2016 – Veteran Pop/Rock Artists To Watch Out For
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2016 – Veteran Pop/Rock Artists To Watch Out For

11 February 2016 16 Comments
This blog belongs to Radio Creme Brulee – an internet music radio station that broadcasts globally.

We are over a month and a half overdue with this post – which we typically do at the end of each year. We are going to blame our prolonged delay on being distracted with the effort of migrating our radio station to a new platform – a process that we had very little advance notice for. At the end of 2014, we highlighted some of the veteran acts returning with new material in 2015. Some of them returned with stellar offerings. Noteworthy examples include Duran Duran with their infectious single “Pressure Off” and Norwegian pop/rock trio a-ha with their surprise post-hiatus album “Cast In Steel“. Acts such as Tears For Fears, Pet Shop Boys, and Culture Club did NOT release new albums. Will Young and New Order were closer to the disappointing end of the spectrum . This year, like most, looks quite promising based on the list of veteran acts returning. Here are the ones we thought were worth mentioning:

a. Lady GagaLady Gaga: Despite being one of the first broadcast radio stations in the US to feature Lady Gaga’s music, I don’t consider myself much of a fan of this lady that seems to enjoy a massive global fanbase. That being said, we think she is worth mentioning because we do play some of her songs and the response to those songs from our listeners has been quite positive. Lady Gaga’s last album “Artpop” was released in 2013. Despite a lot of pre-release hype, and the album topping the Billboard album charts, it was a sign that some of the Gaga fever was starting to wear off. The album met with mixed reviews and Lady Gaga seemed visibily upset by what seemed like the ebbing of the mass hysteria that she enjoyed during her meteoric rise in the limelight between the years 2008-2013. That makes her follow-up to that album this year a key one in her ability to seal herself in the public consciousness as a potent musical force in the music scene of tomorrow. Rumors indicate that she is working with longtime collaborator RedOne and Italian production maestro Giorgio Moroder. Time will tell whether she can rejuvenate the type of appeal she had prior to “Artpop“.

b. ronankeating-timeofmylifeRonan Keating: 2012 marked one of the more astonishing returns to form in recent music history. Irish band Boyzone’s indisputable frontman had rediscovered his mojo on an unapologetically “pop” album titled “Fires“. It was an interesting stylistic upswing given that this album had been recorded right after his divorce. One would have expected something downbeat and introspective in light of what was happening in his life. Instead, what we got on “Fires” was a well-crafted and successful attempt at a complete catharsis from his regretful past. The album also showcased his creative partnership with the brilliant songwriter/producer Gregg Alexander. “Fires” had plenty of moments that were pure musical bliss. Noteworthy examples include songs such as “Nineteen again“, “Oxygen“, and “Will you ever be mine“. Ronan Keating’s new album “Time of my life” also seems to be getting released on the heels of another key life-defining moment for him – his marriage to Australian television personality Storm Uechtritz. In interviews that he has given post his wedding, he comes across as a man brimming with happiness and an almost child-like optimism. Given the general mood around his life events, one would have expected the sonic sequel to “Fires“. Instead, what he have is a far more downbeat affair with a sonic template that rests almost solely on Ronan’s voice and an acoustic guitar. This template seems to be a common thread in songs such as “Let me love you“, “Breathe“, and “As long as we’re in love“. Whether these songs are representative of the entire album is yet to be seen. Fortunately, the release date for Ronan Keating’s “Time of my life” is Feb 12th, 2016 – so there isn’t much of a wait at this point.

c. CraigDavidsigningCraig David: Craig David’s career, in many ways, seemed to mirror that of Ronan Keating’s in many ways. He did have the upper hand though since unlike Keating, he did break the American market with his stellar debut album “Born to do it” – an invigorating cocktail that successfully blended 2-step garage and R&B. His follow-up album “Slicker than your average” marked the proverbial sophomore slump selling a little less than half the number of copies relative to that of his debut album. His abilities as a balladeer seemed to be getting better with time (with it peaking with the delectable “Hypnotic” from “The Story goes..” album) but as a popstar, it seemed like his star was fading. In 2006, his return with “Hot Stuff” ( a song that successfully samples “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie) seemed to stem the downswing – but only temporarily. Now, it seems like Craig David is on the verge of a dramatic resurgence. His latest single “When the bassline drops” (a collaboration with English grime artist Big Narstie) peaked at #10 on the UK singles charts earlier this month. The style of the song is well-suited for Craig David. More importantly, it has undoubtedly whetted the appetite for his soon-to-be released album “Following My Intuition“.

