TIME Music

Robyn Wrote a Song About Getting Drunk, Doing Karaoke and Jamming With a Swedish Metalhead

An oral history of her Kindness collaboration "Who Do You Love," inspired by a wild night out in Stockholm

Robyn is no stranger to outsider anthems (“Dream On”) or songs about drunken nights gone awry (“Dancing on My Own”), but she takes both of those ideas to another level with “Who Do You Love,” a song she co-wrote with Kindness — the solo project of British artist Adam Bainbridge — for his recently released album, Otherness. In this case, it’s not Robyn feeling alone, but a belligerent Swedish metalhead she and Bainbridge met after a night of heavy drinking and karaoke. The two were so moved by the encounter — which ended happily in a early-morning jam session — that they wrote a song about it.

TIME spoke to Robyn and Kindness (separately — their interviews have been lightly edited together) about what exactly went down that night, shooting the poignant new music video and what the ghost of Teena Marie may have had to do with the whole thing.

Bainbridge: Robyn approached me through her team and asked if we’d like to meet and hang out. That was the genesis of this whole project — just hanging out and spending time and discussing what we liked and didn’t like about music. We wrote this in Stockholm. Me, Robyn and Robyn’s partner had gone out and enjoyed a long boozy dinner, which was already probably sufficient for most people. That’s the point of the night where people would have stopped. Their energy spilled over into this karaoke session.

Robyn: We ended up having lots of beer. I think that Max, my boyfriend, wanted to make sure that he was not sober when he was singing with me and Adam.

Bainbridge: Max was reluctant to enter a karaoke situation with two professional musicians.

Robyn: We started doing only 30 seconds or one minute of each song because we wanted to go through more songs than we had time for. That’s a good karaoke tip, if you only have an hour or half an hour left. One song that I like to do is a classic — it’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”

Bainbridge: The manager of the karaoke bar knew them very well and was extremely apologetic when he finally had to knock on the door and say, “Look, we closed an hour ago, do you mind going home?” It would have been pretty late — 3 or 4 in the morning. We spill out onto the streets of Stockholm.

Robyn: We ran into this guy who seemed to be in a really bad mood.

Bainbridge: Most people in Stockholm are going to know Robyn’s face. She’s one of the more well known living Swedes at this point in time. He became instantly defensive in a way that suggested he expected to be looked down upon or scorned because she was a celebrity and he was this drunk metalhead on his way home.

It was like Taylor Swift stopping you in the streets of Nashville and being like, “You’re eating the fries I want.”Robyn: In Sweden people are very relaxed and leave me alone. I’ve been really lucky in that way, but I think also people know that I’m maybe not so interested in being seen. It’s such a weird thing to be famous. I’m really, really happy — I like what I do and that they want to buy my music. But it’s still important to talk about celebrities as something that’s quite weird. It’s not something that we should strive for. It’s a really strange way of projecting your feelings on someone. We all have that need — even if we didn’t have any famous people in society, we project things on the people we love. It’s part of being human, but [being famous] is a very extreme form of being human. Well, not extreme — but it’s very loose, and it can be used in a bad way. I don’t even want to use it. I just want to look at it and take responsibility for it.

Bainbridge: My suggestion at the time was to call it a night and go home. There’s no need to get into deep philosophical discussions with random drunk guys on the street. Max insisted, “No, no, we should just try talking to this guy.” He turned to [the man] Johan and said, “What are you so angry about? What is it that we did that makes you feel uncomfortable?”

Robyn: Me and Max usually do that when we’re drunk and meet someone in a bad mood. We’re both those kinds of people who want to do therapy on people. It’s really a positive behavior when you’re drunk, but sometimes it can be a little unnecessary.

Bainbridge: The guy realized no one was trying to make him look stupid or feel bad, and he suddenly became very friendly and excited. “If you’re musicians and I’m a musician, why don’t you come back to my guitar store and jam?” I’m looking at the two of them communicating with my eyes, “Please, no guitar store at four in the morning! Really? Really?”

Robyn: I think he wanted to do something nice for us.

