February 5, 2015

Is Cheek to Cheek another career misfire for Lady Gaga?

There was no doubt about it: in 2009 and early 2010, Lady Gaga was pop's new "it" girl.  You couldn't go anywhere without seeing her face or hearing her voice. But now? You'd be lucky to hear anything from her last two solo albums on the radio at all (well, maybe "lucky" is the wrong word).

Here's an official chart to show you just how her two last albums have fared on the charts. The top row are her releases (including promotional singles) from ARTPOP and the bottom row are her releases from Born This Way.
Billboard official releases/chart positions. From left to right - most recent to least recent.
Despite the fact that these two albums hit the number one spot, we can see that the later singles from each album did not do well on the charts at all. The final release from Born This Way couldn't even reach top 20, and well, do we really need to discuss the epic flop that was G.U.Y.?

She is considered to have three solo albums (pictured below), however she has also released several EPs and compilation/remix albums, most of which either never charted or charted very poorly (Born This Way: The Remix, for example, peaked at #105).

Yes, there are two number one albums and a number two. But despite that, her album sales have decreased over time. The Fame sold ~15 million worldwide, Born This Way sold ~6 million worldwide, and ARTPOP only sold ~2.5 millon worldwide (source here).

Even Lady Gaga's music videos have gone down in popularity. Ranked from most to least watched, here are her videos:

If you can't see the viewcount, you can always look for yourself on her official VEVO channel here
What do you notice about the viewcounts? That, on the whole, her earlier work is watched way more than her later work? That the last release from Born This Way (Marry The Night) and from ARTPOP are her least watched videos? (Note: she has other videos up on her channel, but none of them are official solo singles so I did not include them.)

And if Google Trends (USA) is to be believed, she's not even being written about or searched for one TENTH of what she was at her peak:

So what does this tell us? That Lady Gaga is falling hard and falling fast? That she needs something or someone to come along and save her?

Enter Tony Bennett.

When Gaga announced that she would be working with Bennett, the press praised her and she got a chance to prove that she could sing and that she was more than just a pop star - or so she'd hoped.

The album that Bennett and Gaga recorded together (Cheek to Cheek) had some mixed reviews; some saying things like "Gaga is a wonder", and others saying it's "unbearable", "desperate", and if not for the work of the musicians, would sound like "glorified karaoke".

Cheek to Cheek was nominated for a Grammy award and debuted at number one on the charts... but alas, there seems to be trouble in Paradise for the Lady. 

The album only lasted 17 weeks on the charts. It took a freefall as soon as the holiday season was over, and as of right now hasn't even sold a million copies worldwide (latest estimate I could find is ~915,000) whereas its biggest competitor, Partners by Barbra Streisand, has sold ~1,600,000. 

Not only that, but the singles (Anything Goes and I Can't Give You Anything But Love) have failed to chart, and the official music videos only have ~3.8 million and ~2 million views respectively, which is, in my opinion, absurdly low for someone with her 'star power' and connection to her fans who are more than willing to F5 her videos until their fingers fall off.

Now, onto the tour: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett are currently touring the album (The "Cheek to Cheek Tour") and will be playing around Europe (7 dates) and North America (23 dates) in the spring/summer for a total of 30 shows. 

They have played only two shows so far (December 30th and 31st, 2014) and already there are reports that some audience members walked out early during one of them. 

So what could this mean for Gaga? 

Lady Gaga called Cheek to Cheek the "most important album" of her career. Despite that, we haven't seen any indication that Cheek to Cheek is actually helping her in any way. It actually looks like it's repeating the same pattern as her last two albums... 

But could it really be another career misfire ala ARTPOP? Or has her career already stagnated? Could making a jazz album have been a mistake, or did it make no difference?

Will she ever be on top again?

What do you think?