September 30, 2021
Columbia/InterscopeThe pop diva and jazz maestro defy the latter’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis and team up once again, this time for a creditable set of Cole Porter covers
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett: Love for Sale review – jazz interloper livens up crooner’s swansong
When Lady Gaga announced her 2014 album of duets with Tony Bennett, Cheek to Cheek, various explanations were given for the existence of an album that would once have seemed unthinkable. It was a return to her roots: long before Stefani Germanotta changed her name and became an arty fixture in the downtown clubs of Manhattan, she had trained as a jazz singer. And it was a reaction to the control exerted in the world of mainstream pop. On the albums that made her globally famous, she protested, producers had Auto-Tuned her voice against her wishes; singing standards was “rebelling against my own pop music”.
If you wanted to be cynical, you might also have suggested it was a savvy move. Before Cheek to Cheek, Gaga’s career had wobbled. Her third album, Artpop, met with mixed reviews and, by her previous standards, underwhelming sales. You didn’t have to buy the rumour, vehemently denied by the Singer, that it lost her label $25m and led to redundancies to figure out that shifting 2.5m copies was noticeably different to the 15m of her debut. If the pop world was slipping out of her grasp, Cheek to Cheek smartly opened Lady Gaga up to a different market: not jazz fans per se, but the old-fashioned, easy-listening end of the BBC Radio 2 audience – a cohort, it’s worth adding, who still buy physical product.
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