Album Review: Closer, Josh Groban
The Korea Herald
February 20, 2004
It's a curse to be young, handsome and to have all the ingredients of a Justin Timberlake, and at the same time be gifted enough to sing the most difficult opera songs. Josh Groban, 22, has already been targeted as the next poster boy for all things cheesy.

After appearing on the season finale of Ally McBeal and singing "You're Still You," making TV sets melt across America, he was signed to a record deal. His self-titled first album was impressive, but pretentiously included songs for the scholars who prefer Bach, the Neapolitan "Alla Luca Del Sole" and other musical Mt. Everest that only a few kids his age can climb. Female fans seeing the hunk through the language barrier kept him a well guarded secret until Groban released second "Closer." His anticipated sophomore album topped the charts earlier this year, dethroning rap duo Outkast. Combined, he's sold about 5 million records.

"Closer" has more of what the fans want: first, songs in English, and then pop-rock crossovers. Groban and the writers walk a fine line, but are magnificent once again pleasing the masses without selling out.

Included is the familiar, but ultra-literary "Il Postino" with a violin performance from Joshua Bell that outshines Groban. He sings six other Euro-centric songs that take a linguistic tour of Spanish, French and Italian.

Any operatic song sung in English has a prejudice against it. So naturally, his most popular songs like "You're Still You," and this time "You Raise Me Up" sound like bad Valentine's Day cards. But they still tug at your heart in such a simple way that if you don't feel moved, even just a little, you should be worried that your heart is not beating.

He co-wrote the music to "Per Te" and the lyrics to "Remember When It Rained". Despite his place now as a "classic-lite" vocalist, he has raised the bar for the average power-ballad singer. It's too bad he's not fat, bald, or blind, then he may get more respect.

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