TIME Music

Hear Christina Aguilera’s New Song from Finding Neverland The Album: Premiere

The singer reimagines "Anywhere But Here" from the Broadway musical

When TIME spoke to Christina Aguilera earlier this year, she mentioned that she missed the Grammys in order to meet a deadline for a soundtrack. Her contribution to Finding Neverland The Album, out June 9, may have been what kept her busy in the studio. Aguilera’s rendition of “Anywhere But Here” from the Broadway musical about the man behind Peter Pan, premiering at TIME today, rounds out a new companion album of re-imagined Finding Neverland songs from John Legend, Jennifer Lopez, Jon Bon Jovi and others.

Glee’s Matthew Morrison performs the song as the opening number in this stage adaptation of the 2004 film, but Aguilera makes the song her own with an interpretation that recalls the many emotional piano ballads she’s recorded throughout her career. Hear her take on the song in the lyric video, above.

TIME movies

17 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About the Music in Pitch Perfect 2

An inside look at how the aca-sausage gets made

The night before she interviewed for the executive music producer job of Pitch Perfect, the 2012 comedy about the idiosyncratic world of collegiate a capella, Julianne Jordan got a surprise phone call from another music supervisor she knew, Julia Michels, up for the same job. “Did you read this script?” Michels remembers asking incredulously.

“Oh my God, I’m so glad you called, because I was just about to call you,” Jordan answered. “I’m not doing this by myself!”

They went in the next day and (successfully) pitched themselves as a team—for good reason. Music supervisors typically work in post-production with pre-existing tracks, but Pitch Perfect producers had to consider hundreds of tunes for its many musical moments—the sequel, out now, features more than 60 songs—and start the process of recording all-new versions before cameras start rolling. It’s a process that requires a lot of manpower: a team of 20 people, including producers, arrangers and editors, worked on Pitch Perfect 2‘s music. It’s also one that’s as important as the the script or the cast. Thanks in no small part to the music, the first film grossed $113 million worldwide, spawned a platinum soundtrack and turned Anna Kendrick into an unlikely chart-topper.

TIME spoke to executive music producers Jordan and Michels; director Elizabeth Banks; Universal Pictures’ president of music, Mike Knobloch; and star Anna Kendrick for a story in the May 25 issue of TIME (on stands now) about how the music in Pitch Perfect 2 came together. Here are some of the highlights from those interviews:

If you hear more dance music in Pitch Perfect 2, that’s intentional. “[The process] starts with what we call a listening party,” Banks says. “We just listening to things and talk more generally about sound, like the sound of Das Sound Machine, our new villain. We wanted to introduce more rock in the movie, a little more EDM.” Though everybody has opinions on what should go in the movie, the meetings don’t get particularly heated. “At the end of the day, I get to decide!” Banks laughs. “Everyone knows that.”

The cast has no formal involvement in picking the songs. That doesn’t stop some actors from trying, however. “I sent many emails to the music team, which I know I have no business doing,” Kendrick says. “Sometimes you feel strongly and can’t help yourself! I just shouldn’t have anybody’s email address, in fact.”

“Wrecking Ball” was an instant favorite for the opening scene. “I knew that I wanted Rebel doing that silks routine before we ever chose the music,” Banks says. “We brought Rebel to Cirque do Soleil in L.A. and made sure she could move around in those silks. Once we knew that she could, then it was all about, ‘What’s the funniest way to reintroduce Fat Amy to the world?’ Someone literally played ‘Wrecking Ball’ in the meeting and we all started laughing. When it hits you, that’s clearly the one.”

Kendrick wanted to sing a different song with Snoop Dogg during his cameo. “I was asking if I could sing something cooler than the song that I sang because it’s essentially a children’s song,” Kendrick says. “So that was a seriously embarrassing day to have to sing a children’s Christmas carol in front of Snoop, who is arguably the coolest man on the planet. He was incredibly chill and was just very cool, really funny, and had fingernail art, which was really exciting to me.”

Song selection is often a numbers game. “When you’re mashing up songs, an even beat does not mash well with an uneven beat,” Banks says. “127 [beats per minute] and 135 don’t match. If you have 135, you either need to half-time it or double-time it. It really comes down to a lot of math.”

The team recruited professional a capella musicians to help out. “We brought in special beatboxers—people that do this for a living—and some of them are on camera in the rival group,” Michels says. “We found some people on YouTube. They’re just amazing beatboxers that really helped fill out the arrangements.”

There isn’t much difference between real-life a capella and movie a capella. “The bells and whistles we put on [the songs] are maybe in some of the background vocals, but an a capella group could take what we did and sing it as well on stage,” Michels says. “The thing about a capella is you can’t hide behind the music.” With one exception, she notes: “An a capella group couldn’t do the choreography that they’re doing and probably sound as good.”

Songs occasionally get cut because there’s no one to sing them. “Sometimes we find that there’s no one we think is going to vocally knock it out of the park,” Banks explains. “We are always thinking about what is going to show off our stars. That was a big concern. Of course we want to set up everyone to win—we don’t want anyone to be challenged.”

Getting permission to use the songs can also be an obstacle. “The business and the mechanics of that can get very, very complicated,” Knobloch says. “Can we clear them affordably? Can we use them in the way that we’re proposing? Not just ‘Hey, can we use your song,’ but ‘Hey, can we use your song and mash it up with another song?'”

Every song has to help the story. But unlike traditional musicals, which rely on original lyrics, the music team looked for more subtle ways to advance the plot. “For us, it’s in the arrangements and the song choices, not so much what they’re singing,” Michels says. “If the Bellas are tight and their performance is supposed to be amazing, we look for songs that are exciting and melodic. In scenes when they’re supposed to fall apart, we might look for songs that are a little more discordant.” Adds Knobloch, “Sometimes it’s the body language and facial expressions of the caracters that tells the story.”

Kendrick says Pitch Perfect 2 taught her a lot about popular music. “There are definitely times when I feel really out of it,” Kendrick says. “I didn’t know [opening number] ‘We Got the World.’ I know that Icona Pop is a huge deal, but I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m just a loser.’ I would say about thirty percent of the songs we sing in this one I didn’t know, which is just a sign that I should get with the times.”

Putting together the riff-off is one of the hardest parts of the movie. “There’s 17 songs in the riff-off,” Knobloch says. “But if we tried even a few things for each of those spots, then it’s easily a hundred songs that we auditioned at some level, either around the table or sometimes in the studio.”

There’s a reason why the riff-off felt so dramatic. “The beats per minute of each section actually get faster so you are building the tension over the course of the scene, but it’s very subconscious if you’re not aware of how music gets put together,” Banks said. “We have to figure out how to build it musically for the music nerds that are going to watch the movie and are actually going to notice and care about that stuff.”

Ester Dean wanted to give Anna Kendrick another hit after “Cups.” “She said that she wanted me to do [closing-credits song] ‘Crazy Youngsters,’” Kendrick says. “I think she’s just so unbelievably next level, talented and inspiring. The fact that she even suggested it kept me on a high for about a week. But I’m really glad she’s singing it because her voice is just disgusting. It’s so much better than anybody else in the cast, if I’m perfectly honest.”

But the music team didn’t want to replicate “Cups,” either. “It’s like lightning in a bottle,” Jordan says. “It so rarely happens on movies that we didn’t want to do anything gimmicky in the second movie that would be like, ‘Ugh, they’re trying to do ‘Cups’ again!'” But when the script called for newcomer Emily (Hailee Steinfeld) to write an original song, they knew they had to come up with what would eventually become “Flashlight.” “If this character shows up and says, ‘I wrote this song,’ she can’t then blurt out a song that you know is an existing song in real life,” Knobloch says. “That would throw people.”

Sia and Sam Smith co-wrote “Flashlight.” “One of the things about the Pitch Perfect formula that works so well is there’s the thrill and exhilaration of ‘Oh my God, I know that song!'” Knobloch says. “When you throw an original song into the mix, the scales are not tipped in a good way. We knew we had to cook up something that was really, really strong.” To do that, Pitch Perfect 2 recruited some of the top songwriters in music now to help compose “Flashlight.” “Her pop sensibility just fits so well with this movie,” Jordan says of Sia.

