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Switched on Pop

Switched on Pop

Author: Vulture

Subscribed: 33,508Played: 525,984


A podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture. From Vulture and the Vox Media Podcast Network.

399 Episodes
Lost Notes by KCRW explores how Fela Kuti’s time in LA in 1969 was instrumental in the creation of his legendary Afrobeat sound. Hosted by Michael Barnes and Novena Carmel. Find a full transcript of Lost Notes at KCRW. And subscribe to the show. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
There are few artists pushing the boundaries of their respective genres like Maryland rapper Rico Nasty and German-Iraqi electronic producer Boys Noize. The two have run in the same circles for over half a decade, but their joint collaboration has reached an apex with their three song EP, HARDC0RE DR3AMZ, a dance-floor ready project that owes as much to Berlin techno as it does to Dutch gabber music. Rico and Boys Noize – a.k.a. Alexander Ridha – are also incredible friends with a lot of love for one another, and for producer Reanna Cruz, all of these reasons make the duo’s EP one of the best projects of the year. On the heels of Berlin techno being added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage for Germany, Reanna sat down with Rico and Alex for this episode of Switched on Pop. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Joe Keery is best known for his acting roles, such as the reformed jock Steve Harrington in "Stranger Things" and his chilling performance in season 5 of "Fargo." But he's also a spectacular musician. Rising through the Chicago music scene in college, he has self-released two albums under the moniker 'Djo.' His latest work, "Decide" from 2022, serves as a coming-of-age story and a meditation on navigating modern life. Despite strong initial reviews, the album only gained widespread attention two years later when its breakout hit "End of Beginning" became a soundtrack for youthful nostalgia on TikTok, casting Keery as an accidental pop star. Joe Keery joined "Switched On Pop" to discuss the creation and significance of "Decide." Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Beyoncé's Cowboy Carter is her foray into country music, but this isn't just dirt roads, blue jeans and whiskey. Her country music distills all of American pop: blues, gospel, R&B, soul, house, hip-hop and yes, country. If this ain't country, what is? Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Hip-hop is in a weird place right now. Research says that the genre, in both streaming and chart performance, has declined over the last decade. And while rap artists can still get number one songs on the Hot 100, it’s a far cry from the peak of trap circa 2017, when Nielsen data named hip-hop as the most popular genre in the U.S. So what does that mean for the future of rap? To find out, producer Reanna Cruz spent all weekend reporting from Inglewood, CA, at the California edition of the world’s largest hip-hop festival: Rolling Loud. Through talking to attendees and catching the weekend’s hottest sets, they learned about the current state of hip-hop – the good and the bad – as well as what the future may hold. To read Reanna’s highs and lows from the festival, check out their Vulture article here.  Special thanks to Antonio Cruz for his production help on this episode. Songs Discussed: OsamaSon – Pop Nicki Minaj – BARBIE DANGEROUS ¥$, Kanye West, & Ty Dolla $ign – EVERYBODY (live) ¥$, Kanye West, & Ty Dolla $ign – BACK TO ME (live) Junior H – Y LLORO Natanael Cano – Pacas de Billetes Fuerza Regida – Enculado That Mexican OT, Lefty SM – Barrio (with Lefty SM) That Mexican OT – Cowboy Killer (live) KenTheMan – Not My N**** – Extended KenTheMan – Poppin Sh!t KenTheMan – Keep Going (live) Kaliii – Area Codes Action Bronson & Statik Selektah – Respect the Moustache Drake, SZA, & Sexyy Red – Rich Baby Daddy (live) Sexyy Red, Sukihana – Born By the River (feat. Sukihana) Sexyy Red, Chief Keef – Skee Yee (live) Nettspend – shine n peace (live) Nettspend – deftones snippet (live) Matt Ox – Overwhelming Nettspend – What they say SOPHIE – BIPP Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
What do Duke Ellington, United Airlines, and the K Pop group Red Velvet share in common? They've all covered George Gershwin's piano concerto, Rhapsody in Blue. First premiered in 1924, the piece became an immediate hit for the way it blended American jazz with the European symphonic tradition. Gershwin had a number of successes as a composer in his day—his aria "Summertime" from the opera Porgy and Bess is by some measures the most covered song ever—but the staying power of the Rhapsody make it a rare instrumental piece that's instantly familiar. Maybe too familiar. In 2024, there will be many centennial performances of this iconic piece, but pianist Lara Downes wanted to do something more than just the sound the notes of Gershwin's score for the umpteenth time. Downes commissioned Puerto Rican musician Edmar Colon to create a new version of Gershwin's composition, one that brought in the