Posts Tagged Allison Iraheta

Idol Thoughts – 05.12.10

So, last night Michael Lynche was eliminated (again) on American Idol. Here’s a few thoughts this morning, to use Ryan Seacrest‘s careful wording from last night, “in no particular order.”

First off, those Seacrest words were kinda an important detail last night. If you missed them, you might’ve assumed Crystal Bowersox was in the Bottom Two. We really don’t know. The finalists were sent to safety (and the Top 3) one at a time, starting with Casey James, then Lee DeWyze, then Crystal Bowersox.

We don’t know who got the most votes. We don’t know who got the second least. All we know is Big Mike got the lowest amount. Some Idol fans might be frustrated by that. I’m not. In fact, I kinda like knowing that I don’t know. It adds an element of surprise to the two upcoming weeks.

This brings up another thought. Is a Lee-Crystal finale a done deal? They seem to have been the front-runners for a while now. Is there anything Casey can do next week to change that? I don’t know the answer to that. I’d be curious what others think.

I see two sides. On the one hand, yes, they’re the front-runners and it makes sense. Casey’s been in the Bottom Two a couple times. Lee and Crystal have never been. On the other hand, the last two seasons have had guy vs. guy finales, making it seem the block of females who simply vote for their favorite “cute guy” have taken over once and for all. (And c’mon, you know that block of voters exists. Don’t hate on me for pointing it out.)

And let’s not eliminate one other scenario. Casey delivers an amazing performance next week, and America responds with well-deserved votes, sending him into the finale. I honestly like all three. So whatever happens, I’ll be sad to see one leave, but happy for the other two.

Nevertheless (here comes another thought), I think I’m on board with the growing number of voices out there saying this is one of Idol‘s most boring seasons. No Paula Adbul. Simon Cowell seems like he’s already moved on mentally to his next show, the U.S. version of X Factor. And after a season featuring contestants with pipes and big-to-solid personalities (Adam Lambert, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, Allison Iraheta), this season’s Top 12 are a bit dry.

But I think it’s too easy (and too “fashionable”) to say this is the most boring season. The fact is Crystal Bowersox is unlike any Idol contestant before, not unlike how Adam Lambert was in his way last year. In some previous seasons, the likes of Bo Bice and Diana DeGarmo made it into the finale. Heck, Taylor Hicks won the thing! I’d hope even the biggest Crystal hater would agree she’s more talented than the likes of them.

Another thought, what’s the real point of the “Judge’s Save?” Is it to give a performer another chance to win the show? I say no. I don’t think anyone who gets saved will ever win Idol. There’s some fundamental reason why people weren’t voting for that person that won’t go away just because the judge’s override America’s decision.

Clearly, the save is a ratings gimmick for the show, thought of in some brainstorming meeting as producers looked for ways to freshen the show as ratings began to dip. Whether it’s helping ratings remains to be seen. The one thing The Save does do is help a performers recording career. No doubt Michael Lynche will sell more music now then he would have if he’d gone home six weeks ago.

A couple other things we learned last night: winning American Idol doesn’t guarantee you’ll sound great my to ears six years later (Fantasia Barrino, who wowed me back-in-the-day, but not-so-much last night); Finishing fourth on Idol doesn’t mean you won’t go on to be the show’s third biggest-selling artist (Daughtry, my fave then…and now); And that Bon Jovi rocks. I guess that last one was never really in question.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 02.25.10

Airtime. Airtime was the wildcard that affected the outcome last night the most on the season’s first results show of American Idol. There’s no doubt that three of the four sent home had been shown less than other singers in danger of leaving.

Did Joe Muñoz sing worse than Tim Urban Wednesday night? Absolutely not. But who is Joe Munoz? We barely know him. Little airtime. Tim Urban, on the other hand, we know as the guy who they brought back, who got a second chance. A familiar face from Hollywood Week and his audition. Plenty of airtime.

So Muñoz was sent home last night. Urban spared. Also heading to L.A.X. this morning, bags packed for home, are Ashley Rodriguez (a ghost since her Boston audition), Janell Wheeler (the exception to my thesis about airtime), and Tyler Grady (memorable audition, haven’t heard him sing much since).

