The Farr Side: Bennett-Gaga collaboration is a cross-generational gem
Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga are quite possibly music’s best May-December relationship.
I wouldn’t have believed it until I heard it myself.
Until now all we could do was wonder. Could it be a joke? What did Bennett see in Gaga that made him want to do it? Is it possible that, deep-down, Tony is a “little monster,” even at his age?
I’ll tell you the best way to find out the answers to these questions and all the gazillion others you might have regarding their musical child. And by child, I mean their new album “Cheek To Cheek.” All you have to do is listen to it.
I’ve tried to wrap myself around the idea of the album for months, but, c’mon, it’s Tony Bennett — it’s going to be good. Bennett had to see what other true music fans see in Gaga. Underneath all the glitz, glamour and odd costuming, she’s a great singer. I’ve always thought her voice was exceptional, even if you have to stomach some of the gimmicks she’s known for.
“Cheek To Cheek” is a stunning example of what true artistry and classic style are all about. Both have married the concept well. Let’s not forget it was Bennett who saw fit to perform in duet with many of today’s biggest artists on both of his most recent No. 1 “Duets” albums. The guy is not dumb.
Aside from the obvious shock value, this is an album full of familiar gems that warrant re-recording. Bennett, who is 88, has performed many of the songs on “Cheek To Cheek” for better than seven decades. He knows what he’s doing here. It’s Gaga who going to surprise you. She’s every bit a classy songstress as Ella Fitzgerald or Liza Minnelli for songs of this nature.
I’d like to think that Bennett saw past all of Gaga’s hype to notice the voice. He must have when you hear Gaga chime in on the Cole Porter classic “Anything Goes.” It’s perfection. He brings out the softer, more delicate side of her while she updates his groove.
“They All Laughed,” the Gershwin gem, is a nicely, done true-to-the-original traditional pop piece.
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Firefly,” “I Won’t Dance” and “Let’s Face The Music And Dance” are equally well-done. You might even begin to wonder if Gaga was born in the wrong generation, especially when you hear her toy with the intricate phrasing on “Lush Life” and one of my favorites on the album, “Nature Boy.” She’s awesome.
Gaga will surely benefit greatly from doing this album, but it’s Bennett who will go down in the record books for this one considering he’ll be the oldest person to ever score a No. 1 and place songs on the Hot 100. Actually, he’ll only be re-writing his own record. He accomplished those milestones when his “Duets 2” hit No. 1 and the album’s single “Body And Soul” with the late Amy Winehouse was a hit three years ago.
Bennett and Gaga are what Grammy lovers love. You can bet “Cheek To Cheek” will be the talk of the night come February.
Contact David T. Farr at firstname.lastname@example.org.