Lea Michele: The gay interview

 

Third in a series of interviews with musicians.

Lea Michele knows exactly where her life is headed. “It’s just gonna be me in bed with gay people and I’m gonna be alone forever like Cher,” the powerhouse playfully foretells, “and that’s totally fine by me.” If you’re like Michele — theater-kid-turned-Broadway-queen, and then, with TV’s Glee and Scream Queens, the apple of Ryan Murphy’s eye — it’s a natural fit. And so be it. “That’s just the story of my fuckin’ life, all right.”

Not the whole story, though. The rest involves brainstorming the 30-year-old singer’s “dream girl” make-out sessions and what Glee episodes she likes the most.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: I loved that you were drinking red wine while singing The Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me” when you reunited with your Glee co-star Darren Criss recently. Lea Michele: Listen, that’s just a typical night for me, let me tell you! I mean, we just wanted it to be casual, like a chill time, us hanging out. We didn’t want it to feel too performed. We just wanted it to be a little peek of what Darren and I do for fun together.

How much wine did you enjoy during the recording of your new album, Places? No wine during the recording of Places, I’ll tell you that. It was too vocally challenging, so none in the recording studio!

This album is more intimate than your debut. You take it down a few notches, and it sounds like you’ve realized that you don’t need to be the pop artist that some people might think you should be. Thank you. Can you do all of my press for me and tell everyone that?

Ha! Sure, I’m for hire. How did you apply what you’ve learned about yourself as a recording artist to Places? I learned a lot from my first album [2014’s Louder]. I definitely think a lot of things contributed to that album: I took a lot of people’s opinions into play, as well as just being a lover of pop music myself and also working on Glee at the same time, so I had a lot of factors kind of coming at me.

I worked on this new record over the past three years, and I really just took the time to be quiet and think about myself, and I was finished with Glee, so I was no longer in the recording studio for that. I just took the time to figure out really, truly who I am as an artist, what kind of music I want to make, and at the end of the day, I’m from Broadway, I’m a theatrical singer, there’s no way around that.

When I did this record, no one told me to change anything; no one told me to sound any different. And this is it, this is me. It’s a true representation of who I am, and all I can hope is that people like it. If they don’t, that’s OK for me now at this point in my life. You know, I’m 30 years old, and I know I can sing. I just hope that people like it and that’s all you can really do. At a certain point, you just have to let it go into the universe.

Did you feel differently making your first album? Did you feel like people were trying to put you in a box? No, I just think that I was sort of influenced a little bit more personally. I was putting myself into a box! No one was really making me do anything – I was the one that was saying, “I want a song that sounds like Katy Perry” and “I want this song to sound like Kelly Clarkson.” But in the recording studio this time, I was like, “No. It can’t sound like anyone but me.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

DVD REVIEWS: ‘Wilson Phillips: Live from Infinity Hall’ and ‘A MusiCares Tribute to Barbra Streisand’

Take cover

Like just about everyone in the early ’90s, I had the CD Wilson Phillips, the all-girl trio made up of the daughters of founders of the Mamas and the Papas and the Beach Boys. And like just about everyone else, I forgot about them until Bridesmaids. OK, not forgot — but like Hootie and the Blowfish, they were one of those groups that had a great first album, an unforgettable single (“Hold On,” which I still have to listen to in its entirety when it plays on the radio) and then their moment was gone.

In some ways, it was a surprise, because their close harmonies showed skill (though the band broke up in 1993 anyway). But not it seems less of a surprise, as Live from Infinity Hall (Masterworks) — the DVD of their new album, Dedicated, a tribute of covers originally recorded by their famous parents — reveals a depressing limitation of talent. When Wendy and Carnie Wilson and Chynna Phillips sing in unison, the support of each provides context, if not power; when they go into solos, as they do on the Pet Sounds classic “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” I had to stop the DVD for fear of being driven to madness.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: ‘Glee Project’ season 2

The whole idea of The Glee Project is just so… so… meta. That’s not surprising — Glee is itself as much a mash-up of culture as the songs it performs. On the Project, average kids (Gleeks all) compete a la American Idol for the reward: A guest arc on next season.

Part of the appeal of Glee has always been its empowering sensibility: The characters all look like actual high schoolers, from the cheerleading beauty queen to the kid in a wheelchair to the flamboyant gay kid to the jock to the chunky, sassy black girl. It’s no surprise, then, that the Project has a similarly quirky cast: Mario, who’s blind; Ali, who is a paraplegic; Maxfield, a country boy who just started singing; and Tyler, a female-to-male transgender, pictured. And like Glee, it’s shamelessly manipulative. Watching these kids who desperately want to perform, who idolize the cast members of Glee (who are mentors; the first one is Lea Michele) is charming.

Of course, there is a sameness to a lot of it; half the kids (including a girl) look like Justin Beiber, and they flirt with the camera like pros and you kinda want everyone to win. This ain’t no Real Housekids — it’s happy reality.

Debuts tonight on Oxygen.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Movie Monday: “New Year’s Eve” in wide release

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day.

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

For the entire review, click here.

DEETS: Rated PG-13. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

Auld lang sigh

A very sappy New Year’s Eve… but still fun

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There’s a long history of uniting big stars in a jam-packed ensemble cast. Sure, typically C-list celebrities met their fates in capsized ships and burning buildings, but there’s something about the combined star power of multiple marquee names that are irresistible draws.

In New Year’s Eve, the wattage is high: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron (pictured), Halle Berry, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Swank and Michelle Pfeiffer join more than a dozen of their Hollywood colleagues in this quasi-sequel to director Garry Marshall’s previous celebfest, Valentine’s Day. (By the time he gets to Cinco de Mayo, there’s gonna be nobody left but Charo, Justin Bieber and Cheech Marin.)

Like VD, NYE involves multiple story lines that converge in some way or another by the end of the movie — in this case, culminating around the stroke of midnight. Predictable themes of fresh starts and the letdown of holidays populate the various love stories and there are moments of genuine emotion and heartfelt humor.

There’s nothing blatantly gay about the film, but plenty of gay-by-association appeal thanks to LGBT faves Swank, Parker, Michele, Efron and too-hot-for-TV Josh Duhamel. Sofia Vergara, the buxom star of Modern Family, is a great foil to the increasingly unlikable Katherine Heigl, whose character never really clicks with the audience.

What’s great about New Year’s Eve is Marshall’s way of leveling the playing field among his regular stars and mega-stars. Everybody gets equal billing, equal screen time, and for the most part, equally fun roles. That any holiday film delivers cloyingly sweet dramedy should be anticipated from the moment you plop a twenty down at the ticket window, but it sure would be nice to be caught off-guard with just a single moment that is completely organic and unexpected.

Alas, most of the stories’ conclusions could be predicted by a 10-year-old, but there’s such an earnestness and joy in the actors’ performances paired with their gosh-darn eye twinkles and larger-than-life charisma that make this movie worth at least a Prosecco toast, if not a half-glass of real champagne.

— Steven Lindsey

Three and a half stars.
Now playing in wide release.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas