Paul McCarthy and Michael Jackson, Jay Z and Linkin Park, Taylor Swift and Kendrick Lamar-- unusual music pairings throughout the years you didn't expect to work together but were amazed when they did.
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett proved just that during their dazzling performance at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday. The music icons soft-shoed through a collection of jazz standards, many off their Grammy-winning album Cheek to Cheek, for what felt like a once-in-a-lifetime concert experience straight out of the golden age of Hollywood.
The Bowl was completely transformed to that bygone era and the audience was especially mesmerized by the two entertainers, who together have sold over 78 million records and won 24 Grammy Awards.
Despite their nearly 60 year age difference, Gaga and Bennett were in a word: timeless.
"This is a total dream tonight," she told the sold-out crowd. "Thanks for being here with me, Tony."
Lady Gaga, 29, returned to her roots and emerged as a powerhouse jazz vocalist. The pop star looked and sounded like she was born to perform the American Songbook, forgoing pop acrobatics for classically trained runs and melodies in songs such as "Nature Boy" and "Bang Bang."
In true form, the singer saved the real spectacle for her showstopping ensembles-- all sequined, all fab, all Gaga-- which were met with thunderous applause each time she paraded out on stage. Jaws dropped for her red sheer halter dress complete with red pasties during "I Can't Give You Anything But Love." "Sorry, Tony," she said.
Gaga played well as Bennett's sidekick, as if the role was just the latest incarnation of her many stage personas—in the same vein as her male alter-ego Jo Calderone or her seashell bikini "Venus" Aphrodite. It's a part she plays so well you forget disco stick, riding inside an egg, meat dress Gaga.
For his part, Tony Bennett, 88, really stole the show. The man is a national treasure whose career spans over six decades and he’s still got it.
He crooned his way through stirring renditions of "The Good Life" and "I Left My Heart In San Francisco" and every rousing belt from the jazz legend was met with an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Perhaps more unexpected was Bennett's cheeky banter with the audience. "Go out and buy the album [Cheek to Cheek] because she needs the money," he joked, referencing Gaga, who he affectionately refers to as "Lady."
"My record label said, 'You're only singing old songs,'" he added. "Because they're better than the new ones." Touché Bennett.
Vocally, the pair shined brighter solo than they did together. Still, their chemistry together was undeniable and was the real magic of the show.
You got a sense that this was not a PR stunt or because either artist "needs the money." Gaga and Bennett's collaboration was born out of a genuine friendship and passion for jazz music.
These two are the real deal.
Follow Denny on Twitter: @DDirecto.