This is going to sound odd, but try to imagine what the R&B hit â€œWaterfallsâ€ would sound like if it was on the soundtrack of â€œBeaches.â€
Great: Now youâ€™ve basically got the gist of Bette Midlerâ€™s cover of the 1995 TLC hit. It works, it really works. Midler remixes a spare, haunting quality that feels right in line with the lyrics.
Itâ€™s no secret that infusion of the young and hip can help classic artists such as Midler, Tony Bennett and Barbra Streisand reach new audiences, and theyâ€™ve all capitalized on youth in one way or another. Midler smartly released her cover of â€œWaterfallsâ€ to gin up buzz for â€œItâ€™s The Girls,â€ her album of girl-group covers that comes out Nov. 4. The first single was the Ronettesâ€™ â€œBe My Babyâ€ â€” also excellent, and instantly familiar to anyone who can quote â€œDirty Dancingâ€ from memory (â€œI carried a watermelonâ€œ).
So far, this trend has made for some great combinations, such as Bennett and Lady Gaga, Barbra Streisand and Michael BublÃ©, Barbra Streisand and Josh Groban, Barbra Streisand and John Legend â€” pretty much Babs and all the pop stars your mother can readily identify as nice, clean-cut, handsome boys. This is a woman who understands her core audience.
As for Bennett, the man practically lives in duet country these days â€” â€œDuets,â€ â€œDuets II,â€ â€œViva Duets,â€ â€œCheek to Cheekâ€ â€” we get it, Tony, you really like singing with others. And no wonder: With â€œCheek to Cheek,â€ Bennett became the oldest act to ever reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200.
Bennett and Gaga are taking the show to PBS tonight with a live concert from â€œThe Great American Songbookâ€ airing on â€œGreat Performancesâ€ at 9 p.m. EST. Itâ€™s become practically clichÃ© to note what an odd couple they make, so weâ€™ll just remind you theyâ€™re actually both divine live performers and theyâ€™ve got great chemistry.
Bennettâ€™s general even keel does make you wonder if heâ€™s simply become inured to Gagaâ€™s parade of crazy cat lady wigs â€” not to mention her attendant makeup and wardrobe â€” or if heâ€™s just very good at pretending she looks completely normal.
Or maybe heâ€™s just unfazed, because at 88, the man has seen it all. Or maybe he just sees an artist whose rendition of â€œBang Bangâ€ will give you chills: