Josh Groban Talks 'Fun' of Writing a New Ode to Beans: 'It's So Crazy That It Might Just Work'
"Obviously I sing a lot of very serious songs, but I also love to write comedy songs and have fun with songwriting and singing too," the vocalist tells PEOPLE about his new ballad for Bush's Beans
When he was a kid in school, Josh Groban was often picked on for enjoying one of his favorite cafeteria foods: beans.
Now the singer, 40, has turned that childhood pain into a winning ode to the much-maligned seed that is both celebratory and sweet.
"Obviously I sing a lot of very, very serious songs, but I also love to write comedy songs and have fun with songwriting and singing too," he tells PEOPLE about his new collaboration with Bush's Beans. "I've loved doing that over the course of my career, so I was like, this actually might be kind of fun."
Groban teamed up with the food brand to come up with a new jingle to help replace the mean playground chant beans are usually synonymous with.
"Over the last 20 years, I'd get sent various ideas from different companies saying, 'Hey, do you want to do something,' and nine times out of 10, it's just something that doesn't feel right," he admits. "I got this idea that they sent to me that they wanted to do something musical about beans, and there are certain things that you get where your first instinct is that it's so crazy that it might just work!"
"Let me just sit at the piano and see if anything funny happens," he says. "Honestly, this was just one of the fastest processes I've ever had. I sat down and it just kind of wrote itself. It wound up becoming something that was just super fun to write and made me feel good to sing it, and has made people feel good to watch it."
"And who doesn't love beans? And if they don't, they're going to love them, so it's a win-win!"
The hilariously catchy ballad was released alongside an equally chuckle-worthy music video, which features the crooner playing a teenage version of himself as he reflects on his beloved food.
"It was really important for us to find that balance between absurd and heartfelt, which is a really, really tricky balance," he confesses. "We knew that if we went completely absurd, then it would just look like we were making fun — or really not caring at all. On the other side, if you make it too serious, it can come across as very kind of commercial-y and saccharine."
He even got his dad Jack involved in the clip, making a cameo appearance to lend his barbecuing expertise.
"I thought, 'Hey Dad, wouldn't it be funny if you were in the video,' and he just kind of cracked up," he recalled. "For anybody who knows my father, he's just like the sweetest, funniest, best human. And every time he's in something of mine, he just slays, like he steals the show. Even just two clicks of a barbecue tong and all anybody that I know can talk about is my dad just killing it."
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"We had had to scramble to pay the union fees to get them into video, but it was worth every penny," he added. "I'll never forget the day on set where he's like, 'Oh, do I stand on the X? Do I do this'? I'm like, 'You're doing great. Absolutely crushing it.' So it made it extra special."
While Groban is best known as a respected vocalist, he says he has relished the chance to show off his 'weird' side in recent years.
"It's become more important to me as I've gotten older," he confesses. "I think I was very protective of not tarnishing the seriousness of the brand earlier on, because you don't want to take for granted how you get into this business. It's hard enough as it is to find an open door and to have gotten such an incredible break so young in my life, you're afraid that at any moment, the mic is going to be passed on and you don't want to lose it."
"I would not have been able to dive head first into a video like this earlier in my career. I think it had to be step by step by step of doing little things, and slowly people are like, 'Oh, he can be weird too,' he continued. "I like to be funny between songs and I like to sing the songs that mean a lot to me. Every so often you get a chance, as with this song, to kind of have both, which is really fun, especially during quarantine when you're just dying for something lighthearted."
"I just needed something to make me smile."
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Groban has kept busy during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic by putting out his ninth studio album, Harmony, and a Deluxe Version, which was released in February. It was a process he says he'll "never forget."
"I've never made an album at a time when you can't stand next to your duet partner, you can't be in the room with the orchestra," he explains. "We had to use a process that I would have really been against for a huge portion of my career, but we had to find ways to do it. The only other option was not to do it and these were songs that I felt had an incredible relevance right now."
The star has put on a number of streaming concerts in recent months, and while he plans on continuing that once live events resume, he says there's nothing he misses more than playing to a live audience.
"We realized that, in a good way, you can be more places at once," he says. "You know, I can perform for people in countries I could not have otherwise toured in. That's a cool thing. It means I can provide access to the shows to people that might not have otherwise been able to see them."
"It's just, when you don't hear the response afterward, you're not able to riff with the audience and talk to them — it's strange," he points out. "Things like the Radio City Music Hall residency, I can't wait to pick that back up, doing shows with my band and just getting out. Big outdoor venues, somewhere everybody's drinking wine and having a good time, nothing beats that."
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