Marshmello – Alone

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22190

Now this is controversy!


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[5.42]
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Juana Giaimo: When I go back home on the bus from classses, the whole city is coming back with me. The bus is full of people and I’m standing up there wishing to arrive home as soon as possible. “Alone” reminds of that moment in the bus: the noisy drop and upbeat spirit contrast with the lyrics and the distant pitched-up vocals — which always transmit to me a melancholic feeling. They seem just like the lights of the city and all the cars with my own mind. There is hope — the idea that there is a “you” waiting — and a subtle desperation in the knowledge that those are just dreams. 
[7]

Crystal Leww: An assortment of memories about Marshmello from this summer: 1) One of the times that I was back home in Dallas, I remember telling my nineteen year-old brother that I was really into “Alone” by Marshmello, and he laughed at me and asked me if I was in middle school. 2) Throughout the summer, I watched as my Twitter timeline descended into utter chaos as music fan after music fan realized that they were “kinda into” the tunes of a man who dresses up as a human marshmallow. 3) I worked for a couple of months back and forth between Chicago and New York, and on Thursday nights, I would always be cutting it a little too close for my flight back home. One of those evenings, I had just frantically flagged down a cab, and the miserable, exhausting, inexplicably long work week caught up to me. I put “Alone” on repeat and when the cab finally hit the bridge and the traffic cleared just enough for us to be going fast enough for me to feel the breeze from the window on my face, I dozed off with this still pinging in my ears. Marshmello is kind of weird and lame to like, but this feels inexplicably beautiful. 
[9]

Alfred Soto: The synthesized string passage aside, “Alone” distills the essence of frathouse electronic music: replete with gimmicks, unsurprising, and grooveless.
[1]

Iain Mew: It turns out it’s possible to do an even less nuanced take on Anamanaguchi! They must be kicking themselves not to have come up with the outfit gimmick.
[6]

William John: The masked DJ is one of dance music’s most absurdly pompous tropes, and there are none sillier than Marshmello, who dresses like he’s ready for s’more and makes music like a restrained, Kidz Bop version of Rustie. The tawdry trap drop works in theory, but unfortunately the song’s topline melodies seem to have been devised by a child learning to play the recorder, and the incessant hiccuping synth does little to evoke the pathos of loneliness on the dancefloor.
[3]

Will Rivitz: If you told me to distill Monstercat’s massive, frenetic, and wildly inconsistent discography down to five minutes worth of music, something along the lines of this song would likely be the result. Discounting the brostep that catapulted the label into the upper echelons of YouTube music stardom a few years ago, “Alone” has it all: geeky hard-dance intro, pop-house chords and supersaw lead, sugar-rushing vocal chops and pitched-up hook, and the tried-and-true “future bass” drop. It’s a maelstrom of disparate pieces, none of which work together in the slightest, but everything locks into place when the song drops into a nasty patch of distortion at its peak. I realize none of the above sounds particularly positive, but the thing about Monstercat is that, regardless of how cheesy or schlocky any of their music can get, the undeniable energy their best material – “Alone” included – exudes more than makes up for any awkward trance or childish Baby’s-First-Dubstep that comes with the territory. I can almost taste the Minecraft Let’s Play that inevitably starts when this song ends, but let the kiddies have their fun.
[7]

Katherine St Asaph: It’s arrived at last: the moment I become one of The Olds. It was nice being liked by you.
[3]

Joshua Copperman: The structure of this, at least the full 4 1/2 minute version, is very strange – there’s an opening instrumental melody, then a ‘drop’, (whose vocal snippets inexplicably remind me of “The Leanover”), a high-cut filtered emo verse, then a pre-chorus break, then there’s another break, then another filtered emo verse, then a new slightly different drop, then back to the other drop, then oh no I’ve gone cross eyed. What makes it even stranger is how random each melody is, with the exception of the verse – this seems better enjoyed as individual parts than as an entire song, playing like a medley of ringtones. They are pleasant ringtones, though, and even though DeadMar5h doesn’t do anything new, the haphazard design makes “Alone” oddly riveting.
[7]

Brad Shoup: It sounds like a boshy pop-punk remix, with the bawling part about roots excised and set against poncey synthrise. If this were 25% faster it might be an all-timer.
[6]

Will Adams: Marshmello has essentially made a megamix of all the highly disposable, sugary Euro trance that was everywhere a decade ago, so I really can’t be upset, no matter how stitched together it sounds.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: Not only is his schtick stolen from Deadmau5, so is his lame-ass would-be festival-filler (literally) faceless EDM. 
[0]

Edward Okulicz: Fuck yes. For all the times when I was in my early 20s and I could have gone raving and didn’t, and for my failure to realise the profundity of Alice Deejay when they were having hits, I have no choice but to completely fall for this. If it had featured a faceless house diva or a faceless Europop hook singer on it, it’d be half as good but get half as much shit. But the yelping sounds (are they snatches of voices or something else? I don’t even care) do everything those would have done and more. The beginning reminds me of “Emerge” by Fischerspooner, which is still a fucking great record. Rather than just banging one big dumb stupid synth hook into the ground, this has like four, all excellent. This is immense and it has total control over my very ass right now.
[10]