The point being, at this early juncture, viewers vote for who they know. And they mainly know who they’ve seen. Airtime.

It also didn’t help that so many performers gave so-so performances this week. If you were trying to predict who was heading home, you could’ve made the case for 50 percent of the Top 24. Tough one to call. And “call it,” I did not! One for four. Ouch.

Before the results show, here’s what I said:

Here’s who deserves to go home: Girls) Ashley Rodriguez and Haeley Vaughn. Guys) Jermaine Sellers and Tim Urban.

Here’s who WILL go home: Girls) Ashely Rodriguez and Lacey Brown. Guys) Tim Urban and John Park.

Of course, Idol voters are notoriously attached to their favorites, and often push them through despite the vocal “evidence” to the contrary. That’s why I distinguish between who deserves to go–and who will.

Oh, well. At least that last sentence rings true. Here’s a recap, from the live blog version of this writing, of the rest of last night’s show:

At the top of the show, Ryan asks Simon Cowell why he was “harsher than normal” on the contestants last night. Simon denies this, giving that “I’m just Simon” explanation. And he’s right. Clearly Simon’s judging last night was not the “buzz of the nation” today as Ryan bombastically claimed. Fact is, the first two nights have been weaker than expected.

Then on to the group number (“American Boy” by Estelle). It’s really hard for the individual singers to distinguish themselves in these numbers. They’re basically lip-syncing. Hard to mix so many live mics and make it sound good. Really, that’s the reason. Idol producers have acknowledged this in the past. And with 24 contestants, “choreography” consists of following the person in front of you.

Last season’s fourth-place finisher, Allison Iraheta, is back, performing a song called “Scars.” One of my faves from last year seems more grown up. Maybe it’s the ballad she’s singing. I prefer her pop-rockin’ first single to this. This one’s getting away from her, a few reaches for notes that aren’t there. And I’m not sure Allison totally believes in the song, based on the quirky faces she’s making. Ummm, quirkier than usual for Allison.

Footage of Tyler Grady from yesterday’s rehearsal is pretty funny. Apparently he showed up in a bathrobe and boots, thinking wardrobe would have some clothes for him. They didn’t. Not a dress rehearsal. So he sings his song as is.

They take a pause to bring on Kris Allen and talk about Idol Gives Back and raising money for earthquake relief in Haiti. Kris does a version of the Beatles‘ “Let It Be” that feels heartfelt and right for the occasion. Kris’ song will be available on iTunes, the money going to relief efforts. Best performance this week–by far!

Montage of the four departing contestants is set to the song “Leave Right Now” by Will Young, the first winner of Pop Idol in the U.K. Listen here.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 05.05.09

Okay, so the thing that rocked the hardest last night was…the commercial for “Star Trek.” And I’m sure a lot of rock purists were pretty skeptical that there should even be a Rock Week on American Idol. Clearly the show has excelled at producing pop and country stars. Chris Daughtry being the one credible rocker to emerge. Nevertheless, some things went right last night. Not all of them were planned.

The show opened with Ryan Seacrest relating the news that a couple of stage mishaps had occured at the start of dress rehearsal. A stage manager was injured on the staircase, and one of the two side towers that hold the giant AI logos toppled over. End result, one stage manager shuttled to the hospital, one tower haphazardly repaired with upside-down logo, and no pre-show run-through (which Idol does before every show). So, yeah, VERY rock and roll!!

The fact that things would be less rehearsed could only help on Rock Night. That, and snagging Slash as this week’s mentor. I’m not sure the full extent of the guitar hero’s interaction with the finalists. His on-camera mentoring was less about “advice” and more about “jammin’.” But that felt right. Especially cool for Idol was getting the finalists out of the mansion, hooking up with Slash at the Roxy, one of L.A.’s most fabled rock clubs.

Take all that, and add the new twist of pairing finalists to perform duets, and there was a good amount of new stuff goin’ on last night.

