Tag Archives: Shania Twain

Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "When You Kiss Me"

2003 | Peak: #21 (U.K.)

What do you do when you’ve already got so many songs that are wedding and anniversary

staples?

Release another one, of course.   Perhaps if it had come before “You’re Still the One” and “From This Moment On”, or even before “Forever and For Always” was a hit, “When You Kiss Me” might have become another signature ballad for Twain.

I love the lush production on the red “pop” version that was a moderate international hit.   The green “country” version is so sparse that the subtle melody can’t provide the necessary elevation.

As was often the case with tracks from Up!, what we lose in creativity and surprise, we make up in astounding vocals.  She’s never sounded more desperately in love than she does here.   Highly recommended for those who want Shania to serenade them at their milestone occasion, but not with the same song she sings to everybody else.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: B+

Next: It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing

Previous: She’s Not Just a Pretty Face

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S88Wit5bNdY

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "She's Not Just a Pretty Face"

2003 | Peak: #9

Shania Twain at her girl power best.

No, wait. Scratch that.  Her woman power best, as “She’s Not Just a Pretty Face” is about the wide range of indispensable and often unexpected roles that adult women play in our society, whether it’s the astronaut or politician that all of us see from television, or

the woman pumping gas at night to make ends meet.  That woman was Twain’s mom, by the way, who is sweetly immortalized in song here.

I also particularly love the warm steel guitar and the fiddle runs that run throughout the song.  It just works better as a country song than as a pop one.

This is Twain’s most recent solo single to reach the country top ten, and also her fifth and final Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: A

Next: When You Kiss Me

Previous: Thank You Baby! (For Making Someday Come So Soon)

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OkttkFkPes

 

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iPod Check: Most Played Song by Twenty Country Artists

Since bringing back Recommend a Track proved so popular, I’m resurrecting another CU oldie but goodie: the iPod check.

I’ve only recently discovered the Most Played feature on iTunes, since it never had any relevance until iPods were large enough in memory to sync all of my music.   So going back to early 2011, I have a lengthy list of the songs I’ve played the most.

So today’s iP0d check:  List your most-played song from twenty different country artists.

You can access this info by going to your own Most Played list and adjusting the number of songs on it – I use 500 for mine – or you can just go to Music and sort by number of plays.  Or you can just pick twenty artists at random and list your most played song for each.  We’re easy here.  (This would also work in Spotify, from what I hear.)

Here’s my top twenty:

  1. Pam Tillis – Deep Down (89 plays)
  2. Keith Urban – I Told You So (81)
  3. Dixie Chicks – Long Time Gone (71)
  4. Taylor Swift – Mean (68)
  5. Trisha Yearwood – Where Are You Now (63)
  6. Patty Loveless – You Can Feel Bad (59)
  7. Emmylou Harris – Easy From Now On (55)
  8. Carrie Underwood – Undo It (50)
  9. Lori McKenna – Lorraine (50)
  10. Dwight Yoakam – Ain’t That Lonely Yet (46)
  11. Sara Evans – Rocking Horse (45)
  12. Sawyer Brown – Cafe on the Corner (45)
  13. Reba McEntire – The Fear of Being Alone (44)
  14. Shania Twain – Up! (43)
  15. Faith

    Hill – Stealing Kisses (41)

  16. Alan Jackson – So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore (40)
  17. Crystal Gayle – Why Have Your Left the One You Left Me For (39)
  18. George Strait – Meanwhile (39)
  19. Lee Ann Womack – I May Hate Myself in the Morning (39)
  20. Aaron Tippin – Whole Lotta Love on the Line (38)

I’m surprised that some of my most played artists overall, like Dolly Parton, Randy Travis, and Tim McGraw, don’t have that one big song that I play excessively.  Also, at least half of the songs above aren’t what I would call my favorite song by the given artist.  How about you?

 

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100 Greatest Men: #40. Hank Snow

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

Long before Anne Murray and Shania Twain achieved worldwide fame, Hank Snow crossed over the Canadian border and became a country music superstar.

