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Crossover is a term applied to musical works or performers appearing on two or more of the record charts which track differing musical tastes, or genres. If the second chart combines genres, such as a "Hot 100" list, the work is not a crossover.
In some contexts the term "crossover" can have negative connotations, implying the dilution of a music's distinctive qualities to accommodate to mass tastes. For example, in the early years of rock and roll, many songs originally recorded by African-American musicians were re-recorded by white artists such as Pat Boone in a more toned-down style, often with changed lyrics, that lacked the hard edge of the original versions. These covers were popular with a much broader audience.
In practice crossover frequently results from the appearance of the music in question in a film soundtrack. For instance, Sacred Harp music experienced a spurt of crossover popularity as a result of its appearance in the 2003 film Cold Mountain, and bluegrass music experienced a revival due to the reception of 2000's O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Even atonal music, which tends to be less popular among classical enthusiasts, has a kind of crossover niche, since it is widely used in filmmaking and television production scores "to depict an approaching menace", as noted by Charles Rosen.
The largest figure to date for a crossover hit in the US has come from Grammy Award-winning country singer LeAnn Rimes, whose song "How Do I Live" sold over 3 million copies and spent a world record breaking 69 weeks on the Hot 100 chart, more than any other song in history at the time, despite peaking only at number 2. It was also a massive hit in Europe.
- 1 Classical crossover
- 2 Crossover country
- 3 Latin crossover artists
- 4 Christian crossover artists
- 5 Crossover as a mix of genres
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
Particular works of classical music sometimes become popular among individuals who mostly listen to popular music. Some classical works that achieved crossover status in the twentieth century include the Canon in D by Johann Pachelbel, the Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki, and the second movement of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467 (from its appearance in the 1967 film Elvira Madigan).
Such popularity has undoubtedly been assisted by the use of classical music in advertising campaigns. For example, the long-running British Airways advertisements familiarised a large viewing public with the song Aria by New Age artist Yanni a piece itself based on a duet from the opera Lakmé, by Léo Delibes.
Another means of generating vast popularity for the classics has been through their use as inspirational anthems in sports settings. The aria "Nessun Dorma" from Puccini's Turandot has become indissolubly linked with soccer.
Classical to pop and vice-versa
Within the classical recording industry the term "crossover" is applied particularly to classical artists' recordings of popular repertoire such as Broadway show tunes. Two examples of this are Lesley Garrett's excursions into musical comedy, and also José Carreras's recording West Side Story, as well as Teresa Stratas's recording Showboat. Soprano Eileen Farrell is generally considered to be the first classical singer to have a successful crossover recording with her 1960 album I Gotta a Right to Sing the Blues.
The Three Tenors was a landmark concert in which Luciano Pavarotti, José Carreras and Plácido Domingo brought a combination of opera, Neapolitan folksong, musical theatre and pop to a vast television audience. This laid the foundations for classical crossover as we know it today.
Pop singers have consistently sought to attain a symphonic or operatic dimension in their writing and performance. An early example is Une Nuit A Paris, a miniature rock opera from The Original Soundtrack (1975) by 10cc. Other pioneering works include The Moody Blues's Days of Future Passed (1967), Deep Purple's Concerto for Group and Orchestra (1969) and Gemini Suite Live (1970) as well as Rick Wakeman's Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1974) and The Myths and Legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1975). More recent examples include "Genuine Imitation Life" from Genuine Imitation Life Gazette (1996) by The Four Seasons, as well as Metallica's S&M (1999).
Collaborations between classical and popular performers have included Sting and Edin Karamazov's album Songs from the Labyrinth. An iconic collaboration between the late Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé resulted in the worldwide hit "Barcelona".
The aspiration of classical singers to appeal to a wide pop audience is exemplified by the career of Rhydian. Classically trained, Rhydian appeared in the UK version of the pop talent show X Factor (4th series, 2007, placed second). His four albums and subsequent appearances have straddled pop, classical, musical theatre and religious television fields.
Conversely, the aspiration of pop singers to develop the stamina, musicality and charisma for opera singing was exploited in 2010 in the ITV television series aired in the UK, Popstar to Operastar, won by Darius Campbell.
