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Go Behind TIME’s Taylor Swift Cover With Photographer Martin Schoeller

For this week’s issue of TIME, photographer Martin Schoeller traveled from New York to photograph Taylor Swift for our cover. The location? Forest Hills, Tennessee near the star’s adopted base of Nashville. The studio? Swift’s family home.

“I wanted to show her in an unexpected light,” Schoeller tells TIME. “We are used to seeing her portrayed a certain way, quite ‘pop-like’. I wanted her to come across a bit differently.”

Taylor Swift photographed playing the piano at her parents home in Forest Hills, Tennessee on September 29, 2014. Martin Schoeller for TIME

So for the cover, Schoeller made one of his signature “close up” style images: tight framing, brightly lit. In the resulting image we see the pop star in a new light, up close and straight on.

The entire TIME shoot took nearly an hour and the photographer and his team tried several set ups: in the garden, in a living room space and in various parts of the house. In an image used in the magazine story, we see Swift drooped over a family piano, seemingly deep in thought. In a second shot, we see her in the garden in bright sunlight.

Taylor Swift photographed at her parents home in Forest Hills, Tennessee on September 29, 2014. Martin Schoeller for TIME

“She knew exactly how to sit for a shoot,” Schoeller adds. “It went incredibly smoothly. It’s pretty exciting to photograph a star like her.”


Martin Schoeller is a New York-based photographer whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, GQ and TIME among many others. Read Schoeller’s LightBox piece The Photo That Made Me.

Richard Conway is reporter/producer for TIME LightBox


TIME Television

Jennifer Hudson’s Son Idolizes a Pop Star… And It’s Not Her

Hint: He wears a white glove and a sequin jacket

Jennifer Hudson said on Late Night with Seth Meyers that her 5-year-old son, David, is a big fan of the late Michael Jackson.

Hudson showed a cell-phone video clip of her little son dancing like Jackson to “Beat It.” Her son is so taken with Michael Jackson, he even said he liked him more than his own mother. He later took his statement back, Hudson said on the show, and said Michael Jackson was his favorite dancer, and Hudson was his favorite singer.

TIME Music

Betty Who Gets Hearts Racing With New Song “Runaways”: Listen

Betty Who and her bad boy beau go Bonnie & Clyde on a new highlight from her upcoming debut

Betty Who has a knack for capturing the very essence of euphoria — from her glittering, Whitney Houston-inspired 2013 debut single “Somebody Loves You” to her crunchy anthem “Heartbreak Dream,” she manages to create lightning-in-a-bottle bursts of pop time and time again. Ahead of the release of her debut LP Take Me When You Go on October 7, the rising pop diva has delivered another heart-racing rush with “Runaways,” a sleek and shimmering highlight from the upcoming record.

“We sneak out late after midnight, highjack your daddy’s car / You’re my best bad kind of habit, I’m your backseat movie star,” Who purrs above a steady ’80′s-inspired synth pulse. It’s an all out us-against-the-world teen rebel anthem, armed with the kind of unstoppable, sing-along yelp of a chorus (and an even more catchy chant afterward) that makes everything feel infinite.

TIME Music

Nick Jonas: I Want a Career Like Elvis Presley

Nick Jonas
Nick Jonas rehearses in Los Angeles for his new self titled album on August 22, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. Gabriel Olsen—Getty Images

Also: his new single was inspired by a time when another guy was looking at his girlfriend's ass

Nick Jonas is redefining himself this year. The musician and actor, formerly one-third of the Jonas Brothers, will unveil an R&B-inspired solo album this fall and stars on Kingdom, a gritty TV drama about martial arts fighting. For the series, which premieres October 8 on DirectTV and also stars Frank Grillo, Jonas bulked up and learned how to fight, focusing intently on creating a role that showcased a more dramatic side of his acting abilities. His album is equally sincere, but not quite as serious, a collection of songs that reveal a new side of Jonas as a musician.

