TIME Music

Weird Al: Hitting Number 1 Doesn’t Change Plan to Stop Making Albums

Weird Al
"Weird Al" Yankovic visits Music Choice's "You & A" on July 14, 2014 in New York City D Dipasupil—Getty Images

Also: why it's not correct to say he's "pulling a Beyoncé"

It’s been more than a year since “Weird Al” Yankovic told the world, on his blog, that after his current contract ran up, he would be exploring releasing singles digitally rather than full albums. It’s been a little more than a week since his album Mandatory Fun was released, and just a few days since he reiterated that he wasn’t sure he would be releasing any further conventional albums.

Then, as of Wednesday, his situation changed: Mandatory Fun officially became Yankovic’s first album to top the Billboard chart.

“I didn’t think this was an option for me,” he tells TIME. “I thought there was a glass ceiling for comedy albums. The last time a comedy album topped the Billboard charts was over half a century ago.”

But that doesn’t mean his plans are changing. The success of Mandatory Fun doesn’t mean he’ll stick with the album-centric way of releasing music.

“I continue to think the same things that I thought prior to the album going to Number 1. I still think that albums for me are not the most efficient or intelligent way for me to present my music to the public,” he says. “I would prefer to get my songs out in a more timely fashion.”

Being an artist who only releases singles just makes sense, he says, since he likes to parody songs when they’re still at the forefront of listeners’ minds. Especially given the perfect storm that YouTube is — helping music videos and comedy sketches get to viewers in a way that didn’t used to be possible — his goal is to capitalize on the technology as much as possible.

And that means he’s not following other artists’ leads: the music video onslaught that came with Mandatory Fun — eight videos in eight days — has been oft compared to Beyoncé’ strategy with her 2013 album Beyoncé. “Many people have brought that up and it does irk me just a little bit because on my last album, which came out three years ago, I released 12 videos for the 12 tracks from the album all at the same time,” he says. “I doubt that she got that idea from me, but the fact that people are saying I pulled a Beyoncé, that’s just not accurate.”

He’s also not setting anything in stone. Yankovic says that he knows that albums still work best for many artists, and the tide of the music business may turn back for him as well. Mandatory Fun hasn’t changed his mind about the format, but something else might. “I’m not drawing any hard lines in the sand,” he says. “I’ll do whatever’s appropriate, and if that doesn’t work out I’ll do something else.”

TIME movies

Check Out the Newest Picture of Ben Affleck As Batman

The new Dark Knight gets his close-up

For Batman’s seventy-fifth birthday, DC Comics is displaying a new, dark image of Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader at its San Diego Comic-Con booth. The image was part of a montage celebrating various depictions of Batman in comics, TV shows, movies and games, according to the DC Comics website.

Affleck is set to star as Gotham’s dark knight in the upcoming Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice film opposite Henry Cavill, who played Superman in 2013′s Man of Steel. The new movie is set to drop in 2016.

MORE: See Every Batman Logo From the Past 75 Years — All In One Gif

TIME Music

Fifty Shades of Grey: The Story Behind Beyoncé’s “Crazy In Love” Update

How strings-master Margot and in-demand producer Boots reimagined Bey's 2003 hit

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If you were surprised to hear Beyoncé lend her trademark uh-oh-uh-ohs to the Fifty Shades of Grey film, you weren’t the only one.

“With everything she’s been doing recently, the surprise factor has been a big part of it,” says violinist and recording artist Margot, who arranged and played the strings on the new version of “Crazy in Love” that’s featured in the just-released trailer. In fact, Margot didn’t even know if her own contributions had made the cut until she watched the trailer for the first time on Thursday.

“It was one of those things that happened on the spot, and you have to jump when you know it’s a good opportunity,” she tells TIME.

The track was produced by Boots, who helmed much of Beyoncé’s last album; he and Margot have worked together on a number of projects, including Beyoncé and Boots’ recent mixtape. A few weeks ago, Boots called Margot to say he was working on a movie trailer and needed some string contributions — but he needed them that night. Margot met up with Boots in Brooklyn, he played her the track (which he had recorded just that day, not long after Bey’s team reached out) and she immediately began laying down the violin parts you hear before Beyoncé ever recorded vocals.