Bainbridge: We even picked up another guy on the street who was also a Robyn fan. Robyn said, “I really feel like some sour cream and onion chips.” And this guy was walking passed in the other direction with a bag of chips. She said, “You! You have the exact chips I’d like!” And he was like, “Uh, hello?” It was like Taylor Swift stopping you in the streets of Nashville and being like, “You’re eating the fries I want,” and then insisting that individual comes with them.

Robyn: It’s how I work when I’m drunk! It might sound like I’m out of control, but I’m not. Sometimes when I party I like to be spontaneous.

Bainbridge: I’m looking at the guy with the chips like, “Don’t ask me, I don’t know why any of us are here, but they seem to be having fun. If you want to join in, by all means.” We were turning instruments on and plugging them in and making a mess.

Robyn: We just stayed there for a couple hours. I broke a drum set.

Bainbridge: My potential disclaimer to this is I don’t think Johan’s employers to this day know that he did that. He doesn’t even actually work in the guitar store. He works in admin in an office building on the other side of town. But I think if they’re not Googling themselves too often, it’ll be fine.

You know when you’re hungover in this strange way, where you’re almost in a different dimension? Really floating around?Robyn: I don’t think any of us thought that we would accomplish anything that day because we were so hungover. You know when you’re hungover in this strange way, where you’re almost in a different dimension? Like, really floating around?

Bainbridge: The next morning, as each of our brains came online, there was really this common understanding that something bonkers had happened — maybe even more so in a conservative culture like Sweden.

Robyn: It is not a spontaneous culture. It’s not very common that you go out into the street and talk to anyone that you meet. And we have this relationship with alcohol that’s quite complicated. People internalize a lot of things, and then they go out and get really really drunk on the weekends. There’s maybe a way of processing things that way, too. There’s this muted way of being that definitely is specific for Sweden.

Bainbridge: You come across slightly belligerent punks in the street in the street all the time. The last thing you expect is that you’ll end up playing “Smoke on the Water” with them in a guitar store. The best way to immortalize it was to write a song about it. What had made this guy seem so alienated from the rest of Swedish society? What is your identity if you’re not sure who your friends and loved ones are? Who you love is a pretty direct indication of who you are and how you relate to other people.

Robyn: I just saw this lonely person, and I recognized myself in that person. I know what that feels like — feeling alone even though you’re not — and how painful that can be. It didn’t really occur to me when we wrote it, but now I can see that it’s about community. A lot of times we feel like we’re not connected to anything, but the fact is, we’re connected, all of us together, to everything. Everything is connected! And it’s really easy to forget. The song is about when you aim, but you miss — like you want to feel connected, but you don’t know how.

Bainbridge: There’s a united front of melancholy in what myself and Robyn do. That still needs further definition sometimes. What are we feeling melancholic about? This had everything: the alienation of the guy that feels angry and doesn’t know why, the optimism and utopian idea of people coming together. And it actually happened — it’s not la di da, wouldn’t it be great if we could all hold hands and play the bongos? That happened for real.

Robyn: Most of the time when you write music, it’s not like therapy, it’s like a way of reaching your unconsciousness. A lot of time I write about things that happen later in my life, so it’s almost like I’m predicting the future.

Bainbridge: Robyn’s earliest music making came from the mid-90s hit factory. It was Max Martin, big record deals and flying on a Concorde to do TV shows. That brings with it a certain amount of hard work and discipline and stamina. Crazy endurance! I have a somewhat different approach that’s about watching stuff on YouTube and eating long leisurely lunches and then doing everything in an hour. It’s interesting to see where the two work practices meet in the middle.

Robyn: I like to live with songs for awhile. Maybe it takes me some time sometimes to decide what to do. Once I’ve decided, I can usually get something out pretty quickly, and maybe thats the way music happens — or feelings happen.

Bainbridge: It was written and recorded in Stockholm, but we ended up recording the final vocal in L.A. whenever the Grammys were. We were just trying to get work done with friends and make stuff happen. We ended up working with Syd the Kyd from Odd Future, who had a studio at the time called Chateau Marie, which was Teena Marie’s old studio. Working there, recording these vocals with the idea of just finishing this song, it was nuts. It was this feeling of family and coincidence, and it was a nice place to bring the story to a close and really globalize the song. Maybe the spirit of Teena Marie is in there.

