“I’ve a new album coming out with my good friend Lady Gaga at the end of September… I ask you to go out and buy it. She needs the money.”
Tony Bennett, iTunes Festival – London.
Lady Gaga, the singer who has sold in the region of 25 million albums, and who has had critical and commercial success with tracks like ‘Poker Face’, ‘Bad Romance’, and ‘Just Dance’, is now trying her hand at, er, jazz. And, in order to do so, she has teamed up with her new bestie, the 88-year-old jazz and easy listening singing legend, Tony Bennett.
Tony Bennett – who is most famous for singing Fly Me To The Moon originally, and for his 1962 signature song ‘I Left My Heart In San Francisco’ – has had nothing but praise for Lady Gaga, while in return it is clear that she is in total awe of him. Now, for the legendary crooner recording an album of duets with famous friends is nothing particularly new, and is not necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, the rise of the duet-album-format is largely in part due to the impressive recent success that Tony Bennett has had with his ‘Duets’ and ‘Duets II’ albums, which has seen him singing with an impressive number of outstanding vocalists, from Aretha Franklin to Michael Bublé.
For Tony, then, this album is not much of a risk at all: he’s 88, no doubt incredibly loaded, still got the voice and is still in demand on tour and in the studio (and at the iTunes Festival he had his fair share of younger lady fans too, the old dog). Yet, for Lady Gaga however, it does appear to be somewhat of a risky venture. After all, she is only 28 years of age, yet is singing love songs with a man who could be her grandfather. Indeed, some her most refined and most rational ‘little monsters’ have taken to social media to express their distain for her latest project in a most articulate way:
“I am sorry but Lady Gaga is oveeeer.”
“GO AWAY GAGA YOUR CAREER IS OVER.”
“S***** song. Gaga’s gasping for attention using Tony Bennett. Damnn gaga, you are irrelevant now. Artpop flopped, no hit single since born this way. Just focus on your f”art” thingy please.”
Worthwhile contributions, I’m sure you’ll agree. But such sentiment has not stopped Lady Gaga becoming best friends with the man Frank Sinatra labeled ‘the best singer in the world’. Indeed, she’s been posting photos and selfies with Tony on Twitter for months, made several high profile public appearances with him, and for Tony’s 88th birthday she flew a plane over San Francisco with a banner attached, reading ‘Happy Birthday Tony [Heart] Gaga’ – which Tony later called ‘the best birthday ever’. Much time and effort has gone into crafting an image of the pair together, including the shooting of a special concert to be aired in the States shortly. Even fashion retailer H&M have come on board with the ‘Cheek to Cheek’ concept by hiring the two for their Christmas advertising campaign: Lady Gaga wore H&M designs, whilst suits similar to Tony’s will be available for purchase.
So, what about the music they’ve made together? Two singles have been released so far, the first being a cover of the Cole Porter song ‘Anything Goes’, which is a light, up-tempo jazz stomper which sees both Tony and Lady Gaga trading lyrics off each other with ease and style, and both resist the temptation to try and out-sing the other.
The second single release is cover of the jazz standard ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love’ – a song every man and his proverbial dog appear to have recorded. Nonetheless, there’s something more to this version than many of the others, with Lady Gaga powerfully taking the opening lead over an exquisite organ intro. This song is much slower than ‘Anything Goes’, but the chemistry between the two stars is still evident, and also demonstrates that Lady Gaga’s singing abilities are not just limited to overproduced pop-songs.
Whether or not you’ll enjoy these duets depends, I guess, on your musical taste – I love jazz, and I love Tony Bennett – but if you’re a diehard Lady Gaga fan its understandable that you might be confused about her latest career choice. Alternatively, you could embrace it and enjoy the form of music that nearly every other musical genre is based upon: jazz.
‘Cheek to Cheek’ is available from 23rd September, with both a standard release and deluxe release. The singles ‘Anything Goes’ and ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love are out now.
Tony Bennett is currently on a UK tour – 9th September, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall; 11th September, Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Lady Gaga is returning to the UK on tour this autumn, playing the Newcastle Metro Radio Arena on 22nd November.