TIME celebrities

Zooey Deschanel Would Totally Play a Superhero — As Long As It’s Funny

Zooey Deschanel
Zooey Deschanel Paul A. Hebert—Invision/AP

The New Girl star talks with TIME about her upcoming covers album and more

TIME spoke to New Girl star Zooey Deschanel for this week’s installment of 10 Questions. In the issue, which features Taylor Swift on the cover, Deschanel talks about why Loretta Lynn is a role model, how New Girl rebounded from the Nick-Jess relationship and how she learned to write songs. Here are three things we learned during our interview:

She thought she had to “earn” the right to record a covers album
On Dec. 2, Deschanel’s band with M. Ward, She & Him, will release Classics, an album of standards covers. The project is something Deschanel always wanted to do, but she waited until the time was right. “Before I ever made a record with She & Him, I had a lot of people interested in making standards records with me,” she says. “But I just didn’t want to start that way. I felt like you earn your place to sing those songs. At this point, we had made four records, three records of originals, so I felt like we had properly earned the ability to make a standards record.”

She would totally play a superhero, as long as the role is funny
Despite her success with New Girl and other projects, Deschanel says she still feels like an outsider in Hollywood. “Feeling like an outsider is part of my nature, and it’s what makes me who I am, so I think I’ll find a way to make myself feel like an outsider no matter what situation I’m in,” she explains. But that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t play a superhero in a summer blockbuster, either. “I’m not against it at all,” Deschanel says. “I like those movies. I think it has to be the right type—it has to have a sense of humor.”

She and Billy Eichner were once classmates.
Deschanel dropped out of Northwestern her freshman year to be in Almost Famous, but she does have some fond memories of her time as a college student — including one about then-classmate Billy Eichner. “I remember he was so talented,” says Deschanel, who was in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum with Eichner, then an upperclassman. “I had a little part in the play because I was a freshman, and every time his song came, I would run to see it because he was so incredibly talented and funny. I’m happy he has a lot of success.” The two will reunite on the small screen next month when Eichner guest-stars on a New Girl holiday episode.

TIME Music

Ariana Grande and Major Lazer Team Up for Lorde’s Hunger Games Soundtrack

The pop star and Diplo's dancehall project unite for "All My Love" on the Lorde-curated soundtrack to The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1

Katniss Everdeen already taught the rebels of Panem the call of revolution with her ominous mockingjay whistle. But for the Lorde-curated soundtrack of the third film, Mockingjay — Part 1, Ariana Grande and Major Lazer have united to teach the districts the call of the dancefloor — and it sounds like a bird that’s gone shot for shot with Effie Trinket all night in The Capitol.

The wordless, siren-like hook is an obvious highlight, but there’s more to “All My Love” than that. The sparse dancehall beat from DJ-producer Diplo lets Grande’s more understated vocals shine, and she shows Jennifer Lawrence who the real girl on fire is when the initially icy track heats up just before the battle cry hits. The “Problem” pop star often gets teased for her enunciation, yes, but “All My Love” might be most notable for being the first Grande single in awhile in which you can actually make out just about every word she’s saying.

TIME Music

Fergie: Fans Keep Mishearing My Lyrics

Fergie
Fergie Dennis Van Tine/Geisler-Fotopres—AP Images

The "Fergalicious" singer sets the record straight on her new single — and whether will.i.am can spell the word "tasty"

The most glamorous Black Eyed Pea is back with a new solo single, “L.A. Love (La La),” a new album (coming next year) and a new role working with the Hetrick-Martin Institute, which offers a variety of services to at-risk LGBTQ youth. TIME caught up with the pop star to talk about her return to pop music, Iggy Azalea comparisons and life as a new mom.

TIME: Your last album, The Dutchess, came out in 2006. How has pop music changed since then?
Fergie: There are definitely more boundaries pushed nowadays because of the Internet and social networking and the level of shock value that we’re accustomed to. We’re allowed to get away with a bit more, which I embrace and love.