Robyn: The [music video] idea that we ended up recording was [director] Daniel Brereton’s idea. He had this idea about shooting faces of people we love. It was very simple, but that’s also sometimes the best thing. It came together over a day, but we also had an extra day for shooting my grandma, who’s 97 years old, and my boyfriend, Max, because they couldn’t be there.

Bainbridge: I said to Robyn for months, “Maybe if you want him to be in the video, maybe we should warn him in advance?” It would be weird for him if we just lurched up and said, “Remember us? Want to do a video for a song we wrote with you in mind?” She didn’t. She put it off and put it off and put it off. I think it was for the best, because we were able to track him down the day we were shooting the video in Stockholm.

Robyn: My assistant tracked him down the same day we shot him. He doesn’t work at the music store. He works at the office of the music store now. We had to call around a little bit, but we found him. He came after work — he wanted to go home and put on his best clothes.

Bainbridge: We did these shots where it’s the three of us standing together, and finally at that moment something he [started] thinking, “Wait, what is going on?” You could see a change come over him where he got a little freaked out. It’s understandable. I would have been freaked out in that situation, but it worked out for the best. If he had months to think about why we were asking him, it would have been more overwhelming.

Robyn: It was really important that he was in the video. There’s no irony in it. It’s very sincere, and it comes from a real place. I think when he came there he was like, “What do these people really want from me?” When he left, I felt he had a good feeling about it.

Bainbridge: It feels pretty special as a music video for me. I don’t think it’s a frequent experience to be moved by a four-minute music video. Admittedly, this is full of a lot of faces that mean a lot to me. But the visual aspect of a song couldn’t have been done better in this case. It has all of the feeling and the emotion in the song and it does exactly what we wanted. It’s probably the first time I’ve ever been 100 percent satisfied with a video.

Robyn: He was totally cool. I hope, and I want to think, that he had nothing but good intentions for us. We only shot the video like a month ago. Maybe we’ll see each other again, but we don’t talk to each other on daily basis. We aren’t best friends, but we had a good experience together.

TIME celebrities

Orange Is the New Black Star: My Parents Were Deported When I Was 14

The Television Academy And SAG-AFTRA Present Dynamic And Diverse: A 66th Emmy Awards Celebration Of Diversity
Paul Archuleta—FilmMagic Actress Diane Guerrero attends the Television Academy and SAG-AFTRA's presentation of Dynamic and Diverse: A 66th Emmy Awards celebration of Diversity on August 12, 2014 in North Hollywood, California. (Paul Archuleta--FilmMagic)

Diane Guerrero plays Ramos on the hit Netflix series

On Orange is the New Black, Diane Guerrero plays inmate Maritza Ramos, whom she describes as a “tough Latina from the ‘hood,'” but her real-life story isn’t so rosy either. In an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times published Friday, Guerrero writes about her parents and older brother getting deported when she was only 14.

Guerrero, who also has a supporting role on Jane the Virgin, is a U.S. citizen, but her parents and brother are from Colombia. She writes that they struggled to get citizenship, but despite going through numerous ineffective lawyers and mountains of legal fees, they remained undocumented. Then, when Guerrero was 14, the worst happened:

One day, my fears were realized. I came home from school to an empty house. Lights were on and dinner had been started, but my family wasn’t there. Neighbors broke the news that my parents had been taken away by immigration officers, and just like that, my stable family life was over.

Not a single person at any level of government took any note of me. No one checked to see if I had a place to live or food to eat, and at 14, I found myself basically on my own.

Guerrero ends her op-ed by calling on President Obama to provide deportation relief to keep families together. The President is expected to announce a new immigration plan imminently that could give temporary papers (but not citizenship) to millions of immigrants.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times

 

TIME movies

You Can Live in ‘The Godfather’ House for About $3 Million

And it has a "man cave" in it

Here’s a real estate offer you can’t refuse: The house that was used as the Corleone family home in The Godfather is on the market for a cool $2.895 million.

