Josh Groban Captivates HSN
January 19, 2013
By Eric Snider
Talk about working a room. Singer Josh Groban held court at HSN last night, answering questions from show hosts, talking to fans via Skype, sitting for an online interview, posing for pictures with fans, chatting with HSN CEO Mindy Grossman.
Oh, and he sang, too—several numbers from his new album, All That Echoes, which HSN pitched throughout his hour-plus performance. While a maelstrom of activity swirled around him in the studio, which included a hundred or so invited guests, the 31-year-old popera star was relaxed and affable.
And get this: Josh Groban is one funny dude. When, during the first break to pitch the CD/(in-the-studio) DVD package, Josh was informed that HSN had already sold 2,000 units, he quipped, “I guess I’ve gone aluminum.”
Just before the show went live, Groban worked out a few kinks in his upper body. “I’m so tight,” he said. “I need one of those stretchers they were selling earlier.”
Amid a luxe (and very temporary) stage set, graced by a chandelier and with twinkling lights enveloping the room, a band took their places: five-man rhythm section, four-man horn section, a string trio of three pretty women, and three background singers. That’s quite a production by any standard, let alone in such a compact space.
HSN hosts pumped up the audience and issued instructions: cheer loudly, no photography or recording during the performance, don’t attempt to leave for a bathroom break, check that cell phones are off, don’t jump up and get whacked by a moving boom camera.
Groban sipped something from a styrofoam cup and chilled, waiting for his cue. “Does everyone work at HSN?” he asked the audience. No. “Any fan club members?” A big yes. He nodded, recognizing a few faces. “Anyone who just couldn’t care less?” he joked. “Husbands who were dragged here?”
He let the laugh trail off. “Don’t worry guys,” he added. “We’ll warm the women up for you. This is just one hour in a very long night.”
Like I said: He was masterful.
Now, I don’t want to be disingenuous. My tastes in music run contrary to Josh Groban’s big-voice, big-gesture, big-crescendo style. But I’ll say this: He’s very good at what he does.
The program progressed with Groban singing a tune, then the hosts breaking in and pushing the CD/DVD set. Big gestures followed by big gestures. Host Diani Perkovic asked Groban softball questions, to which he issued witty and humbles answers. And remember, all of this was happening live. The ace production crew saw to it that the show went off without a hitch.
Groban sang “Falling Slowly,” the Oscar-winning ballad from the movie Once; Jimmy Webb’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” made famous by Joe Cocker in 1974. The show picked up in it last quarter when Groban and company performed “Hollow Talk,” by the Danish band Choir of Young Believers, a ruminative ballad with an oddly contoured melody that was outside his usual milieu. (Groban told me later that someone at his label, Warner Bros., had discovered the song, presented it to him and he fell in love with it.)
Then a choir—seven men and seven women—assembled on a platform to the left of the stage. They were there for the big—make that HUGE—finish, a lush version of Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe (When I Fall in Love It Will Be Forever).” A long-time Stevie fan, I decided not to nitpick Groban’s version and just gave in to its unabashed grandiosity.
After Groban finished an online-only encore of “Changing Colors,” a host announced that he would do an impromptu meet-and-greet. He left the studio briefly, after pausing to say hello to former N’Sync-er Lance Bass (photo below), who was in the audience, and returned for a photo and autograph session.
I overheard him telling Grossman how pleased he was with the experience, how it went so smoothly; he was so glad he did it.
Grossman accepted the well deserved praise with a beaming smile.