Beyonce gives epic performance at MTV VMAs: Watch

Beyonce gives epic performance at MTV VMAs: Watch

Blue Ivy wins the award for most adorable at the ceremony

Though Beyonce took home the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Award for her overall body of work, for her 17-minute plus (!!) performance, she focused on a medley from “Beyonce,” the album she dropped without warning last December.

It was a compelling performance as she captivated the audience as she ran through selection after selection, including “Drunk In Love,” “No Angel,” and “Haunted,”   from the chart topper, often accompanied by background dancers, and other times, such as during “Partition,” adopting poses from the videos for the album. For “Flawless,” she included the “billion dollar elevator” line from the recently released remix. As she performed, the cameras frequently panned to hubby Jay Z, holding their daughter Blue Ivy, looking adoringly at his wife.

The pair joined Beyonce to present the award, “I feel so much gratitude, I thank God for this moment,” she said, before referring to Jay Z as “my beloved.” (so much for those divorce rumors).

Beyonce and Iggy Azalea led all nominees with eight nods each. While Beyonce was bested in several categories, she did snag awards for best collaboration (“Drunk In Love”), best video with a social message (“Pretty Hurts”) and best cinematography (“Pretty Hurts”)


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Nicki Minaj, Jessie J, and Ariana Grande

Watch: Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj in 'Bang Bang' video

Unlike their VMA performance, the video is wardrobe malfunction free

Jessie J takes it to the streets in the high voltage video for “Bang Bang,” the British singer’s hit song featuring Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande.

After the trio performed the song together for the first time on the 2014 MTV VMAs (complete with Minaj’s wardrobe malfunction), the Hannah Lux Davis-directed clip for the energetic tune debuted on MTV.

The clip opens with Grande in her bedroom putting on makeup, Minaj, in leopard print, is climbing into her helicopter, and Jessie J is causing a stir in the streets with her cadre of female dancers like something right out of a Diet Coke commercial.

Just when it looks like the three ladies were never in the same zip code for the video, they come together on the helicopter landing pad to deliver the final third of the song.

It’s a disjointed effort, but at the same time, it captures each singer’s personality: Grande’s sweetness, Minaj’s swagger, and Jessie J’s sexiness.

“Bang Bang” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sits at No. 10 this week.

MTV has an exclusive on the video until Monday night. We'll embed it then, but until then, you can watch it here.

What do you think of the video for “Bang Bang?”


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Miley Cyrus

Watch: Miley Cyrus turns homeless advocate at the MTV VMAs

She donates her speech time to a homeless youth

What a difference a year makes: Last year, Miley Cyrus caused a stir at the MTV Video Music Awards as twerker-in-chief (she left that this year to Nicki Minaj). This year, she’ll be remembered as head humanitarian.

Taking a page from a book written before she was born— In 1973, when Marlon Brando has Sacheen Littlefeather decline his Oscar for “The Godfather” and use the time to talk about the American Indian Movement— Cyrus ceded her acceptance speech time for Video of the YEar (for “Wrecking Ball”) to Jesse, a homeless youth, who made a plea for help for the 1.6 million runaways and homeless youth in the United States.

Cyrus looked on, welling up, as Jesse talked about how he had “the same dreams that many of you here tonight,” before directing people to Cyrus’ website.  There, Cyrus has posted a video asking people to donate to My Friend’s Place, a homeless center for youth in Hollywood. And to entice people, for every $5 donation, the donor will be entered to win a trip for two to Brazil to Cyrus’ Rio de Janeiro show.

Below is Jesse’s speech. To see Cyrus' solicitation for My Friend's Place, go here.


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Coldplay's new video shows 'True Love' comes in all shapes and sizes

Here's why we're not so sure we like the message

While Coldplay undoubtedly meant for its video for “True Love” to come across as sweet, I’m not sure it will strike the same tone for everyone.

The clip features Chris Martin and a female in inflatable suits, which are mean to represent their being overweight. They get shunned wherever they go. For example, Martin tries to get on the bus to go to a baseball game, but gets turned away because of his size. His employer kicks him in the ass for no apparent reason.The girl gets spurned when she tries out at an audition and people in her row look visibly dismayed when she goes to the ballet (and, of course, gets stuck in her seat).