full spectrum of American life in 1924: fiery improvisation, Latin percussion, and dance rhythms. The resultant piece both pays tribute to an American icon while adding a new set of modern counterpoint. Nate sat down with Lara to ask her if she was nervous to rewrite such a canonic piece, why a concerto is like a musical kaleidoscope, and the surprising family connection to Gershwin's musical world she discovered while researching Rhapsody in Blue. Songs Discussed George Gershwin, Lara Downes, Edmar Colon - Rhapsody in Blue Reimagined Gershwin - Rhapsody in Blue Gershwin - 3 Preludes: II. Andante con moto e poco rubato Sarah Vaughan - Nice Work if You can Get It Sam Cooke - Summertime Chet Baker - But not For ME Louis Armstrong - Aint Misbehavin Ella Fitzgerald - Blue Skies Red Velvet - Birthday Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Sidestep the gossip and focus on the music in Ariana Grande’s latest album Eternal Sunshine. The music is an exercise in nostalgia: 70s Disco, 90s R&B, and 00s pop and dance music. As she moves through the musical past, her lyrics tear through past relationship. But its the way her lyrics interweave with the deft melodies and harmonies that reveal the meaning of the record.  Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs Discussed Ariana Grande - Eternal Sunshine, Bye, Don’t Wanna Break Up Again, True Story, The Boy Is Mine, We Can’t Be Friends, Imperfect For You Isaac Hayes - Theme From Shaft Barry White - Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Babe Britney Spears - Oops I Did It Again, Gimme More Brandy, Monica - The Boy Is Mine Aaliyah - Are You That Somebody Ginuwine - Pony Robyn - Call Your Girlfriend, Show Me Love Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In a landscape where the music industry seems designed to stifle creativity and independence, Amelia Meath stands as a beacon of resistance. Through her involvement in bands like Sylvan Esso, Mountain Man, and The A's, and as a founder of label Psychic Hotline, Meath defies the narratives that label success in music. This conversation dives into the systemic challenges musicians face today—from the pitfalls of streaming economics to the trials of touring and beyond. Yet, it's not just about the hurdles; it's a conversation on solutions, embodied by Meath's multifaceted career and the inspirational journey of David Gray, whose story of grassroots success with "Babylon" serves as a case study in artistic resilience and independence. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs Discussed David Gray - Babylon, Shine, What Have I Become, Skellig Sylvan Esso - Coffee, Die Young Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Live from On-Air Fest in Brooklyn, Nate and Charlie investigate listeners’ burning musical mysteries, such as: Is Beyoncé’s reference to Lexus in “Texas Hold ’Em” product placement? And, could we be tuning all our music the wrong way? These stories have twists, turns, and a live parody performance that no asked for. Thanks to Steve Stoute, Lucas Keller, Samer Ghadry, Helen Zaltzman, and Phil Pappas for contributing to this episode. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs Discussed: Beyoncé – TEXAS HOLD ‘EM RUN DMC – My Adidas Busta Rhymes – Pass The Courvoisier Part II Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods Outkast – Hey Ya! Jason Aldean – Take A Little Ride Justin Timberlake – I'm Lovin' It Chris Brown – Forever Pitbull – Rain Over Me (ft. Marc Anthony) Lady Gaga – Telephone (ft. Beyoncé) Beyoncé – SUMMER RENAISSANCE Beyoncé – Crazy In Love (ft. Jay-Z) LFO – Summer Girls Aqua – Barbie Girl Moonlight Sonata (432hz) Here Comes the Sun (432hz) Deep Focus Music with 432 Hz Tuning and Binaural Beats for Concentration - Study Music Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
One of the most inventive and gifted musicians working today is none other than Jacob Collier. Maybe you know him from his YouTube videos, or co-writing SZA’s “Good Days,” or even performing alongside Joni Mitchell at this year’s Grammys. Jacob is a musician with thunderous chops, proficient on multiple instruments and with a voice that ranges from bass to soprano. over the past few years, he’s managed to release several records, net collaborations with everyone from Michael McDonald to T-Pain, and become the first British artist to receive a Grammy Award for each of his first four albums. His latest album Djesse 4 is the conclusion to his Djesse quadrilogy, and it features a kaleidoscopic range of style, from Indian sitar to Colombian reggaeton to a haunting Simon and Garfunkel cover. This week, we’re going to take a look inside the work and process of a musical mad scientist – our resident songwriter Charlie Harding sat down with Jacob to learn about his new record, his collaborators, and the beautifully unique way he sees and thinks about music. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter SONGS DISCUSSED Jacob Collier - In My Room, 100,000 Voices, A Rock Somewhere, Little Blue, She Put Sunshine Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Beyoncé's Country