d. sophie-ebSophie Ellis-Bextor: Classy, sophisticated and unapologetically British pop princess Sophie Ellis-Bextor has been out of the limelight for a little bit. Her rise to fame was with addictive hit singles such as “Murder on the dancefloor” and “Groovejet(If this ain’t love)“. Sadly, some of her finest work never got the promotional exposure it warranted. Noteworthy examples include her singles “Me and My Imagination” (from her “Trip The Light Fantastic” album) and “Starlight” (from her “Make a scene” album). In 2014, Sophie returned with an album titled “Wanderlust“. It was nothing her like previous work. The album was down-tempo and while it worked as a cohesive concept record, it did not yield any hit singles or radio-worthy tracks of the sort that she had been known for. While we applaud Sophie for taking a chance with that album and exercising her creative freedom, we cannot help but hope that she goes back to the sound we all know and love. Fortunately, her recent tweets have suggested a return to her uptempo roots. The most promising tweet of all is the one below:

SophieEB-tweet

e. PoetsOfTheFall-DazePoets Of The Fall: These Finnish rockers do not ever believe in taking a break – an aspect of them that their insatiable fans probably love. It has been less than 2 years since the release of their last album “Jealous Gods” – an album that saw them pushing their sonic template outwards. The most noteworthy example of this sonic extension is on the dance-rock single “Choice Millionaire” – which showcases lead singer Marko Saaresto rapping on the verses – and it sounds GREAT! These guys seem to flit between live performances and the recording studio without taking a breath. Exhaustion does not seem to be a word in their vocabulary – and god bless them for that. As one of the few bands around today that blend the high octane energy of traditional rock with beautiful melodies, Poets Of The Fall do very well in terms of serving an unmet need for good old-fashioned and unadulterated rock.

f. culture-2015Culture Club: After having mentioned these guys in posts almost every year about a potential comeback album, we came pretty close to giving up on these veteran stars that rose to prominence in the 80s with their irresistible concoction of reggae, soul, and pop with hits like “Karma Chameleon“, “Do you really want to hurt me“, and “Move Away“. It was only a few days ago that we received an e-mail from pledgemusic.com indicating that the band is on the verge of announcing the release of a new single and their new album titled “Tribes“. Quite a few songs from this album have seen the light of day in a live environment during Culture Club’s comeback tour last year. Based on one listen of these songs, one thing is fairly obvious. This is a band that has absolutely no interest in resting on the laurels of their past glory. Their new music showcases a rejuvenated creative spirit and they sound more like a band today than they ever have. The artistry of each of the band’s members seems to be showcased through the songs in a way that it never had been in the past. Furthermore, more often than not, the marvel that was the band’s artistic synergy got eclipsed by the “larger than life” personality of the flamboyant, often shocking, and incredibly talented frontman Boy George. That being said, Boy George has never sounded better than he does now. Songs such as “Let somebody love you“, “Like I used to“, and “Human Zoo” suggest that “Tribes” just might be the album of 2016.

g. alphavilleAlphaville: I have to confess that it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started to develop any interest at all in the music of German synth-pop band Alphaville. I always associated them with their signature hit single “Forever young” and absolutely nothing else. It was not until mid-2010 when one of our listeners introduced us to their album “Catching Rays on Giant“, that I truly started paying attention to this under-rated act. It led to us featuring songs from some of their later albums and especially some of the fantastic tracks off “Catching Rays on Giant“. The highlights of this album include “I die for you today“, “Carry your flag“, and “Song for no one“. For their album (slated for a release at some point in 2016), we really hope they build on the strengths of “Catching Rays on Giant“. These guys are yet another reminder that some of the acts that became popular in the 80s have a lot more to offer than people give them credit for.

