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Who will be the next "top of the heap" composer


David Coscina
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Next Top Hollywood composer  

35 members have voted

  1. 1.

    • James Newton Howard
      17
    • Danny Elfman
      1
    • Alan Silvestri
      2
    • Elliot Goldenthal
      2
    • Howard Shore
      5
    • Patrick Doyle
      4
    • James Horner
      3
    • John Debney
      1
    • Marc Shaiman
      0
    • Ann Dudley
      0
    • Rachel Portman
      0


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Here's a few guys and gals in their 40's and 50's. Which one do you feel will rise to John Williams status in the next few years? My money is on James Newton Howard. Of anyone out there right now, he seems poised to take on the mantle of top film composer in Hollywood. He's got his own sound/style, works in multiple genres deftly, and has a good sense of dramatic underscoring.

Mind you, Howard Shore is gaining popular favor thanks to his work on the LOTR scores. He just might ascend to the throne as it were, especially if he knocks us out with his upcoming King Kong score.

But as Dalton from Road House says, opinions vary.

I left out Michael Giacchino and Ed Shearmur because they are still in their 30's.

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I would love to say Anne Dudley, having been an admirer of her work since her days with the Art of Noise, but I fear her music is too private and introspective to ever make a huge splash on the cinema-going public. Her Oscar for The Full Monty was a really nice surprise, but I don't think it's likely to be repeated.

Unfortunately I think that Howard Shore is already the "Top of the Heap" in terms of success. The vastly over-rated LOTR scores have seen to that. I actually really liked his music for The Aviator, but I still don't see him suddenly learning how to write contrapuntally over the next few years. And to those of you who try to argue that he DOES use good counterpoint I say PAH! And Phooey! And other meaningless words beginning with P.

Shaiman, Horner, Silvestri and Elfman have all had their time in the limelight, and I believe their chances of rising up to fill a Williams-sized gap are extremely limited.

Rachel Portman is the only person on the list young enough and at the right point in her career to really make a big impression, but it remains to be seen whether or not the industry will give a female composer the opportunities she deserves.

Doyle may be a good option. I'm guessing he is the most likely to succeed of the group listed above.

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Brian Tyler, his time is coming

Hmm. I'm interested in why you think Tyler? Incidently, I would have excluded him from this list as this applies to 40 and over crowd. My apologies to Ms. Dudley and Portman if they aren't over 40.

I would put Tyler into the Ottman, GIacchino, Shearmur, Brion, group. Young, and still largely unproven compared to the folks in my poll.

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Oh, Sturgis, I agree with you. Howard is beginning to really leap ahead of the pack as it were. But I see him being the successor to Goldsmith. In many ways, he writes like the late maestro. Williams to my mind won't have a successor. At least stylistically. His compositional chops are seriously way beyond anyone else writing out there. Not to say he's the best (well okay, I am saying that) but in pure musical terms, with respect to the mechanics of composing, he's a god. And I say this not as a fanboy but as a composer myself.

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I would have to go with James Newton Howard. He has the best bet out of the others, I think. Coming close would be Danny Elfman and Howard Shore.

I think John Debney could take it, but I haven't heard anything absolutely mind-blowing since Cutthroat Island.

I almost want to say Howard Shore, but I just really don't like his style. He has great themes, but I can't quite sit down and listen all the way through many of his tracks on a CD.

Of course, I would have voted for good ol' (young?) Mikey G. =)

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I think that if given enough quality films, Giacchino will rise to the occasion. He's got the talent, I think it just depends on the types of films he scores.

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I said Horner, but I always sort of thought that, despite what we all say at this site, he was already up there at the top. As derivative as a composer as he is, he has a powerful grasp of the emotion required for a scene. Even though his scores sound the same, the emotion in the score really helps the movie, and often the music stands alone in sounding good, despite what it sounds similar to. He, Goldsmith, and Williams were my J-Trio, and I think that Horner has already reached the "top."

~Conor

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Where's Zimmer?

Unless he's already being considered one of the ones at the top of the list, but if horner is up there ive gotta say zimmer should be too.

James Newton Howard has alot going for him but i just don't see him taking the top spot but he's definatly up in the top 5 (excluding Williams) but my bet is on Zimmer, (even though i voted for horner cause zimmer's not up there).