Sarah Brightman, called the best-selling soprano of all time, is considered a crossover classical artist, having released albums of classical, folk, pop and musical-theatre music. Brightman dislikes the classical crossover label, though she has said she understands the need to categorize music.
Finnish operatic rock soprano Tarja Turunen is the most popular singer performing rock and metal as well as classical music in Finland and throughout Europe. Turunen uses her classical singing technique in all of her songs. She gained popularity as the former main singer of the symphonic metal band Nightwish. She has sold millions of copies of her albums all over the world. She has released two classical and several metal albums.
Romina Arena is a prominent female classical crossover singer  and has been referred to as the “Queen of Popera”. whose repertoire spans from pop music to classical music. Arena writes and produces all of her music, and has recorded songs in 10 different languages.
New Zealander soprano Hayley Westenra is primarily a classical performer, whose Pure CD was the United Kingdom's biggest-selling classical album of the 21st century so far.[dated info] Along with her classical repertoire, she also performs a mixture of easy listening, folk and pop style songs, and has sung in English, Māori, Italian, German, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Irish Gaelic, Welsh, French, Portuguese, Quenya, Latin and Scottish Gaelic.
The television talent shows America's Got Talent and Britain's Got Talent introduced two popular classical crossover performers, Paul Potts in 2007 and Jackie Evancho in 2010. Classical crossover performers have also often performed on "classical week" of the TV show Dancing with the Stars.
The pioneering work of Mario Lanza
Vocally, the most popular crossover artist was tenor and film star Mario Lanza, although there was no such recognized genre as "crossover" at the time of Lanza's greatest popularity in the 1950s. Signed to RCA Victor as an artist on its premium Red Seal label, Lanza's magnificent voice reached beyond classical music-buying audiences. His recording of "Be My Love", from his second film, The Toast of New Orleans, hit Number One on the Billboard pop singles chart in February 1951 and sold more than two million copies, a feat no classical artist before or since has achieved. Lanza recorded two other million-selling singles that made Billboard's top ten, "The Loveliest Night of the Year" and "Because You're Mine." Five of Lanza's albums hit Number One on Billboard's pop album chart between 1951 and 1955. The Great Caruso was the first and to date is the only recording composed exclusively of operatic arias to reach Number One on the pop album charts. The Student Prince, released in 1954, was Number One for 42 weeks. No classical label artist, including The Three Tenors, has achieved the success on the popular charts that Mario Lanza did in the 1950s.
During the late 1960s, Glen Campbell began aiming his music at the mainstream pop charts, adding strings, horns and other pop music flourishes to such songs as "Wichita Lineman", "By the Time I Get to Phoenix", and "Galveston", which allowed his music to chart both in country and pop. While such artists as Lynn Anderson and Charlie Rich followed Campbell's example into the early 1970s, it was Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers who, during the mid to late 70s came to personify the concept of country pop crossover, with both artists maintaining a consistent presence on both the pop and country charts well into the mid-1980s. Others, like John Denver, Olivia Newton-John, The Eagles, Faron Young, Willie Nelson, Dottie West, Alabama, Eddie Rabbitt, Ronnie Milsap, Anne Murray, and Crystal Gayle began successful in country but made the crossover to pop music. By the late 1980s, pop and country crossovers had nonetheless become exceedingly rare (only Roy Orbison's posthumous "You Got It" would top both charts in this time frame).
1990s and 2000s crossover country
In the 1990s many country artists experienced huge crossover success. These artists include Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, Billy Ray Cyrus, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks, Jo Dee Messina, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Lonestar, Sara Evans and LeAnn Rimes.
The early 2000s also saw continued success of these artists. Lee Ann Womack scored a big hit with "I Hope You Dance". The Dixie Chicks had continued success with a less mainstream country-pop sound when they released their album Home in 2002. However, by the mid-2000s there were fewer country acts having crossover success.