Radwimps – Zen Zen Zense

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22187

Provided: opinions on pop-rock, football chants, stop-starting…


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[6.14]
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Sonia Yang: When Radwimps’ drummer announced he was going on hiatus, I wondered how this would impact their music because one of the greatest draws of RADWIMPS is their tight chemistry, both in the studio and onstage. How would they follow up their previous LP, X to O to Tsumi to (“wrong, right, and sins”), a testament to their growth in arrangement work but a bit clinical in comparison to the resonant warmth of earlier albums? Frontman Yojiro Noda has been quite the busy man this year, penning a single for ballad singer Aimer and releasing a new album for his solo project in later fall. When I heard RADWIMPS was writing the soundtrack for the new Makoto Shinkai film, I was initially concerned that Noda was stretching himself thin creatively. However, “Zen Zen Zense” knocks those worries out cold by meshing the best of both worlds; at the core it is an “old Radwimps” song with lyrics hearkening back to the insightful, grandly romantic gestures of songs like “Futarigoto” (“soliloquy for two“) and “Yuushinron” (“heart theism“) while pushing the newer, more aggressive power-pop sound they started in the Zettai Zetsumei era and honed in X to O to Tsumi to. Hearing the track take off with Akira Kuwahara’s trademark clean, lilting riff felt like coming home. The chorus melody is an insistent earworm and I’m loving how clipped and abrupt everything sounds without being disjointed. To top it off, the bridge inserts a clever “whoa-oh-oh” section to give the song audience singalong potential for future tours. Radwimps have always managed to wrap deep, existential themes in universal, down to earth packages and to toe the line between accessible and artsy without swinging too banal or pretentious, and as both a standalone and tie-in to Kimi no Na wa (“your name”), “Zen Zen Zense” is an all-around masterpiece.
[10]

Edward Okulicz: What starts like a simple trashy pop rock thing, as if a ’90s drama comedy TV theme tune were discovered in the wild, keeps attention with the energetic rhythm even more than the guitar. Bet the whoa-oh section brings down an arena — “See You Again” probably ruined those for everyone, but I’m still into them.
[8]

Juana Giaimo: I consider the bridge a crucial part of a song, and filling it with empty chants that are more appropriate for a football match completely bummed it out. But as for the rest, “Zen Zen Zense” has the energy much Anglo rock music is lacking these days, with vocals that transmit both a passionate urge and warm sentimentality.
[6]

Katherine St Asaph: If “Three Small Words” took way longer to get to the chorus and didn’t quite trust it. That’s still quite a high score to start from.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Kinda like Muse without the bombast, on a big dose of amphetamines. That’s not a good thing. 
[3]

Iain Mew: They waste no time getting to the best bit, in the wildly zig-zagging guitar riff, emphasised more by a neat stop-start phasing effect. After that comes competent rock which it’s easy to see working as part of a soundtrack to a movie with record-breaking success but perhaps less so on its own. There is a later, even bigger version of the stop-start waiting as a reward, though.
[6]

Alfred Soto: Radwimps offer none of Gesu no Kiwami Otome and Sakanaction’s formalist tricks, but the stop-start structure has its pleasures.
[5]

Röyksopp ft. Susanne Sundfør – Never Ever

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22186

Won’t you come and take me out of this black hole?


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[7.78]
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Josh Winters: As someone who named her most recent album Ten Love Songs yet often associates her amorous desires with savage impulsesSundfør portrays herself more as a siren than just a simple romantic, alluring prey into her dangerous web to do whatever she pleases to them. When Röyksopp invite her into their mad scientist laboratory, she becomes a megalomaniac surging with power, gripping on to exposed cables as tightly as she is onto her unfortunate lover. She’s the same as she ever was; all that’s different is her disguise, and she’s just as dangerous.
[8]

Iain Mew: I don’t know how much of it comes from associations with Sundfør’s own work, but I hear so much depth and darkness under the surface in her vocal. There are leagues lurking within “I’ve been dying to see you,” and whether I hear the last line of chorus as either a cheerful “now that I’m in love” or “not that I’m in love,” the implications are disturbing. And all that is beneath a surface so dazzling it would be satisfying on its own, even before Röyksopp and Sundfør use the bright chunky synth sounds and chopped-up vocals to go on an expansive tour through pure pleasure in sound. It matches the giddy joy of the bridges in Robyn’s “Indestructible” or Perfume’s “Spring of Life.” and the only question left is the fact this is tagged as an edit of a complete version — could it really get any better?
[10]

Katherine St Asaph: A perfectly fine, if slight, reprise of “The Girl and the Robot.” But I prefer the Sundfør of “Accelerate” and the Röyksopp of “Compulsion“; the Sundfør tracks on The Inevitable End disappointed me for not being that, and this isn’t it either.
[6]

Alfred Soto: When she writes and produces for herself, Susanne Sundfør mixes melancholy and a grand manner with uncanny power; working with the Norwegian electro pop act she’s Ellie Goulding with a catch in her throat.
[5]

Cassy Gress: Man, this is a [10] with some stupid stylistic choices bringing it down. The entire song sounds like a rocket, but not the initial explosion of liftoff or the silent soaring through space; it’s the part where it’s shuddering and shaking through the atmosphere. It’s fiery and forceful and expansive, and Susanne Sundfør’s voice sounds like a meteorite. Then Röyksopp fucks it all up by jolting things to a stop in every chorus on “I don’t wanna cry,” then flatly ending the song on the downbeat. Either fade it out or end it on the upbeat — otherwise, the last memory I have of your song is of being suddenly underwhelmed.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: “Never Ever” is catchy and professional, and that is definitely enough. But the slight lack of satisfaction comes from those moments where Sundfør rises as if towards an emotional peak, and this song is much less full-blooded than anything on Ten Love Songs, so it never demands the same level of physical or visceral surrender. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with it — it’s just that the stakes and payoff are lower. The imperious terror hiding behind the fairly open, simple lyrics doesn’t emerge, and I badly want it to.
[7]

Peter Ryan: This begins with a malfunction: “get (get) / get you / (I) / I don’t / (get you) / I don’t / oh / oh / oh / oh-ohhhh”. It’s at odds with the jaunty surroundings, but from artists that traffic in various poppy shades of doom it’s a welcome signal that we won’t be subjected to any unnecessary levity. What follows is nothing but gloriously bad news — infatuation from afar transmogrified into “NOW THAT I’M IN LOVE!”, tacit acknowledgement of the prospect of rejection amid active efforts to will it out of existence — another entry in the storied tradition of putrefied crushes set to deceptive arrangements. A master of hooks in even her artiest solo work, Sundfør tempers Röyksopp’s meandering impulses — they’ve created a precise racket with her vocal stitching everything together, lending itself at once to choppy robo-treatments and moments of soaring human desperation. It’s my new favorite thing to stomp down the street to.
[9]

