Love Story (Taylor Swift song)

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"Love Story"
Single by Taylor Swift
from the album Fearless
Released September 12, 2008
Format CD single, digital download
Recorded March 2008; Blackbird Studios
(Nashville, Tennessee)[1]
Genre Country pop, alternative country
Length 3:57
Label Big Machine, Universal Republic[2]
Writer(s) Taylor Swift
Producer(s) Nathan Chapman, Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift singles chronology
"Change"
(2008)
"Love Story"
(2008)
"White Horse"
(2008)
Alternative cover[3]
Music video
"Love Story" on YouTube

"Love Story" is a song performed by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. The song was written by Swift and produced by Nathan Chapman, alongside Swift. It was released on September 12, 2008 by Big Machine Records, as the lead single from Swift's second studio album Fearless (2008). The song was written about a love interest of Swift's who was not popular among Swift's family and friends. Because of the scenario, Swift related to the plot of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1597) and used it as a source of inspiration to compose the song. However, she replaced Romeo and Juliet '​s original tragic conclusion with a happy ending. It is a midtempo song with a dreamy tenor, while the melody continually builds. The lyrics are from the perspective of Juliet.

The song was a critical success with critics complimenting Swift's writing style and the song's plot. It was also a commercial success, selling over 8 million copies worldwide, therefore establishing itself among the best-selling singles of all time. In the United States, the song peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold over 5,673,000 paid digital downloads, becoming Swift's best-selling single to date and the best-selling download by a female country solo artist. It is also one of the best-selling singles in the United States and was once the best-selling digital country single of all time there. The single was certified 7× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Internationally, "Love Story" became Swift's first number one single in Australia, followed by "Shake It Off" in 2014. The song has been certified triple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).The song is one the best-selling singles worldwide, with worldwide sales of more than 8 millions of units (according to the IFPI).

The song's accompanying music video was directed by Trey Fanjoy, who directed the majority of Swift's prior videos. The video is a period piece that drew influences from the Medieval, Renaissance, and British Regency (1813) eras. It follows Swift and model Justin Gaston as they meet in a university campus and imagine themselves in a prior era. "Love Story" was promoted through numerous live performances. The song was included on Swift's first, second, and third headlining tours, the Fearless Tour (2009–10), the Speak Now World Tour (2011–12), and the Red Tour (2013–14) respectively. "Love Story" has been covered by several artists, including Joe McElderry and Forever the Sickest Kids.

Writing and inspiration[edit]

"Love Story" came along late into the production of Fearless.[4] Swift wrote "Love Story" about a male who was never officially her boyfriend. When she introduced him to her family and friends, they did not become fond of him.[5] "His situation was a little complicated, but I didn't care", said Swift.[6] Swift also felt like it was the first time she could relate to the plot of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1597), one of her favorite narratives, which she described as, "The only people who wanted them to be together were them."[5] She conceived the idea for the song when she reflected about the scenario: "I thought, 'This is difficult but it's real, it matters—it's not simple or easy but it's real'." She then centered the song on the line, which was ultimately placed in the "Love Story"'s second refrain.[7] All events, with the exclusion of the end, narrated in the song regarded Swift's actual story. The song's conclusion differed from that of Romeo and Juliet. "I feel like they had such promise and they were so crazy for each other. And if that had just gone a little bit differently, it could have been the best love story ever told. And it is one of the best love stories ever told, but it's a tragedy." Instead, she chose to write a happy ending.[8] She took her favorite characters and conceptualized the ending she believed they deserved.[9] She perceived it to be the ideal ending that females hoped for, including herself.[7] "You want a guy who doesn’t care what anyone thinks, what anyone says." Although it was fictional, Swift said it was an enjoyable experience to write about.[6] Swift wrote the track on her bedroom floor in approximately twenty minutes, feeling too inspired to put the song down unfinished.[5]

Swift and her love interest continued their relationship, but then went their separate ways because it was hard for them to see each other.[8] To Swift, the song resembles much optimism regarding love and how encountering the right person could surpass skepticism.[9] She deemed "Love Story" one of her most romantic songs, although she was never in an official relationship with the subject of the song.[5] In retrospect, Swift said about the song, "It’s about a love that you've got to hide because for whatever reason it wouldn't go over well. I spun it in the direction of Romeo and Juliet. Our parents are fighting. I relate to it more as a love that you cannot really elaborate on — a love that maybe society wouldn't accept [or] maybe your friends wouldn't accept."[10]

Recording[edit]

Swift performing "Love Story" on the Fearless Tour.