Carrie Underwood, who emerged as both a pop star and a country musician as a result of the TV series American Idol (a show that was at its peak in popularity at the time Underwood won the contest), became a crossover success with hits on both the country and pop charts. Underwood would become the first of several country musicians who would find success on the pop charts beginning in the late 2000s.
Late 2000s and 2010s crossover country
Concurrent with Underwood's crossover success was the debut of teen singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. Swift initially specialized in country-flavored coffee house songs such as "Tim McGraw" and "Teardrops on My Guitar," but as her success grew, she increasingly began moving her musical career toward pop. Beginning with "The Story of Us" in 2010, Swift started releasing some of her songs either primarily, or solely, as pop tunes. Many of the songs Swift recorded for the country and pop markets also achieved wide success (especially "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which topped both charts), turning her into a leading example of a country crossover phenomenon, with various critics lauding her as the "next Shania Twain". A change to the Billboard methodology for compiling charts such as country charts directly benefited crossover artists such as Swift by taking into account airplay on non-country stations.
Florida Georgia Line also crossed over to the pop charts with a remixed version of their song "Cruise". This version features rapper Nelly.
Latin crossover artists
1980s crossover acts
Gloria Estefan is the most successful crossover performer in Latin music to date. She began crossing over to English music in 1984. Estefan at the time was with the Miami Sound Machine. Their more successful follow-up album, Primitive Love, was released in 1985, launching three Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Conga" (U.S. #10), "Words Get in the Way” (U.S. #5), and "Bad Boy" (U.S. #8) became follow–up hits in the U.S. and around the world. "Words Get in the Way" reached No. 1 on the US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart, establishing that the group could perform pop ballads as successfully as dance tunes. The song "Hot Summer Nights" was also released that year and was part of the blockbuster movie Top Gun. Since then Estefan has bridged between both the English and Latin world for the mid to late 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
1990s crossover acts
In the mid '90s, Selena was gaining prominence within the Hispanic music world. Primarily marketed as a Tejano music artist, Selena's success was met with rhythmic Cumbia recordings. After bypassing several barriers within the Tejano industry, she quickly superseded other Latin artist acts and earned the title "Queen of Tejano Music". After being presented with a Grammy for Selena Live!, Selena became the first Latin artist to release four number–one singles, in 1994. With a meteoric rise in popularity, Selena was presented with the opportunity to record an English-crossover album.
Unfortunately, months before the release of her English album, Selena was murdered by her fan club president, on 31 March 1995, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Selena's incomplete album, titled Dreaming of You, was released in July 1995, topping the Billboard 200. Selena's songs "Dreaming of You" and "I Could Fall In Love" quickly became mainstream hits, and the album became among the "Top ten best-selling debuts of all time" along with being among the "best-selling debuts for a female artist". Selena became the first Latin artist, male or female, to have ever debuted with a No. 1 album, partially in Spanish.
Despite, and perhaps fueled by, Selena's death and crossover success, the "Latin explosion" continued in the late '90s as a handful of rising stars who shared a Latin heritage—such as Ricky Martin, Thalía, Marc Anthony, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez, who rendered a Golden Globe performance as Selena on film-—were touted as proof that sounds from Latin countries were infiltrating the pop mainstream. Like Estefan and Selena, many of these artists, including some who recorded in English after gaining fame singing in Spanish, had been influenced at least as much by American music and culture.
Ricky Martin gained success with "La Copa de la Vida", which Martin made a major hit in an English version when he was chosen to sing the anthem of the 1998 FIFA World Cup. "The Cup of Life"/"La Copa de la Vida" reached number one on the charts in 60 countries and here in the states the English version went No. 45 on the Hot 100 charts. The song went Platinum in France, Sweden and in Australia, where it ultimately became the number one single of the year. The song was awarded "Pop Song of the Year" at the 1999 Lo Nuestro Awards. Martin at the Grammy Awards was booked to sing on the show's live TV broadcast. The now-legendary performance of "The Cup of Life" stopped the show, earning Martin an unexpected standing ovation and introducing the star to the mainstream American audience. Martin capped off the evening by winning the award for Best Latin Pop Performance. Vuelve became Martin's first Top 40 album on Billboard Top 200 Albums chart in the U.S., where it was certified Platinum by the RIAA. The album notably went to No. 1 in Norway for three weeks, going on to sell eight million copies worldwide.