Snow was a child runaway, escaping home at age twelve and finding solace in the music of Jimmie Rodgers.   The four years he spent traveling before returning home laid the foundation for the realism that would bleed into the traveling songs he became famous for.   Snow built up a following in Nova Scotia, and then made the move to Halifax.   Living in the city caused great financial hardship for Snow and his young wife, but his unpaid appearances gave him enough notoriety to finally earn some paying gigs.

Throughout the forties, his success grew in Canada.  He had several local country hits and became a popular radio performer throughout his native country.  But it took him much longer to get a shot in America, where his RCA label refused to release his work until he became better known in the states.  He got his stateside break when Ernest Tubb invited him to the Opry stage, and that was enough to convince RCA to release his music in America.

After many years of toiling in obscurity, he was a huge success out of the gate.  Snow’s honky-tonk sound and worldly lyrics dominated the charts throughout the fifties, with many of his singles topping the charts for weeks on end.   “I’m Moving On” is tied with two other hits as the longest-running #1 single in Billboard history, spending 21 weeks at the top, and “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” is close behind, spending twenty weeks in the penthouse.

He had many other classic hits in this decade, most notably “Yellow Roses” and “Let Me, Go Lover!”    After forming a management company with Colonel Tom Parker, Snow was influential in encouraging Elvis Presley to record country music, and dabbled in some rockabilly himself, though he rarely strayed too far from his country roots.

Even as the Nashville Sound began to dominate, Snow remained relevant, scoring big hits throughout the sixties and early seventies, most notably the #1 hits “I’ve Been Everywhere” in 1962 and “Hello Love” in 1974.    Snow released many LPs that were united in themes like traveling and tragedy, and also many that paid tribute to his musical influences like Rodgers and the Sons of the Pioneers.

As his career winded down through the latter half of the seventies, Snow was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1978 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979.  In 1981, he parted ways with RCA after forty-five years, but he remained an active performer on the Opry stage well into the nineties, before his death in 1999 at age 85.

Essential Singles:

  • I’m Moving On, 1950
  • The Golden Rocket, 1950
  • The Rhumba Boogie, 1951
  • I Don’t Hurt Anymore, 1954
  • Let Me Go, Lover!, 1954
  • Yellow Roses, 1955
  • I’ve Been Everywhere, 1962
  • Hello Love, 1974

Essential Albums:

  • Country Classics, 1956
  • When Tragedy Struck, 1958
  • Souvenirs, 1961
  • More Hank Snow Souvenirs, 1964
  • Travelin’ Blues, 1966
  • Tracks & Trains, 1971
  • Hello Love, 1974

Next: #39. Faron Young

Previous: #41. Ronnie Milsap

100 Greatest Men: The Complete List

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "Thank You Baby! (For Makin' Someday Come So Soon)"

2003 | #11 (U.K.), #17 (Austria), #20 (Germany)

The song with the ridiculously long title was released as the fourth international single from Up!  It performed respectably in some markets, but did not match the success of the previous singles from the project.

It also reaffirmed Twain’s affinity for parentheses, which apparently ranked as her second-favorite punctuation mark behind only the exclamation point.

“Thank You Baby!” retains many of the usual qualities of a great Shania Twain single.  Twain’s vocal delivery brings a sense of warmth and genuineness to the lyric, which details a woman’s search for love, as well as the deep satisfaction of finally having found it.

Where it falters is in its lack of an immediately accessible, memorable hook.  The arrangement isn’t as crisp or fresh-sounding as usual, and just barely escapes sounding dated.  Likewise, the melody doesn’t quite match the sonic stickiness of Twain’s past efforts, which may be one reason

why the song didn’t match the chart impact of its predecessors.

It’s a generally enjoyable effort, but not as satisfying as the delicious pop confections that preceded and succeeded it.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade:  B

Next:  She’s Not Just a Pretty Face

Previous:  Forever and For Always

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "Forever and For Always"

2003 | Peak : #4

Shania Twain reached her creative peak on Up! , and it’s reflected in the singles released from that project.