“It inspires me to work on other artists’ songs [because] it pushes my boundaries in a direction that I wouldn’t necessarily come up with,” Margot says. “Obviously I know how ‘Crazy in Love’ goes, but I knew there was the possibility her vocals would be different. It’s almost more vulnerable and beautiful this way, because you do do crazy things when you fall in love. To hear the mood reversed and flipped makes it even more powerful.”

Despite their success in remaking the track for the highly anticipated film adaptation, neither Margot nor Boots have actually read the book.

“It’s funny, when it comes to scoring films and making music, it’s more about the mood that you’re capturing anyway,” she says. “We didn’t necessarily need to know the storyline to make something dramatic and sensual.”

TIME movies

Watch Jake Gyllenhall in the Nightcrawler Trailer

Nope, not about the comic book superhero

An extremely-thin, bug-eyed Jake Gyllenhall leaves a creepy impression in the premiere of the Nightcrawler trailer. The 33-year-old actor lost 20 pounds for the role.

Gyllenhall plays a TV crime reporter who is the first on the scene of car crashes and murders to catch footage for the news. It’s not long before Gyllenhall takes things too far and is slamming his hands against a mirror and crying out. “My motto is, if you want to win the lottery, you have to make the money to buy the ticket,” Gyllenhall’s character Lou Bloom says in the trailer.

Eek.

The movie is set to hit theaters on Oct. 17.

TIME Television

Andy Samberg and Kit Harington to Team Up In HBO’s Wimbledon Mockumentary

Spike TV's "Guys Choice" Awards - Arrivals
LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 07: Actor Andy Samberg attends Spike TV's "Guys Choice" Awards at Sony Studios on June 7, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic) Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic

Tennis, anyone?

Andy Roddick and Andy Murray are about to be joined by a new tennis-playing Andy: Andy Samberg. The comedian will not be playing at the U.S. Open any time soon, but he will be honing his backhand to play a tennis bad boy opposite Game of Thrones star Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow) in an upcoming HBO mockumentary called 7 Days in Hell.

Samberg will play “tennis’ superstar bad boy” Aaron Williams, who is up against Harington’s Charles Poole, “a tennis prodigy and certified truck driver,” facing off during a legendary seven-day match at Wimbledon, according to Deadline. While the story sounds far-fetched, it has roots in reality. Back in 2010, Wimbledon hosted an epic match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut, who battled it out for 11 hours over three days, with Isner eventually winning, 70-68 in the fifth set.

Rounding out the cast of the mockumentary will be Fred Armisen, Lena Dunham, Karen Gillan (as a supermodel and Charles’s childhood best friend), Howie Mandel, Soledad O’Brien (as herself), Michael Sheen and Mary Steenburgen (as Charles’s crazed mother). Nebraska stars Will Forte and June Squibb will reunite on screen as well, with Forte playing a tennis historian.

The HBO original was written by Girls and American Dad! writer Murray Miller and is based on a concept by Miller and Samberg. SNL and Funny or Die’s Jake Szymanski will direct.

MORE: A Conversation with Andy Samberg: Cops, Cuckoos and Comedy

MORE: The Best Theory About Jon Snow’s Mother

TIME Humor

Watch: Kristen Bell Plays a Minimum-Wage Mary Poppins

Feed the birds, y'all

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In case you had any doubts about whether Kristen Bell is one of Hollywood’s most talented dames, check out this amazing Funny or Die video in which she plays a fed-up Mary Poppins who quits her job because her pay sucks. The best part is when she looks in the mirror and her reflection is a Republican. Also props to Funny or Die for finding the perfect kids to play Jane and Michael Banks.

Babysitters of the world, unite!

TIME Television

Tina Fey and Rachel Dratch’s Second City Show Dratch & Fey Is Now Online

Before there was 30 Rock, there was Dratch & Fey

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It’s hard to recall a time when Tina Fey wasn’t filling our TV sets and movie screens with big laughs, but back in 1999, before Saturday Night Live made her a household name and Mean Girls was the stuff of legend and 30 Rock GIFs filled Facebook, Fey was just another comic trying to make a name for herself in the comedy trenches.