Cédric Le Merrer: Probably a great cardio training song. Röyksopp and Susanne Sundfør go hard and fast, treating the beat like a punching ball. Or maybe the “you” in the song is the one being punched. “Never ever let you go now” sounds as much menace as promise.
[8]

Will Adams: Sundfør’s terrifying and fatalistic vision of love is still here, but it’s the contrast with Röyksopp’s peppy arrangement that makes “Never Ever” even more sinister. “I’ve been dying to see you,” she begins over the bright electropop, making her intentions clear. From there, she distorts the love story until the central line — “Never ever gonna let you go now/Now that I’m in love” — has become a taunt. She’s already won by the final chorus, and the funk guitars and astral synths carry you to your grave.
[9]

Red Velvet – Russian Roulette

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22185

We’re not done with this title yet…


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[7.73]
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Madeleine Lee: Possibly the cheeriest song ever to use Russian roulette as its central metaphor. Albi Albertsson’s production is going for Yasutaka Nakata, but the melodies are pure 2010 Girls’ Generation, especially that prechorus (even if it tries to hide it by throwing an accidental in there); with a full-on nostalgia wave for 2009-2011 K-pop imminent, that’s a point in its favour.
[7]

Adaora Ede: The “red” in Red Velvet, as offered as in their dual-sided concept to the public, is a mark of the bold and fun sound of the majority of their standout singles. But their “red” tracks seem like the weaker part of the dichotomy, a futile hack to rise to K-pop popularity with a formula of loudness and mesmerism that never amounts to anything more sonically groundbreaking. “Russian Roulette” is a slightly electro-oriented continuation of their smoke-n-mirrors brand, featuring a lot of bleeps and not one, not TWO, BUT THREE singable hooks that you will love to hate until you realize that Red Velvet’s fringe K-pop is not trying to be f(x) or wipe SNSD off the face of the earth or do anything but give you a pop song to get stuck in your head for the next two weeks.
[8]

Leonel Manzanares: “Russian Roulette” wants to represent a middle point in the band’s signature duality — something that’s both the “red” and the “velvet.” Instead, we got a pretty decent SNSD throwback with bouncy hooks and technicolor synths, but not much substance. I’ve marveled at Red Velvet’s previous singles for their delicious messiness (“Ice Cream Cake”) or twisted elegance (“One of These Nights”), so of course it’s a bit disappointing when they search for balance and only find blandness.
[6]

Iain Mew: I can’t believe the number of people I’ve seen saying that this sounds like Girls’ Generation as if that’s a disappointment. I mean, it does, but it sounds like their run of giddy weightless brilliance in 2009-10 with added arcade power-up music thrills! Where’s the problem?
[8]

Katie Gill: Oh my gosh, this is perfect pop. It’s bright, it’s bubbly, it’s fun. The song’s got a beautiful cartoon aesthetic, reflected wonderfully in the video. The synths aren’t overpowering, a perfect light and happy compliment. And those beautiful kick drums? Those electronic trills in the last thirty seconds? That wonderful stammer on “heart b-b-b-beat”? Urgh, I’m in love.
[9]

Thomas Inskeep: Oh god, this is good. Ebullient, even. Totally ’80s-shiny, but also reminiscent of the perfect pop of the TRL glory days, especially the TRL behemoths “Come On Over Baby” and “Ooh It’s Kinda Crazy” (both of which I proudly voted for at the time), only jacked up a bit in tempo.
[8]

Alfred Soto: Pleasant and zippier than the competition, but K-pop at its best reconstitutes the beats of its American and British counterparts with what I love about the kinetics of Italo disco and freestyle but with vocals whose devotion to formal restraint results in three or four minutes of chewing-on-nails tension. If “Russian Roulette” sounds sinister, I’m not hearing it.
[5]

Ryo Miyauchi: Appropriate for a song based on a game of ultimate gambling, Red Velvet throws a confetti-filled parade of nervous tics: a cross feed of incessant dial tones, countless gasps, and hearts skipping multiple beats. A ticking time bomb shouldn’t sound this fun, but with a feeling teetering on such high risk, what’s really the difference between anxiety and thrill anyway?
[8]

Cassy Gress: There’s a chord progression in the prechorus, E♭ add 9 sus 4 – E♭/G, with a movement in the bass that rings “late 80s adult contemporary” bells for me, and those little background jolts of recognition from sampling or genre mimicry are always neat to spot. It’s followed up with A♭m7 – B♭, which adds a glint of ominousness that gets quickly glossed over with 8-bit sparkles. Every new Red Velvet single I hear makes me like them more: they have this great ability to sing and perform parts of energetic, peppy songs with a dead-eyed tone to their voice, and it works especially well when you mix that with an electronic comparison of a crush to a suicide game.
[8]

Edward Okulicz: The figurative use of the term “Russian roulette” has definitely surpassed the literal in use to the point where it’s nearly meaningless a term of high stakes. The song “Russian Roulette” might as well be meaningless to me, but it doesn’t feel like that bceause I have an immediate reaction to those ’80s platform game jump and fall noises that add a bit of silliness and retro charm. The entire production is stuffed (not over-stuffed) with detail but produced so slickly that everything bounces out of the speakers.
[9]

Mo Kim: Love-as-lethal-game metaphors work best if the arrangement and lyrical execution are up to snuff, both of which are on “Russian Roulette.” Joy wraps menace in a polka-dot handkerchief (“This place is as dark as night / Even the shadows get lost,” she chirps), while Wendy and Seulgi charge through the chorus like they’re flipping through all the chambers of their voices. Pair this with a pastel-eriffic music video that filters this bad romance through the aesthetic of Looney Tunes cartoon violence and you’ve got one of the most thematically intriguing releases from SM Entertainment of the year.
[9]

Zion & Lennox ft. J. Balvin – Otra Vez

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22182

Seasons change…


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[5.00]
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Claire Biddles: Is the season of landfill reggaeton coming to an end now it’s almost October? This is the kind of pleasant-enough for essentially forgettable summer hit that we’ve heard 4,197 times so far this year, with a combination of bland and macho-gruff vocals that does nothing to elevate or differentiate it from the rest.
[3]