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Zimmer's really good. I'd like to see him do something different than war movies, though =P

Horner does have a really nice sound. But I favor his old scores for the cartoons that he used to do, like Land Before Time and An American Tail. Those were brilliant! aside from the fact that he used the EXACT SAME chord progression in each one of those cartoons (u know, the 'falling' progression heard at the end of 'If we Hold On...') but now-a-days, his music seems to fall more into the Easy Listening category rather than the thematic one

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James Newton Howard, and I can't put it better than the others who have chosen him. As far as some of the others on the list, I think that Elfman and Silvestri have pretty much reached their potential, especially Elfman. They seem to be perhaps more established already. Shore will never approach the "top of the heap," or at least he shouldn't. And I agree with MusicHunta about Horner; he's pretty much all washed up. I love a lot of his older scores, but nothing recent has caught my attention at all, and I can't see him surpassing the "old standby" position that he seems to occupy today.

Ray Barnsbury

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Shame David Arnold is missing from the list - I think he comes far closer than anyone else there - with the possible exception of JNH.....so in the absence of Arnold, JNH gets my vote.....

Greg - who's car number plate is S*** JNH.....

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I don't know.My interest in scores has dwindled greatly in the past 10 years.I don't have any composer I see getting into really.Howard Shore had a few very good LotR cues,so maybe he'll improve if he's given more epic style movies to score now.Giacchino,we'll see.Not really impressed so far.

The non Williams c.d. that has gotten the most play from me this year(and the only other scores aside PoA and Terminal that I bought),is Ed Shearmur's SkyCaptain.While the themes are far from achieving Williams brilliance,there is something satisfying about the harmonic structure he has created,something that eluded Howard Shore for LotR,so I'll keep an ear out when he scores something else.

K.M.

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So far I'm the only one that voted for Elliot Goldenthal. He's already got one Academy Award under his belt, and I vastly enjoyed his Final Fantasy recording. He's a mysterious guy, and I think he's going to be gaining momentum and popularity.

Tim

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I second with Arnold. He just needs a few more good movies with decent producers to give him a bloody chance. Anyone here seen Little Britain? Apart from being extremely hilarious, the theme written by Arnold is among the best TV themes I've ever heard (up there with Inspector Gadget and The Simpsons). It's sweeping, gorgeous and noble with just the right amount of boldness to make it fit in with the exaggerated nature of the show. Brilliant stuff. It's available for download on his official site if anyone's interested.

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Danny Elfman. But maybe I'm biased and I've been an Elfman fan as long as I've been a fan of Williams and Goldsmith. What's with the appeal of James Newton Howard? I'm not terribly blown away by his music.

Zimmer is popular with the young chicks. Who do you think bought all them Gladiator albums, huh? "They" can "relate" to his music somehow.

Young chicks bought a film score? That's very unusual.

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I voted for James Newton Howard - I'm a huge fan of him, and he can do absolutely any genre with amazing results each time. His 3 scores in 2004 alone were all completely different but superb.

I doubt Shore will get the status (that's just my opinion). As much as I think his work on LOTR is outstanding, I was disappointed with The Aviator, and since most of his stuff is much darker, I don't think he's going to be a successor to Williams.

As for Horner, I really hope he doesn't get the top spot, as I just don't like him or his style, and his self plagiarism adds to that. I really like some of his mid 90's work such as Apollo 13 and Braveheart, but his post-2000 era has just been a complete mess.

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JNH, he just puts something into his music that very few others do, I can't really describe it.

Passion?

Feelings?

Emotions?

Enthusiasm?

Mirko - who thinks JNH puts in his music all the thing above (plus others that I can't describe neither). :spiny:

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Hmmmm...

James Newton Howard, while a very talented composer, lacks "The Last Push" in many of his scores. He consistently writes four-star scores but seems somehow restrained to write that five-star score, for whatever reason. He has an enormous amount of talent and I hope someday we can hear his five-star effort.

Danny Elfman is undoubtedly one of the best composers working today. I've already said what I need to say about him in my Elfman thread. I suspect we'll have more of the same from him, but that's not at all a bad thing!

Alan Silvestri has written some great scores in the past, and I assume that, given the chance, he will continue. Like Elfman, though, Silvestri will deliver more of the same unless, of course, a special opportunity comes along for either of them.

