Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in H&M’s holiday campaign for 2014.

Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga in H&M’s holiday campaign for 2014.

CHEEK TO CHEEK: TONY BENNETT AND LADY GAGA

A modern day pop icon meets legendary jazz singer. The result? A jazzy love story. H&M Life talks music and friendship with the stars of the H&M holiday campaign, Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga.

Lady Gaga, the pop star of her generation, might have raised an eyebrow or two in the industry when she announced her newest musical excursion: a jazz duets album with Tony Bennett. The Cheek To Cheek album is, however (and of course), a runaway success. Released in September, it debuted number one on the Billboard 200 chart, making it Lady Gaga’s third consecutive number one album and Bennett’s second. In fact, Bennett broke his own record, remaining the oldest artist in music history to have a number one album.
But for this duo, it seems to be more about love and music than about numbers and charts.

WHY SHOULD A NEW GENERATION DISCOVER JAZZ MUSIC?
LADY GAGA: Jazz is the greatest art form to arise from America, a complex and honest music invented by the African American community through the oppression of the times. The Great American Songbook is home to the greatest composers and lyricists in the history of our nation.  The freedom and rebellion it conveys is not only inspiring, but healing. And if you really want to experience the greatness of jazz, you will close your eyes, listen, and bask as each imperfection becomes an exciting opportunity to improvise.

TONY BENNETT: Jazz is one of the greatest artistic contributions that America has given to the world and it’s a form of music that lives in spontaneity and the moment, so it never gets dated, it’s always changing, and therefore becomes timeless.  When you listen to jazz, you have to be an active participant and put your heart and soul into it just as much as the musicians playing the music.  

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THE SONGS FOR THE ALBUM?
LADY GAGA: Tony and I spent lots of time together, talking, singing, sharing our life stories. We chose our common favourites, and it began to tell a story. Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn – these are just a few of the composers that we are so passionate about.  We sang, we laughed, we cried and recorded.  We kept all the magic and put it on Cheek To Cheek.

TONY BENNETT: Lady has an extensive knowledge of jazz and popular standards as she began singing jazz when she was about 13 years old.

 

WERE YOU SURPRISED BY EACH OTHER AT ANY POINT IN THE PROCESS OF MAKING THE ALBUM?
TONY BENNETT:  Well, I remember when we first started recording in the studio, I noticed that during the breaks, Lady would go over and whisper to someone in her staff and very quietly, by the end of the day, the studio was transformed with rugs and candles to make it a very intimate setting.  It amazed me that she went to all that trouble, but she pays great attention to detail and is very intelligent.

LADY GAGA: Tony surprises me every single day. He’s very inspirational. An artist to his core. When he is not singing, he is painting, when he’s not painting, he’s arranging new music charts, when he’s not doing any of those things, he’s talking about them. We are so much alike. He’s made me like that part of myself more and I’ve become more confident.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM EACH OTHER?
LADY GAGA: I have someone to look up to.  Someone who can answer all the questions about life that I’ve been wondering about. I felt lonely before working with Tony, and I don’t feel lonely anymore. When I sing with him I see a dream of my future.

TONY BENNETT: I discovered that there is no other artist I have ever met who has fans like Lady Gaga’s – they absolutely adore her.

TELL US ABOUT THE EXPERIENCE WHEN YOU FILMED THE VIDEO FOR THE H&M HOLIDAY CAMPAIGN!
TONY BENNETT: It was an amazing day as we walked into this airplane hangar that had been transformed with all these different stage sets.  The stage setting for our performance of It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing) reminded me of the film sets that were built for the magnificent musicals of the 30s and 40s – I was very impressed.

LADY GAGA: It was a wonderful experience; Tony and I had so much fun. I loved watching him smile walking around the big sets.

 

TONY BENNETT AND LADY GAGA – QUICK Q'S!
LADY GAGA
If Tony was a jazz song, he would be…
It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)

I absolutely have to dance when I hear…
Firefly [by Tony Bennett].

My favourite love song is…
Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye by Cole Porter – it’s on the deluxe edition of Cheek To Cheek.

TONY BENNETT
If Lady Gaga was a jazz song, she would be…
Lady Gaga is JAZZ.  She always wanted to be a jazz singer and she is a natural at it and thrilled to be discovered now as a very good jazz singer.  She is doing more for jazz than anyone I can recall since Louis Armstrong.

I absolutely have to dance when I hear…
The right beat.

My favourite love song is…
All The Things You Are, written by Oscar Hammerstein and Jerome Kern.

 

The full-length version of H&M Holiday campaign video, starring Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, will debut on H&M Life on November 25th. Download Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s album Cheek to Cheek here.

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