TIME Music

Watch Josh Groban Tell the Ultimate Dad Joke

The singer talks to TIME about his new album of musical theater covers, Stages

Long before he raised you up with several albums of operatic pop, Josh Groban had his eye on another career path: musical theater. After growing up catching touring companies in his hometown of Los Angeles, Groban attended a performing arts high school and summer camp (“It was kind of like Wet Hot American Summer with songs,” he jokes) with the dream of working in theater for a living—until he landed a record deal as a college freshman and went on to become the multi-platinum singer-songwriter you know today. Now, Groban is revisiting his first love on Stages (out now), a covers album featuring Broadway classics, iconic show tunes and duets with Kelly Clarkson, Audra McDonald and Chris Botti.

Groban talked to TIME about his song selection, his karaoke skills and why music needs more risk-taking.

TIME: You cover “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory—I didn’t know that had its own musical.

Josh Groban: It does now! It’s a bit of a cheat, one that I was willing to make because the song is so wonderful. It is on the West End right now, so technically, if we want to get lawyers involved, we didn’t break our rule.

But when will you cover the other great Willy Wonka classic, the Oompa Loompa song?

Oompity doo! Oh, yes. Well, Stages 2 will be all of the deep cuts, all of the under-appreciated songs. You never heard Judy Garland sing “Oompa Loompa,” and her loss, really.

Tell me about performing “All I Ask of You” with Kelly Clarkson, who is great but also not necessarily the first artist that comes to mind when I think Phantom of the Opera.

Right? That’s one of the things I loved about it. We all know she has a tremendous voice, but we also recognize that she takes risks, which I love about her. One of the things that has taken her outside of the Idol pack to a certain degree is she is her own artist, she is her own person, she is stubborn in her artistic convictions. I’ve always wanted to sing with her, and I’ve always thought she was a cool and funny person, so I’m thrilled that she jumped to it and immediately started singing the crap out of it. I’m so glad that our duet I’ve wanted was the first song I ever sang to get myself a record deal.

When I spoke to Kelly earlier this year, she talked about working on a country album and the possibility of doing a Broadway album or an R&B album. Do you feel the same freedom with your career?

Absolutely. There needs to be more risk-taking out there. I think that things like Twitter and the blogosphere are so instantaneously critical that I think it’s actually created a bit of a culture of artistic fear to branch out too much because you don’t want to be slammed. It’s great if you’ve got an instrument then can do all things, then go for it! Try different things! I don’t usually think of it in terms of it “Maybe I’ll go country next” or “Maybe I’ll go R&B next”—I try to use some of those influences when I can within the record.

You could probably break the Internet with album of ’90s R&B slow-jams.

I definitely break karaoke when my friends have birthday parties. I’m not going to say that when I sing R&B slow-jam ’90s songs we get free nachos, but I’m not going to say we don’t get free nachos. It’s pretty magical.

TIME World

#TheBrief: Who Is Responsible for Migrants Who Seek Asylum?

Who is responsible for migrants seeking asylum? Italy? Or the European Union?

At least 700 refugees are feared dead after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya.

With countries in Europe closing up borders to prevent the influx of refugees fleeing war and conflict, migrants—mostly from Syria and Eritrea, but also from sub-Saharan Africa—are opting for the risky voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy.

From Italy, they travel to countries like Spain, Greece, and the U.K.—all in search for asylum and better job opportunities.

But it could come at a price.

TIME Environment

The Brief: Who Is Using Up California’s Water?

Three sectors gulp up most of the Golden State’s water supply

California is stuck in one of the worst droughts in its history. In response, the state—which consumes more water than any other in the U.S.—is cutting back on water usage by 25% under a new plan from Gov. Jerry Brown.

While the Golden State isn’t completely out of water, it’s still using far more than it can replenish.The three biggest consumers are urban users, big agriculture and water allocated to environmental conservation. But who uses the most, and where is it all going?