Completely drenched in just the sweetest steel guitar, producer “Mutt” Lange manages to get a gorgeous pop sound out of the most country of instruments.

Yet it’s easy to overlook the instrumental perfection, thanks to what still stands as Twain’s finest vocal performance ever committed to tape.   Even her most ardent fans had always praised her for vocal style more than range.  But unless you were familiar with “Amneris’ Letter”, you’d never have suspected she could pull of something so dynamic.

A beautiful song, a powerful vocal performance, and so country by today’s standards that you can’t imagine country radio playing it now.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: A

Next: Thank You Baby! (For Making Someday Come So Soon)

Previous: Ka-Ching!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4NUUASUchRg

 

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "Ka-Ching!"

2003 | Peak:  #2 (Europe, Austria, Sweden); #3 (Germany); #8 (U.K.)

Shania Twain at her most deliciously subversive.

“Ka-Ching!” stands in such sharp contrast to her entire catalog that it's something of a shock that she wrote and recorded it.

Even more shocking is that this biting indictment of consumer culture was originally written for her Christmas album, but she added it to Up! when that project was shelved.

Less shocking is that she chose not to release it in America, given that the bulk of her descriptions might resonate a little too deeply with her target audience stateside.   The red “pop” mix is better than the green “country” one anyway, channeling all that is best about Abba without sounding dated.  No wonder it was a huge hit in Scandinavia.

I hope that if she ever does come out with another album – almost ten years and counting – her observations are as razor-sharp and sing-along catchy as they are here.

Written by Robert John “Mutt” Lange and Shania Twain

Grade: A

Next: Forever and For Always

Previous: Up!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEe3hBXZEyI

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "Up!"

2oo3 | #12

The title track and second single of Shania Twain's Up! album is arguably the finest and fullest realization of Twain's signature positivity.  It also perfectly exemplifies the sheer brilliance of the strategy behind the Up! album.

With Shania Twain having found a whole new worldwide audience thanks to the crossover success of Come On Over, she found an ingenious way to placate both her pop and country music fan bases with her subsequent album release.  Each song on the album was recorded in three different versions – country, pop and East Asian rhythm.  Thanks to that solution, Twain was freed of the need to carefully toe the line between musical styles.  Instead, the pop versions could be even more pop than the songs on Come On Over had been, while Twain likewise had the freedom to fully amp up the twang factor on the country versions.

“Up!” is a charming song in any form, but by all rights, the country version spanks the others.  The energetic banjo picking adds a whole new layer of personality to the tune as it mixes deliciously with the pulsing pop beat.  Regardless, it's ultimately Twain's uninhibited performance that makes the record soar, as she delivers the hook of “Up!  Up!  Up!  There's no way but up from here” with ferocious conviction as well as infectious spunk and charmisma.

While the lyrics are simple, the magic lies in the fact that the melody and performance carry just the right “spark” to bring the song fully to life.  It's not so much about the words themselves as it is about the feeling created by the composite product, such that the spirit of the song goes so far as to transcend the song itself.  That makes “Up!” one of those rare instances in which seemingly rudimentary ingredients combine with just the right musical chemistry to create something truly memorable and special.

Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Grade:  A

Next:  Ka-Ching!

Previous:  I'm Gonna Getcha Good!

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Retro Single Review: Shania Twain, "I'm Gonna Getcha Good!"

2002 | #7

A pop-country gold nugget that defies explanation.

Honestly, who's even trying to pretend that this song is supposed to mean anything?  Who's trying to pretend that it needs to mean anything?

“I'm Gonna Getcha Good!” exists for one reason, and one reason only – to burrow itself into your brain, infect you with sudden bouts of giddiness, and cause uncontrollable smiling and singing along.  And you know what?  That's a perfectly worthwhile purpose for a pop-country song to serve.