"Love Story" was recorded in March 2008 at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, alongside record producer Nathan Chapman and various personnel.[11] Chapman produced all but one song on Swift's 2006 eponymous debut album, Taylor Swift,[12] and co-produced all songs on Fearless.[1] Swift sang into an Avantone CV-12 multi-pattern tube microphone, manufactured by Avant Electronics. The microphone had a new old stock tube that was designed and built by country singer, record producer, and audio engineer Ray Kennedy for Chapman. Chapman had received the microphone from Kennedy as a loan, as a "try this for a while" experiment. Although he previously had tested numerous microphones on Swift, he had not been able to find one to match her voice perfectly. When Swift came to Chapman's home to record a radio edit for one of the singles from Taylor Swift, she immediately grew fond of the microphone.[11] "When she put on the headphones and said, 'Test,' completely unprompted, she said, 'This is my mic. I love this mic. I just wanna use this one from now on!' She had no idea what it was, just loved it, and I went along with something that felt right for her. We've been using it ever since, and it sounds great on her voice," Chapman said.[11]

"Love Story" was recorded with Pro Tools and tracking vocals, which Swift sang live with the band. The band consisted of acoustic guitars, bass guitars, and drums.[11] All other instruments were overdubbed by Chapman. He said, "I think there are nine acoustic guitars on that track, and I stacked several background vocals — me singing, 'Ah's'."[11] Audio engineering was executed by Chad Carlson in Blackbird Studios' Studio D, with the usage of the API Legacy Plus equipments: Avantone CV-12, Neve 1073, and Tube-Tech CL-1B. Audio mixing done by Justin Niebank and was set in Studio F, with the usage of the console Solid State Logic 9080 K series and Genelec 1032 console. In between, overdubs were executed in Studio E by Chapman.[11] "Love Story", along with the rest of the album, was mastered by Hank Williams at MasterMix Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.[1] The song was mixed for mainstream airplay by Chapman. He pulled Niebank's stems into his Mac OS laptop and used Apple Logic to create the pop version. Chapman made mix tweaks and created new elements with his laptop. In order to do so, he muted the country instruments and replaced them with new elements characteristic to pop music, replacing banjo and fiddle with electric guitar. The pop version's opening beat is a Logic loop in the Ultrabeat beat generator. All the new electric guitars were done with the Amplitube Stomp I/O.[11]

Composition[edit]

A 24-second audio sample of Taylor Swift's "Love Story", a midtempo number that narrates from the perspective of the fictional character Juliet Capulet.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Love Story" is a country pop song with a length of three minutes and 54 seconds.[13] It is set in common time and has a moderate tempo of 120 beats per minute.[14] It is written in the key of D major and Swift's vocals span one octave, from A3 to B4.[14] Swift croons "Love Story" softly and sweetly,[15][16] with a slight twang that defines the song to be country music.[17] It follows the chord progression D (add)9–Asus5–Bm–G69.[14] The song is of a swirling and dreamy tenor,[16] and is based upon a pop hook.[18] The melody is simple, containing a rushy pace which continually grows and concludes with a key change to E major.[15]

The lyrics of "Love Story" are written in first person, in which Swift refers to herself as the Romeo and Juliet character Juliet Capulet and her love interest as Romeo Montague.[17] Fraser McAlpine of the BBC described the song as a narrative, in which Swift is the narrator.[15] The song's plot revolves a youthful romance foiled by parental disapproval. In the end, love prevails and the coupled find their happily ever after.[16] The first verse introduces the characters at a ball, where they meet.[15] In the second verse, the story transitions to the couple sneaking about after dark[15] and references Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter (1850).[18] The song's refrains have Swift waiting for her love interest to appear: "Romeo, take me somewhere we can be alone/ I'll be waiting/ All there's left to do is run."[17] The song's final refrain has Swift narrating from Romeo's perspective[19] and proposing marriage to Swift.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