h. Enigma: One of the most unusual acts in recent pop history is German music “project” Enigma – a studio act whose brainchild was Romanian born musician Michael Cretu. Their music did not fit the sometimes limiting template of pop music. Many would consider their style to fall comfortably within the realms of “world music”. Yet, the act churned out some of the greatest hits of the early 90s. “Sadness“, “Principles Of Lust“, “Return to innocence” and “Carly’s Song” are the more memorable of the lot. The idea of an Enigma album in 2016 is nothing short of exciting. In today’s cookie-cutter mainstream of pop music, we need these guys to come back and shake things up just like they did in the early 90s with their invigorating blend of dance beats, Gregorian chants, and sexual innuendo. Here is a reminder of some of that brilliance:

i. tearsforfears1Tears For Fears: This is the third consecutive year in which we have listed Tears For Fears as one of the veteran acts returning with a new album. We have no clue as to the reasons for their radio silence around the new material. All we know right now is that it is probably VERY commercially viable – since like their contemporaries Duran Duran, they have also signed a global record deal with Warner Music. This is quite an anomaly for a band that has not had a studio album out in 12 years and whose members are over the age of 50. Last year, the duo toured the US playing mostly smaller and intimate venues. I had a chance to see them and they were every bit as impressive as they have been on timeless records such as “Songs from the big chair” and “Seeds of Love“. Their last album “Everybody loves a happy ending” had a rather polarizing effect on the band’s fanbase – mostly because of the Beatles-esque sound that dominated most of the album. I cannot help but hope that the new album is a sonic sequel to albums such as “Seeds of love“, or “Elemental” (a tragically under-appreciated gem).

j. Garbage: When people think of bands that defined the sound of the 90s, Garbage is definitely one of the names that come to mind. Their heavy-sounding pop seemed to fuse different types of genres from across the music spectrum made them stand out. Shirley Manson was undoubtedly one of the leading lead singers of any band of that era. After a moderately successful reunion album “Not your Kind Of People” (released in 2012 on their own label), the band is back in the studio working on new material which will hopefully see the light of day this year.

k. psb-newPet Shop Boys: Many might think that the commercial heyday of this brilliant, and supremely creative duo is long gone – but their staying power is a force to be reckoned with. Now, in their mid-50s, they still call themselves “boys” and their concerts are every bit as theatrical as they used to be when songs such as “West end girls“, “It’s a sin“, and “Domino Dancing” ruled the radio airwaves. Their most recent album “Electric” had its moments but does not strike me as being a Pet Shop Boys essential in the same vein as of some of their other releases in the past decade – most notably their “Fundamental” and “Yes” albums. Their new album “Super” is slated for release in April 2016. We truly hope the duo makes the wait for this album worthwhile!

l. tomchaplinTom Chaplin: The vocal powerhouse of melodic-rock British band Keane is finally in the recording studio in Los Angeles. This is his first solo outing. Fans of Keane (me included) were absolutely gutted when the band announced an indefinite hiatus in late 2013. The release of their achingly beautiful final single “Won’t be broken” only deepened the sadness of fans. Even back then, it was fairly obvious that lead singer Tom Chaplin had solo aspirations and the expectations on him are undoubtedly high. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest modern rock vocalists but the question still remains as to whether the songs will be nearly as good as those of Keane’s (propelled by the impeccable songwriting of the creative genius Tim Rice-Oxley). Keane can be a blessing and a curse for Tom Chaplin. It is his reason for fame but it could also be the benchmark that he is constantly weighed against. Whether or not that is fair is debatable. We just hope he reads our article on the “Rules of going solo” as he records his new album.

m. take-that-III-yumTake That: Given that it has been less than 2 years since the release of “III” – Take That’s first album as a three-piece, I never thought I would actually be including these guys in this post. After having read an interview that frontman and pop svengali Gary Barlow did with author and journalist Lori Majewski for Idolator.com, it seems fairly apparent that Take That’s top priority is a new album that they are hoping to have completed by the end of the year. It is not clear how long back the songwriting process began for this new project. We had a sense that the guys did not put the breaks on songwriting soon after their release of the UK #1 album “III“. A photo that Johnny Hates Jazz lead singer Clark Datchler posted on facebook suggested that he had gone through the motions of a songwriting exercise with Take That. As a massive fan of both acts (i.e. Johnny Hates Jazz and Take That), I really hope something from those sessions ends up on the new Take That studio album. The bigger question now is where the bound will go stylistically. Ever since their return in 2006, it appears like the band has had a few stylistic incarnations – and their fearlessness around experimentation seems to diminish as they get older. I personally find that very admirable and hope the band milks that experimental streak even more on their new offering.