“I'm Gonna Getcha Good!” is a prime example of classic Twain-Lange song structure at its top-notch best – one that served as a most fitting introduction to Twain's enormously successful, wildly creative Up! project.  The country audience received it in a form laced with fiddle and banjo hooks, while the pop market got a version packed with addictive rock guitar riffs.  The song shines in both settings, which led to the song being a Top 10 country hit, as well as a worldwide smash in international pop markets.

Lange's crisp, tasteful production brilliantly underscores the catchy melody, while Twain sells the cheeky lyric with sass and swagger.(The confection was completed with a music video featuring motorcycles, aliens, and flying robots) Is it basically ear candy?  Of course it is, but the fact remains that few if any purveyors of ear candy have perfected the recipe as Twain and Lange do here.

It just doesn't doesn't get any tastier than this.

Written by Shania Twain and Robert John “Mutt” Lange

Grade:  A

Next:  Up!

Previous:  I'm Holdin' On to Love (To Save My Life)

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Favorite Songs By Favorite Artists: Shania Twain

It’s about time somebody did a Favorite Songs feature on Shania, isn’t it?  I was going to save this article for after we finished covering Shania in our Retro Single Review series, but I decided I just couldn’t wait that long.

Her astounding commercial success speaks for itself, as does her heavy impact on popular music, but I remain of the opinion that Shania Twain doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the artist she was – as a songwriter, or as a vocalist.  Her songs were clever, sassy, fun, and often tapped into deep wells of substance underneath all the catchiness.  Her distinct perspective was revolutionary for her time.  As an interpretive singer, she had a strong knack for finishing off her lyrical creations through her nuanced, dynamically layered performances.  Twain's remarkable talent combined with Mutt Lange's musical vision made her one of the biggest record sellers in history.  Ever since her heyday, countless young female stars have attempted to emulate her, but the magic Twain herself created with her delicious pop-country confections remains unreplicated.

I tend to become obsessed with one favorite Shania Twain song, and then move rapidly to another, so it’s not easy to assess which songs are my all-time favorites.  I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’ll be doing a lot of second-guessing after this article runs (though I’m fairly confident that my top three selections are set in stone).  At any rate, it will still be a fun look back on all the memorable tunes Shania gave us over the years, while also shining a spotlight on a few lesser-known tracks that we might have forgotten about.  As always, feel free to share your own favorites in the comments section.

#25

“Party for Two” (with Billy Currington)

Greatest Hits – 2004

I have at times referred to this song as a “guilty pleasure,” but then I realized that it’s such a great fun record that I don’t really feel guilty at all about loving it.  Silly “sexy in your socks” line aside, “Party for Two” is fun flirty tune that Twain and Currington sell with charm and enthusiasm.  Though more of a pop song than a country song, “Party for Two” is best heard in its country mix, as the pop version with Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath tries a little too hard to sound pop, demonstrating that Shania often sounded best when still keeping a toe in country territory.  “Party for Two” served as Twain’s last Top 10 country hit to date.

#24

“Blues Eyes Crying In the Rain” (with Willie Nelson)

Willie Nelson & Friends – Live and Kickin’ – 2003

Twain’s pop sensibilities certainly have no ill effect on her ability to tackle a traditional country classic with grace and ease, as evidenced by her beautiful cover of this beloved Willie Nelson hit, accompanied by the man himself.

 

#23

“Ka-Ching!”

Up! – 2002

Though largely known for her lighthearted frivolous side, “Ka-Ching!” – a deft takedown of commercial materialism – shows that Twain was still perfectly capable of addressing relevant social themes.

#22

“It Only Hurts When I’m Breathing”

Up! – 2002

Though known for her positivity, Twain could still be surprisingly effective at conveying heartbreak.  Such is demonstrated by this Top 20 hit in which the protagonist strives to maintain optimism as she moves on after a breakup.  Still, the title hook shows that her heavy emotional pain remains constant.

#21

“Love Gets Me Every Time”

Come On Over – 1997

Hey, if you’re going to write a silly, cheesy song, you might as well do it thoroughly and shamelessly.  “Love Gets Me Every Time” combines a hillbilly catchphrase with an unshakable two-step-friendly musical hook to make a delightful ditty that just never seems to get old.

