Cheek to Cheek
Ever since his MTV Unplugged album/show/comeback Tony Bennett has been brilliant at seemingly reinventing himself while essentially lining up to do the very same thing he’s always done. He’s as spritely as can be – he’ll be 89 next birthday! – and he keeps finding new ways in, even if he just tunnels in, around and through that same (admittedly glorious) back-catalogue of standards.
Here we have Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga – odd pairing? Well, stroke of brilliant PR from Tony – gets him talked about, and here he is backing up the claim that he loved Lady Gaga, thought she was a great talent. Ms Gaga, though really she should have slipped back inside her real name, this album should have been billed as Tony Bennett and Stefani Germanotta, seems content to appear here, mostly, as Liza Minelli. She does a slap-up job.
And maybe this furthers Gaga’s cause to be taken seriously – though it’s no real mea culpa for meat dresses, stage blood and leading the youth of today/five-years-ago astray…
This is all rather charming actually. The arrangements are, well, standard – these songs, old standards, have been done better, they’ve been done worse too I’m sure – Bennett and Gaga sound like they had an okay time doing this. It’s a bit of a snooze at times, but if you take it as being a cute folly then it succeeds. It’s better than a whole album of Tony Bennett these days, for as much as he might try he can’t last the distance (shouldn’t have to, shouldn’t try to). And it might surprise a few people so content to merely dismiss Gaga because of the outfits and some of the column-inches she’s gathered.
I might even – almost – like this. Just that there’s no real need for it. That’s always the lasting problem with these sorts of collaborations.