About those duets. I like the idea of them. I liked watching them. But I try not to think about the implications on the competition too much. Because the duets seem unfair. How were the duet partners chosen? By random drawing? Doubtful. Pairing Adam and Allsion, the duet that made the most sense, the one that viewers probably wanted to see the most, conveniently took place at the end of the show, the “big finish” spot. That hardly feels random. Big win for Adam and Allison. Big win for AI ratings. Fair to Danny and Kris? I say no. And that’s coming from someone who’s favorites are Adam and Allison.

The performances:

Adam Lambert: Led Zeppelin’s, “Whole Lotta Love” – Clearly the right song choice…for Adam to sing. Is it one of the viewers fave songs to hear? We’ll know better during the results show tonight. I say a portion of the audience doesn’t “get” Led Zeppelin. And a “safer” classic rock song might have been a smarter choice. I hate being the guy suggesting taking the safe route. And I only reason I do is to speculate on the best road to take to win the show. The high praise from the judges felt a little like they wanna make sure he makes it through after last week’s appearance in the Bottom Two.

Allsion Iraheta: Janis Joplin’s, “Cry Baby” – Wow. I’m totally NOT vibin’ with the judges on this one. I felt that Allsion did everything right this week. Starting with the taped segment, she was more lively and persoanable than she’s ever been. Big improvements on hair, makeup and outfit. And she sounded great. One of her best yet. The judges tore her apart. I say I’m right. Guess they all dipped into Paula’s pill stash.

Danny Gokey and Kris Allen: Styx’s, “Renegade” – Sorry, guys, this did NOT blow my mind. Not your fault, though. These two were forced together as duet partners — and it showed. I actually dissent for Simon on this one, too. Kris sounded better. Danny’s not a rocker. Kris looked unhappy afterwards. I don’t blame him.

Kris Allen: The Beatles’, “Come Together” – Kris delivered a easy-going, funky-lite, rock-substitute version of this classic. It was…”pleasant.” On Rock Week, that’s not the biggest compliment.

Danny Gokey: Aerosmith’s, “Dream On” – Gokey had the ball (best song choice of the night), was running for the end zone (a chance to show off a full range of singing talents), and he fumbled (he just didn’t sound good). Another sports analogy, Danny failed to “stick the landing” on the famous high notes that bring this rock classic to a crescendo. Good thing for Danny that he appears to have the fans to get him to the final three.

Adam Lambert and Allison Iraheta: Foghat’s, “Slow Ride” – It wasn’t perfect. But neither is the best rock and roll. But it kicked butt on the night’s other duet. I wondered if these duets would impact voting in any way. I think they will. Helps both Adam and Allison. Allison more so.

The night’s performaces ranked:
1 – Adam
2 – Allsion
3 – Kris
4 – Danny

The duets:
1- Adam & Allison
2 – Danny & Kris

Bottom Two tonight: Danny and Kris

Viewers sending home: Kris

That’s what I think. What about you? Let me know.

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 04.28.09

I’m not sure what Frank Sinatra would make of Adam Lambert. Or maybe I know EXACTLY what he’d think. I say they have more in common than Ol’ Blue Eyes would want to admit. The fact is they both bring swagger to their worlds of refinement. There’s never been an American Idol contestant like Adam, so completely confident and comfortable to do his own thing. Adam shakes up the Idol formula.

The Rat Pack also shook things up in their day. They were more than crooners. They were “rock stars.” They were “Diddys.” Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. were singers by trade, actors when they felt like it, even comedians when it suited them. In other words, entertainers. They were also rebels in who they associated with and the way they lived their lives.

So it was “Standards of the Rat Pack Era” Night on American Idol. And Jamie Foxx mentored the finalists. It was an insipred choice! Foxx broke through and connected with the finalists in a way we haven’t seen recently. How many times have we seen the contestants go glassy-eyed while the mentor’s working with them? That didn’t happen last night.

Now, just because it was “Rat Pack Week” didn’t mean all Rat Packers would be represented equally. Just like it was in life, most of the attention went to Frank Sinatra, with the first four songs performed last night being ones largely known for their Sinatra recordings.