The 6,248-square-foot English Tudor in the Emerson Hill area of Staten Island was home to Don Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s iconic 1972 movie. The home has changed hands only once since Marlon Brando and Al Pacino filmed there.

The exterior and nearby gardens were the setting for Corleone’s daughter’s wedding at the beginning of the movie. And while the interior of the house wasn’t used in the film, the owners renovated it in 2012 to make some rooms look like the ones in the movie.

The real-estate listing for the property notes that the house has an English pub and a “man cave” area. Sounds perfect for watching, well, The Godfather.

TIME Music

TV on the Radio Talks Seeds: ‘Much to Our Surprise, We Know What We’re Doing Now’

JUCO

“It’s my favorite record that we’ve made,” says TV on the Radio's Tunde Adebimpe

TV on the Radio recorded their new album, Seeds, far from their usual stomping grounds of Brooklyn. “I loved living in Williamsburg,” says the band’s garrulous frontman Tunde Adebimpe. “But I was in New York for 22 years. I think I can give LA two or three.”

Not that Adebimpe holds any grudges against Brooklyn: “It’s where we grew up, doing what we were doing. It was a really vital time for that area of Williamsburg and the Lower East Side. They were coming on the tail end of perhaps mythologized cultural milestones of the ‘80s. A lot of people at our age at the time — early 20s or 30s—slogged over there at the time and started doing our thing. We just wanted to impress each other, I don’t think we were thinking of any attention from the outside. It was great as a launch pad. I made some great friends there and went through some pretty transformative experiences.”

He does hold one grudge against the changing neighborhood, though: “Go visit the J. Crew that just opened where our studio used to be. We recorded two albums there. Now it’s a J. Crew.”

For their return to the studio, TV on the Radio — Adebimpe, Kyp Malone, Jaleel Bunton and Dave Sitek — set up shop in Sitek’s home studio in Los Angeles, a process that Adebimpe said was surprisingly fun and easy. “It was nice to be somewhere where you’re not exactly on the clock and worried about how much everything is costing you,” says Adebimpe. “It was pretty much the same situation as when we started making music. We started in a loft that Dave and I lived in in Williamsburg. It was super beat up and affordable and we would basically drink way too much coffee and smoke weed and stay up all night making dumb beats and writing a rhythm.”

“It kind of went back to that, except this time the loft wasn’t so beat up and we weren’t as worried about the cops showing up and kicking us all out,” says Adebimpe.

Adebimpe was surprised by how easy it was to record Seeds, the band’s fifth studio album, which is scheduled to be released on November 18. “It was really fun and went really quickly, and I think taking some time off was the key to that,” he says. “Much to our surprise, we know what we’re doing now. It hasn’t always been like that, so it was nice to find out that we could just go do that and have something that we’re really excited and proud of at the end of it. We put ourselves through a self-imposed meat grinder and we’re very happy with the result.”

On the new album, Adebimpe shares songwriting duties with Kyp Malone. “We had about 65 sketches when we came in the studio,” says Adebimpe. “It’s not as crazy as it sounds, because we had some time off between albums.” Three years, to be precise — as the band grieved over the death of bassist Gerard Smith in 2011.

“We’re always writing. Some of them are real sketches for songs and some would be someone humming into the phone for ten minutes,” says Adebimpe. “I recently went into my iTunes to see how many voice notes I had amassed in the last three years or so and there were 7,594.” He doesn’t know how many of those notes became songs, but “it’s definitely not all of them” — even though, he deadpans, “every single one of those voice memos is a hit.”

He brought the last six months of voice notes with him into the studio and they served as the starting point for the album. “We usually narrow it down to about 20 tracks or so, and then pick which 10 or 12 we want to work on,” says Adebimpe. “I think the key to this record sounding the way it sounds and the clarity and simplicity of the songs is that we worked really quickly and didn’t over-think things. If something didn’t get finished in two or three days, we would just drop it. It was quick and dirty.”

