Tony Bennett: saving the music industry
I’m a huge fan of music award shows. My favourite one is probably the Grammys because of the reputation they have of being perhaps the most respected music awards, as far as music awards can go of course. So since I was 11 or 12, I’ve tried to watch them every February when they aired on TV. Most of the music and performers that appeared on there I was familiar with to some degree but there were always a few that I wasn’t. One of the more consistent presenters and occasional performers was Tony Bennett. I knew nothing about him other than that he was a jazz standards singer not unlike Frank Sinatra. Even when writing this blog I realize, I still know nothing about him. So I turn to wikipedia for a quick rundown.
He’s been recording since the early 1950s, which gives him over six decades since his first hit. He’s the voice behind I Left My Heart In San Francisco. He went on an extended hiatus in the early 1970s, nearly died of a cocaine overdose in 1979 and made a strong comeback in the early 90s by making appearances on the late-night circuit, shows such as The Simpsons and oddly enough, MTV. In 1994, he joined the likes of Mariah Carey, Nirvana, 10,000 Maniacs and Eric Clapton by releasing an MTV Unplugged record. That album would go on to win a few Grammys including Album of the Year in 1995 at age 68.
Yet, by choice, perhaps due to my lack of focus on traditional pop and jazz standards, he still remained under my radar.
I never would have thought that 15 years later, he could have one of the most anticipated records of the upcoming Fall season in pop music.
In 2006, he released an record called Duets: An American Classic that consisted of new versions of his older songs recorded with other vocalists including the Dixie Chicks, Elton John, Michael Bublé, Bono, Celine Dion, k.d. lang and many others. Of course, it’s main target was on an older music-buying audience. Sales-wise, it did pretty well. On September 20, 85-year-old Tony Bennett is releasing Duets II, another collection of older songs re-recorded with some pretty big names. What makes this collection of songs so anticipated, in addition to having a highly publicized recording with Lady GaGa as well as songs with John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood, Mariah Carey and Norah Jones, it’s also the final recording of Amy Winehouse as the two recorded Body And Soul back in March. Tony was at the MTV Music Video Awards last week as part of their tribute to Amy and they showed them in the studio recording the song together.
I think such a winning combination can have a similar effect as Santana‘s collaboration record Supernatural did back in 1999. Of course, everyone remembers Smooth with Rob Thomas and that record sold millions while winning at least ten Grammy awards.
It’s unlikely the songs themselves will be played on the radio or become hits but the album will be big. My prediction for Duets II is that it will be the second best selling album of 2011 behind Adele‘s 21 and will get some pretty hefty Grammy award nominations when they are announced in December. I’ll try to revisit this blog post by the end of the year to see how my thoughts compare to reality.
1. The Lady Is A Tramp (with Lady Gaga)
2. One For My Baby (And One More For The Road) (with John Mayer)
3. Body And Soul (with Amy Winehouse)
4. Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (with Michael Bublé)
5. Blue Velvet (with k.d. lang)
6. How Do You Keep The Music Playing (with Aretha Franklin)
7. The Girl I Love (with Sheryl Crow)
8. On The Sunny Side of the Street (Willie Nelson)
9. Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me) (with Queen Latifah)
10. Speak Low (with Norah Jones)
11. This Is All I Ask (with Josh Groban)
12. Watch What Happens (with Natalie Cole)
13. Stranger In Paradise (with Andrea Bocelli)
14. The Way You Look Tonight (with Faith Hill)
15. Yesterday I Heard The Rain (with Alejandro Sanz)
16. It Had To Be You (with Carrie Underwood)
17. When Do The Bells Ring For Me (with Mariah Carey)