Alfred Soto: Apt title — yet another slab of generic reggaeton.
[2]

Juana Giaimo: In this airy and pleasing song, it’s hard to understand what is Lennox trying to do. His more aggressive part is upsetting, but don’t worry because J. Balvin — I’m so sorry for being a constant supporter of him! — is here to save them, not only because his smooth flow is sweet and seducing, but also because he — and Maluma too — mean hit singles.
[5]

Thomas Inskeep: Reggaeton with a lighter touch: Lennox raps hard, Zion sings oh-so-sweetly, and J. Balvin drops by to add some superstar seasoning. The sound of summer encapsulated in three and a half minutes.
[7]

Jonathan Bogart: I have a lot of affection for Zion y Lennox (almost as much as for Chino y Nacho, slightly more than for Wisin y Yandel), and this gliding thump goes down smoother than even usual, thanks to an assist from Medillín’s current favorite son.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: The star duo practically rolls out the red carpet for their guest. While Zion shows how smooth the beat is made to glide across, Lennox lets his gravelly voice wiggle around to see how much you can do with such space. J Balvin then nails the suave and the technical teased by the two with ease. As the duo backs him up on ad lib duty, he stamps the single as his more than Zion & Lennox does to claim their own.
[6]

Bucie ft. Black Motion – Rejoice

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22181

You don’t need to tell us twice…


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[7.43]
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Alfred Soto: The sumptuousness of the arrangement is its own reward: the piano, that sampled string-spring, a marimba that bounces off the percussion. Atop is Bucie, honoring the title with a vocal that communicates fuss-free ebullience.
[8]

Jonathan Bogart: I’ve been a fan of Bucie, South Africa’s great house diva, for several years now, but producers Black Motion are new to me, and I love their slow-burn Afrohouse sound. (Because of where my head is at historically, I’m hearing the piano here as an echo of marabi, but of course that’s no more the case than US house piano is an echo of boogie-woogie.) Their collaboration is a slow-motion epic of romantic devotion, giving Bucie’s performance the space it needs to explode.
[8]

Iain Mew: Both the style and Bucie’s voice make me think of Katy B, but “Rejoice” is more sprawling than she’s ever gone. There’s a bit of slack in its five minutes, but that’s compensated by added, unpredictable power, especially in the reverberating twists on its string riff and when Bucie gets to really let loose.
[7]

Will Adams: Between the minor key house framing and palpable yearning in Bucie’s vocal, “Rejoice” very much reminds me of Katy B, so that’s all the convincing I need. At times the extended instrumental portions seem like they hog the run time, at others they seem like the ideal opportunity to get lost in dance.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: The unsettling loop makes the song hard to breathe, and that’s before Bucie lays her heart down. She sings of a cruel cycle of love like the tail-chasing beat. From her voice that sinks deep into thought, as well as the fading mentions of “never gonna let you go,” her relationship sounds suffocating in its closeness as it is fulfilling. It can sway either way, and how she dances in that undefined middle draws me close to see if it will all fall apart or if she will find some way to let the tension to resolve.
[7]

Edward Okulicz: I wracked my brains for hours trying to work out who Bucie sounded like and… Siobhan Donaghy? Or that her single voice sounds like an Sugababes harmonies? Either way, hers would be a terrific voice for any kind of house track, even one as low-key as this. Titling it “Rejoice” feels bitterly ironic, but I like my dance music to choke back the tears with irony from time to time.
[7]

Scott Mildenhall: If ever a title was a red herring, it’s this one. It’s not that this is a profoundly negative record, it’s just that it is in no way joyful, instead exploring expanses of conflict right up to its contradictory conclusion. With that incessant, hammered twinkling it’s also, in the best possible way, like remixed game show music. “Rejoice”‘s pained, danceable tension surpasses even the Tipping Point theme tune.
[8]

Eric Church ft. Rhiannon Giddens – Kill a Word

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22178

Turn your attention away from post-debate hot takes for some ruminations on American country music…


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[4.14]
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Alfred Soto: On an album replete with rueful ballads in which Eric Church’s relationship with his muse often doubles if not supercedes anything meaningful with a woman, “Kill a Word” stands out for the prettiness of its central guitar filigree and Rhiannon Giddens’ harmonies. Excellent use of drums in the second verses, though, which suggests Church is still learning how to make records as well as he’s learning how to kill a word. Speaking of: the title’s inversion of the Book of John allusion is one more clever trick. I deduct a point for the sticks-and-stones line, but so often skeptics miss how well he sings. To my ear, he turns the words in on himself: the key part is “if I could only” kill a word. He sings as if he knows he can’t. Unlike Kanye-the-rapper, Church-the-singer can inflect his writing.
[7]

Ryo Miyauchi: Eric Church’s overall downplay of persona in Mr. Misunderstood overall gets me good when it shows a man showing his soft side during the after hours, not so much as a portrait of humble realness. So his later attempts in this song to elevate it for a more noble cause is when his “kill a word” idea starts to show its creative writing cheese. The “stick and stones may break my bones” part stands out more on a personal note: even this guy can feel the blow of put down. Cliché as it is, it still sounds human.
[6]

Anthony Easton: Giddens is one of the most innovative banjo players in recent memory and a vocalist with a precise, wide-ranging style. She could have complicated this fairly simple narrative. Instead she is relegated to a background hook singer. I’m not even sure that she plays on this one. 
[4]

Edward Okulicz: “If I could kill a word,” Church ponders, before going a bit off the rails and detailing how much he’d relish a veritable word genocide. The chorus hints at the calm, meditative thoughtfulness of some of his best songs but the lyrics yank the song in awkward directions.
[5]

Katie Gill: Funnily enough, a song about stopping hate and heartbreak through metaphors of sheer unapologetic brutal violence just isn’t sitting right with me.
[2]