Pop culture changes so quickly — do you look back at the mid-2000s and think, yikes, that didn’t age so well?
Yeah, but I’m not one to sit there and live inside of a memory book. I’ll take a glance at it and have a good laugh and a good cry and stay in the present.

The Dutchess introduced us to some new phrases, like Fergalicious. What vocab will you teach us on your next album?
You’ll have to wait and see. I like to make music and then let you hear it and then I can talk about it. I don’t like to talk about it before you hear it. It’s just not my style. But I can talk about “L.A. Love!”

Then let’s do that!
When I say the lyric “Just got to New York like a net on a jet,” a lot of people didn’t realize I was talking about the basketball team! It’s not like, a girl named Annette.

Does this happen a lot? People mishearing your lyrics?
Yeah. In “Big Girls Don’t Cry” I was going back to when I was a little girl, and I say, “We’ll play jacks and Uno cards.” You know jacks with the ball and those little metallic toy items that you throw? It’s a vintage game.

I am familiar.
A lot of people thought I was saying, “We’ll play Jackson Uno cards,” like some friend named Jackson! Which happens to be my step-dad’s name. But I was actually saying the vintage game!

Speaking of lyrics — have you forgiven will.i.am for spelling tasty with an E on “Fergalicious”?
That was perfect. I called him on it right away, but then he was like, “No, let’s spell it wrong on purpose! It’s great! It’s better!” It messes it up a little bit. I don’t like anything that’s too perfect.

Some critics compared “L.A. Love” to Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy,” but you were doing the singsongy raps in the mid-2000s. Do you think you influenced her?
I don’t know, I’ve always done the style that I love, that I’ve been a fan of, and as long as it’s true to me and organic, I feel like people can feel that. If other people have said that, then it is quite the compliment. I love girls stepping outside of the box and doing something that’s unexpected of them. That’s what I’m all about.

You’re making your comeback performance at the American Music Awards later this month. You nervous?
What good is a rollercoaster if you don’t get those butterflies in your stomach? You just fight through it and let it fuel the energy.

You shout-out a lot of different cities in “L.A. Love.” How’s traveling the world and being a new mom [to Axl Jack Duhamel]?
It’s interesting — at this age he does not like to go to sleep easily on planes because it’s very exciting for him. He just wants to talk to everybody and say hi to everybody.

What’s it like having a 1-year-old around while you record songs for the club?
I record some stuff at home, so he comes in, and I have dance rehearsals here. I have a dance studio.

Ah — bring the people to you.
It’s great! I can just walk in the other room and see Axl. It’s awesome. Daddy [Josh Duhamel] brings him in when I’m doing dance rehearsals, and we stop and we have an Axl dancing moment.

Last year you threw vogue balls to raise money for AIDS organizations. Have you taught him to vogue?
The hand movements are too intricate for him right now.

Maybe when he’s older.
I do stretch him. I go “streeeeetch” and I put his legs up, and that’s definitely inspired by all the contortionists and amazing voguers who stretch every single day. I’m making sure that Axl is nice and limber.

He can be like those child dancers in old Missy Elliott videos.
I know! He’s ready to come to dance class, so why not?

The Hetrick-Martin Institute, which provides services to at-risk LGBTQ youth, is honoring you at their Emery Awards gala on Nov. 12. How did you get involved with their cause?
I went through a period in my life where I had earned money as a child actor, lost it all, went through dark periods in my life, got in debt, paid it off and had to start from ground zero. Nothing in the account. I had nowhere to live. No money to pay for food. Nothing. Nowhere to put my stuff. Where do I go now? My mom, who is an angel, let me come live with her and helped me mentally get my life back together. She gave me the shelter I needed and let me eat her food and gave me the mental support to help get a new chance at life.

Had I not had my beautiful mom, Terri, there for me to do that, where would I have lived? What would I have done? Not everybody has a Terri. What this group does, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, is such a beautiful thing, because they provide shelter, clothing, showers, HIV testing, SAT preparation, job readiness — all of these things for people who have been living in hostile environments and want to move forward in life but don’t have a Terri. This is their angel.

With marriage equality having such a banner year in 2014, do you think more urgent services like these, ones that address health and homelessness for LGBTQ people, get underlooked?
Yeah. Now is a great time to bring awareness to the LGBTQ community because people are becoming more accepting. We have a long way to go, but at least new steps are being taken. And it’s important to address the youth in this group especially. It’s such a crucial time in one’s life. When you’re younger, you definitely come to a lot of crossroads in your life. I know, having gay, lesbian and transgender friends who have really faced struggles as far as being discriminated against. They can’t help it, that’s how they’re born, what their feelings are. It’s really important that there are places like this.

TIME Music

It’s a Beautiful Life: There’s Now a Teenage Ace of Base Tribute Band

A*Base
A*Base

Just like the A*Teens, A*Base are bringing the songs of Sweden's pop past to a new generation. Here's why it may not work

Sweden is the global epicenter for great pop music — this is a country that puts Robyn and superstar producer Max Martin on its postage — but even the nation that brought us Roxette and the Cardigans runs out of ideas sometimes. (Just like America). Almost 15 years after the A*Teens released their dance-pop ABBA covers album, The ABBA Generation, a different co-ed quartet has assembled to pay tribute to another of Sweden’s greats: Ace of Base, meet A*Base.

On Friday, A*Base will release their first single, a cover of Ace of Base’s reggae-lite outsiders anthem “Never Gonna Say I’m Sorry.” It’s a slick, clean and very faithful update of the 1995 song that never got as much attention as “All That She Wants” or “The Sign,” which is why the initial preview is disappointing — if A*Base’s predecessors are any indication, becoming more than a just a footnote on the Swede-pop Wikipedia page of history requires reinterpretations, not just replicas.

When the A*Teens made their debut so many years ago, the concept was cute — aw, look, parents can bond with their tweens over the songs of their college days! — but it didn’t exactly hold up upon closer examination. There were two girls and two boys, just like the real ABBA, but these guys didn’t sing (at first) or help out with songwriting (because the songs were covers), so they just lipsynched and worked their way through cheesy choreography like a pair of props in the early days. The album didn’t get great reviews, either, with critics, even the ones that took it seriously, taking issue with the song selection (The ABBA Generation only scratched the surface of ABBA’s discography) and widely asserting that the project could never top the originals.

That wasn’t the point, though, at least on artistic grounds; like Hollywood’s obsession with sequels, money, money, money likely has plenty to do with the formation of these pre-fab pop groups. What made the A*Teens a worthy project was how the songs pushed and pulled the conventions of ABBA’s vintage sound to show just how well the songwriting could hold up over time. That “Mamma Mia” could work as a high-energy dance track (or, later, that Madonna could sample “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” in 2005’s “Hung Up”) was a testament to Benny and Björn, even if the newer incarnations struck purists as blasphemous.

At times, the covers brought out elements of the songs that go less noticed under the original more subtle production. There’s a frantic energy in the A*Teens’ “Take a Chance on Me” that only emphasizes the song’s desperation. There’s a shinier optimism in their “Super Trouper” that contrasts the weariness of Agnetha and Frida dealing with the emotional toll of life on the road. The bells and whistles of the A*Teens sound (which, frankly, often sounded like Ace of Base covering ABBA themselves) gave songs like “S.O.S” the room to grow into the massive, melodramatic pop hooks they always were — but they also made the quieter and more reflective melancholy of the originals (of songs like “One of Us”) all the more appreciable.

Making Ace of Base relevant in 2014 is an understandable challenge. The band’s own recent comeback record performed poorly, and their lineup changes saw two new vocalists come and go like Destiny’s Child castaways. That’s not to say there’s no room for souped-up Ace of Base sounds in today’s pop climate, either: Katy Perry, Robyn and Tegan and Sara have said they’ve been inspired by Ace of Base on recent records, and Lady Gaga’s “Alejandro” certainly recalls the band’s “Don’t Turn Around.” At least they put their own spin on the works that influenced them. Where a covers act like this offers the most value is in those differences — the ones that put young listeners on the road to maybe one day becoming ABBA fans themselves.