The song has been well received by music critics. Kate Kiefer of Paste magazine recognized the song to be Swift's best and added that once the lyrics are learned, it is impossible to not sing along.[20] Sean Dooley of About.com credited the song for transitioning Swift from a "fresh-faced star to crossover superstar". Dooley attributed the song's commercial success due to her departure from her past lyrical themes, which summarized "I wish this boy knew how I really felt about him”.[21] While reviewing Fearless, Dooley selected "Love Story" as one of the best tracks on the album.[22] Jonathan Keefe of Slant Magazine admired how Swift attempted to incorporate sophisticated elements, like Romeo and Juliet and The Scarlet Letter, although it was not successful because of its awkwardness, inexplicable nature, and pointless conceit. Keefe credited its success to its prominent hook.[18] James Reed of The Boston Globe thought otherwise, stating Swift's charm was in her songwriting skills.[17]

Fraser McAlpine of the BBC stated, "'Love Story' is a stunning pop song and, because it really does tell a love story, it's heart-warming and draws the listener into the exciting and romantic fairytale world."[15] However, she felt Swift's vocal performance was not incredible, but was passionate to complement the song's sentiments. McAlpine resumed by stating that "Love Story", although obvious, a bit dramatic, and probably targeted towards younger audiences, was just lovely and that Swift proved herself a true princess of pop with the song.[15] Chris Neal of Country Weekly called "Love Story" an "ebullient first hit."[23] Deborah Evans Price of Billboard magazine gave the single a favorable review and called it an "enchanting offering". Price noted that "Love Story" demonstrates one of Swift's appeals, her writing and singing of age-appropriate material that can be both relatable to her audience and others. As a result, she predicted the song would have much commercial success in the country music industry.[16] Alex Macpherson of British newspaper The Guardian described the song to be fueled by a "joyous rush" that, according to him, was later replicated by Swift's own single "Mine" (2010).[24] Taste of Country listed the song at number 17 on its list of greatest country songs of all time.[25]

Awards and nominations[edit]

At the 35th People's Choice Awards, "Love Story" was nominated for the People's Choice Award for "Favorite Country", but lost to Carrie Underwood's "Last Name" (2008).[26] The song was nominated for "Fave Song" at the Nickelodeon Australian Kids' Choice Awards 2009, but lost to The Black Eyed Peas' "I Gotta Feeling" (2009)[27] and received the same outcome at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards, when it lost the nomination for "Choice Music: Love Song" to David Archuleta's "Crush" (2008).[28][29] In 2009, "Love Story" was declared the "Country Song of the Year" by Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI).[30]

Chart performance[edit]

North America[edit]

"Love Story" became Swift's first number one on Billboard Pop Songs, marking the highest peak by a country song on the chart since Shania Twain's "You're Still the One".

On the week-ending September 27, 2008 "Love Story" debuted at number sixteen on the Billboard Hot 100, selling over 97,000 digital downloads.[31] In the succeeding week, "Love Story" ascended to a new peak at number five, selling 159,000.[32] After two weeks in the top ten, on the week ending October 18, 2008, the track descended to number thirteen and remained on the top twenty of the Billboard Hot 100 for eleven consecutive weeks, returning to the top ten, at number seven, on the week ending January 3, 2009.[33][34] On the week ending January 17, 2009, the song reached its peak at number four on the chart, becoming Swift's best charting single at the time.[35] In the succeeding weeks, "Love Story" continued to sell strongly, spending fourteen weeks in the top ten and forty-nine weeks in total.[35][36] The single is one of thirteen songs from Fearless charted within the top forty of the Billboard Hot 100, breaking the record for the most top forty entries from a single album.[37] The single was certified quintuple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America,[38] and had sold over 5 million by May 2011.[39] The song became Swift's best-selling single, and was once the best-selling country single of all time (now overtaken by Lady Antebellum's "Need You Now") as well as the ninth best-selling digital single of all time.[40][41] As of November 2014, "Love Story" has sold 5.8 million copies in the United States.[42]