It is impossible to list every act that is returning in 2016 but these were the first ones that came to mind. But if we have missed someone noteworthy, please feel free to let us know via the comments section below (you know you want to!) Based on the list above, 2016 should be a fairly respectable year. If newer artists don’t deliver, we can definitely count on the veterans above to give us something worth listening to.

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Broadcasting Worldwide

Many of the artists in this post are returning after a hiatus from the limelight but we have constantly featured the post-prime music of artists such as Craig David, Ronan Keating, and Sophie Ellis-Bextor regularly on our radio station. We are an American internet radio station that broadcasts worldwide. The station features an eclectic mix of current pop and rock music from both sides of the Atlantic alongside hits, forgotten gems, and rarities from the last three decades.

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16 Responses to "2016 – Veteran Pop/Rock Artists To Watch Out For"

  1. Frannie says:

    Great update! I am looking forward to Garbage, Lady Gaga, Tears for Fears and Culture Club finally!!

  2. Frannie says:

    Her solo music is kind of hit and miss, but Gwen Stefani is coming out with a new album, This is What the Truth Feels like in March.

  3. @Frannie: Just added Gwen Stefani’s new single “Make you like me” on high-rotation to our station. She is VERY “hit and miss” though.

  4. Frannie says:

    Yes, that’s true. But I thought the two singles from this current album sound good. She did two singles not that long ago that didn’t make the album that were awful. but luckily those from what I read don’t seem to be on the album.
    But those singles apparently were solely written by someone else and she just sang on them without being involved in the writing, merely to capitalize on the Voice publicity.

  5. @Frannie: The first one didn’t do anything for me but the new one is good. Not earthshattering but nice!

  6. Frannie says:

    The Garbage album now has a title. Strange Little Birds. That actually reminds me of Tori Amos’ cover album which was called Strange Little Girls.

    Garbage has described the new album as dark/gothic and cinematic.

  7. Sam says:

    Does Katy B. qualify as a “veteran”? She’s releasing her 3rd album, “Honey,” in April. So far, I think the singles she’s released off it are underwhelming. In case you’re not familiar with her, she’s a British artist, and her first two albums were solid but not spectacular. She’s definitely a good singer. A couple of her songs that I like are “5 AM” and “Aaliyah.”

    Foxes, another British artist who’s been around a few years, just released her sophomore album a few weeks ago. But sadly, after listening to some of the songs from it, I think it’s a dud. That’s too bad, because she has a powerful voice and made a strong debut not too long ago with “Glorious.” A couple of singles off that album reached the top 10 in the UK, I believe: “Let Go for Tonight” and “Youth.” They are both excellent pop songs IMO. The first time I heard “Youth,” I wasn’t blown away, but after half a dozen listens, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I think it is beautifully cadenced and has great drumming. Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Foxes, I would recommend those 2 singles as a good starting point–and I think it’s best to just ignore her new album. 🙂

    Incidentally, here are two veterans who, sadly, I don’t think will ever make another album of new music: Pat Benatar and Sheena Easton. They’re both great singers (or used to be, at least–I heard that Easton’s voice has declined dramatically). Anyway, I’m not sure why they stopped making new music.

  8. Frannie says:

    Thanks, Sam. That’s very interesting. I’m not familiar with Katy B. but I did really like Foxes’ debut album.

    I’m a huge fan of Pat Benatar. I’m not sure why she doesn’t make a new album. She tours quite a bit and her voice is still fantastic. I liked a few of Sheena’s songs such as Sugar Walls and Strut. I haven’t heard much from her in years. Is she still touring? I was actually introduced to her by my mother who liked Kenny Rogers and she bought the album Best Kept Secret which had their duet of We’ve Got Tonight on it. I really like that album of synth pop. Sheena seemed confused about her direction musically though. She varied through a lot of different styles on her albums so I guess that hurt her.

