Operatic Pop, 2006
I am not pleased for two reasons. One, this CD is called Awake but the title track is only available on a special edition CD with another bonus track. Naturally, I purchased the not-so-special CD before I realized there is a special edition of the CD, hmmph. Two, I have to admit that I love a Josh Groban CD so much that I want him so badly to be on American Idol so that I can beg people to vote for him week after week and show Clay Aiken how a real sexually non-threatening housewife-friendly sweet lad singer should be. As I type the last sentence, my heart bleeds with every word I set down, I tell you. Oh well, since I’ve already humiliated myself enough, I may as well go all the way and admit that Awake is going to be one of my favorite CDs ever.
Seriously, what really gets to me here is that dear Mr Groban has stripped away the most dire excesses that plagued his usual works. There are no sickening ballads reminiscent of the tripe Julio Iglesias will sing to those women he wants to cheat on his wives with. Instead, there are ethereal collaborations with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Vusi Mahlasela to produce gems like Lullaby and Weeping that, for a moment, has me thinking that an angel has come down from the heavens to lead the sweetest cathedral choir I’ve ever heard. Even the potentially sugary montrosities like Un Giorno Per Noi and Solo Por Ti turn out to be epic heartrending anthems that jab me in the heart with each syllable Mr Groban is singing out loud. From the first track, a resoundingly masculine yet too-romantic Mai to the closing track, Machine, a very fun swing-meets-tenor collaboration with Herbie Hancock, I’m in bliss.
Even the most obvious sentimental pieces of sap like February Song and In Her Eyes work very well on me. February Song is such a haunting song that sticks to my mind and won’t get out of my head. Then there’s You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up). A song with a title like that usually has me snickering in derision at how corny it is, but oh my, one listen to the grandly-proportioned chorus where Mr Groban booms out clearly and loudly as if he is delivering a personal message from the angels, “I will shine to guide yo-ooo-oooo-ou! I can heal yo-OOO-OOO-OU!” and I can only say, “Yes, yes, heal me! Hands on, baby, everywhere!” He booms, “You are loved! A-AA-AARE!” and I tell you, when he goes into falsetto in that “are”, it’s like the second coming of Morten Harket begging me to take on him because he’ll be gone in a day.
What Josh Groban has done in Awake is to take away the sugary swill and offer more experimental fusion sounds and grand epic ballads that sound as if they are performed by an angel. Oh gosh, this is so embarrassing. I know I sound like an utterly insipid fangirl in this particular piece of writing. Still, Awake is so fabulously larger-than-life to the point that I am this close to committing blasphemy for thinking that this CD offers an experience that is nearly religious to me. Forgive me, therefore, people, for my shocking lapse into weakness. You are free to call in the men in white coats if you see me putting up Photoshopped pictures of Josh Groban with angel wings all over this website while ordaining myself the Keeper of Josh Groban’s Toenails or something. However, be nice and don’t snicker – just leave me be as I place this CD on my player one more time. I have to listen to You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up) one more time. I have to sigh along with February Song again. I need to experience Weeping just to recall if it’s as good as when I last heard it twenty minutes ago. Oh, do what you want – call the shrink, mock me, whatever. Just don’t touch my Awake CD.