After I saw Lady Gaga 5 years ago, it changed my perspective a lot on things. Looks are deceiving and some celebrities really do care about their fans and their work. Since then I’ve had trouble explaining to people that beyond her pop (which is still killer) Lady Gaga can really sing and should be recognized for her talent. Well now she’s released a Jazz standard album with legend Tony Bennett, and the two kill it, with great singing, chemistry and joy.
The album opens on the great “Anything Goes” where the two play call and response lines and listeners get the first taste of Gaga’s real singing power without effects. “Cheek To Cheek” opens on the famous “Heaven, I’m in heaven” in a slow intro that quickly breaks into fast jazz, the drums are loud, the piano is frantic, the duo’s little vocal bits are great and Gaga’s grace notes are truly delicious. The ending’s badoobops are candy too.
“Don’t Wait Too Long” is just a classic sounding love song with a sweet feel to it. It feels almost cinematic in its arrangement and lyricism making you feel the winter winds and strolling feel. “Goody Goody” has the duo trading shots again as Bennett sings and Gaga spouts out spoken comebacks it’s a cute little song that’s as playful as it is fast.
“Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” feels like it was pulled out of an old movie in its tender singing and piano playing that make it nearly as sad as the Fitzgerald original. “Firefly” is a horn heavy, snappy song with Bennett belting his heart out and Gaga showing her lower range and ability to dance around a scale there too. Her “Sun goes down line” is “F yeah” inducing for anyone who enjoys good singing, and appreciates how hard it is to sing that well in multiple ranges.
“I Won’t Dance” brings more classic feel back, and jumps into a nice slow dance with the duo singing to each other in what could only be improved with a Gene Kelly-esque music video. “They All Laughed” while a little weird and lacking on better vocals is as bland as the album really gets.
One of the album’s best tracks is “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing” with all the life the two can muster, and the two seem to really get into it. The song not only features some great belts from both of them, as well Gaga trading some vocables to throw a TO NI GA GA (hilariously cheeky) but an excellent long instrumental solo section. When Gaga comes back in with “Just give that rhythm everything you got” the fun, properly ugly and energetic feel seeps right out of the earbuds.
If any of you have seen Kill Bill you’ll know the closing Nancy Sinatra classic “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” which we get an amazing live cut of on the record. The trumpet’s great and Gaga sounds both beautiful and powerfully ugly when she wants.
While the album might not be as great for jazz purists (I’m sure there’s a few) it’s a cool record and stands to bring jazz to a younger audience thanks to Gaga. The energy drives this record and it truly sounds like the two had fun making it.