KRIS ALLEN, “The Way You Look Tonight” – Kris opened the night strong. He showed he could ballad AND swing with this arrangement. This was a huge performance for Kris. Maybe a little more Dean Martin than Frank Sinatra. But Kris raised his own bar. I’m still trying to figure out what Simon’s criticism was when he said it was a “wet” performance. I have to assume that Simon’s mission last night was to motivate by being contrary.

ALLISON IRAHETA, “Someone To Watch Over Me” – Great song choice for her. Allsion brought a raspy tenderness to this one that went down like grape soda for the ears. The only thing for me that prevented this from being one of the night’s best was her phrasing. I don’t think Allison’s phrasing (and thus, the ability to interpret and bring meaning to these difficult songs) was as advanced as the other finalists.

MATT GIRAUD, “My Funny Valentine” – It’s a song I always like to hear, lol. Go figure. So I have a vested interest in it being sung well. Two things about Matt were very apparent last night. He loves jazz and he’s schooled in jazz. But hey, I love money and took a business class. That doesn’t make me a millionaire! For my money, Matt tried to do too much with this. And while he was showing off his chops, he started to swerve all over the place and got pitchy. So yes, it was the performance that felt the most authentic. It was also the one I don’t want to hear again.

DANNY GOKEY, “Come Rain Or Come Shine” – I think Danny benefited the most from Jamie Foxx’s advice. Something Jamie said connected with Danny, and Danny connected with the audience on a whole new level. Danny was in-control, let the song simmer then boil, and told the story with his eyes as much as his voice. It was Danny’s best job yet of “selling the song.” A powerhouse performance. One that I watched again this morning and upgraded (slightly) in my rankings.

ADAM LAMBERT, “Feeling Good” – Leave it to the guy that always does something different to be the one that does something other than a Frank Sinatra song. Sammy Davis Jr. is the Rat Packer that recorded “Feeling Good.” Nevertheless, the version we watched last night is more based on a remake by the alternative band, Muse. Because it was Adam’s voice, this was the only song last night that felt contemporary. Was it showy almost to the point of cabaret? Yeah, a little bit. But there’s something transcendant about anything Adam sings. Amazing last note ranks amoung the greatest notes hit on Idol ever. Downgraded (slightly) after re-watching this morning.

Last night’s performances ranked:

1 – Danny Gokey (tie)
1 – Adam Lambert (tie)
3 – Kris Allen
4 – Allison Iraheta
5 – Matt Giraud

Bottom Two tonight: Matt, Allison

Going home: Matt

That’s what I think. You?

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 04.21.09

Okay. So not a single song I suggested got performed tonight. For the most part, I appreciate the choices that were made during this disco-themed night on American Idol. The contestants actually dug a little deeper into the genre than I did. And “September” is a MUCH better song than “Disco Infrerno.” So good on ya, Danny. How’d they do tonight? And who’s going home tomorrow? Let’s groove on this recap (and peer into the crystal disco ball).

LIL ROUNDS – “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Kahn. Lil sounded better tonight than in any recent week I can remember. And she played the role well (of “Disco Diva”), giving the audience a fun, more confident and energetic performance. Too bad the vocals weren’t totally on point. The judges hammered her and I think Lil’s getting frustrated. At least that’s what I see in her eyes. The theme alone this week should have saved her. I don’t think it did.

KRIS ALLEN – “She Works Hard For The Money” by Donna Summer. I had a feeling we’d see Kris with his guitar this week. He’s not exactly “Mr. Disco.” Smart choice. And this was a great re-vamp of the song. He really told a story. And props to Paula for identifying and acknowledging the Santana vibe. And even though Simon was mystified, I understood her comment about shopping from the women’s department. Nice job, Kris.

DANNY GOKEY – “September” by Earth Wind & Fire. Weird dancing, great vocal. Here’s a thought that may or may not mean a damn thing. But why do I sense that Danny could be the biggest-selling gospel artist next year (if he wants)? His vocals and performances always make me feel like I’m in church. Not a bad thing! The cool church. The one with the awesome gospel choir.