TIME Nigeria

Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls Forgotten Ahead of Election Day

President Goodluck Jonathan is concentrating his energies on getting re-elected in March

It has been nearly one year since Boko Haram militants kidnapped over 270 schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria. And while the terrorist group continues its attacks across Nigeria, the country’s president has been more focused on staying in power after the March 28 elections than on getting the girls back.

Local activists want that to change, demanding that the government make the disappearance of the Chibok girls the top priority. “These rallies is the reason why [the government] remembers,” organizer Funmi Adesanya told TIME’s Africa bureau chief Aryn Baker, “but I don’t think they are really doing anything about it.”

TIME movies

How Frog Legs Helped Make the Oscars Possible

Science explains how those Academy Awards are made

On Sunday night, big players from the film industry will gather inside Hollywood’s Dolby Theater in the hopes of winning a golden statue. And if they finally do win one, they’ll thank their loved ones, their producers, their fans, and the Academy.

But there’s one thing that probably won’t get a shout out: science.

Watch materials scientist and author of Newton’s Football, Ainissa Ramirez, explain how science—and frog legs—are responsible for the Academy Awards’ golden statues.

TIME Television

Eddie Huang: ‘I’m Not Mad at Margaret Cho’

"She's a pioneer," the Fresh Off the Boat author says

Eddie Huang wants everyone to stop freaking out about Margaret Cho.

The author of the memoir-turned-television-show Fresh Off the Boat, Huang spoke to TIME recently about the show, but also weighed in on Cho, who sparked controversy last month. Cho appeared in a Golden Globes skit as a North Korean army general and contributor for “Movies Wow!” magazine—a made-up publication featuring the exploits of the all-too-real North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Critics called the skit minstrelsy, and accused the bit of being a racist take on Asians during a show in which Asians were virtually absent.

But Huang felt different. Watch the above video to find out why.

TIME Television

Eddie Huang Doesn’t Need You to Tell Him What’s Offensive

The author of the memoir-turned-TV-show Fresh Off the Boat talks race, identity, and creating your own America.

The story of Eddie Huang’s life is being broadcast to millions of people. And after months of gearing up for the ABC premiere of Fresh Off the Boat — a sitcom based around a Chinese family living in Orlando — Huang says the people most uncomfortable with it aren’t even Asian.

“There’s always white people tweeting me saying, ‘This is so offensive! This is a racist show!'” he explained. “And I’m like — ‘I don’t know if you know any of us, because it’s not racist.'”

But he doesn’t lay claim to being an authority on his race. “Just because I’m Asian doesn’t mean I can speak about everything in Asian America. I can only speak about the things I know.”

Watch Eddie Huang’s take on race and identity in America in the video above.


Watch How the AK-47 Came to Be ‘Made In America’

In early 2015, a U.S.-based company got the green light to start producing what is perhaps the world's most recognizable assault rifle

TIME europe

How Islam Became the Fastest-Growing Religion in Europe

French colonialism and immigration policies across Europe helped fuel migration from the Muslim world

The religiously motivated terror attacks in France last week have exacerbated anti-Islamic sentiments across Europe, with a record 25,000 people joining anti-immigrant protests in Germany on Monday.

But even as polls show anti-Islamist sentiment rising, Islam is the fastest-growing religion in Europe. Nearly 5 million Muslims live in France, the largest Muslim population in Europe, and some 4 million live in Germany.

In the video above, TIME foreign correspondent Simon Shuster discusses how French colonialism and immigration policies throughout Europe helped fuel migration from the Muslim world.

TIME Music

Nas: ‘It’s Not Cool For the U.S. to Look Like Apartheid South Africa’

The rapper says Americans—both black and white—need to know their history

Queensbridge rapper Nas celebrated the 20th anniversary of the release of his first album Illmatic this year. The debut is considered one of hip-hop’s most defining works; a quintessential piece of hip-hop history.

To commemorate the milestone, two independent filmmakers produced the documentary Nas: Time is Illmatic, a feature that highlights the gritty New York City environment within which the album was birthed.

In an interview with TIME, Nas explains why he feels it’s important to encourage black youth and ensure Americans—both black and white—know their history.

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