Lady Gaga's latest album, a collection of duets with crooner Tony Bennett called Cheek to Cheek, is nominated for Best Traditional Pop Performance by the Grammys. The awards show recently asked the two, who've been called an "odd couple," to perform selections from the album live. Although Lady Gaga was once the star performer at the Grammys, she's now thought to be an irrelevant aging pop star by many.
But her fans know otherwise. If you've seen Gaga and Bennett perform the standards onstage, you know that Gaga's career is far from over, as some critics claim. This is the record that proved just how talented she is as a singer. The songs are meant to be sung live, and they're show-stoppers — in front of a crowd, Gaga turns into an elegant jazz crooner. She's at her very best when she drops the drama and taps into that magnificent voice. And on Feb. 8, she'll prove that to the world once again when she unveils a whole new Gaga.
People have been down on Lady Gaga for awhile now. Lady Gaga's last two solo albums, Artpop and Born This Way, turned a lot of people off. The general consensus was that Artpop was just plain disappointing. NME wrote that Born This Way was "a steaming pile of ceaselessly grey and boring dog poo for boring bores." It seemed like Gaga was descending into irrelevance. And people rolled their eyes when Gaga announced that her latest album would be jazz standards with Tony Bennett, called Cheek to Cheek.
But then the album came out, and it was clearly more than a publicity stunt. Among the most laudatory critical reviews of the album was one by Entertainment Weekly, which said, "If you come to Cheek to Cheek expecting a half-assed gag, the joke's on you."
The duo first met at a gala in New York City when Bennett approached Gaga after her performance of Nat King Cole's "Orange Colored Sky" blew him away. According to an interview with Rolling Stone, Gaga said, "He heard me sing that song, and he asked to meet me. I said, 'Oh, my gosh, Tony Bennett's here.' And I was so nervous. I fixed my hair, and my mom was fixing her makeup. We went back to meet him, and he said, 'Do you want to do a jazz album together?' I said, 'Yes, of course I do.' And we were fast friends and friends ever since."
That's because, while Gaga may be best known for the spectacle, she's first and foremost a singer. That's what Cheek to Cheek, and the live performances surrounding it especially, prove. The whole album reveals her true talent (and that vocal training). People who dismiss her as an auto-tuned pop diva are going to be very surprised at her performance come Grammy night. She isn't irrelevant — she's just showing us what a real artist looks like.