After what could only be described as the most turbulent twelve months of her career, Lady Gaga finally sounds at peace with life on her meticulously crafted duets album with Grandfather Bling himself, Tony Bennett.
Within minutes of the release of last year’s truly dynamic LP ARTPOP, it’s believed that Gaga was dumped by her management seconds before walking on stage at the YouTube Music Awards, where she would go on to – heartbreakingly – perform ‘Dope’. If you ever saw the video, knowing what happened only minutes earlier brings that performance into a whole new light.
“I’m not really legally allowed to say what happened that day,” she told CBS News last week, “but my partner left me. He told the whole world that I left him. That was very hard.” Then, on the topic of her latest incarnation as JazzGa: “Everyone needs different things. I just want to be happy and I can’t tell you how happy singing this music makes me.”
Tired and torn apart by the industry, Gaga searched for solace in her new friend Tony Bennett – a friend who would turn her life around completely and, to paraphrase her own quote, save her. The bond the two share is electric and undeniable; whether it’s watching them doing TV promotion together or hearing their voices harmonise as one. There is something very special about that, as there is something very special about the release of Cheek to Cheek.
I am not one to claim being a jazz expert, but soul music is easily identifiable and discussed, with or without those credentials. I grew up in a house that played jazz from time to time but we were more on the Elvis and ABBA side of the fence than we ever were Ella or Frank. So with the release of Cheek to Cheek, I was intent on delving deeper into the Great American Songbook – and deeper into the discography of Ella Fitzgerald, who Gaga cites as an inspiration. Seeing how happy Gaga so evidently was singing these delicate songs made the horns and brass of a jazz band sound a helluva lot more appealing. So I dove into jazz, headfirst.
By the time Cheek to Cheek came out, I had really developed – as wanky and pretentious as this may sound – a deeper understanding of the genre. Sure, I’m still no expert, but Gaga’s passion for it made me want to at least attempt becoming one.
But what are the Top 5 best moments on Cheek to Cheek? Let’s pour another quart of brandy and have a gander shall we?
The best moment of the duets here, this is a gorgeously crafted composition of one of my favourite songs of all time. From the sweeping intro, to the way Gaga and Tony’s voices melt together in pure bliss – HEAVEN. There is also something incredibly beautiful about hearing these two sing one of my favourite lines from a song (“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return”) together.
BEWITCHED, BOTHERED AND BEWILDERED
Probably my absolute favourite song on the record, this is a bonus track that is exclusively featured on the physical, CD release. The perfection of this moment is worth the $24.95 alone and marks itself as one of Gaga’s greatest vocal recordings. A solo moment on the record, the lyrics really bloody speak to me, and hearing GagAllah singing them at me is just a little too much to bear at times. That finale, oh man. What a LEGEND.
BANG BANG (MY BABY SHOT ME DOWN)
Covering the Sonny Bono-written classic, this is another Gaga solo moment that will change many people’s minds about her talents. Another bonus track, this is exclusively featured on the digital, iTunes release. And yet again, that finale will knock your socks off.
EV’RY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE
BLUB AND KLEENEX TIME x 1,000,000.
If you don’t at least well up with even a single tear listening to Gaga’s vocal delivery of ‘Lush Life’, you are probably devoid of a soul. She makes you feel every single line, shooting up your spine and causing goose bumps all over. That frantic, final 90 seconds will silence any of the arsehats claiming Gaga is without talent. One of the most emotional moments in music for 2014.
It may not be every Little Monsters’ cup of tea, but Gaga and Tony’s Cheek to Cheek is the kind of special record you really shouldn’t miss out on hearing. There are moments of pure joy, ultimate sadness and more melancholic nostalgia than any other record in 2014.
Buy copies for everybody you know. I know I am.
Written by Adem Ali