Additionally, Seeds is more upbeat than the band’s 2011 album Nine Types of Light. “We just tried to have as much as we possibly could,” says Adebimpe. “Not in that we wanted to make a ‘party record’ but in the sense wanted to make the album we want to hear now, the one we wanted to hear when we were 16 and the album we want to hear, hopefully, when we’re 60.”

“It’s my favorite record that we’ve made,” he says. But is he the sort of person who thinks every record is his favorite at the time of its release? He laughs. “Oh God, no. I really, really want to tour this record, and that’s not a thing I ever say.”

Seeds is due out just as the album that introduced the band to the world, Desperate Youth, turns ten — not that Adebimpe spends much time thinking about the past. “I haven’t listened to Desperate Youth since about six months after we finished it,” says Adebimpe, who admits he just bought all his band’s old albums on iTunes but hasn’t gotten around to listening to them yet. When pressed, Adebimpe admits that he’s still proud of Desperate Youth. “I love those songs and I’m really proud of everything that we’ve done, but it’s mostly really encouraging to realize that we’re still doing this after ten years, or 13 years, really, since Young Liars came out.”

When Desperate Youth was released, much was made of the fact that TV on the Radio was one of the very few predominantly black bands making indie rock. Ten years later, it’s still true. “I feel like it’s changed maybe a hair,” says Adebimpe. “There’s some young bands like Unlocking the Truth and The Bots that are around.”

For Adebimpe, though there’s nothing wrong with sticking out. “By and large it’s not a bad thing to not fit in,” says Adebimpe. “It’s the whole idea of punk rock — or old punk rock. I have no idea what it’s turned into now. But the punk that I grew up around — if you win, you’re still a punk. If you don’t win, you’re still a punk.”

TIME Television

Andy Cohen’s Memoir Is the Frankest Book About Gay Life In Years

Andy Cohen
Charles Sykes—AP

The Bravo host and Real Housewives expert reveals even more than he knows in The Andy Cohen Diaries

An unexpectedly great new work of gay literature has come from an unlikely source: The guy who runs the Real Housewives franchise.

Andy Cohen, a former Bravo executive and current host of that network’s talk show Watch What Happens Live, doesn’t have the exalted public profile of Alan Hollinghurst or Colm Tóibín. And yet through radical candor, he’s accidentally created a remarkable book about a specific sort of gay life in the 2010s. The Andy Cohen Diaries, which came out last week, is by no means universal, but it’s an important text when it comes to understanding what it is to be a gay man today.

Cohen writes that he’d been inspired by The Andy Warhol Diaries in documenting his comings and goings each day. But the glamour of Warhol’s Studio 54 era has been somewhat degraded in the intervening years, and Cohen is, indeed, a working stiff: He has to tape five shows a week. He exhaustively documents the YouTube clips he watches (Britney Spears videos, Sandra Bernhard comedy routines), the famous friends he sees (mainly Kelly Ripa, Anderson Cooper, and Sarah Jessica Parker, with occasional cameos by Madonna and John Mayer), and his pastimes (casual sex and weight obsession).

It’s in the latter category that the book becomes resonant and sadder than the author may even realize. Each day is either a victory or a defeat for Cohen, measured alternately in hours at the gym or hors d’oeuvres eaten and drinks consumed. At one point, he meets his goal weight, and then revises that goal weight yet again lower; a litany of fattening foods he is ashamed to have eaten at a party hilariously and tragically includes the addendum “and a Popsicle.”

Many readers might not treat ice pops as a shameful indulgence. And yet many readers aren’t trying to prove their value in a marketplace in which superheroic body proportions win the day. Cohen’s obsession with his appearance — endless documentations of squats and the inevitable “two-hour massage” that follows — are of a piece with a wealthy, urban, privileged gay life that more intellectual or explicitly political novels are loath to expose in such detail. Cohen’s world is not that of most or even of many gay people, but it’s one that really exists and that hasn’t recently gotten this much attention in print.