Beyoncé's Country


Renaissance Act II truthers, your time has come: There’s new music from Beyoncé, and boy, is it country. Her two new singles dropped two weeks ago, and in the time since, they’ve both climbed up the chart and taken the internet by storm. There’s the barnstorming stomp and holler ditty “TEXAS HOLD 'EM,” which just notched the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, and the dark horse “16 CARRIAGES,” a autobiographical work song detailing Beyoncé’s roots in Houston, Texas. Charlie and Nate unpack both of these two songs, highlighting their structures, inspirations, and collaborators, from Raphael Saddiq to Rhiannon Giddens. Then, producer Reanna Cruz speaks to music journalist Taylor Crumpton, whose article for Time, “Beyoncé Has Always Been Country” lays out the cultural implications of this sonic pivot for one of the biggest artists of all time.  Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs Discussed Beyoncé - Texas Hold 'Em, 16 Carriages, Break My Soul, Formation, Daddy Lessons Dink Roberts - Georgia Buck Carolina Chocolate Drops - Hit 'Em Up Style Elvis Presley - Mystery Train Unidentified African American Chain Gang - Waterboy, Run James Carter and the Prisoners - Po Lazarus Robert Randolph and the Family Band - Find a Way Vince Gill ft Justus West- High Lonesome Sound More Read Taylor Crumpton's article Beyoncé Has Always Been Country Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
The Canadian Electro-Funk duo CHROMEO have made consistently funky, highly danceable music for twenty years. They’ve released five studios albums, done the Coachella festival circuit and have been nominated for a Grammy for their sound that’s been compared to Prince, Zapp and Hall and Oates. Now with their latest album, Adult Contemporary, they are challenging preconceptions of adult contemporary music by redefining its whole meaning. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs discussed CHROMEO - (I Don't Need A) New Girl, BTS, Coda, Fancy Footwork, Needy Girl, Replacements, Clorox Wipe, Six Feet Away Dolly Parton - Nine to Five Donna Summer - She Works Hard For The Money Gwen Guthrie - Ain't Nothin' Goin' on but the Rent Kenny G - Songbird, You're Beautiful Kenny Loggins - This Is It Kenny Rodgers - We've Got Tonight, You And I Michael Bolton - How Am I Supposed To Live Michael Bublé - Home Michael Jackson - Human Nature, Working Day and Night NWA - Straight Outta Compton Steely Dan - Black Cow, Ricky Don't Lose That Number, Time Out of Mind The Bee Gees - Staying Alive Toto - I'll be Over You Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Who is the biggest Diva of them all? The U.S. National Anthem, which borrows its melody from a historic British drinking song, has undergone enormous musical change in the hands of pop music vocalists. Famously, José Feliciano, Marvin Gaye and Whitney Houston each changed the meaning of "The Star Spangled Banner" by finding new approaches to the performance. Countless others have followed in their footsteps. Now every major sporting event is an excuse for pop divas to make their own creative interpretation. So who does it best? Or worst? Jan Diehm and Michelle McGhee, data journalists at The Pudding, analyzed the pitch fluctuations of over a hundred famous performances to answer these questions and more. Check out Jan and Michelle's full analysis at Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When it comes to powerful artistry, few can match the intensity of Brittany Howard. Over the past decade, we’ve seen her bring her signature Southern belt to the Alabama Shakes, her intimate songwriting to her first solo record, and now, her boundary-pushing genre experimentation on her new album What Now. The record, which drops on Friday, February 9th, continues to show Howard’s versatility – the record jumps from disco pop to pared-back R&B to roaring psychedelia.  This episode of Switched On Pop, we’re giving you an early look at all What Now has to offer, as well as an interview with the woman behind it all: Brittany Howard.  Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs Discussed: Brittany Howard – What Now Alabama Shakes – Hold On Alabama Shakes – Don’t Wanna Fight Alabama Shakes – Future People Leon Bridges – Coming Home Khruangbin – Two Fish and an Elephant Brittany Howard – Tomorrow Erykah Badu – Window Seat Brittany Howard – Stay High Brittany Howard – Prove It To You Brittany Howard – I Don’t Brittany Howard – Another Day Brittany Howard – Interlude Brittany Howard – Red Flags Robin S – Show Me Love Brittany Howard – Every Color In Blue Brittany Howard – To Be Still The Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