A.J. Cohn: Taking the sword to the pen, and sticks and stones to words themselves, Church graphically fantasizes about doing violence to language with the supposed intent of “turn[ing] ‘lies’ and ‘hate’ to ‘love’ and ‘truth.'” If his chosen methods seem a little ill suited to the task at hand, well whoever said that the tools of toxic masculinity can’t be used to dismantle hate?
[1]

Josh Langhoff: Congrats, Eric Church! Not only have you conjured a disturbing Grand Guignol episode of WordWorld, you’ve promised to make us all dumber in the process. I mean, some of these words are really useful! “Over”??? You really wanna consign yourself to a life of saying “above”? In this brave new society where nothing ever ends, how will your children know when to turn off their episodes of WordWorld? Remember, you poisoned “goodbye” a while back, so unless they’re waving “adios” or something at the TV screen, that little trick won’t work. And no offense, but I’m worried that if you turn all these words into “love” and “truth,” the only song left standing in your catalog will be “Love Your Love the Most,” up until now the most idiotic Eric Church list song. Aside from Rhiannon Giddens, “Kill a Word” has one thing going for it: The sheer variety of killing techniques, together with the logical conundrums, tells us more about your narrator than he intends. Which might make this song less of a disgrace. Oops.
[4]

Florida Georgia Line ft. Tim McGraw – May We All

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22173

Let’s not, and say we did…


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[4.62]

Jonathan Bradley: Florida Georgia Line is two goony guys with terrible haircuts and maybe one personality between the pair of them, and they’re at their best when they’re making big goony songs about dumb subjects like trucks and beer and girls. (It works because, at those moments, you don’t get the sense they’ve ever thought it possible to make songs about anything else.) The opening chords of “May We All” blow cold like the end of summer, which portends poorly for a band built for an endless July; when they get real, we get “H.O.L.Y.” But thank gosh, it still has stomps and handclaps, multiple references to an American-made car, and, yes, a ball-cap-bedecked love interest who exists for two non-consecutive lines. But it never quite shakes its melancholic feel — Tim McGraw, a singer who knows how to put the “…Dying” into “Live Like You Were…” helps with that — and I wonder: is Florida Georgia Line capable of fighting a culture war? “May we all get to grow up in our red, white, and blue little town” is that shivering opening lyric, and the prayer suggests we might not. Some listeners will hear this as a salute to an America of harvest moon marching bands and part-time tractor-driving jobs that is receding into the past, and while parts of a nostalgia-primed and conservative-friendly Nashville wouldn’t disagree, Florida Georgia Line’s ongoing outlook is innately optimistic. However these small towns change, they remain red, white, and blue; the jukeboxes just start mixing some Pac in with the Travis Tritt.
[7]

Katie Gill: May we all conform to Florida Georgia Line’s incredibly narrow view of growing up in idealized small-town Americana. I don’t know what’s more laughable, this play-by-play song or the idea that Travis Tritt and and 2Pac would be on the same jukebox in the first place. And didn’t we already hear this song from Tim earlier this year?
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: My beef with this song, and the exhausting hundreds like it, in eight words: “May we all … find a sweet little thing.” It would appear women are not included in “all.” Which is fine, because I would very much like to be excluded from this narrative of good ol’ boys who protest too much about fame and barely bother to sing.
[2]

Alfred Soto: Many Jukebox readers — indeed, members of our staff — regard country music with suspicion thanks to hokum like “May We All,” which has hair blowin’ out the window, marchin’ bands, harvest moons, juiced up and sexed up with “modern” touches. For this crime, Florida Georgia Line should be arrested and held without bond.
[3]

Anthony Easton: Generic is better than tonally offensive. 
[3]

Edward Okulicz: Lyrically it’s yet more bromides about small-town America, but it’s bright and enthusiastic. That guitar riff is kind of dreamy, in a “fall asleep looking up at clouds while the sun makes you hallucinate a bit” way. I can’t take it seriously but I can’t deny my toes tapping and that little bit of my brain that wonders what the house prices are in Anytown, South of the US.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: I’m not typically a fan of Joey Moi’s production work for FGL — in fact, I’m a pretty loudly avowed nonfan of FGL, period — but this one’s got a little something to it. The sweetly crying guitar lick that Moi runs through much of “May We All” gives it an almost painfully unique sound, and the chorus is Ford truck-sturdy, to better aid its lyrics. I love that almost none of the lines of this song rhyme; when’s the last time you heard a big country smash that pulled that trick? Lyrically this is essentially a midtempo “I Hope You Dance” or (hello, Tim!) “Live Like You Were Dying,” and it’s nearly as effective as those two acknowledged classics. Plus roping in McGraw for your single is never a bad idea, and his voice pairs nicely with those of the FGL guys. Best single they’ve ever released.
[7]

Josh Langhoff: Now this is impressive. Two prolific songwriters team up to write a scruffy Irish blessing whose first two verses are limericks — with zero rhymes. Either that took some doing or, more likely, it didn’t, bolstering suspicions that the audience depicted in lyrics like these will bite at whichever lazy small town signifiers drift their way. And yet… do I often miss living in a little town where people dream of fame and riches, know they probably won’t find either, and so learn to face their surroundings with outsize pride? Mais oui, y’all.
[6]

E-40 ft. Kamaiyah – Petty

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22174

Earl Stevens makes his first Jukebox appearance on the left side of the “ft.” tag since 2010…


[Video][Website]
[4.57]
</b>

Megan Harrington: Pettiness, like sarcasm, is a quality made by combining funny with mean. E-40 understands this, slinging barbs and then punctuating them with tiny, tossed off sound effects. It’s giggle worthy and it’s supposed to be. Kamaiyah takes “Petty” perhaps more seriously than the occasion requires, but not distractingly so. 
[6]

Will Adams: The thing about the word “petty” is that it’s come to signify a bit of self-awareness and sense of humor; people can acknowledge that they’re being petty but not care and go for it anyway. E-40 and Kamaiyah seem to have this in mind, though they each focus on different aspects: E-40 plays up the humor while Kamaiyah emphasizes the commitment to braggadocio and bite. The ambling production of “Petty” won’t make it an impactful listen without proper context, but it would certainly do well when you’re in the mood to embrace the petty.
[6]