There’s only one hard and fast rule about what songs go into the movie. “Everything has to have a sense of fun,” Banks says. “It’s not just that [the characters] are underdogs, they’re misfits, they’re all oddballs. That’s what we’ve found to be the Pitch Perfect brand: bringing together a very quirky group of people.”

TIME Fine Art

See Photos From Yoko Ono’s MoMA Exhibit

Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971 will run at the MoMA in New York City from May 17 to Sept. 7

Yoko Ono’s art isn’t always easy to follow—literally. In 1971, the avant-garde artist and musician exhibited an unauthorized show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art called Museum of Modern (F)art that featured little more than a man waiting outside the building with a sandwich board encouraging visitors to chase flies she had released in and around the museum. Now, a new exhibit at that same museum, Yoko Ono: One Woman Show, 1960-1971, makes experience her art much easier by bringing together many, often interactive works from that decade in one place. The show, the MoMA’s first one dedicated entirely to Ono’s work, opens May 17 and runs through September 7.

TIME movies

Elizabeth Banks on Directing: ‘I’m Not Interested in Representing My Entire Gender’

The Pitch Perfect 2 director talks about the pressure she felt while filming the much-anticipated sequel

When Elizabeth Banks stepped into the director’s chair for Pitch Perfect 2—the follow-up to the sleeper hit that grossed $113 million worldwide, out May 15—it was a rare occasion. Not only did it mark Banks’ feature-film directorial debut, she also became one of the few female directors working at the studio level.

The opportunities for women behind the camera are notoriously few and far between. Women directed 7 percent of the top 250 grossing films last year, according to an annual study from San Diego State University—and that’s two percentage points lower than in 1998. The disparity is so striking that this week the ACLU, after consulting with 50 female directors, asked the government to investigate what it believes are discriminatory hiring practices and systemic gender bias in the movie industry. “Hollywood is supposedly a community of forward thinking and progressive people yet this horrific situation for women directors persists,” Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow told TIME this week.

TIME spoke to Elizabeth Banks for a story about how she and her team chose the music for Pitch Perfect 2 (in the May 25 issue, on stands this week). But when asked about whether she thought opportunities for women in Hollywood depended on her success, she spoke eloquently about the pressure she felt to represent her peers. Here’s her full answer:

“I felt ready and wanted to do it of course, but I also felt like once I said yes, I couldn’t screw it up. There was definitely that pressure. It is very rare, and because it’s rare, I unfortunately—whether I like it or not—am taking on a role here. I remember reading about Diablo Cody talking about Jennifer’s Body. Diablo, who is a friend of mine, was saying she felt like the comments on the script were, ‘Wow, a girl can write in this genre! Women don’t write horror movies!’ She represented all women all of a sudden. Whether her entire gender could write in that genre was based on whether or not she could write in that genre.

If a boy wrote a sh—y script, you would never say, ‘Well, boys can’t do it!’ It’s never an option. But I’m very rare, and if I didn’t do it well, they would absolutely say, ‘If she couldn’t do it, I guess women can’t do it!’ I’m not very interested in representing my entire gender. I think it’s very unfair. But I do understand the responsibility, and hopefully I deliver.”

TIME Music

Hilary Duff’s Music Video for ‘Sparks’ Is Basically a Tinder Ad

The new clip features colorful choreography and some adventurous first dates

Product placement is the norm for big-budget pop videos these days, but Hilary Duff’s new video for “Sparks” takes the concept to a whole new level — it’s pretty much one giant ad for Tinder. Duff’s adventures with the dating app have been covered widely, and now we know why she’s been so open about this part of her personal life (and why she’s been bringing camera crews along with those dates).

It’s almost a shame, though, because the real sparks fly when the Younger star shows off her dance moves. If Tinder is the price of admission for some flashy Hilary Duff choreography, so be it. But an alternate version with the singer putting her pop-star bona fides center-stage? Now that’s something to swipe right for.

Read next: Hilary Duff Talks Younger, Lying About Her Age and the Status of Her Album

TIME Music

Hear Rita Ora’s New Song ‘Poison’

Rita Ora
Richard Shotwell—Invision/AP Rita Ora

The new track gives the singer reasons to keep trying

Rita Ora has been more successful at being the butt of jokes than being a bona fide pop star. Though last year’s “I Will Never Let You Down” was a vastly underrated slice of Calvin Harris dance-pop, that she’s never quite arrived (her 2012 debut wasn’t even released in the U.S.) has made her something of a cultural punching bag — and led many to wonder why she’s so hated. (Some might say she invited that herself after this Twitter embarrassment last year.) She’s not the first singer to have a few false starts, but hers have been particularly visible. Judging by the Internet’s mocking, the only thing worse than a pop star who doesn’t try is one who tries too hard.

But Rita Ora hasn’t given up, and her new synthtastic single “Poison” offers some reasons for her not to. This doesn’t feel like the mega-smash single that will completely reverse her luck, but its you-ooo-ooh-ooh hook shows she can be a worthy vessel of solid material, even if her identity as a solo star isn’t yet fully formed.

[Ultimate Music]

TIME Music

Watch Ciara Walk You Through Her Most Memorable Dance Videos

The second part of TIME's interview with the singer focuses on her fancy footwork

Ciara just embarked on her first tour in six years to promote her new album Jackie, but don’t think the “I Bet” singer has gotten rusty with the choreography. Whether it’s the floor hump from “Ride” or her The Matrix-style back bend from “Like a Boy,” she’s still breaking out her best-known routines on the road.

“Sometimes you get bored of the same moves, but you know that there are those moves that those fans love,” she tells TIME. “And you better not change those moves or you might create a little confusion! It’s those key moments that people remember because they mark the special creative moments you shared. It’s only right that you give them that thing they’ve loved from the beginning of the song or era.”

So when TIME sat down with Ciara to talk about how motherhood influenced her new record, it was only right that we asked her to walk fans through some of her most memorable moves and dance videos as well. See her reflect on “Gimmie Dat,” “Promise,” “Work,” “1, 2 Step” and more in the video above.

Read next: Review: Ciara Stays in Her Lane on Jackie—And That’s A Good Thing

Read next: Ciara: Motherhood Inspired Me to Swear a Lot More on My New Album

TIME Music

Zedd on His Most Intense Fans: ‘It’s Not Creepy, But It’s Scary’ Sometimes

Zedd
John Davisson—Invision/AP Zedd performs at the 2014 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.

He talks to TIME about his new album, why skeptics should give EDM a shot and Ariana Grande's infamous "Break Free" lyrics

Many artists dream of having the kind of fans who will follow them to the ends of the Earth, but Zedd actually has them. The 25-year-old DJ-producer has been premiering new songs at listening parties across the country for the first 50 fans who complete a scavenger hunt, and he’s started to see familiar faces. “There’s this kid Marcel, he’s the craziest one—he bought a ticket to every single city!” Zedd says, sitting in his record label’s office just a few days before the release of his sophomore album, True Colors, out May 18. “He made it to six out of seven events. He traveled across the entire country to hear the songs first and experience that.”

That devoted behavior worries Zedd a little, but not in the restraining-order kind of way. “It’s not creepy, but it’s scary because you feel responsible for him if doesn’t make it. It’s really expensive to travel around the country and maybe make it. At the same time, it’s really exciting to see people dedicated enough to fly to a city not knowing what’s going to happen.”

Zedd spoke to TIME about what’s his fans’ blind faith, changing perceptions of electronic music and the most intimidating person with whom he’s ever hit the studio.

TIME: How have you cultivated such an intense relationship with your fans so quickly?

Zedd: My fans know I always put them first. There are a million moments where that shows, but for my tour, for example, I put the ticket prices so low because I wanted the kids that don’t have a lot of money to be able to experience a show that blows their minds. We’ve spent more on the production than I’d ever make back on the tour. I’m not going to rip them off and put a price tag on it that doesn’t deserve to be there.

