Wednesday , February 21 2024
What a shock it'll be if it's shock-performers like Cyrus and Gaga who engineer revivals of classic soul and musical-theater stylings.

From Loony to Legit: Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga Surprise with Authentic and Authoritative Performances

Miley Cyrus BangerzMiley Cyrus, serious? Lady Gaga, legit? Twice in one week, TV specials have given us surprisingly impressive straight-ahead performances from music stars known for outrageous or bad-girl stage antics.

The biggest surprise on NBC’s Saturday Night Live 40th anniversary special was Miley Cyrus’s soulful, honest performance of Paul Simon’s classic “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.”

While Simon himself wisely chose a very low-stress number (“Still Crazy After All These Years”) to close the show with, and his contemporary Paul McCartney made the unfortunate decision to try to put across his titanic hit “Maybe I’m Amazed” with a weak, apparently un-warmed-up voice, Cyrus hit it out of the ballpark in several (if not 50) ways, rumbling through the early verses in a heated low register, then leaping up the octave to belt out the second half with the command of a seasoned soul singer.

View the performance here.

Lady Gaga Tony Bennett Cheek to CheekJust a week later at the Academy Awards, Lady Gaga took the stage with a surprise tribute to The Sound of Music. Wearing a classy but rather big and puffy dress that looked like it could easily have been hiding some sort of outrageous get-up underneath, the shock specialist delivered a totally straight and sparklingly sung medley of ageless hits from the classic show.

Expecting something nutty to happen at any moment, I couldn’t look away for a second, but she did the whole number in perfectly legit, tasteful style. When Julie Andrews herself appeared afterwards to give Gaga a big hug, it too looked entirely genuine.

Lady Gaga’s recent duets with Tony Bennett had already revealed her legit side, a sensible effort to grow past her flamboyant, sometimes (intentionally) offensive stage-show excess, which can’t sustain a career over the long haul. Her Academy Awards number seemed to put a stamp of sincerity, if not permanence, on her transformation.

What a shock it’ll be if it’s shock-performers like Cyrus and Gaga who engineer revivals of classic soul and musical-theater stylings.

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About Jon Sobel

Jon Sobel is Publisher and Executive Editor of Blogcritics as well as lead editor of the Culture & Society section. As a writer he contributes most often to Music, where he covers classical music (old and new) and other genres, and Culture, where he reviews NYC theater. Through Oren Hope Marketing and Copywriting at you can hire him to write or edit whatever marketing or journalistic materials your heart desires. Jon also writes the blog Park Odyssey at where he is on a mission to visit every park in New York City. He has also been a part-time working musician, including as lead singer, songwriter, and bass player for Whisperado.

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