But despite their puffy bodies, they have great dreams, including their love of ballet and their desire to be on stage, so after a performance, Martin’s character dances as he sweeps the stage and the girl, finally able to spring herself  from her seat, take the stage and put on a performance to a full audience. As the video comes to an end, the tag, “Anything is possible” appears.

I’m sure it’s supposed to be the opposite of fat shaming, but it still feels a little tone deaf and a little odd. We’re supposed to be happy for them because they found each other, but wouldn’t it be nicer if the rest of the world accepted them for who they are from the start instead of seeing them as outcasts for their size?

“True Love” is the third single from the group’s current album, “Ghost Stories.”

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MTV VMA Predictions 2014: Beyonce versus everyone else
Credit: AP Photo

MTV VMA Predictions 2014: Beyonce versus everyone else

Will Iggy Azalea steal Beyonce's crown?

MTV will hand out its annual Video Music Awards on Sunday (24). Veteran Beyonce and newcomer Iggy Azalea, who lead all nominees with eight nods, will be doing battle all night in several categories.

Something to bear in mind: the awards are voted by the fans, which means acts with younger fans with itchy and eager texting fingers can get the nod over artists with more passive fans. This is much more of a popularity contest than it is a referendum on the actual best video in each category.

As I noted earlier this week, it is a tremendously female-dominated field this year, so look for the ladies to rule.

Here are my predictions for the main categories.


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Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj keeps her assets covered in Juicy J's 'Low' video: Watch

All the nastiness comes from her rhymes, not twerking

After showing off a year’s worth of ass in one day with her video for “Anaconda,” Nicki Minaj keeps it her most formidable asset out of sight in her cameo on Juicy J’s “Low” video and leaves the twerking to others.

Minaj comes in around 1:30 on the tune. Declaring she’s “fly every day,” she delivers a 40-second X-rated rhyme dressed relatively demurely in a black, then white, dress. Even if you're not a Minaj fan, you have to admire her sheer ubiquity these days, between her own "Anaconda,"  "Bang Bang" with Jessie J and Ariana Grande, Beyonce's remix of "Flawless" and now this...

Juicy J’s low voice combined with a hypnotic beat creates a slinky tune, as he, like Kelly Rowland earlier this year, talks about liking his “kisses down low.” Hey, at least he's practicing safe sex, as he tells us the only thing in his suitcase is condoms.

In addition to Minaj, Juicy J also enlists the aid of Lil Bibby and Young Thug.

Juicy J is up for two MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday for his feature on Katy Perry's "Dark Horse."

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Cris Cab and Pharrell

Meet Pharrell Williams' protege, Cris Cab, and watch their video for 'Liar, Liar'

Are you one of the 30 million who has already watched his video for 'Liar, Liar?'

Cris Cab is proof that persistence, hard work, and a little bit of luck pay off.

Six years ago, when he was 15, Cab met Pharrell Williams through mutual family friends. “This friend was nice enough to bring me into the studio.” Cab played Williams music he’d produced in his bedroom. “He gave me some great advice,” Cab recalls. He put what Williams taught him to good use and began recording again.

A few years later, “Pharrell heard I was making music again and he brought me back into the studio and taught me about recording and writing and producing,” Cab says. “It’s all been amazing.”

Indeed, while it may seem in the United States like Cab is an overnight sensation, his video for  “Liar, Liar,” a song co-written and produced,  by Williams,  has already hit 30 million views on YouTube and the song landed on the iTunes top 10 in more than 30 countries. “Liar Liar”  is featured on “Where I Belong,” Cab’s debut full-length album, out Sept. 2 on Island Records.  

The international acclaim happened serendipitously. Williams suggests that they make a music video together for “Liar, Liar,” and then see what happened. “We decided to put it out, and wherever we see smoke, let’s start there. That’s what we did,” Cab says. “After three months, it we started seeing it chart in the Netherlands, then Romania,” and it kept spreading. Now, Cab hopes the U.S. catches on.

