Cheek to Cheek, by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga

Cool crooner and shock popper an unlikely, entertaining pair

In a smoky, darkened nightclub, the stage is bare save for two figures singing in the gloom. A woman sits playfully at a piano as her partner sips a scotch on the rocks and smiles at his muse. A single spotlight illuminates the two as they steal each other’s hearts and souls.

This is the image that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s new album of jazz standards, Cheek to Cheek, evokes. It may seem like an odd pairing, having smooth-voiced Bennett and shock popper Gaga duetting on an album, but once the horns kick in on the opening track, Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes,” all doubts are washed away, as Gaga’s surprisingly sultry voice weaves its hypnotic spell.

Bennett remains as loveable as ever, merrily swinging his way through each tune, giving Gaga plenty of room to play. She shows the impressive range of her voice on tracks such as “Cheek to Cheek” and “Firefly,” harkening back to the days of Ella Fitzgerald, when a vocalist’s pipes, not their looks, garnered chart hits.

Gaga and Bennett work well off of each other, giving the right amount of tongue-in-cheek playfulness. The duo turn in one of the finest, if not most reverent, performances of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy” ever recorded and lay out a rousing take of “It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” On the hilarious “Goody Goody,” the two trade barbs and quips over a story of heartbreak and deceit. This odd couple is anything but odd, showing that opposites do indeed attract.

Back in that dingy nightclub, the show is long over. Only the piano remains on the hardwood stage, alone and inviting, waiting to be played again. Here’s to hoping that the duo returns to the stage, ready to meter out another encore of sweet melodies.

  • Album: Cheek to Cheek
  • Artist: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett
  • Label: Columbia
  • Songs: (Deluxe Version) (1) Anything Goes (2) Cheek to Cheek (3) Don't Wait Too Long (4) I Can't Give You Anything But Love (5) Nature Boy (6) Goody Goody (7) Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye (8) Firefly (9) I Won't Dance (10) They All Laughed (11) Lush Life (12) Sophisticated Lady (13) Let's Face the Music and Dance (14) But Beautiful (15) It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

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