    There is an interesting resurgence in women in rock now with artists like Courtney Barnett. Pat is such an inspiration to so many younger female rockers. I would think a new album by her would be welcomed. Rock tends not to sound dated as much as older pop or dance songs so I don’t see why there wouldn’t be a place for her in today’s industry.

  9. @Frannie & @Sam: I actually hope the new Garbage album is more cinematic than dark/gothic. We are actually featuring a new song by Foxes on high-rotation right now. It is called “Amazing”. Last year, we featured “Body Talk” by Foxes on high-rotation. The songs are pleasant but not something I personally consider earthshattering.

    I have to confess that I have never really followed Katy B – until I heard about her new single with Craig David (who seems to be experiencing quite a dramatic mainstream career resurgence).

    Pat Benatar’s appeal is quite staggering. It is funny how younger listeners also gravitate to her music. Yesterday, while walking on a street near my home, I heard a young delivery guy playing “Love is a battlefield” from his motorbike really loudly. I think a new album by her would be welcomed but then again, we would see a scenario in which newer offerings by veteran artists get ignored by the mainstream – that today, seems to be defined almost entirely by terrestrial radio.

  10. Sam says:

    @Frannie Glad that you liked Foxes’ debut album. And maybe you like her second album better than I do. 🙂 Katy B. is definitely a good singer and worth checking out. I think she’s considered the queen of dubstep these days.

    In an interview a few years ago, I heard Pat say something like, “Neil is always wanting to make a new album, but I’m like ‘No…'” So maybe she has a fear of failure? But her last 2 albums weren’t that memorable IMO, so perhaps the well on their creativity has run a bit dry.

    Sheena still tours in Japan occasionally, and she does regular shows in Las Vegas. Check out her official FB page. That’s neat you got to meet her. Isn’t that duet only on the deluxe version of BKS? Although I’m not a big fan of the album, I do like several of the songs. I think she has a charming remake of “Just One Smile,” and “Best Kept Man” is interesting. “Let Sleeping Dogs Lie” has its moments, but comes across a bit as a Benatar castoff. 🙂 I like a couple of other songs on there too, including the first single. But I think her 2 best albums from the ’80s are “Madness, Money and Music” and “The Lover in Me.” And wow, her song “101” is a stunner. Yeah, she was all over the place stylistically. Maybe she can’t get a record deal anymore? I think the quality of her albums dropped dramatically after the ’80s.

    Hadn’t heard of Courtney Barnett before. So she’s a rocker too, huh?

  11. Sam says:

    @RCB Oh, so you’ve been playing those 2 songs by Foxes? Actually, they are probably the best 2 (of the songs I’ve heard) from her second album. 🙂 But overall, her second album seems very generic and bland. Yeah, those songs are decent but not earth-shattering. Her singles “Youth” and “Let Go for Tonight” were much better IMO, and you may want to consider playing them. She had a couple of other singles from her debut album as well.

    Oh, “Who Am I” features Craig David? Interesting, I didn’t realize that. I think it’s an okay song, but the vocoder effects (or whatever you call that) are awful. Katy B’s biggest hit was the ballad “Crying for No Reason,” I believe, but I think it’s a bit overblown. Anyway, she has several songs that are worthy of play on your station.

    As for Pat Benatar, yeah, she would never get played by radio again, but I’m sure she’s used to that by now. 🙂 I think her last outstanding album was “Gravity’s Rainbow” from 1993. In fact, I consider that her best album.

    Another veteran who’s coming out with a new album this spring is PJ Harvey. It’s called “The Hope Six Demolition Project.” Her new single “The Wheel” has its moments but is a bit generic IMO. I don’t know how familiar you are with her music, but her most accessible album was “Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea” in 2000, and had some really good tunes.

    Another artist who isn’t a veteran yet is supposed to be releasing her second album this spring. Amanda Mair, who made her debut while still a teen several years ago, had a couple of outstanding singles: “Doubt” and “House.” At the time, she was even being compared to the great Kate Bush. Hopefully she will have some more good songs this year too.

    And Aimee Mann should be due for a new album too (her last one was in 2012), but I haven’t heard a word about anything new from her, which is kind of odd. Maybe that’s because she teamed up with Ted Leo for an album just a couple of years ago and isn’t planning anything new yet.