The lilting sound in Cab’s music comes from the Cuban influence. He grew up in Miami, the son of Cuban immigrants. “The Cuban culture is very warm and sunny, full of love,” he says. “That’s what I try to bring into my music, positivity and love.”

That sunny feeling also comes from summers spent in the Bahamas, starting when he was 9 and he heard reggae music in bars. “They had a ring toss there, it was weird. It was a bar with games,” he laughs. “I didn’t really understand any of the lyrics, but I understood that it made me feel good.”

Add in his father’s love of acts like Bee Gees, Barry White, Lou Rawls and Marvin Gaye, and it’s easy to see how Cab developed his R&B-influenced sound.

Cab released an EP on his own in 2011. That helped lead to his record deal with Island, which he signed during his senior year of high school. Since signing with Island, he’s released a mix tape and another EP, “just to engage the fans,” he says. “You’ve got to keep it going.”

To that end, Cab will open for Williams in Europe this fall and learn more by osmosis. “Just from watching him and watching people like Wyclef and other producers, there’s no substitution for hard work,” Cab says. “You have to be recording, writing all the time. You have to really live for the music.”

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6 Things to watch for during the 2014 MTV VMAs: Beyonce, Taylor Swift and more

Will Nicki Minaj take another swipe at Iggy Azalea?

The producers of MTV’s annual Video Music Awards show often try a little too hard to be edgy and try to act like the video channel still represents the cutting edge in some way. Not this year. Sunday’s 2014 VMAs, which will air live on MTV from Los Angeles’ Forum, look like a straight-ahead, mainstream, pop fare with performances from Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Charli XCX, Eminem, Nicki Minaj and Maroon 5, who, incredibly, are making their VMA performance debut.

Here are six things to expect from the Aug. 24 awards:

*Look for Taylor Swift to debut her new song, “Shake It Off.” She premiered the video for her latest tune —the first single from forthcoming album “1989”— via a Yahoo chat on Monday (18) Now we can see her perform it for the first time at the VMAs. The big question is how much of the video’s plot will she incorporate into her performance? Will it be ballerina Taylor or ‘80s rapping Taylor or tweaking Taylor that shows up on Aug. 24 or a combo of all three? I predict she’ll play totally off her album’s title, “1989.”

*Beyonce will deliver the water cooler performance of the evening. She steals the spotlight now just by showing up, but given that Beyonce is the leading nominee with eight VMA nods and the recipient of this year’s Video Vanguard Award AND she seems to be into making cryptic statements from stage, expect her performance — which we hear is a solo one— to give us all something to discuss Monday morning. Will it be a nod to the ever-swirling divorce rumors or a hint at what’s next? Only Beyonce knows for now.

*Girls Run The World: We’ll have our official predictions on Friday, but this feels like a very female-centric VMAs,  between Bey and Iggy Azalea  leading nominations with eight each, the heat behind Sia’s “Chandelier,” performances by Azalea, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj… Move over, boys, the ladies have got something to say.

*5 Seconds of Summer will bring the all the girls to the yard. 5SOS is taking a break from opening for 1D to perform at the VMAs and it is the act’s chance to really prove that when it comes to numerically-named boy bands, they are more One Direction than 98 Degrees.

*Nicki Minaj will throw some shade at Iggy Azalea: She almost can’t help herself at this point. The question is how will she do it? We think she should have a tall, skinny white dancer who moves clunkily on  stage during her performance of “Anaconda.” That’s really the only chance she’ll get since Minaj is not up for any awards. As far as Azalea, she’ll probably be too busy collecting Moonmen to take any digs: she’s up for 8 awards. Looks like she’s already won the Minaj/Azalea VMA battle before the night even begins.

*This award show is for the girls: To expand on an earlier point, between all the female performers, 5SOS,  and “Pretty Little Liars’” Lucy Hale hosting the pre-show (no host has been named for the main telecast), this year’s VMAs seem squarely aimed at girls 12-to-18. Yes, there’s something there for the guys, with acts like Eminem appearing (and surprises not yet announced), but the demo for this show is your little sister. You’ll be able to hear the squeals all over the house.


