Steven Klien
Adam Markovitz
November 08, 2014 AT 05:00 AM EST

Cheek to Cheek

type
Music
Current Status
In Season
performer
Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga
genre
Jazz

We gave it a B+

This is a joke, right? Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett making an album together? First of all, they have absolutely nothing in common: She’s the postmodern star who was born for TV; he’s the postwar crooner who was born the year TV was invented. (No kidding, 1926.) Besides, Gaga never takes anything seriously. This is a woman who once looked at a sirloin and thought, ”I have just the shoes…”

And yet, when Gaga, 28, and Bennett, 88, are out together dancing on Cheek to Cheek, they’re in — if not quite heaven, then at least a pretty swell piano bar. Fronting a live band, the singers have a ball with standards from Cole Porter’s ”Anything Goes” to the Gershwins’ ”They All Laughed.” It’s traditional pop without gimmicks or Gaga-isms, just Anthony Benedetto (his real name) and Stefani Germanotta (hers) on a happy stroll down their beloved Tin Pan Alley.

The track list is, admittedly, a little dull. Luckily, the singing isn’t. Bennett’s voice is the leather armchair of American song: classy, sturdy, and still sigh-inducingly comfy, even though it’s been around longer than anyone can remember. Gaga tickles his mischief; he, in turn, lifts her technique. She’s done brassy before, but the revelation here is when she turns woodwind, delicately toying with tone and phrasing like a pro on ”Nature Boy” and ”Lush Life.”

Why the pair wanted to make this album — for laughs, as a stunt — we may never know. But if you come to Cheek to Cheek expecting a half-assed gag, the joke’s on you. B+

Best Tracks:
”Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye”
”Cheek to Cheek”

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