From Bruno to Bublé: Human Nature Discuss the Current Artists That Inspire Them
Posted by Andrew C on Friday, February 28th, 2014
Being the stars of a retro-style Motown revue can create some occasional misconceptions. For example, despite their shared love and admiration for the groundbreaking pop music of the 1960s, Human Nature is not a band that has ever looked solely to the past for their inspiration. In fact, when we individually asked the members of HN to name some of their favorite current artists, a few specific performers quickly rose to the top of the list.
So, which modern day chart toppers have managed to capture the hearts of our favorite Australian quartet?
“I am a sucker for a great pop song and am always inspired by that,” Andrew Tierney says. “I love music that is still commercial but takes you by surprise. Pharrell Williams seems to do this all the time. His instincts are just so cool that I wish I’d written every song he seems to be involved in!”
Michael Tierney seconds that emotion. “Pharrell Williams, for sure,” he says. “He’s an amazing songwriter and artist. I have a lot of respect for his talent.”
Rest assured, even if you haven’t heard the name Pharrell Williams, you have still undoubtedly heard his music. Across a 20-year career, the versatile singer/rapper/writer/producer has lent his funky beats and smooth delivery to everyone from Madonna and Jay-Z to Gwen Stefani and Snoop Dogg. In the past year alone, he’s played a key part on smash hits by Daft Punk (“Get Lucky”) and Robin Thicke (“Blurred Lines”), and he’s currently got a #1 hit of his own with the single “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 soundtrack.
As you can see with the video below, Pharrell just has a unique knack for creating a cool, laidback, but always danceable vibe—not unlike some of the Motown greats both he and Human Nature grew up listening to. If you need some fresh new music to accompany a summer rooftop party when the sun is setting and a warm breeze is gliding over you, this is your man.
Unlike the Tierneys, Phil Burton doesn’t immediately identify as a Pharrell fanatic. But there is another popular young R&B sensation that he’s come to admire.
“Generally, I am a bit more of a ‘classics’ listener myself,” Burton says. “You’ll find me more often listening to Queen, Billy Joel, Sting or Stevie Wonder than current artists. …Having said that, though, I think Bruno Mars is pretty fantastic. He really knows how to write a catchy tune! Great performer, too.”
“Bruno Mars is fantastic,” confirms Michael Tierney. “Great singer, performer, and writer.”
Fresh off a headlining appearance at the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime Show and a highly successful Las Vegas residency of his own, Bruno Mars is pretty well established as a household name by now, and deservedly so. The 28 year-old Honolulu native has taken many of the same influences that first inspired Human Nature—like the Temptations, Jackie Wilson, and Michael Jackson—and added his own 21st century flair to that high energy style, leading to hit tracks like “Grenade,” “Just the Way You Are,” and “Locked Out of Heaven.”
Bruno’s secret weapon is an unmistakable spark—that rare charisma that instantly grabs the attention of any audience, even if they’ve never seen him before.
“I love a song that just breaks through regardless of who the artist is,” says Andrew Tierney, “simply because it’s an irresistible melody or lyric– like Sara Bareilles’ ‘Brave’ or Lorde’s ‘Royals.’ My favorites, however, always seems to be when something has an ‘old-school’ soul influence, and Bruno Mars has done that for me recently. He also sings like a beast so I am in awe of that, too!”
Okay, so the boys love Bruno. But all this talk of retro-minded singers has Mike Tierney thinking of another current artist who deserves his due credit.
“Michael Bublé,” he says. “He’s a great singer & has done a great job bringing a classic style and sound back into the present day.”
The Canadian-born crooner Bublé has enjoyed huge success over the past decade, including four consecutive #1 albums in the US and four separate Grammy wins for “Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album.” Much like Human Nature, Bublé has recorded both original material and many covers, helping introduce a new generation to the music that first inspired him—particularly the classic jazz standards of the mid-20th century.
Bublé wasn’t the first modern day singer to dig back into the Frank Sinatra catalog, but much like Mars and Williams, he quickly built a following thanks to a wholly distinct, immediately likable onstage persona and an electric connection with the audience.
So, all things considered, maybe it’s not all that surprising that Human Nature have become fans of current musicians who are essentially their kindred spirits. For all their current success, Pharrell, Bruno Mars, and Michael Bublé are all artists tied intrinsically to the sounds and styles of the past. When we hear a song like “Get Lucky” or “Locked Out of Heaven,” we aren’t just responding to a catchy tune. These are songs that feel like direct descendants of those timeless pop radio hits now occupying our “golden oldies” channels. They’re undeniably brand new, but still woven comfortably into a much bigger musical tapestry. And considering how much respect Human Nature has for that tapestry, who could blame them for being drawn to other artists who feel the same way?