ALLISON IRAHETA – “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer. So much for my feeling that some disco content was too suggestive for 16-year-old Allison, lol. Allison grabbed hold of one of Donna’s naughtier classics and, dare I say, made it even sexier than the original (thinking of the way she opened the song). Personally, I loved this rock-splosive re-working of the song. I hope voters did, too. But I wonder. When Allison’s gone too “hard rock” in the past, it’s landed her in the Bottom Three.

ADAM LAMBERT – “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman. There’s any number of songs Adam could’ve taken and re-intrepreted and made it great. And if this wasn’t exactly the perfect new arrangement, it certainly was the vocal of the night. Adam also knows how to really sell a song. Which makes him a great performer, in addition to a great singer.

MATT GIRAUD – “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. Simon said “desperate” about Matt’s song choice. I think it’ll work. I see voters getting behind Matt, now that the “The Save” has made him the official underdog. I think they’ll want him to “stay alive” another week. I liked some things about his performance tonight. But it didn’t totally come together for me.

ANOOP DESAI – “Dim All The Lights” by Donna Summer. Fitting that the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer would provide three of the songs tonight. I gotta say, I don’t know what Randy, Kara and Paula were listening to (maybe a replay in their heads of a much better Anoop performance in dress-rehaersal?). But I’m with Simon. I thought this was bad. Really bad. And that’s not saying Anoop can’t sing–cuz he can. He just turned in a mediocre performance this week. Bad time to do that.

Top 3: Adam, Danny, Kris

Bottom 3: Lil, Anoop, Allison

Bottom Two (and both going home): Lil, Anoop


Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 04.14.09

9:04. That’s the time the show ended tonight on the East Coast. And that was with just half the judging!

To move things along, and to avoid the “running late” problem they had last week, American Idol producers decided each contestant would get reviewed by only two of the four judges. One of the worst Idol missteps in a while. Seriously. People want to know what Simon thinks. And considering what they pay Simon, producers should really think this through. Goodbye Kara next season. But that’s a whole other blog!

Here’s some quick thoughts…

Allison Iraheta: Big priaise from Simon for her version of “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing.” His and Paula’s praise must’ve been cumlative and rewarding for previous weeks. (Meaning that they see it like I do — Allison’s a top-two of top-three finalist.) But tonight, the first part of the song didn’t resonate with me, and it seemed to me overall that Allison wasn’t as comfortable inside the song as we’re used to seeing. Middle of the pack this week.

Anoop Desai: Strong performance. Anoop’s finding his ‘jam’. And looking at all the performances tonight, Anoop’s rendition of Everything I Do (I Do For You) really fulfilled the promise of the night’s theme, “Songs Of The Cinema.” If Anoop ends up in the bottom three, it won’t be for lackluster singing (the last two weeks have been his strongest). It’ll be because he doesn’t have enough fans. Which is a big problem, indeed.

Adam Lambert: Gave us an unabashed and unapologetic “rock star” performance of “Born To Be Wild” tonight, complete with heavy metal high notes that will make Sabastian Bach wish he was a young man again. Yes, the downloads will bare out one of Simon’s observations (last week’s “Mad World” will out-sell this week’s rocker). But Adam sold a lot of future concert tickets tonight!

Matt Giraud: Matt made changes to “Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman” that didn’t work. As a whole, the song went flat. And the judges nailed him for it. Nothing worse than being the second-best “Bryan Adams” on the show. Ouch.

Danny Gokey: Yeoman-like performance of “Endless Love.” Which is to say, solid as usual. But a recurring comment here. The quieter moments of Danny’s performances don’t resonate with me as much as when he “turns it on.” Voters will remember his singing tonight, though. And that’s good. Because “sans glasses” as he was, he was kinda unrecognizable.

Kris Allen: Did the song “Falling Slowly” (don’t know it) from the movie “Once” (never saw it). He got a little whiny, and in a couple parts, out of tune. Far (far!) from his best.

Lil Rounds: Here’s the issue with Lil. And it’s just an itty-bitty thing. She doesn’t know how to pick songs (tonight, Bette Midler’s “The Rose”). And doesn’t sing the ones she picks very well. Itty-bitty… not!

