The classically trained crooner has sold more than 20 million albums in the U.S. alone and isn't slowing down: his new disc, Illuminations, is out Nov. 15. Groban talked to Time about finding his voice, performing the national anthem and singing karaoke.
Illuminations was produced by Rick Rubin, who previously worked with Metallica, Johnny Cash and the Beastie Boys.
Natural fit, right? We were introduced by a mutual friend. It did feel very much like an odd-couple situation, but once he heard the music, he said, "You know what? This may not be so odd after all."
You've also just done a film with Steve Carell--Crazy, Stupid, Love--out next year.
They put me in the role of Emma Stone's fiancé, who is kind of a douche bag--can I say that in Time? It was so, so fun. To make Steve laugh is the greatest thrill ever.
When did you realize that you can do this amazing thing that very few people can do?
I was very shy about my voice. I didn't sing very loudly if I did sing. I remember getting my first lead role in high school that really allowed me to belt out, and all of a sudden I felt popular for the first time in my life. I realized that my voice was not something to be afraid of.
How many times have you been asked to sing the national anthem?
Oh, a lot. It's always nerve-racking. There are enough of people's botched YouTube clips out there. Even though we know that song backward and forward, there's something about the idea of having to do it when it really matters.
What's your favorite karaoke song?
Guns N' Roses' "November Rain." Hands down. It's a good 10-minute epic and gives everybody a chance to sit and drink for a bit.