The self-titled album features collaborations with Mike Posner, Angel Haze and Demi Lovato. TIME caught up with Jonas at his management’s Los Angeles office, where he and his live band have been rehearsing the new material.

TIME: Is your new album finished?

Nick Jonas: Yeah, we’re finished. Just working on liner notes and album art now, which is the fun part. The plan is actually to roll right into another [album]. I want to get it started and ready to go hopefully in the next month or so. The mentality was to take the new way of releasing music, which is to just always have something out. It feels like a good plan.

Did you go into this album with a vision for the music?

I did. I came in really wanting to make a record that was different from anything I’d done in the past, but that was true to my influences: Stevie Wonder, Prince, Bee Gees. And then, more recently, The Weeknd and Frank Ocean. That whole vibe of alternative R&B/pop. It just fell into a really natural place really early. To the point where we were six songs in, like, “Oh, we have a record taking shape.” I came in really sure of what I wanted to do.

What did you want to say on the album lyrically?

I think that fear was a big thing in the songs I was writing. The song “Jealous” — the root of that is fear. A song called “Nothing Will Be Better” has fear at the forefront. In a lot of ways, as an artist you’re best way to free yourself of whatever it is that’s bothering you or causing the fear is to just write and get it all out. I tried to do that. I think I said a lot. I made myself uncomfortable at times in what I was saying, which I think is good. I wanted to make the kind of record that left the audience with more questions than answers. I think the best art does that. Hopefully the second installment answers some of those [questions].

You said the album poses a lot of questions. What do you think is the most significant question it asks?

One of the biggest questions is, “What is it you fear and why do you fear it and how does it affect you?” For me, it was fear of the unknown, fear of my next steps, fear of making bold choices. In creating the music and feeling free in that way, I think the questions were answered and the fear was gone. I feel really good now!

What do you think was the boldest choice you’ve made with your solo career?

Just starting it. That was pretty bold. That took a lot just to get to that place where I could have that conversation and roll it out from there. And I really did push myself to step outside of my comfort zone and work with people that I’d never worked with before. I’d become really selective with who I worked with, and I think that limited me in a lot of ways. Trying to open my mind up to new people and new collaborators was a big thing.

What’s your goal for your career overall going forward?

My goal is to be the kind of performer that can be in movies and television shows, like the show Kingdom I’m doing now. Be in that and have a career in that, but also do my music. Both are a form of my artistry and it’s a shame that sometimes you’re limited to one. A lot of people feel like you have to focus on one at a time, but I want to be greedy and do both. I hope I can. I look at people like Elvis, who did both, and it was amazing. There’s a million examples of people who have made the transition from one to the other, but I’d love to be able to do both and make an impact in both.

How did you get the role in Kingdom?

Once the [Jonas] Brothers and I finished that chapter, I met with the team and said, “I want to make acting a priority.” I took a bunch of meetings. There were a lot of obstacles to overcome, trying to make a transition to things that were grittier and had heavier subject matter. There were a lot of “no”s. I kept working hard and finally got in for this show, which is a big reach. But they said my work was great, and the role was mine. It was a big win. It’s very intense. It’s heavy. It was about an hour drive to set every day and I was so thankful for that ride because on the way home I needed an hour just to turn on some classical music and clear my head because it was really heavy stuff.

Do you know yet if it will get a second season?

We don’t know yet. We literally finished last Tuesday. We’ll probably find out after the first week.

You clearly got really fit for the role. How did you prepare physically for playing a fighter?

I’ve gotten pretty into physical fitness this last year. Getting to the gym more, eating healthier. I really enjoyed that and when I got this role the goal was to put on 15 pounds of muscle. Just to have an animalistic aesthetic and feel. These fighters have a very specific physicality so it was about trying to capture that. I worked with a trainer here in LA and did the fight training on top. I was on a really strict diet plan that had me eating about 4,500 calories a day, just getting huge.