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John Ottman

Interview: Composer John Ottman on 'X-Men,' Honey Boo Boo, and his favorite score ever

Just don't try to visit him during a scoring session

POZNAN, POLAND—John Ottman is a traditionalist. The composer for such films as “XMen— Days of Future Past,” “Superman Returns,” “The Usual Suspects,” “X2: XMen United,” and “Apt Pupil,” writes scores in the style of his musical heroes, John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith.

Here at the Transatlantyk Festival in Poznan, he talked to attendees about the emotional points film music should hit and lamented the lack of finesse in so many of today’s scores. Ottman is unique among composers in that he serves not only as the scorer for Bryan Singer’s films, he also edits them, which severely limits the amount of time he has to score. He recently emerged out of a three-year work jag that included working on “Jack the Giant Slayer,”  “X-Men—Days of Future Past.”

My colleague Kris Tapley interviewed Ottman about “Days of Future Past,”  in May so I decided to do a quick lightning round with him on different topics. We were both very jet lagged and kept laughing at our difficulty concentrating, but he came through like a trooper. And one thing he made perfectly clear: Just don’t visit him during a scoring session.

What’s the hardest scene to score?

A fight scene is one of the hardest scenes to score, for me, at least, because you have to search for what the scene is really about to be motivated musically and yet people are just hitting each other. If you can find out what the scene is about underneath the action that is going on, it’s easier to write music for it, but
some times you just have to go for what’s on the screen and that’s the toughest for me because I’m always motivated by things within the character.

What’s the easiest scene to score?

I would say a creepy scene, someone walking through halls and something’s going to happen. You’re really just suspending the moment.

What’s your favorite creepiest scene you’ve scored?

There are many moments in “Hide & Seek,” a movie I did which I’m very proud of. I’m very thematic, so there was a character called Charlie, who was [the main character’s] imaginary friend and I used string harmonics to create this “Charlie’s Theme,” so when he’s being talked about, it’s very creepy, even though in a strange way, it has a personality to it, which is probably what makes it creepy.

How hard is is to tie in your theme with a well-known existing theme by another composer, such as in “Superman Returns,” when you go from your theme into John Williams’ “Lois Lane" theme during the flight scene?

Frankly, it was a lot easier than I thought to weave in the Williams’ stuff into the score for “Superman Returns,” probably because the themes from his score are so iconic, that you just hear a fragment of them and you recognize them, so all I had to do is throw in a note or two of one of his themes within mine and you understood I was giving a nod, so I just basically find out whatever key I’m in and throw three notes or two notes from either the “Superman” or the “Lois Lane” theme.

Who’s your favorite “X-Men” character to write for?

Xavier. On “Days of Future Past,” it was the first time he’s had a theme in the franchise because the movies have never really centered around him like “Days of Future Past” did. It’s all about rediscovering the hope that he lost, so it was gratifying to be able to do a theme for him.

We saw some old footage today from when Patrick Stewart and Bryan Singer came to the scoring stage for “X2" Do you like it when the actors stop by?

It’s always unnerving for me when anyone comes into the scoring session. My team knows me very well and they know that the day that supposedly someone might come, I’m very cranky and very irritable and everything ticks me off because all I’m doing is staring at the door the whole time because every time the door opens I think [someone] is walking in who is going to screw up my entire day [laughs].

What’s your favorite scene you’ve ever scored?

It’s naturally from a film that no one ever saw, which is usually the case. One was a movie called “Incognito,” which was aptly titled because it remained as such. That movie was a rare opportunity for a composer because it was long, long sequences, some five or six minutes in length, without any dialogue and very little effects. It was showing how a guy would forge art. It was a composer’s wet dream, There’s an almost six-minute sequence where Jason Patric basically forges a Rembrandt and the whole process of how he goes through that process, the real paints, the metals he melts down to make it authentic.…It was a lot of wasted passion because it went nowhere.

You brought up today how scores have changed and are much less subtle. How have expectations changed in terms of what is expected of a composer?

