It is often the most unlikely of pairings that stick in people’s minds and in fact bring about the best results. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich anyone? Or perhaps you may prefer a helping of duets between a modern pop megastar and a 95-year-old jazz-singing legend? If so, then you need look no further than the wonderful Love For Sale by Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett.
The pair have actually recorded together before, releasing Cheek to Cheek in 2014 and have chosen the same format of covering jazz standards for Love For Sale, but with this album being a tribute to the infinitely influential Cole Porter, it contains renditions solely of his songs, including favourites Night and Day; I’ve Got You Under My Skin; I Get a Kick Out of You; and Just One of Those Things.
It is endearingly refreshing to hear this collaboration between these two seemingly antithetical musical moguls. It’s so great that a pop star of Gaga’s status and fame has chosen to drive this project, as it will hopefully introduce her young fans to this kind of music. These Porter big band standards that were so big in their time have, and will, always endure, but without someone like Lady Gaga choosing to preach their beauty in this way, it is increasingly likely that young pop fans will never experience this sort of music, making the project all the more precious.
However, the album is welcomingly much more than a simple novelty. The affirmed start made by the horns in opening song It’s De-Lovely is matched by Gaga and from the first line, it is obvious she wouldn’t be out of place in any big band, and even sounds as if she could have been performing big band numbers all her life. One would not immediately associate the female singer on this album with songs such as Bad Romance and Poker Face, but this just demonstrates Gaga’s adaptability and versatility as a singer and performer. With the fantastic control, timbre and soft vibrato she displays, it seems as if Lady Gaga really does ‘feel an urge to sing’.
As for Bennett, his vocals and control over them stand strong after all these years, showing that age is indeed just a number! His solid introduction to Dream Dancing along with the plaintive piano is one of the more evocative highlights of the album. It is beautiful to feel and hear the affection the two singers have for each other. Gaga embodies the love so many hold for the legendary Bennett, while the warm relationship between both is heard through the snippets of discourse shared in the videos of some of the songs.
Experiencing the affection between the two artists is heart-warming and adds to the overall feel-good factor of the album. These famous Carl Porter songs never fail to make people happy, whether it be through triggering nostalgia or by making listeners sway to the irresistible swing of the music. It could be argued that there are critiques to be made about the album, such as the rendition of Night and Day being slightly underwhelming given the pedigree of previous cover versions, or Do I Love You being a bit too slow for a bit too long, but with this likely to be the last album Tony Bennett will ever record, nothing bad can really be said about the music he has produced with Lady Gaga in Love For Sale. The album puts a smile on your face and just makes you happy!