Cohen’s book is packaged as a passport into the world of celebrity, and he’s gratifying in his say-everything treatment of stars; devoted readers of celebrity gossip will appreciate his lack of patience for fitness guru Jillian Michaels and reality star Kate Gosselin, as well as his attempts to further stoke a feud between Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. This is admirable and befuddling in equal measure: Cohen’s professional life runs on access to stars, access that seems apt to run dry if he stays this candid. It may also mess up his relationships with his coworkers: Cohen, befuddled by a production assistant’s overt masculinity and ignorance of Real Housewives divas, calls the fellow “Straight Pat” until he’s informed that Pat is gay. The universal language Cohen once relied on is gone, though Pat is menschy enough not to ding his boss for harassment.

But in reading his treatment of himself, it becomes clear that for Cohen, saying everything is the only option. And through his treatment of his own love life, one defined by Tinder dates with significantly younger men, a certain conundrum becomes clear. Cohen is at the very tail end of a generation that grew up assuming that socially sanctioned long-term relationships would always be impossible. He’s torn between impulse — a string of twentysomething objects of affection — and what he has very recently learned he ought to be doing, looking to settle down. His adoption of a dog is fairly explicitly an attempt to bridge a gap, to have a family life while still staring at every “very built” guy in his path. A moment where Cohen asks a flight attendant to get him a plane’s passenger manifest so he can look up a “husband material” fellow traveler is played for laughs that belie the darkness. And he forgets the name, anyhow, because he’s so distracted by Madonna’s presence on the list.

The conundrum many gay people face — having been told more suddenly than anyone could have predicted that marriage and family life is not only possible but, indeed, preferable — plays itself out movingly through the pages of The Andy Cohen Diaries. It’s a wearying read at times: Every day a new fixation on a man, and every day a meditation on how Cohen will shed that stubborn body fat. But it’s also valuable insight on what it means to grow older in a rapidly changing gay scene. It’s impossible to imagine Stephen Colbert or Jimmy Fallon, the straight late-night stars significantly ahead of Cohen, writing a book anything like this — and that’s precisely why it matters.

TIME Germany

Angela Merkel’s Sweet Overtures to Angry Punk Rocker

Leaders of the Christian Democratic Union sing with Chancellor Angela Merkel as they celebrate the exit polls in the German general election at the party headquarters in Berlin, Sept. 22, 2013.
Kai Pfaffenbach— Reuters Leaders of the Christian Democratic Union sing with Chancellor Angela Merkel as they celebrate the exit polls in the German general election at the party headquarters in Berlin, Sept. 22, 2013.

German Chancellor's apology illustrates that politicians and popstars often don't mix

She has won three elections and seen her popularity soar by rarely putting a foot wrong and learning from her mistakes when she does. Yet German Chancellor Angela Merkel appears to be just as fallible as other politicians when it comes to annoying one of the smallest but loudest segments of the electorate: musicians.

Campino—real name Andreas Frege—has revealed that Merkel made a personal apology to him after television cameras caught her and her colleagues thoroughly mangling a tune by his band Die Toten Hosen (the literal translation is “the dead pants”; the phrase also means “deadly dull”). This karaoke-style crime against music (the song is “Tage wie diese”, days like these; lead vocals by Volker Kauder, chairman of Merkel’s CDU parliamentary party) wasn’t the issue. Campino minded seeing—and hearing—his punk-y, spiky, counter-cultural music co-opted by a political party.

Disharmonies often resonate between the political classes and the music industry. A campaign adopts an anthemic track or a politician confesses in an interview to loving a particular band only for the musicians to repudiate vigorously any connection to the party or politician. In 1984 Bruce Springsteen complained to Rolling Stone magazine about Ronald Reagan appearing on the stump to the strains of “Born in the USA”: “I think there’s a large group of people in this country whose dreams don’t mean that much to [Ronald Reagan], that just get indiscriminately swept aside.” In 2012 Tom Morello, guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, also turned to Rolling Stone to throw some rocks at a leading GOP figure, in this case then Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan. “Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades.” Ryan finally hit back this year. Rage “never were my favorite band,” he said.

And so it goes in the U.S. and Europe. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, schooled at the impeccably posh private school Eton College, once declared that the Jam’s “Eton Rifles”, a biting critique of the privilege represented by Eton, was his favorite track. “Which part of it didn’t he get?” asked the Jam’s former front man, Paul Weller.