Elliot Goldenthal is one of the composers on the list I'm not too familiar with, so I can't say anything about him.

Howard Shore's Rings scores continue to uninspire me. I think they're good, but not great, and I never have understood the intense adoration for either the scores or the movies. I'm very pleased The Aviator turned out to be ineligible for an Oscar this year because Shore probably would have won simply off the mass-love for his Rings scores. I seriously doubt he will be the next "top of the heap" composer, at least not on the Williams-level.

Patrick Doyle certainly has a chance to really prove himself with the next Potter film. I was decently impressed by his Secondhand Lions score as well as a few tracks from his Frankenstein effort.

James Horner has had so many chances to become something other than a one-shot shooter. Granted many of his scores are great, the vast majority reak of unoriginality and complacency. Where a thoughtful composer could have drove the score into great successes, Horner just drove the score off the side of a bridge. One of the best surprises I could have this year is him not scoring the next Zorro film. Here's to hoping.

John Debney is perhaps the most underused talent on the list. He's proven he can write a kick-ass score more than once, but for whatever reason he is not given the chance.

Marc Shaiman is another talented composer on the list that hasn't been given many scores to really showcase that talent.

Ann Dudley I have no idea about.

Rachel Portman I haven't heard much of, but she's likely to be continually stereotypically assigned to the same types of films. Unless she can write some action music on the calibre of some of these other composers on the list, she's not going to go anywhere. She can't become the next "top of the heap" composer just on soft, sentimental riff-raff.

Now what about those not on the list?

David Arnold has continued to be one of my favorite composers. Like so many others, he needs a great movie to come along to inspire a great score because he certainly has the talent and the excitement.

Michael Giacchino has quickly become one of my favorites. He continues to write strong scores whether they be for film or video games, and he continues to develop as a composer. I suspect he will continue to grow and in the process become a composing behemoth.

Edward Shearmur is another rising talent, and, much like Giacchino, he will continue to grow and rise to be a mighty talent.

Hans Zimmer, I feel, has proven to be a very strong force in the film score business. Though many here do not appreciate his music, I rather enjoy it, from the "guilty pleasures" of his early scores to the more recent epic-inspired scores. Zimmer is not a composer to be brushed aside.

Harry Gregson-Williams is another composer on the rise. He has proven himself to be getting stronger and stronger with each passing year from the opportunities he has been given.

Brian Tyler is yet another composer on the rise. Look out for him as well. Many of you may cringe at this, but perhaps he will become a Media Ventures-infused Jerry Goldsmith.

So what does all this mean? There is an incredible talent in many of these composers waiting to be unleashed upon our ever-ready ears. Many of these composers are simply lacking the appropriate project to apply their talents. Given that opportunity, these composers have the potential to blow us away, and I hope for their fortunes and for ours they get those opportunities.

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Zimmer is popular with the young chicks. Who do you think bought all them Gladiator albums, huh? "They" can "relate" to his music somehow.

That's... a pretty big assumption. I know plenty of people who aren't 'young chicks' who enjoy his music. However if his music causes more young people to start paying attention to film scores, more power to him!

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I voted for Shore. I understand when people say that they don't think his Lord of the Rings scores don't amaze or impresionate them, everyone has an opinion and I respect that. But I really think his LOTR music is one of the best ever written.

I didn't "appreciate" so much his work for The Aviator, it's a good score but I know he can do better. I choose him not really because he's the best composer in the list (I don't know who is, but for what he has done, he doesn't deserve to have that title), but simply because his success coming from LOTR is going to make the Industry to give him more movies, better movies, where he can (and I hope will) compose extraordinary things like what he did with LOTR

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Quality-wise, Bruce Broughton & Basil Poledouris are at the top.

Goldsmith knew what he was doing when he recommended Broughton for Lost in Space & Tombstone when he couldnt do them, and Broughotn delivered the goods as good as Goldmsith would have, in his own style (no pastiche, there).

Poledouris has a remarkable record as well.

Both can write great themes, can write rich orchestrations, can do action as well as romance, ...

Danny Elfman is is a great one too. Great themes, a unique style, inventitivity & experiments.

