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If you like Michael Bublé, you'll hate this

I get a lot of hate mail. Just last week a reader asked God to have mercy on my soul. It was a sweet gesture, and Lord knows I could use the help, but the reasoning was eerie. It seems I had the gall to interview the band Kiss, thus releasing their satanism into the world. And once, after taking a few wordy whacks at Axl Rose, I received a call from a British woman who dubbed me "the Rush Limbaugh of rock criticism"; for emphasis, she added "Fatty! Fatty! Fatty!" I'm also routinely swamped in vitriol whenever I label American Idol runnerup David Archuleta a Muppet, which I apparently do quite often.

It's my job as a critic to offer my opinion; it's your job as a reader to tell me my opinion isn't worth amoeba poo. I understand that symbiotic do-si-do. I like it, too . . .

. . . except for the Michael Bublé mail.

I've never interviewed the Canadian Sinatra wanna-be. I've never reviewed one of his live shows or any of his albums. And yet, by not writing about the nattily attired hepcat — well, that just drives his fans bonkers.

I get Bublé mail because I ignore him.

So I'm curious: Is not acknowledging Bublé worse than saying that he's all style, no substance? That after listening to his new album, I think he's as sexy as getting to second base with an Ikea bookshelf?

Last week, Bublé's Crazy Love hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200, selling 131,541 albums in just three days. The Grammy winner now has back-to-back No. 1 pop albums plus four straight No. 1's on the jazz charts. In a not-unrelated matter, Oprah loooooves him. He's a 34-year-old dynamo who's just going to get bigger.

On one hand, that makes sense. Bublé, a product of schmaltz king David Foster, is a good-looking guy with puppy-dog eyes. His voice is smooth with a smoky aftertaste. On his new album, he covers crowd-pleasing pop classics (Van Morrison's Crazy Love, the Eagles' Heartache Tonight). He has a big hot band, too.

But c'mon, gang: He's so milquetoast! So slick, so safe! He's so lacquered for mass consumption he's almost invisible — there's no there there. Bublé comes off as prefabricated for both old-school swing fans and new-school pop listeners. It reeks not of versatility or depth of talent but of shoehorn marketing and music for Starbucks.

Maybe this is a dude-vs.-dudette thing? After all, his sold-out shows are stuffed with moony-eyed 28-year-olds who can't get enough of his 21st century swing. But ultimately, he has all the charisma and personality of one of those singing Hallmark cards. Nice sentiment, nice package, too. But it's eventually something you sweep from the mantle, tuck in a junk drawer and forget all about.

The Halloween Playlist: Part IV

Here you go, boys and graverobbers, the finale to our Halloween Playlist. I'm lovin' all 40 cuts on the countdown, although there were two tough omissions. Pop Life reader Bill S. made repeated pleas to get Vanilla Fudge's Season of the Witch included. Alas, I couldn't squeeze it in. But if you live in Pasco, Bill promises to set up speakers outside his house and crank the '68 creepfest for brave trick-or-treaters. That's the evil spirit, Bill! Also, the fantastically named Vic Mizzy died this week. The Brooklyn songwriter was 93. Don't know the Miz? He wrote two classic TV themes: Green Acres and . . . The Addams Family. Not sure why Gomez and Morticia's finger-snappin' fun didn't make our list. But hey, if you're building your own party soundtrack, feel free to swap it in for Christina Aguilera's Candyman, which readers really didn't appreciate. Of course, we all agree on the Top 10, right? Happy Halloween, kids.

10 Time Warp, the cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

9 Weird Science,

Oingo Boingo

8 This Is Halloween, Danny Elfman

7 The Twilight Zone Theme, Marius Constant

6 Werewolves of London, Warren Zevon

5 Bela Lugosi's Dead, Bauhaus

4 I Put a Spell on You, Screamin' Jay Hawkins

3 Halloween Theme: Main Title, John Carpenter

2 Monster Mash, Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers

1 Thriller,

Michael Jackson

Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear

Album: The Twilight Saga: New Moon (Atlantic)

In stores: Now

Bella Notte: This moody, mesmerizing soundtrack, filled with sullen reverb and gothy melancholy, didn't have to be this good to sell huge. In fact, it could have been an hour of gastrointestinal squips, and young folks would have gobbled the album in record numbers. Author Stephenie Meyer's vampire series — about mopey girl Bella Swan and neck-hungry luvah Edward Cullen — sells like gangbusters in any form: books, movies, albums, creepy figurines that 30-something women keep asking for much to the chagrin of their rock-critic fiances. New Moon the film, a sequel to last year's Twilight, doesn't hit theaters until Nov. 20, but its soundtrack might be the best thing the franchise has offered up so far. Instead of opting for catchy, obvious rock hits — a la Paramore's Decode from the Twilight soundtrack — producers went for hip: Indie royals Death Cab for Cutie, Grizzly Bear and Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke contribute haunting art-rock ruminations, all parts buzz, drone and lament. L.A. alt-folk outfit Sea Wolf offers a kickin' little number called The Violet Hour, which sounds like a slightly sour Violent Femmes cut. Even the ballads are intricate, including Bon Iver and St. Vincent's creepy choral Rosyln.

Reminds us of: I'm so getting stuck with the kids on Nov. 20. Any of you dads want to have a play date?

Download these: Meet Me on the Equinox (Death Cab for Cutie), Rosyln (Bon Iver and St. Vincent) and The Violet Hour (Sea Wolf)

Grade: A


If you like Michael Bublé, you'll hate this 10/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 4:31am]
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