When it comes to musical theater, everyone has an opinion. And Bridger Winegar, host of the very funny podcast I Said No Gifts!, is no exception. In the paradoxical tradition of Bridger's podcast, Charlie and Nate have brought a series of gifts in the form of a sonic smorgasbord: a tour through musical theater's finest offerings, from Les Miserables to Spring Awakening. Check out Bridger's podcast I Said No Gifts! here. For more on movie musicals, check out this episode of Vox's Today Explained. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs discussed: Brian Johnson, Gideon Glick, John Gallagher Jr., Jonathan B. Wright, Jonathan Groff, Skylar Astin – The Bitch Of Living – Original Broadway Cast Recording/2006 Duncan Sheik – Barely Breathing Thee Oh Sees – The Dream Liars – Mr Your On Fire Mr The Electric Prunes – I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night) Ariana Grande – yes, and? Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend Randy Graff – I Dreamed a Dream Ali Stroker – I Cain't Say No Josh Groban, Annaleigh Ashford, Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd 2023 Broadway Company – My Friends Frank Sinatra – Send In The Clowns Billy Bragg, Wilco – California Stars Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Colombian-American singer Kali Uchis has cemented herself as something of a vibe curator; her signature genre fusion has brought forward everything from Latin radio mainstays to Bootsy Collins collaborations. But instead of looking to the genres of the future for her latest record, Orchídeas finds Uchis digging into genres of the past and present, creating a global soundscape across the record’s 14 tracks. On this episode of Switched on Pop, producer Reanna Cruz guides Charlie and Nate through the flowery world of Orchídeas, exploring multiple genres of the Latine diaspora (with a quick stop in South Africa) in the process. Sign up for the Switched On Pop Newsletter Songs Discussed: Kali Uchis – Pensamientos Intrusivos Kali Uchis – telepatía Kali Uchis – Te Mata Kali Uchis – la luna enamorada José Pepe Sánchez, Irving Lara y su Orquesta – Tristezas La Sonora Santanera – Perfume de Gardenias Kali Uchis, El Alfa, JT – Muñekita (with El Alfa & JT)  ROSALÍA – BIZCOCHITO Busta Rhymes – Dangerous Lorna – Papi Chulo… Te Traigo El Mmmm Kali Uchis, Peso Pluma – Igual Que Un Ángel (with Peso Pluma) Kali Uchis, KAROL G – Labios Mordidos (with KAROL G) Toots & The Maytals – Bam Bam Chaka Demus & Pliers – Murder She Wrote Kali Uchis – Dame Beso // Muevete Bad Bunny – Después de la Playa Kali Uchis – Diosa Trompies, Lebo Mathosa – Magasman Tyla – Water Amaarae, Kali Uchis, Moliy – SAD GIRLZ LUV MONEY Remix (feat. Kali Uchis and Moliy) Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
We live in an age of musical nostalgia where artists wear influences on their sleaves. Case in point, two established artists who are drawing from established pop music history: Lil Nas X's "J. Christ" sounds like a Kendrick Lamar "Humble" type beat, and Ariana Grande's "Yes, And?" unabashedly interpolates Madonna's "Vogue." So are these songs mere copies or do they actually say something new with their reference material? Songs Discussed Lil Nas X - J CHRIST Lil Nas X - Old Town Road Lil Nas X - Panini Lil Nas X - MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) Kendrick Lamar - HUMBLE. Noreaga - Superthug N.E.R.D - Lapdance Busta Rhymes - Pass The Courvoisier Part II (feat. P. Diddy & Pharrell) - Remix Kendrick Lamar - Alright Cardi B - Money Iggy Azalea - Sally Walker Cardi B - Up Anne-Marie - PSYCHO Megan Thee Stallion - Savage Megan Thee Stallion - Megan's Piano Ariana Grande - yes, and? Madonna - Vogue Marshall Jefferson - Move Your Body Derrick May - Strings of Life Farley "Jackmaster" Funk, Jesse Saunders - Love Can't Turn Around Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