Martin prepared his first English album in 1999, as the first and most prominent single was "Livin' la Vida Loca", which reached number one in many countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Greece, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Guatemala, Mexico, Russia, Turkey and South Africa. He followed up with the hit "She's All I Ever Had", which peaked at No. 2 on The Billboard Hot 100. This album became one of the top-selling albums of 1999, and was certified seven times platinum, selling over 22 million copies worldwide to date.
Also in 1999, attempting to emulate the crossover success of Gloria Estefan, Selena and Ricky Martin in the anglophone market, Marc Anthony released an English-language Latin Pop self-titled album with the US Top 5 hit single "I Need to Know", and the Spanish version "Dímelo". Other hits include "When I Dream At Night" and "My Baby You". His song "You Sang To Me" was featured in Runaway Bride. The successful dance version was re-mixed by Dutch producer Rene Van Verseveld. The foray was considered a mixed success, partly because it alienated his traditional salsa fans, though "Da La Vuelta" (not a Spanish version of any of the songs) was a salsa song and was a hit. Another note is that the song "That's Okay" has more of a salsa tune than pop.
Enrique Iglesias had begun a successful crossover career into the English language music market. Thanks to other successful crossover acts, Latino artists and music had a great surge in popularity in mainstream music. Iglesias' contribution to the soundtrack of Will Smith's movie Wild Wild West, "Bailamos", became a number–one hit in the US. After the success of "Bailamos", several mainstream record labels were eager to sign Enrique. Signing a multi-album deal after weeks of negotiations with Interscope, Iglesias recorded and released his first full CD in English, Enrique. The pop album, with some Latin influences, took two months to complete and contained a duet with Whitney Houston called "Could I Have This Kiss Forever" and a cover of the Bruce Springsteen song "Sad Eyes". The album's third single, "Be With You", became his second number one.
Jennifer Lopez's debut album On the 6, a reference to the 6 subway line she used to take growing up in Castle Hill, was released on 1 June 1999, and reached the top ten of the Billboard 200. The album featured the Billboard Hot 100 number-one lead single, "If You Had My Love", as well as the top ten hit "Waiting for Tonight", and even the Spanish version of the song "Una Noche Mas" became a hit as well. The album also featured a Spanish language, Latin-flavored duet "No Me Ames" with Marc Anthony, who later would become her husband. Though "No Me Ames" never had a commercial release, it reached number one on the U.S. Hot Latin Tracks.
2000s crossover acts
After the '90s, there were very few crossover acts that became successful in the 2000s. The only ones who proved successful were Shakira, Thalía, Paulina Rubio, Jennifer Lopez and Christina Aguilera, although Aguilera started at first in English and then turned to Spanish. Both Ricky Martin and Enrique Iglesias retained their roles as one of the most successful crossover artists this decade.
Colombian singer Shakira, who had been successful in the Latin world in the late '90s, began working on an English crossover album in 2001. Thanks to other successful crossover acts in the 1990s, the crossover of Spanish artists to the English market had a great surge of popularity in mainstream music and it was the next logical step to Shakira and her label for her career, and Shakira worked for over a year on new material for the album. "Whenever, Wherever" ("Suerte" in Spanish countries) was released as the first and lead single from Shakira's first English album and third studio album throughout the period of August 2001 and February 2002. The song took heavy influence from Andean music, including the charango and panpipes in its instrumentation. The track was produced by Shakira, and it was an international success by reaching number one in most countries. It was also her first success in the U.S., reaching number six on the Hot 100.
Shakira's third studio album and first English language album, Laundry Service (Servicio De Lavanderia, in Latin America and Spain) was released on 13 November 2001. The album debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling over 200,000 records in its first week. Laundry Service was later certified triple platinum by the RIAA in June 2004 as well and thus helped to establish Shakira's musical presence in the mainstream North American market. Seven songs from the album became international singles and hit mainstream as well: "Whenever, Wherever" / "Suerte", "Underneath Your Clothes", "Objection (Tango)" / "Te Aviso, Te Anuncio (Tango)", "The One", "Te Dejo Madrid", "Que Me Quedes Tú" and "Poem to a Horse", with four of the singles becoming largely successful.
