''One World One Love,'' the first single from his new album, is a seriously surprising collaboration

By Brad Wete
Updated May 07, 2010 at 04:00 AM EDT

Michael Bolton, 57, is a blue-eyed-soul man old enough to apply for an AARP card, while Lady Gaga, 24, is the world’s hottest young pop star. So when we heard that they’d hooked up to co-write a track for his new album, One World One Love, we thought: Really?

It turns out the weird collaboration happened before anyone had ever heard of Lady Gaga. In 2008, three months before her debut CD came out, Gaga was still working as a songwriter, and her management pitched her to Bolton. At first he was skeptical, but when the label sent two tracks from her album, he got excited. ”I heard ‘Just Dance’ and then ‘Poker Face.’ I called them back and said, ‘This is great,”’ Bolton recalls. ”’She’s going to be big!”’

The two soon met up in an L.A. studio to work on what would become ”Murder My Heart,” One World‘s first single. ”I walked in and saw a little star sitting by the board,” says Bolton. ”She was dressed like she was ready to go on stage at any second. She started singing. I’m looking at her like, ‘Okay, this is the real thing. She’s singing her ass off.”’

Bolton is thrilled by how the urgent midtempo love song turned out — and by Gaga’s massive success. ”It was great to see it happen,” he says. ”It’s her focus. She really understands the discipline that comes with this.”