Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga ‘Cheek to Cheek’ Album Review Roundup

September 21, 2014

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s new album is ‘Cheek to Cheek.’ Music critics have given the music legend and the pop music icon mixed reviews for their take on the jazz standards that comprise the Great American Songbook. Find out what they have to say.

We have seen the pairing of the legendary Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga before, in a previous duet “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Bennett’s 2011 album ‘Duets II,” (which featured numerous guest artists including the late Any Winehouse). Now, we are treated to an entire album of such collaborations from the two, bringing back the jazz standards. Yes, there’s more than a generation between the singers, as Bennett is 88 and Lady Gaga is 28 which just goes to show that the great music of the Great American Songbook is a great unifier across any perceived boundaries or barriers.

It was just a year ago that Lady Gaga’s ARTPOP album was released. While it debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, sales did not match let alone exceed sales of her previous albums, including ‘The Fame Monster’ which immediately proceeded it. While some were quick to declare an and to her pop music reign, the ever versatile artist has emerged in a new genre in a collaborative album with one of our most iconic surviving singers of another era and one whose career has weathered more than six decades, spanning back to the 1940s and the Big Band era.

So what do the critics think of this pairing? Here’s a roundup.

“….[Lady Gaga] has been musically hamstrung by the common assumption that her talent begins and ends with the Auto-Tune switch; Cheek to Cheek reveals the considerable warmth and depth of her voice. She and Bennett play it absolutely straight – there are no radical reboots, just two accomplished vocalists having fun. ….” — The Guardian

“…There’s no question that the singers establish a bona fide artistic partnership on “Cheek to Cheek,” an album that starts off a bit breathlessly but soon digs into substantive music-making at a variety of tempos and moods. Better still, Lady Gaga meets Bennett on his musical territory, not the other away around, the accompanying jazz instrumentalists underscoring the point…If you didn’t know the name of the vocalist and the kind of publicity that surrounds her, you’d surely say: Who’s that swing singer, and why haven’t I heard of her before?…” — Chicago Tribune

“….What’s most disappointing about the album is how tame it sounds as Gaga, 28, reverts to her undistinguished cabaret days, while Bennett, 88, simply coasts in easy-listening mode. Rather than highlight each other’s wildly distinguishing features, they merely settle on a quiet night at the local jazz club, where the background music is far more exciting than the people singing over it…..” — San Francisco Chronicle

“…On songs like the Cole Porter standard “Anything Goes” and the title track, Gaga sounds like what she thinks a jazz singer should sound like; her performances are blatantly affected, marred by shouting and clichéd phrasing….Bennett doesn’t fare a whole lot better, his otherwise charming performances strained throughout. The pair’s solo efforts, particularly Gaga’s clumsy interpretation of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” and Bennett’s surprisingly pitchy rendition of Duke Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady,” only serve to spotlight their shortcomings. ….” — Slant Magazine

The music video for the album’s second single, ‘I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,’ is below.

Pictures: PR Photos

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