That Merkel fell into the trap for a second time is more of a surprise. Her 2005 brush with the Rolling Stones might have been expected to alert to the dangers of relying on rock for an electoral boost. Back then, during her first campaign for the Chancellery, TIME wondered if Stones knew that their 1973 hit “Angie” had become Merkel’s de facto theme tune. They did not. “The Rolling Stones are startled to hear that the track from their album Goats Head Soup has been pressed into service,” we reported. “’We didn’t grant permission,’ a spokesman for the musicians told TIME. ‘We are surprised that permission was not requested. If it had been requested, we would have said no.’”

A CDU spokesman insisted the party had cleared usage of excerpts from the song with the German music-distribution rights regulator, GEMA, but that of course was not the point. TIME had highlighted that the Stones weren’t on her side, setting off a crescendo of dissonant headlines. Die Toten Hosen raised their own noisy protest when the CDU first started using their music in the run-up to Germany’s 2013 election. The band members issued a statement on their website to ask that the CDU stop playing “Tage wie diese” at campaign events: “The danger that people might get the idea that there is a connection between the band and the content promoted at these events makes us furious,” said the statement.

Merkel may finally have learned that bands and bandwagons are a dangerous combination. A new book about Die Toten Hosen, excerpted in the German news weekly Der Spiegel, reveals Merkel’s sheepish phone call to Campino a few days after the election night singalong. “Mr Campino, I’m ringing because last Sunday we trampled all over your song,” the Chancellor said. She offered praise and a reassurance as well as an apology. She found his song “very lovely” but promised “it would not become the next CDU hymn.”

Campino describes his response as “a mixture of surprise and alarm. Alarm that she didn’t have anything else to do except call me. But also touched that she explained all that in such a relaxed and humorous way.”

 

TIME Music

Putting a Band Aid on It: The Impact of ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’

Feed The World
Larry Ellis—Getty Images Bob Geldof and Midge Ure pictured outside SARM Studios in London, during the recording of the Band Aid single 'Do They Know It's Christmas?', on Nov. 25, 1984.

One Direction and friends have teamed up for another version of the single. Here's what the first one accomplished

On Monday, some of the biggest names in music — One Direction, Bono, Sam Smith and others — released a Christmas-themed song to raise money for a good cause.

Of course, that story, and even the song in question, should sound familiar: The new single is the 30th-anniversary edition of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — the song that in 1984 raised millions to fight famine in Ethiopia and, this time around, will raise money to combat the scourge of Ebola.

Back when the original version of the song was released, TIME took a look at the original Band Aid project and found that its impact reached far beyond one Christmas song, and even beyond the famine. The song “brought everything to a boil” and led to a trend in activist music that reached from Live Aid to FarmAid and from Artists United Against Apartheid to fashion designers raising money for food. The reasons for the trend, some suggested, ran deep:

Joan Baez, who agrees that this all represents “some kind of phenomenon,” also suggests, “Rock ‘n’ rollers are answering a need of young people to make something out of ashes and silence. They have no leadership, no hero. They’ve been left nothing. But it’s not just the kids. People in my generation or a little younger are longing for something they tasted and that went away.” Comments Van Zandt: “The trend of activism is a natural thing after ten to 15 years of being in a coma.”

Read the full story here, in the TIME Vault: Songs from the High Ground

TIME celebrity

Here’s the Unusual Way Donald Sutherland Landed His Role in The Hunger Games

"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" - World Premiere - Red Carpet Arrivals
Anthony Harvey—Getty Images Donald Sutherland attends the world Ppremiere of "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1" at Odeon Leicester Square on November 10, 2014 in London, England.

He wrote a passionate letter to the director about the script, and THEN they offered him the part

When watching a Hunger Games movie, it feels like Donald Sutherland was born to play Coriolanus Snow, the menacing president of Panem. But the film’s creators didn’t initially have him in mind for the role — and the trilogy could have turned out quite differently if he hadn’t taken the initial steps to nab the part.