"Love Story" reached number two in Billboard Radio Songs with 106 million all-format audience impressions, being held from the top spot by Kanye West's "Heartless".[43] On Billboard Hot Country Songs, "Love Story" debuted at number twenty-five on the week-ending September 27, 2008. The song jumped at the top ten on its fourth week at number nine and on its ninth week it reached the top spot, thus giving Swift her third number-one song on Billboard Hot Country Songs and her fastest song to reach number one on the chart.[44][45] It stayed at number one for two weeks and charted for a total of thirteen weeks on Billboard Hot Country Songs.[46] On Billboard Pop Songs, the song debuted at thirty-four on the week-ending November 22, 2008.[47] It reached the top spot on its fifteenth week, the week-ending February 28, 2009, marking the highest peak by a country song on the chart since Shania Twain's "You're Still the One" peaked at number three in 1998.[48] "Love Story" also reached number one spot in Billboard Adult Contemporary and number three in Billboard Adult Pop Songs, and was able to appear Billboard Latin Pop Songs at number thirty-five.[35][49]

In Canada, "Love Story" entered at number eighty-eight on the week ending October 18, 2008.[50] It entered and peaked at number four on the week ending November 29, 2008, became Swift's first top ten hit in the said territory.[51] The single stayed at the top ten for ten weeks and charted for fifty-two weeks.[36] It was placed at number eight on Canadian year-end chart and was certified double platinum by Music Canada for sales of 160,000 digital downloads.[52][53]

Europe and Oceania[edit]

"Love Story" debuted at number twenty-two in United Kingdom, on the week ending February 28, 2009. In the succeeding week, the song rose to its peak at number two,[54] becoming Swift's best-charting single and first top ten in the United Kingdom.[55] It spent seven weeks in the top ten and thirty-two weeks in total on the chart.[54] The single was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) for shipments exceeding 600,000 copies.[56] In October 22, 2012, Love Story charted again in United Kingdom at fifty-five. In Ireland, "Love Story" peaked at number three.[57] In mainland, the track peaked at number ten on the Eurochart Hot 100 Singles Chart,[35] number six in Hungary,[58] number seven in Norway,[59] and at number ten in Sweden.[60] It performed well in other countries, such as Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, and France, where it became a top twenty hit.[60]

In Australia, "Love Story" debuted at number thirty-eight on the week ending January 25, 2009. After two weeks of ascending on the chart, "Love Story" found a peak at number two, where it maintained for six consecutive weeks prior to reaching number one on the week ending March 29, 2009, becoming Swift's first and only number one in the region until Shake it Off in 2014. In the following week, the track descended again to number two, but rose to the top for a second and last week on the top fifty on the week ending April 12, 2009.[61] The single was certified triple platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association for the shipment of over 210,000 copies.[62] "Love Story" was placed at number ten on the decade-end Austrian Singles Chart.[63] On the week ending February 2, 2009, "Love Story" entered in New Zealand at number thirty-three. After nine weeks on the chart, the song peaked at number three on the week ending April 6, 2009.[64] It was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand for the shipment of over 15,000 copies.[65] In total,"Love Story" has sold over 7.9 million copies worldwide, therefore establishing itself among of the best-selling singles of all time.[66][67][68]

Music video[edit]

Swift and model Justin Gaston as they ballroom dance (top) and meet in the field (bottom) in the music video for "Love Story".