Thomas Inskeep: Actually, it’s the song that’s kind of petty.
[3]

Katherine St Asaph: “Petty” is right: an inconsequential shrug where one could be more vicious.
[5]

Jonathan Bradley: The immediate obstacle to enjoying this is that, as trifling complaints go, “these bitches is petty” is one of the more small-minded. E-40 and Kamaiyah clearly have no interest in going high when their antagonists go low. On the plus side, E-40 has a chatty flow that is never messy — he gives instead the impression that he’s capable of squeezing words into extra dimensions not available to your average rapper — and he’s made risible sentiments engaging through technical inventiveness many times in his career. (

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<p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22174">http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22174</a></p><p><i>Earl Stevens makes his first Jukebox appearance on the left side of the &#8220;ft.&#8221; tag since 2010&#8230;</i></p> <p><center><img src="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/images/e-40-2.jpg" border="2"><br><b>[<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXKjMGCSADg">Video</a>][<a href="https://twitter.com/E40">Website</a>]<br><a title="Controversy index: 1.06">[4.57]</a></b></center></b> <p><b><a href="http://barrybailbondsman.tumblr.com/">Megan Harrington</a>:</b> Pettiness, like sarcasm, is a quality made by combining funny with mean. E-40 understands this, slinging barbs and then punctuating them with tiny, tossed off sound effects. It&#8217;s giggle worthy and it&#8217;s supposed to be. Kamaiyah takes &#8220;Petty&#8221; perhaps more seriously than the occasion requires, but not distractingly so.&nbsp;<br>[6]</p> <p><b><a href="http://ourroyalcustomers.tumblr.com/">Will Adams</a>:</b> The thing about the word &#8220;petty&#8221; is that it&#8217;s come to signify a bit of self-awareness and sense of humor; people can acknowledge that they&#8217;re being petty but not care and go for it anyway. E-40 and Kamaiyah seem to have this in mind, though they each focus on different aspects: E-40 plays up the humor while Kamaiyah emphasizes the commitment to braggadocio and bite. The ambling production of &#8220;Petty&#8221; won&#8217;t make it an impactful listen without proper context, but it would certainly do well when you&#8217;re in the mood to embrace the petty.<br>[6]</p> <p><b><a href="https://thomasinskeep.wordpress.com/">Thomas Inskeep</a>:</b> Actually, it&#8217;s the <i>song</i>&nbsp;that&#8217;s kind of petty.<br>[3]</p> <p><b><a href="http://katherinestasaph.tumblr.com">Katherine St Asaph</a>:</b> &#8220;Petty&#8221; is right: an inconsequential shrug where one could be more vicious.<br>[5]</p> <p><b><a href="http://screwrocknroll.tumblr.com/ ">Jonathan Bradley</a>:</b> The immediate obstacle to enjoying this is that, as trifling complaints go, &#8220;these bitches is petty&#8221; is one of the more small-minded. E-40 and Kamaiyah clearly have no interest in going high when their antagonists go low. On the plus side, E-40 has a chatty flow that is never messy &#8212; he gives instead the impression that he&#8217;s capable of squeezing words into extra dimensions not available to your average rapper &#8212; and he&#8217;s made risible sentiments engaging through technical inventiveness many times in his career. (<a href="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=2939" title="2010 single " bitch"="" is="" great="" and,="" in="" outlook,="" entirely="" indefensible."="" target="">One example</a>.) He says nothing memorable here, though, and nor does Kamaiyah, a nonetheless engaging, consonant-slurring newcomer. It&#8217;s also good to hear a JHawk production again, but his characteristic minimalism lacks the kineticism he once provided to Pink Dollaz or The Rej3ctz. &#8220;Petty&#8221; is trivial.<br>[4]</p> <p><b><a href="http://sneek-m.tumblr.com">Ryo Miyauchi</a>:</b> JHawk&#8217;s three-note jingle should be the kind of roomy production for E-40 and Kamaiyah to thrive in. But from the start, it doesn&#8217;t sound too fun to engage with. That&#8217;s no good for the rappers who are better at translating joy than bitterness. Kamaiyah fares better with her ability to make boasting an impressive sport no matter the sound. Even if they tried to liven it up, the dim melody would mute their effort. Commanding voices like theirs shouldn&#8217;t be so tied down like this.<br>[5]</p> <p><b><a href="http://humanvacuum.blogspot.com">Alfred Soto</a>:</b> Four years after the six-course meal called <em>The Block Brochure: Welcome to the Soil, </em>the West Coast rapper&#8217;s track relies on a sample that goes &#8220;Most of these bitches is petty&#8221; as its hook, which should indicate the extent of its imagination. His other stuff has a louche charm; &#8220;Petty&#8221; is louche.<br>[3]</p>

Michael Bublé – Nobody But Me

http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22171

…and also Black Thought.


[Video][Website]
[1.77]
</b>

Katie Gill: Michael Buble constantly exudes oily smarminess. He’s the sort of person that Hannibal Lecter wouldn’t really eat but could find a way to make a nice salad dressing out of, he’s that oily. I sat through his Christmas special, I know that no matter his actual personality, this man generally comes off like he is incapable of being a trustworthy human being. Singing a song that’s a good 80 per cent creepy possessiveness does not help that image in the slightest. The song’s not “it’s my right to be hellish” levels of creepy but man, it’s borderline.
[1]

A.J. Cohn: Last year, Bublé posted a creepshot of a stranger on Instagram, which was received with criticism. In response, he released a quasi-apology, remarking that he was sorry if anyone was offended but his intentions were nothing but good: “I was not brought up that way and it is not in my character … Women are to be celebrated, loved, respected, honored, and revered.” If, after all that, anyone thought Bublé really cared about women, he sets the record straight with “Nobody But Me” expressing his controlling, patronizing, and generally disrespectful attitudes towards his female subject with uncommonly revealing lines like “Oh my papa told me once or twice/Don’t be cruel, don’t be too nice.” Save for Black Thought’s sweetly clunky and notably uncredited verse, this track is pure sexist slime.
[0]