Top Three: Adam, Danny, Anoop

Bottom three: Lil, Matt, Kris

Bottom two: Lil, Matt

Going home: Lil

Greg Valentine
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Idol Thoughts — 04.07.09

Okay, here’s the DVR tip somebody should’ve given us before last night’s American Idol: be sure to record the show after Idol. Or risk missing the performance of the night! Yes, Idol ran long on the East Coast. I have to assume some jibber-jabber was edited to bring the show in on time for West Coast viewers. But eight minutes over? Face it, Idol is the NFL. It’s the Academy Awards. It ends when it ends.

I’m sure someone at FOX this morning is complaining to Idol producers about the overage of TV’s #1 show. But not too strenuously.

The performances:

Danny Gokey: “Stand By Me” by Mickey Gilley. I’m not sure why Danny decided to do a remake of a remake and put his own rearrangement on the previous rearrangement. The classic song that is “Stand By Me” was in there somewhere (struggling to bust out). And while Danny was using the opportunity to show off his vocal chops, the actual performance was not one I’d ever want to hear again. If the mission is to create songs people want to listen to, I’d have to say mission NOT accomplished.

Kris Allen: “All She Wants To Do Is Dance” by Don Henley. “Oh Gawd…” were my exact words when Ryan Seacrest announced that Kris was about to do this song. “This could be cheesy” is how I finished that sentence. Cheesy it was not. In fact it was kinda fun. A cool little jazzy-bluesy jam session. Randy Jackson nailed what the problem with this performance was: “Kris the singer” got lost.

Lil Rounds: “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner. Seemed like it’d be a great match of singer and song. It wasn’t. My high hopes for Lil were dashed from the get. She started the song seemingly out-of-breath, unable to hold the quieter, sexier notes. Then proceeded to turn in a flat, unoriginal, and mannered performance that only came alive when she finally went for the big notes. Lil’s performance not only didn’t make me forget Tina, it made me forget Lil! Her failure to live up to her hype is the biggest disappointment of the season.

Anoop Desai: “True Colors” by Cyndi Lauper. Big improvement for Anoop… on his attitude and outfit! Oh, and the singin’ was better this week, too. A nice version of a great song that puts him squarely in the middle of the pack this week.

Scott MacIntyre: “The Search Is Over” by Survivor. Scott performed this justly forgotten power-ballad standing in the middle of the stage in front of a mic and strapped into an electric guitar. Later he declared he wanted to show off his “punk side.” Somewhere, Jello Biafra is rolling in his grave. (Jello who? And he’s not even dead?) Even so, it was one of Scott’s stronger vocals on what was a horrible song choice. Scott’s sounding to me more and more like one of those singers who gets played on radio stations with names like “The Fish” or “The Dove.” This is not a knock on those kinds of stations (nor an invitation to be struck down by a mighty and vengeful lightning bolt). I’m just sayin’.

Allison Iraheta: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” by Bonnie Raitt. Well, I love this song…and I dig Allison. So what would you expect me to say? Yeah, I loved this! I will download this. An iPod keeper. But it bums me a little that Simon Cowell is on-the-money about Allison: she really needs to build her following, become more “likeable.” Because she’s one of the best on the show, and yet she’s logging a lot of steps across the stage as the bottom three contestant that always gets sent back to safety.

Matt Giraud: “Part-Time Lover” by Stevie Wonder. How Matt Got His Groove Back! Matt did an awesome job playing to his strengths and reinvigorating this song. Matt was able to do to the Stevie song what Kris wanted to do to the Don Henley song. One of the best of the night.

Adam Lambert: “Mad World” by Tears For Fears. The only thing that could derail Adam at this point and land him in the bottom three is if, like, the show carelessly ran, like, you know, overtime and many people who were DVR-ing missed him and didn’t see his number to vo…. OH, SNAP!!! It was a bring-down-house performance of a bold song choice (meaning pretty obscure to most people watching). All while looking like k.d. lang. Only question about the Idol finale: Adam vs. who?

Top three: Adam, Matt, Allison

Bottom Three: Lil, Scott, Kris

Going home: Lil Rounds

Greg Valentine
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