I think the bar has been set so low that I think the expectations aren’t very high, frankly. And it’s sort of depressing because when you’re on a movie, you get so much pressure from everyone because they’re all terrified and scared and so then the music’s suddenly important. [laughs] It’s not important until it comes down to it. Even though they’re all very on edge about it, I think if I just hashed out some string astinados [repeated patterns] and it worked because it’s something new, they’d all love it. I really could just do that and it would be signed off on, but I can’t bring myself to do it because I want to do more than that. I think that’s a lot of what’s going on today.

It starts with the temping, there are so many of those kinds of scores out there now— it’s sort of the sound that’s out there— so an editor throws that onto a movie, suddenly there’s an association with the visuals and everyone just instantly can’t imagine something different. Then the poor composer comes on and if he’s not really an opinionated composer, he’s just going to do that and so then that score goes out there  and that gets temped in the next movie and it basically becomes a circle that doesn’t stop.

You’re a descendant of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith. Is that traditional style getting lost?

Well to be thematic doesn’t mean to sound dated. I think that’s the fear— if we’re thematic, we’re going to have a score that sounds cheesy, and that’s not true. You can be thematic and still be relevant in today’s scoring styles. It doesn’t mean you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater and just thrown in repeat bars after repeat bars. You can actually find a way to be lyrical in a more modern sense. It just takes more work.

Do you think scores are getting dumbed down?

Yes. There’s a whole “South Park” episode where James Cameron finds the bar and raises it, well the bar just keep going lower, lower. I don’t think modern film scores are quite as bad at Honey Boo Boo, but sometimes I  feel like we’re going there.

What can you say about “X Men: Apocalypse?”

The script is just an outline right now. There are some ideas, but obviously I can’t talk about them, except it’s about the apocalypse (laughs). And all my favorite characters are back, including Quicksilver.

You also edit Bryan Singer’s films. You recently came off three years with out a break. How do you decompress?

The 15 hours a day, 7 days a week just stops and suddenly the freedom you’ve been seeking you have, and then I’m lost. I’m like  a drunk person who’s not drunk. Typical me will see the glass half empty. I realize the sacrifices I made because when it all stops and I’m left with my free time, I realize I only have two friends and I don’t have anyone in my life because it’s all about my work. So it’s sort of sobering when I finish one of these projects to realize how much you don’t have in your personal life. That’s what I’m sort of dealing with right now.

What was the hardest score to write?

“Jack The Giant Slayer” was the hardest time I’ve ever had in terms of cracking what the theme was of the movie because I broke my own sacred rule: never start a film score unless you've established your  themes first. I always write this sort of overture before I start the writing of the score, otherwise I’m lost. I was [in]  a fog every time Jack cam on the screen. I had a temporary place holding theme for him, but I never really liked it and not until I stumbled across something in reel 5 where he’s walking over to his horse, did I realize "There’s the theme right there.” Unfortunately most of the score had been sent off to orchestration. I had no time, but it would be wrong to just have it as it was, so I went back and re-scored every moment that was with Jack and then, only then, could I write the big rousing version of the theme because it was Jack’s theme.

What’s the one score you would take with you to a desert island?

The “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” of course, because I’m the ultimate Trekkie of the original series. When I say original, I mean the ‘60s, not “The Next Generation.” Even though that theme was used on “The Next Generation,” I associate it with “Star Trek: The Motion Picture,” which was like the coming of Jesus Christ to me. The score is super thematic, it’s deep, it employs many modern sounds. Despite the fact that Goldsmith was traditional, he was always trying to find ways to be with the times that were, so he’d bring in the blaster beam, that thing that was the new thing and some of his efforts had dated themselves, like in the ‘80s we used some of those electronics, but Star Trek remains timeless. That Blaster Beam thing, a lot of the water phone sounds they use and so forth. you combine that beautiful sweeping version of that theme over the most beautiful thing ever created by man— the Enterprise— and it’s just complete, absolute orgasm.