So you actually learned how to fight?

I did, yeah! It was really amazing training. We worked with this guy Joe Daddy Stevenson, who is a famous fighters himself. We did a bootcamp with him for a couple of weeks and really got in the mind of the fighters. We all built up our own reasons why we, as our characters, were fighting.

Have you personally ever been in a fight?

No. Growing up with brothers, you push each other around and wrestle a little bit. Now they don’t really touch me, because I actually know how to handle myself.

How do your brothers feel about you pursuing your own career?

Any kind of transition, when you come from a family set up both in a band and also the extension of that, is going to be complicated at first. Luckily we’re all in a place now where we’re all doing what we want and what we love. That’s where it needed to be. So Kevin is with his family and enjoying that, and Joe is starting to work on some music projects and some DJing stuff. It feels like a really good time in all of our lives.

When you look back at the Jonas Brothers do you feel like that music represents you as an artist?

Yeah, I think so. We really tapped into a moment in pop culture that was band oriented. When we broke through it was on the back end of the pop-emo takeover. When we came into that our pop-rock sound fit. It was organic to who we were. We were writing all those songs. It was important to us then. And now, looking back on it, are there things I would have done a little differently? No, I don’t know that I would have. It was who we were then and each moment as an artist is that moment. You have to continue to grow and that happens over time.

Can you tease anything about your upcoming single “Jealous”?

The night before [we wrote it] I was out with my girl and this guy looked at her ass while we were out. I was all hyped up on the fighting I was doing. I was had to be like, “Okay, let’s stop for a minute.” Not only was I frustrated that he was disrespecting me like that, but also, I could actually take care of this situation. I got really passionate about it. I realized that jealousy was something that I was harboring so I wrote this song about it. It’s a fun song so it’s ironic that it came out of a situation that made me so angry. I love the song. The video is really special. I think it’s the best video I’ve made.

So instead of fighting people you’ll just write songs about them?

Yeah, that’s better. Make art, not war, right?

TIME Music

Iggy Azalea’s Leaked ‘Nothing Like Me’ Video Is, Well, Nothing Like Her

Details about the video are unknown, but it sure sounds a lot like Iggy

Critics who’ve already rolled their eyes at Iggy Azalea’s assertion that she’s “the realest” are sure going to have fun with this.

Newly leaked footage, from some unknown point in the rapper’s career, reveals a musical past that’s, uh, pretty different from the style she popularized in songs like “Work,” “Bounce” and, most recently, “Fancy.” Oddly enough, this leaked track is called “Nothing Like Me.”

Go on, take a second to appreciate that.

“Nothing Like Me” is basically a shapeless, generic dance-pop tune with a serious Britney Spears vibe — although, to be fair, you can hear traces of the Southern drawl that Iggy’s now known for (despite being, you know, Australian).

Also on prominent display is her oft-discussed derrière — which is actually a good way to identify that this indeed is Iggy Azalea. Do beware: some people have questioned the authenticity of the audio here — but it sure looks and sounds like Iggy.

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 Music

REVIEW: Alvvays Make Sunny Guitar-Pop Gold on Self-Titled Debut

Polyvinyl / Transgressive

The Canadian pop band's sunny debut puts lead singer Molly Rankin in fine company

From laconic, wise-cracking slackers like Stephen Malkmus and Bethany Cosentino to starry-eyed romantics like Stuart Murdoch and Tracyanne Campbell, the history of left-field, literate indie pop is littered with idiosyncratic, effortlessly charming vocalists. Molly Rankin, the woman who leads Canadian five-piece Alvvays, is a descendent of both lines; she’s a madcap schemer and a bleeding heart, equally likely to scamper away after tripping over her own feet and to plead a male pal to reconsider his disdain for the institution of marriage. Her actual genealogy is just as impressive as her musical ancestry: Rankin is a member of the Rankin Family, Canadian folk luminaries who have written and toured across the country for decades. She cut her teeth as part of the family’s band before striking out on her own with a 2010 EP; that solo project gradually picked up friends and nearby musicians and morphed into Alvvays. The band’s eponymous debut full-length is smart, sharp guitar pop, with songs shaped by lyrical playfulness, chiming, melodic leads, and Rankin’s bell-clear, yearning voice.

