Dance pop star Lady Gaga and legendary crooner Tony Bennett seemed like an odd combo when they teamed up for their 2014 collaboration album “Cheek to Cheek.” But it proved a successful match-up, topping the Billboard 200, certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, and winning them a Grammy for Best Traditional Pop Album. Now comes their followup “Love for Sale,” a collection of Cole Porter covers that is likely to be their last collaboration, and likely the last album that Bennett ever records since the beloved 95-year-old has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. What do critics think of his farewell from the public stage?
As of this writing the album has a MetaCritic score of 72 based on seven reviews counted thus far: four positive and three somewhat mixed, but none outright negative. Those three mixed reviews, though, score the album 60 out of 100, which is right on MetaCritic’s cutoff line between positive and mixed, so there’s affection all around for the album. Reviewers say Bennet sings like he’s “got these songs under his skin,” like he was “born this way,” while Gaga “does a brilliant job” of accompanying him. Their collaboration of “complement and contrast” “works surprisingly well,” and they perform like they’re “having a blast.”
“Love for Sale” was released to major music platforms on October 1, the day after the current Grammys eligibility period ended. But the collection was made available on September 30, so it is officially eligible to compete for the 2022 Grammys. Bennett is a past Album of the Year winner (for “MTV Unplugged” in 1995), while Gaga has been nominated three times in that top race (for “The Fame,” “The Fame Monster,” and “Born This Way” from 2010 to 2012), so we should never underestimate them, especially since the recording academy did away with the nomination review committees that often skewed the nominations away from veterans, especially over the last 10 years.
What do you think? Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow music fans here in our forums.
Helen Brown (The Independent): “To hear the subtle, supple way he finds his way through the 12 Cole Porter standards that appear on ‘Love for Sale’ (his second duets album with Lady Gaga), you’d never guess that he was diagnosed with dementia five years ago and can no longer maintain anything like a normal conversation. Bennett’s got these songs under his skin, and pop’s Mother Monster does a brilliant job of helping him deliver them as a final gift to the world.”
Neil McCormick (The Telegraph): “It is a partnership of complement and contrast rather than perfect harmony, and it works surprisingly well, each occupying distinct spaces of melodic arrangements while interacting with rhythmic wit and oodles of swaggering personality. They sing as if they are having a blast making music together, and that is half the pleasure of any duet.”
Joe Gross (Rolling Stone): “Bennett’s recent Alzheimer’s diagnosis gives the collection a poignancy that was absent from ‘Cheek to Cheek.’ ‘Love for Sale’ has been billed as their final collaboration. Over traditional arrangements suitable for both supper club and Radio City, Bennett sings such standards as ‘I Get a Kick Out of You’ (the first single), the title track and ‘It’s De-Lovely’ as if he was born this way.”
Alexis Petridis (The Guardian): “Beyond sympathy and sentiment, ‘Love for Sale’ disarms cynicism simply by being infectiously good fun. If Gaga is enacting another stage of a gimlet-eyed scheme to broaden her appeal, she doesn’t sound like it. Indeed, if you wanted to level a criticism, it’s that she occasionally feels as if she’s enjoying herself too much to inject the requisite pathos into a song such as ‘Night and Day.'”
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