Music Honorable Mention

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga: Cheek to Cheek

Cheek_to_Cheek_Standard_Edition_artwork

Here’s a fact about me that might shock you (read: not actually shock you at all): I’m a huge Lady Gaga fan. Although I don’t worship the ground she walks on as some of her Little Monster fans do, I think she’s an incredible force of creativity in the music, art and fashion industries. These days, it’s hard to tell which pop stars actually know what’s what when it comes to music, art and performing, but Lady Gaga has proven her worth.

Now Gaga has stepped out of her theatrical, electronic box to pursue an album of jazz standards with music legend Tony Bennett. Thank goodness he took her under his wing for this album because, by god, they deliver.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to call Lady Gaga flawless on the album. It’s a shame I can’t say the same about Bennett. He has occasional pitch issues, which are less excusable given this isn’t a live album. “Sophisticated Lady,” a solo Bennett song, is particularly dreadful.

Occasional songs on the album aren’t meaningful, either. I’m not sure who all had a hand in choosing the track list (and I don’t know much about jazz standards in general) but songs such as “Firefly,” “Goody Goody” and “On a Clear Day” don’t do much for me.

The clear duet highlights are “Anything Goes,” “Cheek to Cheek,” “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” and “I Won’t Dance.” Lady Gaga’s solo performances are delightful, too. “Lush Life,” in particular, is her standout vocal track. Her strong, velvety voice is showcased in a way her solo albums haven’t quite touched on.

In her solo career, Gaga has already experimented with standard pop music, harder electronic beats, 80s-inspired pop, rap, R&B, musical theatre, rock and roll, country and piano ballads. Perhaps on her next solo album, she’ll add more jazz to it. I sure wouldn’t complain. After Cheek to Cheek’s success, a jazzy, big band album would be nice to see on the menu.

Next Award: Music Runner Up

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