 

#20

“Coat of Many Colors” (with Alison Krauss & Union Station)

Just Because I’m a Woman:  Songs of Dolly Parton – 2003

It’s easy to see how Twain’s own impoverished upbringing might give her a special connection to this classic song, and to its timeless theme of love and family being worth far more than material possessions.  Indeed, “One is only poor only if they choose to be.”  Twain delivers the revered Dolly Parton lyric with authenticity and deep sincerity, while the unique touch of Alison Krauss’s backing vocal elevates the record further.

#19

“You Win My Love”

The Woman In Me – 1995

Written by Twain’s then-husband/producer Mutt Lange, this is the only song on Twain’s last three studio albums that she didn’t have a hand in writing.  The lyric is full of clever automobile-related metaphors, while the driving arrangement and the “Rev it up, rev it up ‘til your engine blows” hook practically beg to be blasted out one’s car windows.

#18

“That Don’t Impress Me Much”

Come On Over – 1997

The sentiment is clear:  Shania Twain is not impressed by guys who are overly impressed with themselves.  One part sing-along, one part spoken word, with some steel guitar and cowbell hooks thrown in, it all adds up to one heck of a fun record.

#17

“Shoes”

Desperate Housewives soundtrack – 2005

It may have been recorded for a soundtrack, but make no mistake about it:  A song that compares finding the right man to finding the ideal footwear, noting that “Some you can’t afford, some are real cheap, some are good for bummin’ around on the beach” is classic Shania.  A clever song loaded with humorous double entendres, “Shoes” is good for a chuckle any day.

#16

“(If You’re Not In It for Love) I’m Outta Here!”

The Woman In Me 1995

The dance-friendly beat is hooky and infectious, but the content runs deeper.  At the heart of the song is a confident female protagonist who refuses to be taken advantage of.  If the guy’s not in it for love… she’s outta here.  This chart-topping hit established Twain’s distinct songwriting point of view, while helping to power her The Woman In Me album to 12x platinum sales.

#15

“I’m Gonna Getcha Good!”

Up! – 2002

Not really much to say about this one except that, as far as great pop-country hooks go, they don’t come much catchier than this.

#14

“Nah!”

Up! – 2002

A kiss-off tune that’s not nearly as bitter as such songs usually are, but that doesn’t make it any less delicious.  Twain almost seems to casually enjoy the moment of letting her no-good ex know that she’s done being mistreated by him.  She admits “I miss you now and then, but would I do it all again?”  The band abruptly stops playing as if to await her answer:  “Nah!”  Ouch.

#13

“Home Ain’t Where His Heart Is (Anymore)”

The Woman In Me – 1995

It’s a shame this song didn’t make a bigger dent in history.  I’ve always considered it one of Twain’s most subtly moving performance as the female narrator mourns the deteriorating state of her marriage; while the song offers no full resolution of the story, save for Twain hoping “If we could only find that feeling once again… If we could only change the way the story ends.”

#12

“Don’t Be Stupid (You Know I Love You)”

Come On Over – 1997

Because it makes me happy.  So there.

#11

“Leaving Is the Only Way Out”

The Woman In Me – 1995

The only song on any of Twain’s albums on which she takes sole writer’s credit, this is one of her best songs, as well as one of her countriest.  The refrain “If cryin’ is the only way into your arms, then leavin’ is the only way out” is nothing short of heartbreaking.

#10

“You’ve Got a Way”

Come On Over – 1997

Though I would recommend steering clear of the hokey Notting Hill pop remix, “You’ve Got a Way” remains one of Twain’s most beautifully understated, sincere performances on record, with the acoustic arrangement allowing her to positively shine.

#9

“Forever and For Always”

Up! – 2002

A gem of a love song with an effortlessly endearing melody and a deeply heartfelt performance on Twain’s part.  Though the song was remixed into an international pop smash, it remains best heard in its country form, in which Twain’s sentiments are driven home by subtle, beautiful strains of banjo and steel.