The band’s songwriting is possessed of both an impressive ear for structure and a remarkable generosity. Songs build in discrete steps to emotional crescendos, then hang there or ascend to an even higher level, rewarding listeners with a new melody or another round of a potent chorus; crisp, clean lines like the ones that mark “Adult Diversion” and “Archie, Marry Me” return for curtain calls, unfurling over top of simple, metronomic rhythms. The high level of execution is a necessity: many bands have written songs like this before, and well, so each new track requires a certain indelibility in order to stand out. The band is also differentiated by lesser peers by the strength of Rankin’s character. She’s immediately familiar and relatable, fully realized in a way that’s quite impressive given this is Alvvays’ debut; she could be the girl sitting across from you in a seminar, speeding with intent down a bike lane, relaxing in a park with a wide-brimmed hat. She spends a lot of time singing about love, and navigates that fraught terrain with an exuberance and palpable anxiety that belies her youth. It’s a perspective that equally suits jangling, up-tempo cuts like “Adult Diversion” and “Atop a Cake” and dreamier, more wistful songs like highlights “Ones Who Love You” and “The Agency Group.” Her voice, pure as spring water and able to easily reach lofty, piercing notes, is best served by the latter pair of tracks; she has a deft hand with heartbreak.

In the moments when listeners are able to tear themselves away from the band’s sticky, simple guitar lines, they’re rewarded with a lyrical wit and intelligence that nicely complements Rankin’s erudite persona. Spend enough time around smart people and you’ll meet characters who clearly derive personal satisfaction from putting together exquisite sentences and dropping ten-dollar words; it’s a precious source of joy, sure, but it’s infectious all the same. The members of Alvvays fit that mold: when Rankin tries to convince a romantic partner to stick around on “Party Police” by telling him that “we can find comfort in debauchery,” it’s easy to imagine the sparkle in her eye and the half-grin plastered on her face. It’s to the band’s credit that their toying with vocabulary and phrasing feels inclusive, rather than smug, and those aforementioned melodies act like gateways into their wordy world. It’s those two strengths, and Rankin’s innate likeability, that separate Alvvays from their peers in a genre that’s always ripe with aspiring stars.

TIME Music

Florrie Drums Up a New Song in “Little White Lies” Video: Watch

The long-bubbling singer's first proper single makes a big impression

British singer/drummer Florence Arnold, who writes and records as Florrie, leapt to a major label earlier this year after three strong self-released EPs. Her brand of pop music is playful, propulsive, and built around rhythm, bearing the influence of her work as a session drummer for the songwriting/production squad Xenomania. New single “Little White Lies” hasn’t appeared on a larger release yet — though a dub remix by Shadow Child was included on her April EP Sirens — but it’s a neat encapsulation of what makes Florrie’s work so compelling.

The song’s rhythm cribs from the cluttered, quick pace of drum ’n bass, but washes of cool synth tones and an assertive vocal from Florrie lend a more traditional pop feel to the proceedings. The quality that really makes “Little White Lies” stick in your craw is the joy it radiates; when the beat charges in to kick off the chorus, it feels like a necessary piece of release, a burst of energy that can’t be denied.

TIME Music

REVIEW: Ed Sheeran Multiplies His Appeal on x

Atlantic Records

On his sophomore set, the singer-songwriter uses his softness to his advantage

Though he doesn’t look the part of an international pop star and sex symbol, it isn’t hard to understand shaggy British troubadour Ed Sheeran’s easy appeal. His chosen genre, the one that anchors all of his slight digressions into other realms of popular music, is broadly popular, easily digestible, and resilient: when the world ends, it’ll be left to cockroaches and male singer-songwriters on acoustic guitars. But like many of the young people that buy his singles and albums, he’s a polyglot, raised on folk, R&B, hip-hop and rock in equal measure and comfortable incorporating each of those genres into his compositions.