Because the album was created for the English language market, the rock and Spanish dance-influenced album gained mild critical success, while some critics claimed that her English skills were too weak for her to write songs for it. Rolling Stone stated "she sounds downright silly" and "Shakira's magic is lost in translation." Shakira also was criticized by her Latin fans for seemingly abandoning her folk and rock roots in favor of contemporary American pop music. Despite this fact, the album became the best-selling album of 2002, selling 12 million copies worldwide and becoming the most successful album of her career to date.
After that success, Shakira's second English studio album, Oral Fixation Vol. 2, was released on 29 November 2005. The album debuted at number five on the Billboard 200, selling 128,000 copies in its first week. The album has gone on to sell 1.8 million records in the U.S., earning a Platinum certification from the RIAA. Oddly enough, the album didn't fare as well as its Spanish counterpart in the U.S., selling a few hundred thousand less records overall. Oral Fixation Vol. 2 has also gone on to sell over 8 million copies worldwide. The album, went on to spawn two more singles. "Hips Don't Lie", featuring Wyclef Jean, was released as the album's second single in February 2006. The song went on to become the highest–selling single of the 21st century and became Shakira's first number-one single on the Billboard Hot 100, in addition to reaching number one in over 50 countries. Shakira and Wyclef Jean also recorded a Bamboo version of the song to serve as the official theme of the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
In early 2007, Shakira worked with American R&B singer Beyoncé for the track "Beautiful Liar", which was released as the second single from the deluxe edition of Knowles' B'Day. In April 2007, the single jumped ninety-one positions, from ninety-four to three, on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, setting the record for the largest upward movement in the history of the chart at the time.
After that success, She Wolf was released in October 2009 internationally and then on 23 November 2009 in the U.S. The album received mainly positive reviews from critics, but only managed to sell 89,000 copies in its first week in the U.S., earning the number–15 spot on the Billboard 200. It has gone on to sell only 300,000 records in the U.S., becoming her least successful album there. However, the album has been moderately successful worldwide, having been certified Gold in Russia, Ireland, Switzerland, Poland, France, Argentina, Greece, and Hungary, Platinum in Spain, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East, 2x Platinum in Colombia and Mexico, and 3x Platinum in Taiwan. To date the album has sold 3 million copies worldwide, becoming Shakira's least successful studio album to date in terms of sales. The lead single, "She Wolf" and "Loba" were successful worldwide, reaching number one in Latin America, number two in Germany, Ireland, Italy, Estonia and Spain, number three in Switzerland and Austria, number four in the UK, France and Greece, number five in Canada and Belgium, number six in Finland, number nine in Japan, and number 11 in the U.S.
Christina Aguilera had been very successful in English, as in 2000, Aguilera began recording her first Spanish-language album with producer Rudy Pérez in Miami. Later in 2000, Aguilera first emphasized her Latin heritage by releasing her first Spanish album, Mi Reflejo, on 12 September 2000. This album contained Spanish versions of songs from her English debut as well as new Spanish tracks. However, some criticized Aguilera for trying to cash in on the Latin music boom at the time. According to Pérez, Aguilera was only semi-fluent, while recording. She understood the language, because she has grown up with her father, who is a native of Ecuador. He added, "Her Latin roots are undeniable. " The album peaked at number 27 on the Billboard 200 and went number one on the Billboard Latin Charts for a record 20 weeks. In 2001, it won Aguilera a Latin Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Album. The album went Gold in the U.S. She also won the World Music Award as the best selling Latin artist that year.
