There’s something about British pop and rock music that lends itself well to a vocalist like Josh Groban.
“A lot of those songwriters were ahead of their time as far as incorporating orchestral elements,” said Groban on Billboard’s Behind the Setlist podcast, singling out such favorites as Queen, Peter Gabriel and Annie Lennox. “You look at artists that incorporated a lot of actual crossover styles in their music that lends themselves really well [and] set up the ball nicely for singers that have more traditional voices or have more orchestral arrangements.”
Groban’s recent U.S. tour featured some British pop and rock music he recorded for his 2020 album Harmony, such as Sting’s “Shape of My Heart” and Robbie Williams’ “Angels” and “She,” a U.K. No. 1 hit in 1974 by French singer Charles Aznavour that found another audience in the U.S. after Elvis Costello recorded a version for the motion picture Notting Hill. Gabriel’s influence could be felt in Groban’s recording of the Magnetic Field’s track “The Book of Love,” which Gabriel later recorded with an orchestral arrangement in 2004.
“That’s not to say that songs from American don’t do that,” Groban added. “But I think there has been something kind of, you know, when I look back at even some of the old Elton John albums and listen to those [British conductor and composer Paul] Buckmaster arrangements, they’re operatic, they’re avante garde, they’re just the most wild string and horn arrangements. And they could be done with a full symphony, you know — and those were some of the greatest rock albums ever made. I’ve always been really inspired by that crossover element to the arrangements of the original songs in that part of the world. And when choosing songs to do, I find myself going there a lot for inspiration.”