In the ultimate, vein-ripping vocal test, ’90s pop icon Michael Bolton has seen and heard many attempts to belt out one of his great ballads in televised singing competitions.
“I enjoy having artists perform my songs on these shows,” Bolton, 69, told the Post, noting that a certain Grammy-winning artist was a favorite song choice of his. “‘How am I supposed to live without you’ was like [performed by] so many different artists going into their final rounds…so I think I would have done pretty well on those shows.”
Now Bolton is actually singing in competition at NBC’s “American Song Contest,” and he’ll perform his original tune “Beautiful World,” based on long-running European juggernaut “Eurovision,” in the semifinals this Monday (8 p.m.). The show, hosted by Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg in March, has boxing representatives from all 50 states, five US territories and Washington, DC to win the Best Original Song title. And while most of the contestants were relatively unknown, they went up against established stars like Jewel and Sisqo – who are already eliminated – as well as Bolton, who represents his home state of Connecticut.
“I find it funny that people aren’t sure what I’m doing in the competition,” said the New Haven native. “I was excited to do it. It kind of brought me back to my roots by trying to create something that I think the world will enjoy… If you aspire to be an artist in this business, you learn that there are many great singers there, but they don’t have a career if they don’t have hits. Songwriting is the energy that keeps artists alive. It not only creates careers, it sustains careers.”
Bolton – who had seen “very little” of “Eurovision” before signing up for “American Song Contest” – was inspired to write the utopian ballad “Beautiful World” as a song “requiring a lot of time and emotional compulsion addressed we are all under … It is not meant to suggest that someone will wave the magic wand and suddenly everything will be beautiful. On the contrary, we are the ones who have to make a beautiful world out of it.”
And the father of three and grandfather of six — who now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut — is proud to give some love back to the state that supported him as a struggling young artist. “During the time I was playing clubs to put food on the table, there were a lot of places in Connecticut to play and they kept bringing me in,” said Bolton, who returns to “my stomp places.” will be playing at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on May 6th. “So I hope I make Connecticut proud.”
Though Bolton says he “seldom” misses the long hair he rocked with in the ’90s, he’s learned to have fun with the romantic ballad image, which prompted him to write “Michael Bolton’s big, sexy Valentine’s Day special.” ‘ on Netflix in 2017 and co-hosting ‘The Celebrity Dating Game’ on ABC in 2021.
“Actually,” he said, “I enjoy not taking myself too seriously.”