  12. Frannie says:

    Sam, I’m a huge PJ Harvey fan! She is one of my favorite artists of all time along with Madonna, Tori Amos and Garbage. I absolutely love Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. It’s one of my all time favorite records that I listen to over and over again. It’s her most accessible pop/rock album, but she seems to have moved away from that style recently with more avant garde work. I’m not a fan of her last two records White Chalk and Let England Shake. I agree with you about the Wheel. It’s an improvement over her recent albums, but its’ a little predictable. I guess I was used to her reinventing her sound, but she really didn’t. But I’m hoping for great things from the new album and most importantly a tour. She hasn’t toured the US in a while but she’s an amazing live performer.

    Her older music from the 90’s was more appealing to me. I like the more electric guitar heavy blues/punk influenced stuff she did back then. I’m kind of a 90’s alternative rock queen so I loved that. Rid of Me, To Bring You My Love and Is this Desire are must haves for any fans of 90’s alternative music.

    I’m also a pretty bad fan of Aimee Mann, so a new record from her is always something to look forward to.

    I’m not familiar with Amanda Meir, but I do like Kate Bush so maybe I will check that out.

    Courtney Barnett is from Australia and her debut album Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit was released in 2015. She was nominated as Best New Artist this year at the Grammys but unfortunately didn’t win. She has kind of deadpan vocal delivery that may or may not be everyone’s taste. Her music is a mix of 70’s influenced classic rock and more alternative rock sounds I guess the closest person I could compare her to would be Liz Phair, if you are familiar with her albums.

  13. Sam says:

    @Frannie Glad that you like PJ Harvey too. Do you really think her newer work is avant-garde? Seems kind of bland to me. It’s funny how the critics raved over “Let England Shake,” but I didn’t care for it that much either. I thought all the songs kind of sounded the same, and none of it was very memorable. It’s taken me years to realize that if the critics gush over an album, usually I won’t like it. 🙂 I liked some songs off “Uh Huh Her” too. I also like “Angelene” and “Perfect Day Elise” from “Is This Desire?”

  14. Sam says:

    Oops, somehow I accidentally clicked Submit Comment too soon! 🙂 Anyway, maybe the new PJ album will have some cool surprises on it.

    Yes, it’ll be interesting to see if Aimee Mann comes out with some new music soon. I thought “Charmer” was quite a step up from the boring “@!#$ Smilers,” but I know a lot of fans liked that album.

    As for Amanda Mair, I think it was the drums on “Doubt” that reminded folks a bit of “Running Up that Hill.” Or maybe it was her voice too. Anyway, those two singles I mentioned by her (“Doubt” and “House”) are definitely worth checking out. As for Kate Bush, sadly, I think her music has really gone downhill. The 2 albums she released in 2011 were the worst of her career IMO, especially “50 Words for Snow.” 🙁 So even though she’ll probably come out with an album in the next couple of years, I don’t really have high expectations for it.

    Thanks for the info about Barnett. I listened to a few clips by her, and she actually kind of reminds me of a rougher version of Sheryl Crow. 🙂 I’m not real familiar with Liz Phair’s music, but I did like the 2 singles she released around 2003, though I heard her diehard fans thought she sold out with that album.

    Anyway, hopefully there will be some good music coming out by veterans this year.

  15. @Sam & @Frannie: My apologies for not jumping into this conversation earlier. Life at my end has been crazy and hence my lack of participation. I had actually completely forgotten about Amanda Mair. We had played either “Doubt” or “House” on high-rotation years ago. I need to dig through our library to see which song it was. I remember it being very good though. I have to say I have really enjoyed reading the back and forth exchange of recommendations. This part of the blog posts, in my humble opinion, is more important than the core content itself.

  16. Frannie says:

    Thanks! We had fun!

    On another note, I was wondering if you were familiar with this song by Primal Scream and Skye Ferreira called Where the Light Gets In. It’s my favorite song right now. I loved her debut Night Time, My Time and she is working on a second album I’ve never really followed Primal Scream that closely but I’ve heard great things about their new album so maybe I will check it out.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JC77NtzW7U4

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