Joshua Copperman: In my Notes app, I have many different variations of this blurb with varying degrees of seriousness, all relating to how awful this particular possessive strand of toxic masculinity is. Anything from Laura Jane Grace’s pain at her male socialization in regards to seeing her ex with another man (“the idea of owning sombody … seemed like a very male thing. Where’s the line between anger and misogyny?“) to eschewing all that and making a joke about Nick Jonas’s not-dissimilar-in-theme “Jealous” comes to mind when hearing this. I could also write about how this kind of song can done well, using “Genghis Khan” as an example of how to do a “shitty clingy boyfriend song” with far more self-awareness and even playfulness. Yet I listen back to this song, I listen to how Bublé wants to keep his girl exclusively by his side, but expects her to put up with his shit when he gets “reckless,” and I hear Black Thought trying to do damage control but only coming up with “I’m proud of you/like a treasure,” then I hear those fratty horns backing up Bublé, and I think of another reference altogether: Christ, what an asshole.
[1]

Thomas Inskeep: Lyrically this adheres to Bublé’s usual themes, but musically this does him no favors, sounding like an overly busy 2009 Mika b-side. The production on this is seriously horrible. And Black Thought’s uncredited guest rap couldn’t be more awkwardly shoehorned in. 
[1]

Jonathan Bradley: Bublé has today tasked himself with levity, and in service of such ends has mustered pomaded charm and bitten-off syllables. It isn’t for lack of commitment that he winds up sounding cautious amidst the ensemble gang chants and finger-snaps, but more his innately conservative approach to his material: there is likely an unpleasant possessiveness to this lyric, but I can’t be bothered listening closely enough to find out and I’m not sure Bublé bothered to think about it either. “Nobody But Me” is the kind of song that, as a risk, includes a rap interlude: Black Thought is a versatile vocalist with a knack for sidestepping memorability, and he delivers exactly as little as was demanded of his contribution.  
[2]

Alfred Soto: Usher or Justin Timberlake might have cut dashing figures selling this soft shoe, but Michael Buble is determined that prove that his last name means “gormless” in Canadian.
[2]

Anthony Easton: This lacks his usual sense of humour, and doesn’t swing very much at all. It is much closer to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes,” but at least that had a whiff of the post-coital that refused the cuteness. This is just cloying. (And made worse by the completely out of place hip-hop break.)
[3]

Madeleine Lee: A fine entry in the “songs for moms and their children to dance in the kitchen to” genre, but not much use outside of it.
[3]

Will Adams: Since when did Michael Bublé become possessed by Jason Mraz?
[1]

Scott Mildenhall: For a man so imitated Michael Bublé is inimitable. He is, audibly — singularly — The Nicest Man In Showbiz. It’s thus perhaps easier for him than anyone else to get away with such disconcertingly cheerful possessiveness. “Nobody But Me” is pretty much entirely about monopoly over another person, and little actually about them. But it’s so amiable! As for Black Thought’s surprise cameo, the only plausible reason is the possibility of a one-off credit for “Thought Bublé,” but actually mentioning him may have spoilt the surprise. Like all the weirder