Thanks to the magical elves that post videos to YouTube, fans can travel back in time to witness the wonder of a two-woman show called Dratch & Fey, starring Fey and fellow SNL-er Rachel Dratch. The show ran at both Second City and New York’s UCB Theater from 1999-2000, when both women were on the cusp of stardom. Dratch had joined the cast of SNL and Fey had recently been appointed as the head writer of the show, but had not yet moved in front of the camera.

The show itself, much like SNL, was a series of sketches woven together by nothing more than humor. In the clip posted to YouTube, the duo starts by riffing on “theater as social tool” with Dratch becoming Edwina Garth Burnham, a woman’s rights pioneer, while Fey adopts the personality of a modern woman exploring her sexuality. Naturally, big laughs ensue.

The quality of the video isn’t great, as it appears to have been ripped from a VHS tape, but when you get nearly an hour of vintage Dratch and Fey given free rein on stage, you don’t look a YouTube gift horse in the mouth. You just watch.

(via Splitsider)

MORE: Watch Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld Go on a Coffee Run Together

MORE: Watch Tina Fey Throw Punches in This Is Where I Leave You Trailer

TIME celebrity

5 Controversial Quotes From Lana Del Rey

Day 2 - Glastonbury Festival
Lana Del Rey performs on the Pyramid stage on Day 2 of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm on June 28, 2014 in Glastonbury, England. (Photo by Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images) Tabatha Fireman—Redferns via Getty Images

She's "annoyed" her sex life didn't further her career, but that's just the tip of the iceberg

Lana Del Rey is never boring — the eccentric pop star can always be relied on to provide at least a few nuggets of weirdness in any given interview. She’s getting flak right now for the first item listed below, but why are we surprised? She’s always got something offbeat and amazing to say.

1) She’s “annoyed” that her sex life never helped her get a record deal.

Even though one of her new songs is called “F***ed My Way Up to the Top,” Del Rey told Complex magazine that sleeping with guys in the music industry has never helped her career.

You know, I have slept with a lot of guys in the industry. But none of them helped me get my record deals. Which is annoying.

Earlier, she said:

I relate to being the person who people come to for “such a change from the old routine,” but not being the main thing. I had a long-term relationship for seven years with someone who was the head of a label and I felt like I was that change of routine. I was always waiting to become the person who his kids came home to, and it never happened.

It’s important to note that most of the coverage of this controversial quote has focused on the “I have slept with a lot of guys” part, not the effect it might have had on her career. Several big media outlets put the quote in their headlines, which can come off as slut-shaming.

2) Tesla is way cooler than feminism.

In a recent interview in Fader magazine, she made it clear where she stands on the age-old Feminists vs. Aliens debate:

“For me, the issue of feminism is just not an interesting concept. I’m more interested in, you know, SpaceX and Tesla, what’s going to happen with our intergalactic possibilities. Whenever people bring up feminism, I’m like, god. I’m just not really that interested.”

Feminist aliens have yet to weigh in.

3) She kind of has a death wish.

She once told The Guardian that she admired Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain so much that “I wish I were dead already,” which led to a lengthly discussion of mortality:

Interviewer: Is early death glamorous?

“I don’t know. Ummm, yeah.”

Interviewer: Don’t say that

“I do! I don’t want to have to keep doing this. But I am.

Interviewer: Do what? Make Music?

“Everything. That’s just how I feel. If it wasn’t that way, then I wouldn’t say it. I would be scared if I knew [death] was coming, but …”

The singer retracted her comments afterward on Twitter in a series of now-deleted tweets, saying the interviewer had asked her leading questions.

4) Her friend Juliette Lewis didn’t realize that was her on SNL.

In outtakes from this month’s Rolling Stone profile, Del Rey reveals that she was friends with Juliette Lewis before the actress publicly dissed her Saturday Night Live performance:

I was actually friends with her before that but she didn’t know it was me on TV. I had been more blonde before or something. She called me and was like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ But we got over it. Because the truth is, we’re birds of a feather in a way. In the end, we thought it was really funny.

