Michael Bolton is hilariously cheesy in Panera Bread’s new digital short.
To launch the café chain’s new mashup of their broccoli cheddar soup and mac and cheese, the singer, 67, released a parody of his famous 1991 love song “When a Man Loves a Woman,” aptly titled “When Some Mac Loves Broccoli Cheddar.”
In the video, Bolton belts out lyrics like, “Yes, it’s soup on tender pasta/It can do no wrong/‘Cause creamy cheese and broccoli loves macaroni.”
“I found this really unexpected difficulty in singing anything other than ‘When A Man Loves A Woman,'” Bolton exclusively tells PEOPLE. “I’ve sung this song thousands and thousands of times, and it’s one of my biggest hits, so it’s in all of the live shows and the private shows and TV events. It was work, wrapping my head around the vowel changes and the consonants. My vocal chords were going, ‘What are you doing?'”
Luckily, Bolton says, the Panera team gave him the freedom in the studio to phrase the parody song in a way that was “comfortable” for him.”
“Like anything that’s years and years of the same routine, it’s a bit of a challenge to just make sense of it,” he says. “But then that made me look a little more serious and concentrated during the filming. The more serious and concentrated I am while I’m singing about cheddar cheese, the funnier it is.”
While filming the digital short, Bolton says there was no shortage of laughter on set.
“The vibe for the crew was really comfortable,” he says. “Everybody was just a pleasure to work with, so there was generally a lot of laughter. I think coming down the stairs by the pool was funny because the object of that scene was not to fall down 12 steps and break my neck, and I was wearing something that was about two feet longer than my legs. But at least I didn’t have to walk in heels!”
Bolton jokes that his partnership with Panera first came about “when they dialed the wrong number.”
“They were trying to get Kevin Costner,” he says with a laugh. “Actually, we got contacted by the Panera people. They saw the ‘Jack Sparrow’ video [I did with comedy trio Lonely Island], and they knew that I liked to have fun with different characters and unexpected humor.”
“Basically, they wanted to know if I would do the music for this funny bit they had,” he continues. “I said, ‘Let me just hear what you have in mind, and I’ll come up with something that’ll be fun, and let’s do this.’ I just thought it was an interesting coincidence. I really couldn’t tell you anything about Panera until COVID because, coincidentally, it became my favorite food to either order-in or have picked up.”