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Interview: Emmy-nominated composer Michael Price on scoring 'Sherlock'

What he learned from greats like Michael Kamen and Craig Armstrong

POZNAN, POLAND— Michael Price gets around. The British composer leaves Poznan today after being one of the featured speakers at the Transatlantyk Festival, a week-long event dedicated to film, music, and cuisine,  to head straight to Los Angeles for the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Saturday (16).

Price is nominated for the first time for Outstanding music composition for a miniseries, movie or a special (original dramatic score) for “Sherlock,” the BBC  series he composes music for with David Arnold.  Price apprenticed with a number of composers, but he also worked as a music editor for years, on such films as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Love Actually,” and “Nanny McPhee.”

I hopped in a car with Price to interview him on our way to Transatlantyk’s closing gala.

You started as an assistant for the late composer Michael Kamen ("Brazil,""Band Of Brothers," "Lethal Weapon," "Mr. Holland's Opus"), who was a very passionate and emotional composer. What was the biggest thing you learned from him?

Michael was the ultimate tunes guy. He was about melody and it was quite in a way that sometimes the films weren’t big enough to contain what he wanted to say with them and the music that he wanted to write. Sometimes I would take sort of small detailed view of a scene and he would step back from it and try to write a theme that would play out right over the top of it and I don’t think I got that when I was his assistant. I was just like ‘C’mon, that’s where it stops.”  And he said, “No, it will be great.” And the older I get and the  further away I get from[my days with him], the more I’m in awe really of that melodic sense, and that sense of the glorious theme. And now I think in my own work, I do less, I just try to simply play the best tune I could make.

So what he taught you was to play up to your strengths?

Absolutely. And just to believe in the power of the melody. He worked with that sense of not a mechanical way to writing for films, but a glorious, open hearted way of doing it.

After Michael, you went to work with Craig Armstrong (“Love Actually,” "Romeo + Juliet," "The Incredible Hulk"), another very melodic composer. What did you learn from him?

I think Craig has the amazing ability to make the same instruments that everyone else is using sound like Craig Armstrong. I was trying to to work out why him doing orchestra or strings and piano sounded totally, immediately like Craig and why somebody else didn’t have that same character to them. I was fascinated to the extent where I did some transcriptions of his work to try to work out and came to the conclusion that every composer just has a DNA themselves and the way that they move from one note to another and all the tiny little choices that the make add up to them and you can’t reverse engineer it…

What’s your DNA?

I think I thought I was quite serious and then I did “The InBetweeners” and comedy after comedy after comedy, so I’m not really sure. In a way I try not to become self conscious about something like that. With “Sherlock,” it’s become so popular that the tunes that David and I originally wrote for it have sort of gone out from us and just become public  property now. They’re there for people to play on YouTube themselves and for people to do their own thing. When you carry on and do another [season] of it, if in any way become self conscious and are trying to work out what is the DNA of the music of “Sherlock” to try and replicate it, it makes for hard going.

“Sherlock” has so many quick cuts and is edited so interestingly visually. How does that affect how you and David score it?

There was an original pilot episode [that got scrapped]. A lot of the tunes that we wrote for the pilot stayed and it was clear that the speed of thought of Sherlock was driving the whole momentum of the show, really. It was trying to get inside his brain and kind of give the audience an experience of what it’s like to be with Sherlock when he’s doing it. But then when [new director] Paul McGuigan came on to direct the first series proper, rather than the pilot, he brought with him this incredible visual panache and flair and it’s stunning. So I think we developed the material from the pilot episode it was about trying to keep up and not artificially force the pace, but I guess it’s like surfing, you’ve got to catch the wave and just go with it, and on a good day, I think we did that.

You and Oscar winner Steven Price [for “Gravity”] were both music editors. How does that help you as a composer?

It’s sort of like an apprenticeship in the deepest. oldest sense. Being a music editor often means that you’re there right at the start and you’re there right at the end. You’re the last person to turn the lights off and close the door on the way out. I’m very happy that I’ve done both. I’m happy I was a music editor because it gives you an incredible technical background and a lot of  sense of structure and I’m really happy I’ve had people like Michael Kamen in my life,  which gave me a sense of melody. I think if you glue the two together, on a good day, it works well.


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