Tony Bennett Has His Eyes On Top 40 With ‘Duets’ Disc

Posted September 20, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in HiDef

Pop crooner looks to be bouncing back into the Top 40 with all-star “duets” set

When Tony Bennett‘s career exploded in the Sixties Fifties, his music was the grandeur of sophisticated pop – cupped in the smooth brandy of fine jazz. Decades later, now in 2011, Bennett’s music will be placed on the shelves against the alt-rock of Coldplay, the ego-inducing hip-hop of Lil Wayne, the country swagger of Lady Antebellum and the unshakable Adele. All four acts are just some of the names dominating today’s Top 40, but Tony Bennett’s adult-contemporary smooth jazz, with shades of nostalgia from 20th century standards like “Fly Me To The Moon” and “Don’t Get Around Much anymore” will probably nestle its way into the same mix.

 That’s because Bennett’s “ol’ skool” collections possess the same glowing powers of Rod Stewart’s best-selling covers’ discs. His 2006 disc united the jazz legend with heavy names like Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Elton John, Diana Krall, Celine Dion, Bono, Sting and John Legend – debuting at No. 3, selling roughly 202,000 copies in its first week. But its follow-up, entitled Duets II, may surpass that number.

Thanks to “Body and Soul,” a highly-anticipated track featuring the late Amy Winehouse that has wowed her fans and even her toughest critics. The singer, who passed away this year, embodies the spirit of Billie Holiday and Dinah Washington and executes the song with an uncanny perfection of a professional blues singer. The humanitarian side of the track is also getting major buzz, since most of the profits from the iTunes single and its exclusive companion video will be donated to the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

“Body and Soul” is already storming up the charts in the US and the UK, but the album’s other tracks are also gaining extraordinary momentum from music lovers. Pop star Lady Gaga, who’s Born This Way is still counted as the second best-selling disc of 2011, links up with Bennett on a moving rendition of “The Lady Is A Tramp.” And the host of guest stars are just as pompous as the list featured on the 2006 disc: Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Carrie Underwood, Natalie Cole, Queen Latifah, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin all join in on the 2011 set.

On its first week, Bennett’s single “Body and Soul” landed at No. 40on the UK Singles Chart. It is the first time the American singer has appeared in the UK’s Top 40 since 1965.

According to Billboard, Bennett calls the new disc “the last” of its kind. Not sure if Bennett is retiring the ‘Duets’ idea, but a beefed-up extravaganza of events are lined up for the music icon. All of the recording sessions were filmed and will be released as both online content as well as a making-of documentary. Bennett was treated with an extravagant celebration at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on Sept. 18 for his 85th birthday and the Staples Center in Los Angeles will be welcoming him on Sept. 24. A large-scale, career-spanning box set, containing 2 lost LPs and a whopping 73 CDs will hit select stores this fall.

Duets II is slated to hit shelves September 20, 2011.

So what do you think?
Are you going to pick up the album when it drops?
What do you think of the Amy Winehouse duet?
Sound off.

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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