Jennifer Lopez officially released her first full Spanish-language album, Como Ama una Mujer, in March 2007. Her husband, singer Marc Anthony, produced the album with Estefano, except for "Qué Hiciste", which Anthony co-produced with Julio Reyes. The album peaked at number ten on the Billboard 200, number one on the U.S. Top Latin Albums for four straight weeks, and on the U.S. Latin Pop Albums for seven straight weeks. The album did well in Europe, peaking at number three on the albums chart, mainly due to the big success in countries such as Switzerland, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, Greece, Germany, Austria, and Portugal. On 24 July 2007 Billboard magazine reported that Lopez and husband Marc Anthony would "co-headline" a worldwide tour called "Juntos en Concierto" starting in New Jersey on 29 September. Tickets went on sale 10 August. The tour was a mix of her current music, older tunes and Spanish music. In a later press release, Lopez announced a detailed itinerary. The tour launched 28 September 2007 at the Mark G. Etess Arena and ended on 7 November 2007 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The lead single, "Qué Hiciste," was officially released to radio stations in January 2007. Since then, it has peaked at 86 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot Latin Songs and the Hot Dance Club Play. It also went top ten on the European chart. The video for the song was the first Spanish-language video to peak at number one on MTV's Total Request Live daily countdown. Lopez won an American Music Award as the Favorite Latin Artist in 2007. With Como Ama Una Mujer, Jennifer Lopez is one of the few performers to debut in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 with a Spanish album.
2010s crossover acts
Shakira collaborated with the South African group Freshlyground to create the official song of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, "Waka Waka (This Time for Africa)", which is based on a traditional Cameroonian soldiers' Fang song named "Zangalewa" by the group Zangalewa or Golden Sounds. The song was made popular in her native Colombia in 1987 through west African DJs in Colombia. The single later reached the top 20 in Europe, South America and Africa and the top 40 in the U.S., and was performed by Shakira at the World Cup kick-off and closing. The Spanish version was successful as well.
Shakira's Sale el Sol will be released as Shakira's seventh studio album on 19 October 2010. It will have both English and Spanish songs.
Christian crossover artists
The term "crossover artist" may refer to musical performers and groups that are Christian music artists, who many times originally are marketed through Christian record labels, radio stations, churches and other Christian media but who start selling in mainstream secular markets as well. Other times, crossover artists may start out in the mainstream market but have Christian undertones or themes if not overtly Christian. The term "crossing over" is used to describe when an artist who had started predominantly in Christian markets starts receiving mainstream success. Some people[who?] may feel that the artist is betraying the church for fame or glory, while others may see this as a great opportunity for the artist spread the message of their Christian beliefs.
The first major artist crossover was by Amy Grant, with her 1985 album Unguarded and 1991 hit song Baby Baby" from the highest-selling Christian album Heart in Motion. The albums and single were distributed by a Christian label but received heavy play on pop radio stations and were chart-toppers on the Billboard charts. Since then, many artists have been labeled[by whom?] as "crossover artist" regardless of whether they originally intended to market to the Christian market, secular market, or both. The most notable recent Christian crossover artists are Kirk Franklin, Switchfoot, The Afters, Relient K, and many of the artists on Tooth & Nail Records such as MxPx, Underoath, Emery, Lifehouse, Zao, and Dead Poetic.
A more unusual example of a cross-over artist is Katy Perry. She released a little known, commercially unsuccessful Christian album in 2001 under her birth name, Katy Hudson. She then went on to release commercially successful secular albums in 2008, 2010, and 2013. There are still some noticeable Christian elements in her secular music, particularly her later work, such as "Who Am I Living For" (2010) and "By The Grace of God" (2013).
Crossover as a mix of genres
Besides describing music of a distinct genre that becomes broadly popular, the term "crossover" has sometimes been used to describe music that deliberately mixes genres, whether or not this music proves to be popular with a mass audience. "Fusion" is a more common term for this phenomenon. Examples include jazz fusion, Celtic fusion and worldbeat. An example of crossover of jazz and classical music is the Danish 7-piece chamber orchestra Mad Cows Sing, which fuses composed and improvised music. Other examples of crossover in music are bands that play a mix of genres such as funk, rap, rock, metal and/or punk, for instance bands such as Urban Dance Squad, Faith No More, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, Linkin Park and Rage Against the Machine, 311, or crossover thrash bands such as D.R.I. or Municipal Waste.
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