The accompanying music video for "Love Story" was directed by Trey Fanjoy, who previously directed the videos for the singles from Taylor Swift. Swift decided to collaborate with Fanjoy once again because she had been able to balance both of their ideas for music videos, something Swift appreciated deeply.[69] The video is a period piece that draws influence from Medieval, Renaissance, and Regency eras. Swift had previously desired to film a period piece music video because of its distinctiveness from modern videos and videos she had filmed. When writing the song, she envisioned it in a prior time period, and encoded it with details accordingly.[70] She believed "Love Story"'s plot was a timeless scenario: "I think it could happen in the 1700s, the 1800s, or 2008."[69] Thus, she searched for a timeless quality in demeanor of her love interest.[71] With six months in advance, Swift searched by watching films for actors to interpret the role. An acquaintance of hers, who followed the sixth season of Nashville Star, recommended contestant Justin Gaston. Swift then looked through his pictures, and concluded he was suitable for the music video.[72] Gaston fulfilled the requirements Swift had set out, describing him as a "Prince Charming that could've been alive in the 1800s."[71] However, because Gaston was competing on Nashville Star, he was unable to participate in the music video. Gaston was eventually eliminated and Swift contacted him immediately to film the video.[69] Swift was very impressed by Gaston's acting skills: "I was so impressed by the way his [expressions] were in the video. Without even saying anything, he would just do a certain glance and it really came across well."[72]

A castle was chosen for the video's setting. Personnel researched numerous castles in the United States and were unable to locate one in sufficient condition for filming. They had considered traveling to Europe to find a castle, but were then informed about a castle south of Nashville, Tennessee. Named Castle Gywnn, it was built in 1973 and chosen as the video's setting.[69] Wardrobe for the video was supplied by Jacquard Fabrics, excluding Swift's dress for the balcony scene. The dress was designed by Seanie Speeka with inspiration and suggestions from Swift.[69][70] "She loves to put her input in her dresses", stated Speeka. The two had discussed the dress two months prior to the filming of the video. Accentuates were made on the video set.[69] The video was filmed in two days in August 2008 in Tennessee. On the first day, the balcony and field scenes were shot. On the set, someone had replaced the playback CD with a high-pitch, altered version of the song. As a result, Swift lent the crew her iPod to play the original track.[69] While filming another scene, sunset was about to occur and, therefore, the process was executed rather rapidly. For the scene, Fanjoy suggested a kiss between Swift and Gaston, but Swift refused to because she believed it would make for a sweeter moment. On the second day, scenes at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee and at a ballroom were filmed.[73] Swift learned the choreography for the latter in fifteen minutes prior to filming. Approximately 20 dancers were used for the scene.[69]

The video commences with Swift, clothed by a black sweater and jeans, walking through a university campus and spotting Gaston sitting under a tree, reading a textbook. As they make eye contact, the video then transitions to an earlier era, in an seemingly 18th century castle (though the castle was built in 1973), where Swift stands, wearing a corset and gown, and performs in a balcony. After, Gaston enters a party and sees Swift, wearing an elaborate gown, conversing with other females. The two, along with others, engage in ballroom dancing. After dancing, Gaston whispers into Swift's ear and Swift is then seen pondering at night with a lantern. She meets with Gaston and the two walk, hold hands, and feed a horse by a well. The two then go their separate paths. Afterward, Swift stands in the balcony, looking out from the a window. She sees Gaston running toward her and immediately runs down the staircase. Swift and Gaston meet each other and hold each other. The video then transcends back into modern-day as Gaston walks toward Swift and they gaze into each other's eyes, where the video concludes. Cut-scenes feature ballroom dancing and Swift performing in the balcony setting.

Video reception[edit]

The video premiered on September 12, 2008 on CMT.[74] Mandi Bierly of Entertainment Weekly was concerned about the video mark Swift's artistic evolution as an artist because it made her believe something else in the artist had altered. She, however, stated, "Worry though I might, I can’t resist Taylor Swift’s evolution from 'Tim McGraw' (2006) to her latest, 'Love Story'." Bierly also compared Swift's acting with that of Keira Knightley.[75] Fraser McAlpine of BBC believed Swift played a princess in the video and, therefore, said it would make females envious.[15] The video was nominated for the "Video of the Year" category at the 45th Academy of Country Music Awards, but lost to Brad Paisley's "Waitin' on a Woman" (2008).[76][77] At the 2009 CMT Music Awards, the video won the CMT Music Awards for "Video of the Year" and "Female Video of the Year".[78] It also won the Country Music Association Award for "Music Video of the Year" at the 43rd Country Music Association Awards.[79] The video won "Favorite International Video" at the Philippine Myx Music Awards 2010.[80]

Live performances[edit]

Swift performing "Love Story" on the Fearless Tour.

