one wide and one close-up." I wanted to look down that lens and sing and tell stories, the way my idols did. It was incredibly fulfilling.

Are there any other career milestones you’d like to hit that you haven’t hit yet?

No, I don’t think I’m focused on results at all. I don’t want to know results. No one’s allowed to tell me. I don’t read reviews. I don’t know how my records are doing. I’ll never know how many people watch this special. No one who works for me is allowed to share that information. Really. Because I can’t change the results.

That's a good point. You can just do the best that you can do.

Right. I can do the best I can do, with integrity and love, and honestly, that’s just got to be enough. At the end of the day, I won’t torture myself with things I can’t change. And it’s not my business what people think of me anyway.

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I heard you’re also on a nationwide tour at the moment.

Yes, I am. [Chuckles]

How’s it going so far?

It’s so much fun. I’ve never enjoyed myself so much in my life onstage, ever. Ever.

You’ve had some incredible moments so far, like this woman you brought on stage who blew the audience away while singing “At Last."

That’s the thing — every night is completely different. I don’t have certain patterns that I repeat. As a matter of fact, I’m sitting here in Massachusetts, and when I get to the city, I just start to study. I start to write. I’m a comedian. That’s what I do. I write. And I try to write great jokes and expound upon them and connect to these beautiful souls who have supported me and prayed for me. I want to have a real, beautiful connection with them. And that’s what I do. So, every night has been a joy. I can tell you that, when we finish and I come off the stage, there’s 37 of us all together, musicians onstage, and—

Is it the same orchestra that did your special?

Yep!

Amazing.

And when those people come offstage, and many of us have worked together for 16, 17 years now. We look at each other and we say, ‘Oh my god, it has never been this good.’ We are literally walking into our prime — as performers, as musicians. They’ve all been with me through this journey I’ve been through, this tough thing that my family has gone through. I think it makes them as appreciative as I am that we’re back here. Honestly, none of us knew if I’d ever be back out here again. None of us knew if we’d ever have any of these moments together.

(Chris Haston/NBC)

If we talk about the last time I was on tour, which was five years ago, that was different. We were all touring for money. We never saw anything coming. We were touring because we were musicians and that’s what you do. Touring for our ego and paychecks. And after what happened, I think all of us realized that that may have been over. So the fact that we’re back here and we’re reunited and we’re doing it again—it’s not the same thing. We’re so grateful. I just think that there’s a joy that emanates from that stage every night, and it’s palpable. I’ve never in my life had such joy with my fellow musicians ever. And if you see the show, you’ll get it. You’ll feel it. And I think everyone so far is feeling it.

Bublé!, Wednesday, March 20, 10/9c, NBC