“Nobody asked me to do it. I wasn’t offered it,” he says in a recent interview with GQ. “I like to read scripts, and it captured my passion.” So he decided to write a letter, which eventually made its way to director Gary Ross. After reading the script, Sutherland decided this was “an incredibly important film,” and he wanted to be part of it.

“I thought it could wake up an electorate that had been dormant since the ’70s,” he said.

Sutherland admitted that he was inspired even though he had never read the books. In fact, he didn’t know they existed at all. Still, his passion was palpable, and Ross soon offered him the role of President Snow. Boom. That should teach us all a thing or two about being aggressive and proactive and going confidently in the direction of our dreams or whatever.

Read Sutherland’s full letter over at Business Insider.

TIME Television

Unfortunately, John Oliver, You Are a Journalist

HBO Oliver, at right, interviews Stephen Hawking

But who can blame him for not wanting to say so?

The latest sign that John Oliver has become the peer of his old boss Jon Stewart is that he now has to spend time declining honorifics that other people want to hang on him. In an interview with the New York Times’ David Carr, he laughed off the suggestion that he was pursuing “a kind of new journalism”:

We are making jokes about the news and sometimes we need to research things deeply to understand them, but it’s always in service of a joke. If you make jokes about animals, that does not make you a zoologist. We certainly hold ourselves to a high standard and fact-check everything, but the correct term for what we do is “comedy.”

Strictly on the basis of language, I have to applaud Oliver for rejecting the label of “journalism.” Though I’ve often used it myself for lack of a better catchall word, it’s a stupid word, used to lend an air of professional respectability to jobs that we should just describe directly: writing, reporting, analysis, criticism, opinion and so on.

There’s a kind of protesting-too-much, this-is-so-a-real-job overtone to the word. There’s also an element of judgment: journalism is not just reporting, but reporting of which I approve; not just non-fiction writing or speaking, but nonfiction writing or speaking that I deem worthy of respect. That’s probably, as with Jon Stewart in the past, the popular reading of the term that Oliver balks at. If he accepts the label journalist, he sounds full of himself, and that’s the death of comedy.

But if we’re going to use the term journalism at all, I don’t see how it doesn’t apply to the work done by Oliver and Last Week Tonight. (Which, incidentally, is produced by onetime magazine writer Tim Carvell, who years ago edited some pieces of mine at Fortune.) There’s far more to news and nonfiction today than who-what-where-when-why reporting. One of the biggest growth fields is “explainer journalism”–analyzing data and walking an audience through complex issues, often done with a distinct point-of-view, at outlets like Vox and FiveThirtyEight. [Update: For an in-depth comparison of Oliver’s work with that of people who actually call themselves journalists, see The Daily Beast’s Asawin Suebsaeng.]

That’s journalism; a news analysis is journalism; an editorial is journalism. The chief difference between these and what Oliver does, if anything, is that he’s entertaining, so that, when he spends fifteen minutes arguing the stakes of net neutrality, people actually pay attention and even act on it. If that makes it “not journalism,” then it’s journalism that has the problem.

Not that I blame Oliver for avoiding the label. When someone calls Oliver, Stewart or Colbert a journalist, it’s often because that person wants something–for the hosts to commit themselves to a certain cause or to declare neutrality; for them to commit to a certain seriousness of purpose; for them to accept their “responsibility,” however the labeler defines it; for them to fit into some one-size definition of how a journalist should behave and what they should care about. That would definitely kill Oliver’s comedy, and along with it his–well, analysis or advocacy or whatever you want to call it.

So yes, John Oliver is a “journalist” as much as anyone in this business is. But I can understand why he needs to stay undercover.

TIME Television

Watch Allison Williams Sing in the New Peter Pan Live! Trailer

The Girl who wouldn't grow up

The newest trailer for NBC’s live production of Peter Pan is out, and it features just the tiniest clips of singing from Allison Williams (as Peter) and sing-song talking from Christopher Walken (Captain Hook.)

The televised live musical is set to follow up on last year’s live production of The Sound of Music, which snagged over 18 million viewers despite mixed reviews (and even though nobody was flying).

Peter Pan Live! is scheduled to air on NBC Dec. 4

 

 

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