TIME Music

Ariana Grande and Jessie J Will Remake Brandy and Monica’s ‘The Boy Is Mine,’ Producer Says

Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj
Ariana Grande, Jessie J, Nicki Minaj Matt Sayles—Invision/AP

Producer Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins says the "Bang Bang" singers are going to cover the 1998 Monica and Brandy classic

Once upon a time, Monica and Brandy turned their much-presumed rivalry into a number-one hit with “The Boy Is Mine.” Now, 16 years later, the producer of that song says he’s going to get Ariana Grande and Jessie J to fight over the same guy, too — at least in song.

To celebrate his 20 years in music, producer Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins is recruiting new artists to cover some of his biggest hits. That means two-thirds of the “Bang Bang” team — it’s not too late to get Nicki Minaj on the track, is it? — will take on the ’90s classic. Meanwhile, “Stay With Me” crooner Sam Smith has already called dibs on Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay,” which, for the uninitiated, is sort of like the Serial podcast if the Serial podcast were actually an R&B hit. (She uses receipts and phone records to solve the mystery of a lying lover!)

“Sam told me [that] was the song that made him want to sing,” Jerkins told Hits Daily Double. “When I asked him if he’d be a part of this project, he was like, ‘No one else can do that song but me!'”

TIME celebrities

Eminem Raps About Punching Lana Del Rey in the Face Like Ray Rice

Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey Katie Darby—Invision/AP

...And Azealia Banks comes to her defense!

Taylor Swift’s 1989 first-week sales weren’t enough to dethrone Eminem’s 2002 numbers, but Slim Shady has a bone to pick with a different diva.

In a new verse intended to drum up attention for the new Shady Records compilation Shady XV, Eminem raps about punching Lana Del Rey in the face and compares himself to Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens running back whose assault on then-fiancée Janay Rice was captured by elevator surveillance cameras and published by TMZ earlier this year.

The lyrics, per Billboard:

“But I may fight for gay rights, especially if the dyke is more of a knockout than Janay Rice / Play nice? Bitch I’ll punch Lana Del Rey right in the face twice, like Ray Rice in broad daylight in the plain sight of the elevator surveillance / ’Til her head is banging on the railing, then celebrate with the Ravens.”

Lana Del Rey, who has said before that Eminem “changed her life” and taught her that “music could be intelligent,” has yet to respond to the rapper’s unfortunate name-drop. But Azealia Banks, who finally dropped her long-awaited debut Broke With Expensive Taste last week, has come to Lana’s defense: “Tell him to go back to his trailer park and eat his microwave hotpocket dinner,” she tweeted.

Needless to say, when Lana Del Rey begged for “all of that ultraviolence” this summer, she probably wasn’t talking about this.

TIME disorders

This Typeface Could Help Dyslexic People Read More Easily

Dyslexie by Dutch designer Christian Boer avoids the problems many other typefaces pose for dyslexic readers

A typeface now on display at the Istanbul Design Biennial aims to help people with dyslexia read more easily by better distinguishing between letters.

“When they’re reading, people with dyslexia often unconsciously switch, rotate and mirror letters in their minds,” Christian Boer, the designer of the typeface Dyslexie, told Dezeen magazine in an interview published Sunday. “Traditional typefaces make this worse because they base some letter designs on others, inadvertently creating ‘twin letters’ for people with dyslexia.”

A typeface such as Helvetica, for example, uses an upside down “n” as a “u” and a backwards “d” as a “b.” But Boer, who is dyslexic himself, created bottom-heavy letters to keep readers’ brains from turning them. The spaces between letters are bigger, and punctuation marks and capitalized letters are also bolder to better distinguish the beginnings and ends of sentences.

Boer designed the typeface for his thesis at Utrecht Art Academy in 2010. He also shared it in a 2011 TED talk. Around 10 percent of the world is believed to be dyslexic, according to the organization Dyslexia Action.

[Dezeen]

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