All throughout the year, Switched on Pop gets a litany of musical questions that need answering. To kick off 2024, hosts Charlie and Nate answer some of these questions live on air! From the renewed interest in Cass Elliot's "Make Your Own Kind of Music" to the lack of multi-part harmonies on the charts, this episode takes a closer look at some listeners' musical maladies – alongside special guest star Joe Treble. Songs Discussed: Eagles - Take It Easy Jack Harlow - Lovin On Me Cadillac Dale - Whatever (Bass Soliloquy) Tate McRae - greedy Dua Lipa - Houdini Fleetwood Mac – The Chain Ariana Grande - shut up boygenius – Not Strong Enough boygenius - Without You Without Them Jerry Goldsmith - Jake And Evelyn (From The “Chinatown” Soundtrack) Terence Blanchard - Perry Sees Teddy (From HBO Series Perry Mason: Season 1) Cass Elliot - Make Your Own Kind of Music David Bowie – Space Oddity Elton John - Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time) TALK - Run Away to Mars Tommy Tutone - 867-5309/Jenny Blondie - Call Me Lady Gaga - Telephone ft. Beyoncé Rico Nasty - IPHONE R.E.M. - Star 69 50 Cent - High All The Time Beyoncé – Crazy in Love ft. Jay-Z Britney Spears – E-Mail My Heart Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In case you missed it, last January, we published this story on the rising trend of sped-up music. It seems like the tempo-shifting isn't going anywhere, so we're rerunning our history and exploration into the phenomenon. Original description below: Over the past few months, you may have heard your favorite song pop up on the Internet – just slightly faster. You’re not alone: the phenomenon of the “sped-up” remix has taken over social media, with everyone from Lady Gaga to Thundercat getting the tempo treatment. The popularity of the craze has led to millions of TikTok videos, Billboard number ones, and songs becoming relevant again, decades after release. Ever since the proliferation of these “remixes,” the big questions remain: where did these songs come from and why are they here?  On this episode of Switched on Pop, we explore this exact phenomenon, tracing its roots from Thomas Edison to Cam’ron to vaporwave to nightcore. Songs Discussed: “Dream On” – Aerosmith (sped up) “Escapism” – RAYE, 070 Shake (sped up) “Bad Habit” – Steve Lacy (sped up) “Miss You” – Oliver Tree (sped up) “Say It Right” – Nelly Furtado (sped up) “Bloody Mary” – Lady Gaga (sped up) “Heat Waves” – Glass Animals (slowed down) “Juicy” – Notorious B.I.G.  “Juicy” – DJ Screw “Jolene” – Dolly Parton (slowed down) “リサフランク420 / 現代のコンピュー |” – Macintosh Plus “In Da Club Before Eleven O’ Clock” – DJ Rashad “Monster [Nightcore]” – Meg & Dia, remixed by Barren Gates  “Concrete Angel” – Hannah Diamond “Witch Doctor” – David Seville “Oh Boy” – Cam’ron, Juelz Santana “Cool for the Summer” – Demi Lovato (sped up) “Them Changes” – Thundercat (sped up & Chopnotslop remix) “That’s All” – Genesis Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
In case you missed it, Wham’s 1984 contribution to the holiday cannon, “Last Christmas,” has surprising staying power. When Grammy-winning pianist Chilly Gonzales set out to record a holiday album, “A Very Chilly Christmas,” most of the selections were over a half century old. That’s because most of our favorite seasonal songs come from the 1960s and earlier. But in addition to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas,” Wham’s “Last Christmas” reliably returns each winter. Despite the cheesy 80s synths and drum machines, the song’s harmonies are remarkable resilient, a testament to George Michael’s auteur songwriting method. Celebrated artist known for his solo piano works, collaborations with Feist and Daft Punk, and his musical masterclasses series, Chilly Gonzales—musical genius—AKA “Gonzo,” sits down at the piano to share in the beauty of this nu-classical Christmas love song, as well as a few selections from his new album “A Very Chilly Christmas.” Originally aired Dec 2020 Learn more about your ad choices. Visit
Comments (56)