When promoting the single in the United States in late 2008 and early 2009, Swift performed "Love Story" on the Good Morning America, the Late Show with David Letterman, The Ellen DeGeneres Show,[81] the 2008 Country Music Awards,[82] as a duet with English rock band Def Leppard on CMT Crossroads, the episode was released as a DVD exclusively through Wal-Mart stores in the United States,[83] Clear Channel Communications's Stripped,[84] Studio 330 Sessions,[85] and Saturday Night Live.[86] In the United Kingdom, Swift promoted the track during early 2009 with performances on television programs, such as Loose Women[87] and Later... with Jools Holland.[88] Since, Swift has performed the track twice on The Today Show,[89][90] at the 2009 CMA Music Festival,[91] the 2009 V Festival,[92] the Australian charity concert Sydney Sound Relief,[93] Dancing with the Stars,[94] and again on the Late Show with David Letterman.[95]

Swift performed "Love Story" on all venues of her first headlining concert tour, the Fearless Tour, which extended from April 2009 to June 2010. The performances begun with backup dancers, dressed in Victorian era clothing, dancing ballroom to Baroque composer Johann Pachelbel's "Pachelbel's Canon", as a castle backdrop was projected onto the stage.[96] Swift emerged to upper level of the stage, from below, donning a crimson, 18th century gown with a golden accents.[97] For the song's last refrain, Swift hid behind backup dancers as she changed her wardrobe to a white wedding dress.[98] Jon Pareles of The New York Times said Swift offered the audience with optimistic thinking with the performance in the August 27, 2009 concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City.[98] Reviewing the May 22, 2010 concert at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada, Jane Stevenson of The Toronto Sun stated the moment was far too girly for her liking.[99] "Love Story" served as the final performance on the setlist of Swift's second concert tour, the Speak Now World Tour (2011); the performances featured Swift roaming throughout the stage, wearing a white sundress.[100] On January 25, 2013, Swift did an acoustic version of the song, followed by "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" at the Los Premios 40 Principales in Spain.[101]

Cover versions and media usage[edit]

Kidz Bop Kids recorded a cover version of "Love Story" for the fifteenth installment of Kidz Bop, released in 2009. Heather Phares of Allmusic denounced that the song had a melody strong enough to withstand the Kidz Bop treatment and be kid-friendly, although having children singing lead vocals did make the song less friendly to general audiences.[102] American pop band Forever the Sickest Kids covered "Love Story" for the 2009 deluxe edition of the debut studio album Underdog Alma Mater (2008).[103] English singer Joe McElderry, winner of the sixth series the United Kingdom talent competition The X Factor, performed a live cover of "Love Story" on The X Factor Tour in 2010[104] based on altered lyrics that Gabe Bondoc had introduced as the song being sung from the male (Romeo) perspective.[105] Gordon Smart of The Sun said the performance of "Love Story" on February 15, 2010 in Liverpool, England, at the Echo Arena "went down a storm."[104] "Love Story" was featured in the romantic comedy Letters to Juliet (2010), as well as its official trailer[106] and in the pilot of the television series Hart of Dixie (2011).[107] The song was covered by Post-Hardcore band Sky Tells All featuring Chris Motionless of the band Motionless in White The song was covered as an instrumental version by The Piano Guys (mashed with Coldplay's "Vida La Vida") and released as a YouTube video, though as of October 2014 it is no longer on their own channel.

Track listings[edit]

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Order of precedence
Preceded by
"Just a Dream" by Carrie Underwood
Billboard Hot Country Songs number-one single
November 22–29, 2008
Succeeded by
"Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band
Preceded by
"Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" by Beyoncé
Billboard Pop Songs number-one single
February 28, 2009
Succeeded by
"Circus" by Britney Spears
Preceded by
"I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz
Billboard Adult Contemporary number-one single
June 6 - July 11, 2009
Succeeded by
"The Climb" by Miley Cyrus
Preceded by
"Right Round" by Flo Rida
featuring Kesha
Australia number-one single
March 23, 2009
April 6, 2009
Succeeded by
"Right Round" by Florida
featuring Kesha

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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