Sheeran rose to prominence thanks in part to his rap skills — he occasionally breaks out a verse, when not employing his smooth, woolly tenor — and even when he’s sticking to a more traditional pop vocal mode, rap’s influence on his delivery is clear: he crams syllables into lines where they barely fit thanks to his dexterity, and plays with rhythm and pace like it’s second nature. That versatility, and a bit of Sheeran’s everyman charm, helped to make his 2011 debut full-length +, and singles like “The A Team” and “Lego House,” a slow-burning hit on both sides of the Atlantic. His follow-up, the simply titled x (that’s pronounced “multiply,” by the way), out June 23 on Atlantic Records, finds him taking even more concerted steps into genres other than acoustic pop-rock, and working with a host of distinctive producers who help to bend and shape his sound.

The album’s most prominent collaborator is reigning chart king Pharrell Williams, fresh off a relatively successful solo album of his own and still riding a hot streak that began last year with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” and Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.” Pharrell co-produced x’s lead single, “Sing,” and one other track on the album (“Runaway”), both of which are obvious descendants of the lusty pop-R&B that launched Justin Timberlake to solo stardom over a decade ago; “Sing,” in particular, is hard to imagine without recalling Timberlake’s “Like I Love You,” itself co-produced by Pharrell as part of the Neptunes. Sheeran does his best with these tracks, and his voice shines as it twists around his own guitar and Pharrell’s beats, but ultimately his sale of the lyrical material at hand falls short. Newly free from the relative tyranny of NSYNC, the young Timberlake couldn’t help but drip sex. Comparatively speaking, Sheeran is tame. The same problem plagues songs like the Rick Rubin and Benny Blanco-produced “Don’t,” a vicious takedown of a cheating lover, and the wine-addled “Bloodstream”: these songs have an edge that Sheeran lacks, and the material falters for it.

Sheeran rounds into form when he uses his softness to his advantage, cocooning himself in layers of warm harmony and setting that slippery, surprisingly agile lyricism against slowly building arrangements. “Photograph,” one of several songs on x written with Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid, rises from a tender, emotive piano melody and becomes a slowly stomping, lighter-ready stadium ballad; Sheeran helps bring it to life with smart use of detail and powerful imagery, two moves familiar from the work of his friend and tour-mate Taylor Swift. (When he closes the song by mentioning a stolen kiss “under the lamppost, back on 6th Street,” you can almost hear the hearts young and old, beating and melting in a darkened arena.) “I’m a Mess” is another highlight, with Sheeran reaching deep and shredding his voice while soaring over luminous guitar chords. It’s a simple song, mostly reliant on Sheeran’s vocal skills and charisma to get over, but it works: when isolated and not made to press against ostensibly mature lyrical material, he displays a deft touch.

But the album’s greatest moment by a country mile is relegated to its penultimate slot. “Thinking Out Loud” shares a lyrical spirit with One Direction’s “Little Things,” which Sheeran wrote for the boy band’s 2012 record Take Me Home, but with what sounds like a few years’ worth of experience added: it’s an ode to the tiny things that drive love, a celebration of its magic, a fantasy of having grown old with a partner. Musically speaking, it’s pure blue-eyed soul, warm and woodsy in the vein of Van Morrison, unabashedly romantic and built around a vein of richly toned guitar. Sheeran is the core, the starry-eyed dreamer. He sings to within an inch of his life. When the lust, anger, drugs, and drink fade, you hope this kind of love remains. When Sheeran focuses on the latter, his success comes into focus, and it begins to seem wholly justified.

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