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<p class="ljsyndicationlink"><a href="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22171">http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=22171</a></p><p><i>&#8230;and also Black Thought.</i></p> <p><center><img src="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/images/michael-buble-3.jpg" border="2"><br><b>[<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXeYRs_zR6w">Video</a>][<a href="http://www.michaelbuble.com/">Website</a>]<br><a title="Controversy index: 1.25">[1.77]</a></b></center></b> <p><b><a href="http://www.twitter.com/katiebeluga">Katie Gill</a>:</b> Michael Buble constantly exudes oily smarminess. He&#8217;s the sort of person that Hannibal Lecter wouldn&#8217;t really eat but could find a way to make a nice salad dressing out of, he&#8217;s that oily. I sat through his Christmas special, I know that no matter his actual personality, this man generally comes off like he is incapable of being a trustworthy human being. Singing a song that&#8217;s a good 80 per cent creepy possessiveness does not help that image in the slightest. The song&#8217;s not &#8220;it&#8217;s my right to be hellish&#8221; levels of creepy but man, it&#8217;s borderline. <br>[1]</p> <p><b><a href="http://resonance-frequencies.tumblr.com">A.J. Cohn</a>:</b> Last year, Bublé posted a creepshot of a stranger on Instagram, which was received with criticism. In response, he released a quasi-apology, remarking that he was sorry if anyone was offended but his intentions were nothing but good: &#8220;I was not brought up that way and it is not in my character &#8230; Women are to be celebrated, loved, respected, honored, and revered.&#8221; If, after all that, anyone thought Bublé really cared about women, he sets the record straight with &#8220;Nobody But Me&#8221; expressing his controlling, patronizing, and generally disrespectful attitudes towards his female subject with uncommonly revealing lines like &#8220;Oh my papa told me once or twice/Don&#8217;t be cruel, don&#8217;t be too nice.&#8221; Save for Black Thought&#8217;s sweetly clunky and notably uncredited verse, this track is pure sexist slime. <br>[0]</p> <p><b>Joshua Copperman:</b> In my Notes app, I have many different variations of this blurb with varying degrees of seriousness, all relating to how awful this particular possessive strand of toxic masculinity is. Anything from Laura Jane Grace&#8217;s pain at her male socialization in regards to seeing her ex with another man (&#8220;<a href="http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/laura-jane-grace-a-trans-punk-rockers-fight-w438533" title="this article is quite controversial/problematic for several dozen reasons, but the quote is relevant" target="">the idea of owning sombody &#8230; seemed like a very male thing. Where&#8217;s the line between anger and misogyny?</a>&#8220;) to eschewing all that and making a joke about Nick Jonas&#8217;s not-dissimilar-in-theme<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yw04QD1LaB0">&nbsp;&#8220;Jealous</a>&#8221; comes to mind when hearing this. I could also write about how this kind of song <i>can </i>done well, using &#8220;<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_SlAzsXa7E" title="this video is perfect please watch it" target="">Genghis Khan</a>&#8221;&nbsp;as an example of how to do a &#8220;shitty clingy boyfriend song&#8221; with far more self-awareness and even playfulness. Yet I listen back to this song, I listen to how Bublé wants to keep his girl exclusively by his side, but expects her to put up with his shit when he gets &#8220;reckless,&#8221; and I hear Black Thought trying to do damage control but only coming up with &#8220;I&#8217;m proud of you/like a treasure,&#8221; then I hear those fratty horns backing up Bublé, and I think of another reference altogether: <i>C</i><em>hrist, what an asshole.</em><br>[1]</p> <p><b><a href="https://thomasinskeep.wordpress.com/">Thomas Inskeep</a>:</b> Lyrically this adheres to&nbsp;Bublé&#8217;s usual themes, but musically this does him no favors, sounding like an overly busy 2009 Mika b-side. The production on this is seriously horrible. And Black Thought&#8217;s uncredited guest rap couldn&#8217;t be more awkwardly shoehorned in.&nbsp;<br>[1]</p> <p><b><a href="http://screwrocknroll.tumblr.com/ ">Jonathan Bradley</a>:</b> Bublé has today tasked himself with levity, and in service of such ends has mustered pomaded charm and bitten-off syllables. It isn&#8217;t for lack of commitment that he winds up sounding cautious amidst the ensemble gang chants and finger-snaps, but more his innately conservative approach to his material: there is likely an unpleasant possessiveness to this lyric, but I can&#8217;t be bothered listening closely enough to find out and I&#8217;m not sure Bublé bothered to think about it either. &#8220;Nobody But Me&#8221; is the kind of song that, as a risk, includes a rap interlude: Black Thought is a versatile vocalist with a knack for sidestepping memorability, and he delivers exactly as little as was demanded of his contribution. &nbsp;<br>[2]</p> <p><b><a href="http://humanvacuum.blogspot.com">Alfred Soto</a>:</b> Usher or Justin Timberlake might have cut dashing figures selling this soft shoe, but Michael Buble is determined that prove that his last name means &#8220;gormless&#8221; in Canadian.<br>[2]</p> <p><b><a href="http://pinkmoose4eva.tumblr.com/">Anthony Easton</a>:</b> This lacks his usual sense of humour, and doesn&#8217;t swing very much at all. It is much closer to Jack Johnson&#8217;s &#8220;Banana Pancakes,&#8221; but at least that had a whiff of the post-coital that refused the cuteness. This is just cloying. (And made worse by the completely out of place hip-hop break.)<br>[3]</p> <p><b><a href="http://maddieloveskpop.tumblr.com/">Madeleine Lee</a>:</b> A fine entry in the &#8220;songs for moms and their children to dance in the kitchen to&#8221; genre, but not much use outside of it.<br>[3]</p> <p><b><a href="http://ourroyalcustomers.tumblr.com/">Will Adams</a>:</b> Since when did Michael Bublé become possessed by Jason Mraz?<br>[1]</p> <p><b><a href="http://inat40.blogspot.com">Scott Mildenhall</a>:</b> For a man so imitated Michael Bublé is inimitable. He is, audibly &#8212; singularly &#8212; The Nicest Man In Showbiz. It&#8217;s thus perhaps easier for him than anyone else to get away with such disconcertingly cheerful possessiveness. &#8220;Nobody But Me&#8221; is pretty much entirely about monopoly over another person, and little actually about them. But it&#8217;s so amiable! As for Black Thought&#8217;s surprise cameo, the only plausible reason is the possibility of a one-off credit for &#8220;Thought Bublé,&#8221; but actually mentioning him may have spoilt the surprise. Like all <a href="http://www.thesinglesjukebox.com/?p=7058" title="Amazing callousness">the weirder</a> <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QBrlYtV60GA" title="" well,="" remember="" when="" you're="" rich="" that="" you="" sold="" yourself="" for="" this;="" you'll="" be="" famous="" 'cause="" dead"="" -="" some="" song="" this"="">Bublé songs</a>, this doesn&#8217;t actually seem as weird as it is. <br>[5]</p> <p><b><a href="http://twitter.com/allofcow">Edward Okulicz</a>:</b> One of those chirpy songs off Jason Mraz&#8217;s first major album minus involvement of The Matrix plus cornball winking lite entertainment revue stylings plus creepy lyrics about possesion and control minus any self-awareness of these that would make it silly or endearing. It does not swing, it does not code intimacy as his fanbase probably insists his voice does, and it <i>does not need a rap verse</i>. It doesn&#8217;t even drip with enough smarm to satisfy people who like smarm. If I felt the love and intimacy here, I&#8217;d be more worried about a length of rope going around my neck when I turn my back.<br>[3]</p> <p><b><a href="http://katherinestasaph.tumblr.com">Katherine St Asaph</a>:</b> Michael Buble is the embodiment of the ironic <i>:D</i>. Don&#8217;t you dare wear that dress out in public, and hand me your cell phone right the fuck now &#8212; your looks and life only exist for me! :D Aren&#8217;t I such a good and real singer, despite expending zero effort and much processing? :D :D I&#8217;m saying &#8220;hell&#8221; and featuring a rapper &#8212; aren&#8217;t I so forward-thinking for blending [ahistorical glob of big-band, doo-wop, and soft-rock meant to signify the mythical time when Music was Real Unlike That Trash] with pop music, despite this being done by legions including Meghan Trainor and the entire year of 2003? :D :D :D <br>[0]</p> <p><b><a href="http://www.twitter.com/grosselegume">William John</a>:</b> Michael Buble&#8217;s voice is one of this earth&#8217;s most hideous sounds; always unnecessarily foregrounded, ponderous and slothful, gleaned of all surface, blander than boiled zucchini. On &#8220;Nobody But Me,&#8221; Michael attempts to serve us a bop with a guest rap, but a revolting voice grafted onto a jaunty arrangement does not a banger make, especially when the sentiment is so narcissistic and vainglorious as to presume that your partner needs nothing else in life but you.<br>[1]</p>