Those events have been a lot of fun for me — meeting people and hearing about what made them fall in love with that music. A lot of them didn’t even like electronic music before. I love seeing the really young kids and the really old people, too, because I want to believe electronic music is not just for 18-25 year-olds. It’s for everybody.

You’ve been playing piano since age 4. Has that persuaded any skeptics to sample your electronic dance music?

My grandmother! I had my CD in my car, and she asks, “Is this music?” She literally didn’t know if this was considered music. Of course it’s easy to just hear the sounds because they’re so loud, but there’s a lot of chords and melodies underneath. My dad—he’s a musician—I gave him the album to listen to and he said he loved it more than the old one because he was able to find a lot more parallels to bands like King Crimson and George Benson. When your dad says something, you listen to it!

I had more courage to put a little more music into “dance music” than I had before. I never had the courage to make a song like “True Colors” that is almost fully acoustic because I felt I would disappoint people, but that’s who I am. I play instruments and I love pushing electronic music as far as I can. I wanted to make this the title track and tell people, hey, this is music, even though it’s dance music. If you like rock music, give it a chance.

A lot of formerly behind-the-scenes producers, like you and Calvin Harris, are now featured artists on songs, as you were on Ariana Grande’s “Break Free.” What’s driving that?

Songs live not only because of the vocals, but because of the sounds that make people move. At some point you realize, well, you’re doing all this work, wouldn’t it be fair if you had a little more credit than being written down in some booklet?

Ariana told me she fought with your co-producer, Max Martin, about that song’s widely mocked lyric, “Now that I’ve become who I really are.” What’s your take?

I agree with Max. We’re European! We hear lyrics differently. I don’t hear a lyric and think about the meaning. I hear what makes me feel good. Does it feel good to say it? I noticed that so late in the process. “Oh my God, I didn’t realize it was grammatically wrong!” But it made me feel good saying it. Sometimes you have to give yourself that freedom. Especially in hip hop, I feel that is common—saying things that don’t necessarily make sense but feel good to say.

What do you think of people who say EDM producers are the new rock stars?

I’m having a really hard time saying that DJs are the new rock stars myself. I feel really awkward, and I made rock music for a long time! Those rock stars from back in the day, they influenced me so much, and I hope I will influence someone who in 10 years will do something completely different and be “the new rock stars.” I’ll feel much better. But take Coachella as an example: you could go to the [electronic music-focused] Sahara Tent and everyone will be raging and the energy is undeniable. There’s something about that energy that almost reminds me of the Beatles, when people would scream when they would see them. You couldn’t even hear because they’d scream so loud.

Who’s the most intimidating person you’ve worked with?

Lady Gaga is for sure the most opinionated musician I’ve ever worked with. That was amazing because I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to work with musicians that would counter on the music element as well, not just on the voice element. She would say, “No, but I want this chord!” That was inspiring for me—it was the first time I really got any pushback.

I was very intimidated by meeting Max Martin [who’s produced for Taylor Swift and Britney Spears], but one minute in I realized he’s the nicest dude. I love that guy. He’s one of the only people in the industry who’s ever called me just to ask what’s new and if everything’s cool and how I am: “Alright, cool, man, hope we see each other soon!” I was like, “Whoa!”

Would you ever collaborate with someone outside of pop?

I was asked to do a country album recently and I love that they asked me—it shows electronic music has reached a level where people respect the musician. I remember a couple years ago I was denied on a lot of collaborations because people thought it was just beats with nothing behind it. People realize it’s actually musicians just making music.

TIME Music

Hear Jessie Ware’s Sultry Cover of Nick Jonas’ ‘Jealous’

Now you really have no excuse not to embrace the song

Nick Jonas is getting all the ladies… to put their spin on his song. In the months since its release, Nick Jonas’ Top 10 hit “Jealous” has gotten endorsements from some of the coolest women in music: first “2 On” siren Tinashe remixed the song, and now “Tough Love” singer Jessie Ware has performed her own sultry rendition of the already sexy song for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge. If you haven’t been able to embrace the genuinely catchy song before because of the Scream Queens actor‘s boy-band past, now you really have no excuse.

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