#8

“Whose Bed Have Your Boots Been Under”

The Woman In Me – 1995

Right out of the starting gate, Shania’s first major hit, and first Lange-produced single release, delivers a powerful punch of her priceless personality.  With a bouncy fiddle-driven production, silly rhyme schemes involving the names of the cheating lover’s mistresses, and the delightfully cheesy bridge (“So next time you’re lonely/ Don’t call on me/ Try the operator/ Maybe she’ll be free”), “Whose Bed” is both shamelessly campy and tons of fun as a result.

#7

“Is There Life After Love”

The Woman In Me – 1995

A rare thematic venture on Twain’s part to the wrong side of cheating.  She regrets her tryst, but regrets coming forward and confessing it even more, bemoaning “You gave me forgiveness, but you could not forget/ I should never have told you what I’ll live to regret.”

#6

“Man! I Feel Like a Woman!”

Come On Over – 1997

Well of course!  Who could leave out one of Shania’s most energetic, free-spirited, entertaining performances of her career?

#5

“Dance with the One That Brought You”

Shania Twain – 1993

An early Twain record from the days before she was singing her own self-written material, “Dance with the One That Brought You” marries twain’s beautifully nuanced vocal performance to a charming Gretchen Peters lyric and a gorgeous piano and steel-driven waltz of an arrangement.  It just might be one of Twain’s best moments on record, and yet Mutt Lange had absolutely nothing to do with it.  Who’da guessed?

#4

“You’re Still the One”

Come On Over – 1997

I love this song so, so much.  An unabashedly sincere vocal, shimmering production, and a lyric that encapsulates the firm commitment, pride in having overcome obstacles, and deep, genuine love of a couple that has remained together against all odds and expectations.  While I’ve long believed that commercial success does not equate to quality, I still say that this song was a massive hit because it deserved to be a massive hit.  A timeless, universal sentiment that touched pop fans and country fans alike, “You're Still the One” is pure pop-country perfection.

#3

“No One Needs to Know”

The Woman In Me – 1995

The best country songs are those that rely, not on words themselves, but on the feelings that the words and melodies tap into.  “No One Needs to Know” absolutely radiates with the giddiness and joy of a newfound love that only the narrator herself is to know of (which suggests that Taylor Swift is not kidding when she cites Twain as a major influence).  The infectious, stripped down acoustic arrangement, complete with dobro and steel chords, is a pure and simple delight.

#2

“Up!”

Up! – 2002

Twain has long been known for her incessant positivity – a consistent thread that ran throughout the Come On Over and Up! albums in particular, but was nowhere more concentrated than on the title track of Up!  It comes as a fist-pumping pop-anthem on the red disc; a sprightly banjo rocker on the green disc.  “Up!” is a hugely lovable ball of energy either way.  The production pulses with urgency as it underscores Twain’s spirited performance.  No matter what it is that’s got you down, Twain shouts “Up!  Up!  Up!  There’s no way but up from here!” until she has you believing it too.

#1

“Any Man of Mine”

The Woman In Me – 1995

Is there any other song in her catalog that so thoroughly sums up everything one could love about Shania Twain?  The energy of this performance leaps out your speakers, along with boot-stomping rhythm, the awesome fiddling, and all the signature Twain wit in the humorous lyrics.  I’m not the least bit ashamed to admit that the line dance breakdown just might be my favorite part.

It was a bold artistic move and a substantial risk at the time of its release, yet it helped blaze a trail that female country artists are still following today.  But even when bringing it down to a personal, individual level, there are simply few other Shania Twain songs, hits or not, that put a skip in my step like this one does.  Shania's cheeky delivery makes me smile.  The lyrics make me laugh.  The beat makes me want to dance.  Any way you look at it, this song hits me just right.

The critic in me respects it.  The fan in me adores it.  Now if you'll excuse me, I think it's time for some kicking, turning, and stomp-stomping…

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