I love this podcast and both the hosts but this episode was super annoying.

May 5th


Bring the other host back. This is so stupid.

Mar 25th

Antonio Brown

so happy for your episode. just listened to this song and then opened up my podcast app (castbox) to see the song and group featured!

Nov 9th


Such an amazing album, truly ✨

Nov 1st


Human? Of all the songs to pick. Wow.

Sep 3rd

Evan Parker

After the pandemic was over, the first thing I did was buy a ticket to a music festival because I'm a huge fan, and the atmosphere there is fantastic. I try to attend every festival I find, even if I haven't heard of the bands before, and it's still an amazing experience. I managed to find many great artists that way, and thanks to , it's not that hard for me to listen to them even if they don't upload their songs on streaming services.

Jun 7th

Em H.

jfc why title it BTS when you spend 90% of it talking about other kpop groups? especially when a lot of aspects mentioned about the big3 don't even apply to BTS

Oct 23rd

Heather YyY

Love them so much. So talented

Oct 1st

Rui Pedro Pereira

This is very stupid. The truth is, unless you copy the same "song"/lyrics, there shouldn't be any copyright ownership.

Sep 21st

Heather YyY

More music. Less talking. Most annoying guest.

Aug 14th

Simona Hristova

Can you, please, talk about Marina (fka Marina and the diamonds)? Her most recent work is particularly interesting, and something worth exploring on a deeper level. Her lyricism is really what stands out. She has one of the rarest writing styles in the industry.

Apr 21st

Rui Pedro Pereira

black eyed peas I got a feeling is a sports anthem. this one is absolutely not.

Nov 20th


How I love the critics and the analysis!

Oct 29th

Fabio Gioia

have it a chance, and glad I did.

Oct 27th

Imperfectionist Podcast

hey guys...not sure if you guys get messages through this platform, but commercial placement and movie placement is likely the biggest reason the next generation knows a rune from before their birth... ;)

Sep 27th

Yasmine C

Kaleidoscopic pop, keyboard pop, korporate pop, Korean pop... what a great introduction to kpop.

Feb 17th


nice podcast

Feb 13th

Whitney Rodden

Another great episode.

Feb 5th

Cristofer Dorante

buttcheeks bumping?? 🤣🤣🤣

Jan 15th

Owen Ball

how did Freddie Mercury not get a mention in an episode about falsetto? great show!

Nov 20th
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