Because messing up your friend’s hair color can happen to anybody!

5) Every day is Opposite Day.

Because Lana Del Rey is George Constanza:

“I’m really specific about why I’m doing something or writing something. But it always kind of gets translated in the opposite fashion. I haven’t done it yet, but I’ve learned that everything I’m going to do is going to have the opposite reaction of what I meant. So I should do the opposite if I want a good reaction.”

When Rolling Stone pointed out that George already tried this, she says, “Oh really? That’s awesome. Me and George Costanza!”

6) She mixes up sounds and colors.

It sounds like the directions she gave to Ultraviolence producer Dan Auerbach were, um, confusing (also from the Rolling Stone outtakes:)

“I would explain things to him in terms of colors and touchstone words,” she says. “My word for the record was ‘fire,’ you know, blue fire, when a flame gets so hot it goes from red to blue. And I told him I wanted everything to sound like it was in the key of blue. And I think at first he was like, ‘What the f*ck?’”

This was mostly to distinguish from Lady Gaga, who wants everything to sound like it’s in the key of rainbows.

TIME Culture

5 Things to Do While You’re Waiting for 50 Shades of Grey to Come Out

Unleash your inner goddess with these recipes, books and vacations

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The trailer for the new Fifty Shades of Grey film dropped Thursday, leaving fans to count the days until it’s released on Valentine’s Day 2015. For those who can’t possibly wait that long, here are five ways to get your 50 Shades fix before next February:

Try on some Grey-inspired lingerie

Designed in part by 50 Shades author E.L. James, this collection of bras, briefs, negligées and stockings comes in a variety of colors: Black, red and (of course) gray. Customers can also purchase the title-inspiring gray tie that Christian wears in the book and a black mask to take things to the 50 Shades of Grey level.

Drink a glass of 50 Shades of Grey wine

E.L. James has created an entire industry around tiding over her impatient fans. The business-savvy author (who has already made an estimated $100 million from the trilogy) teamed up with California winemakers to blend a collection of wines specific to 50 Shades of Grey. The collection has both red and white, and the red “has flavors of black cherry, cocoa powder, creamy caramel and vanilla, leather and clove spice.” Leather? Well, at least one flavor stays true to the book.

Cook up a recipe from 50 Shades of Kale

“What’s the sexiest handful of foliage? A fistful of Kale battles cancer, inflammation, and low moods,” the 50 Shades-inspired cookbook’s website reads. It features 50 recipes centered around the sensual vegetable, fit for vegans and gluten-free fans alike. And for those fans worried that a cookbook won’t help them get their 50 Shades of sexy fix, the authors assure, “50 SHADES OF KALE is a fun and sexy romp powered by kale.”

Take a 50 Shades of Grey vacation

Seattle is so beautiful this time of year. Why not enjoy the city by staying at the Hotel Max, which previously offered guests a special package featuring perks from billionaire Christian Grey’s lavish lifestyle? Don’t forget to drink a bottle of Bollinger Rosé (Anastasia Steele’s drink of choice) before taking a helicopter tour around the city (unfortunately not piloted by Christian Grey).

Just reread the books

It never gets old reading a dozen different descriptions for Christian’s copper-colored hair while Anastasia continually insists that she isn’t pretty. You should have a refresher on which sex scenes come when anyway, so you’re ready to critique the film for its accuracy. After all, there’s a pretty high standard to uphold.

TIME Late Night Highlight

See Which Foods Jimmy Kimmel Can’t Cook

The late night host attempted to show off his eggs for the world class chef.

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Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay visited Jimmy Kimmel Live! Wednesday night, where the late night host attempted to show off his cooking skills to the world-famous chef.

Despite his efforts, Ramsay was far from impressed, tossing Kimmel’s failed scrambled eggs on the floor of the set in a profanity-laced moment.

Given that Kimmel has three children, including newborn Jane, born on July 10, it could be assumed that he would be experienced in basic cooking. But according to the chef, this was not the case.

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