James Horner is a very good composer. His repetitions and borrowings and especially his attitude on those points are annoying, but he can write grea themes and good music.

Popularity-wise, Braveheart and especially Titanic made him (somewhat) known of non-film music lovers like us. Those were the very first advertisements I saw on TV for film music, and there have been very very few since then. Even Star Wars scores are not advertised on TV-- they may not need the publicity, but neither do the movies.

In that sense, he's probably the closest to Williams' status.

James Newton Howard is really really good. The only thing missing to achieve Williams status is a memorable theme, something that would catch immediately, in the theater-- this also supposes an equally memorable movie.

Zimmer is very good too. The problem is that many film music lovers won't admit he can do more than synth action. He can write intimate music very well, but it's naturally easier to bash him by waving MV action scores in way of war banners.

Alan Silvestri is another good one.

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Zimmer is popular with the young chicks. Who do you think bought all them Gladiator albums, huh? "They" can "relate" to his music somehow.

I know plenty of people who aren't 'young chicks' who enjoy his music.

Really? Plenty, huh? Sure, Bondo :spiny: ! Well, I only know of ... one! Yes, one person who loves the Zimster but I don't know if he counts since he's merely a cyber acquaintance of mine. His name is Morlock. Perhaps you've heard of him?

----------------

Alex Cremers

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James Newton Howard is really really good. The only thing missing to achieve Williams status is a memorable theme, something that would catch immediately, in the theater-- this also supposes an equally memorable movie.

Signs is a quite memorable movie, and I think the people who saw it could recognize the theme for a while after it. The same goes for "Flying" from Peter Pan. But I see what you mean; most non-film score fans wouldn't be able to hum his themes like Williams'.

~Sturgis, very happy JNH is now in the lead

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But I see what you mean; most non-film score fans wouldn't be able to hum his themes like Williams'.

That's why I love John Williams.

You probably don't know who JW is, but I'm sure you know The Raiders March or the Star Wars Theme. :spiny:

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Really? Plenty, huh? Sure, Bondo :spiny: ! Well, I only know of ... one! Yes, one person who loves the Zimster but I don't know if he counts since he's merely a cyber acquaintance of mine. His name is Morlock. Perhaps you've heard of him?

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Alex Cremers

I've never met more than 10 people who like Elfman's music. Does that mean I could make the assumption that his music is unpopular? I could, but it'd be flawed data. I hope you get my relevance.

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Memorability of a theme is nice, but nothing to rest your hat on.

I voted James Newton Howard simply because he is so versatile and so wonderful. I believe his score for Signs is brilliant from the opening titles to the absolutely gorgeous climax at the end of the film. And from really listenable (and well-serving) scores from The Fugitive to the Emperor's Club - I look forward to each new movie he's assigned to.

I have to say, though, that I love Hans Zimmer. I'm not sure what the big beef is about him personally. His Gladiator and Last Samurai scores are in my top 10 - and I'm a purist. Not some popcorn-scarfing, Avril Lavigne-loving pop culture teenager who shallowly whistles the catchy tunes that get stuck in my acorn-sized brain. I love film scores and I love John Williams, and Zimmer has what it takes to be the best of the best when it's all said and done.

If you're going to complain about someone continually and unashamedly borrowing from their own offensively bathos work, point the criticism at Horner where it belongs.

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Really? Plenty, huh? Sure, Bondo :spiny: ! Well, I only know of ... one! Yes, one person who loves the Zimster but I don't know if he counts since he's merely a cyber acquaintance of mine. His name is Morlock. Perhaps you've heard of him?

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Alex Cremers

I've never met more than 10 people who like Elfman's music. Does that mean I could make the assumption that his music is unpopular? I could, but it'd be flawed data. I hope you get my relevance.

How Trekkie of you: "flawed data" and "I hope you get my relevance". Seriously, bondo, why are you hammering away at Zimmer's popularity? I know he's popular! I already told you, young chicks love him. Of course, grownups with the same taste as young chicks love his music too :D .

----------------

Alex Cremers

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The only aspect of Star Trek that I enjoy is Goldsmith's scores. If you like, I can dumb down my vocabulary just for you (not really) :spiny:

Just kidding, of course

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The only aspect of Star Trek that I enjoy is Goldsmith's scores.

The same for me as some JW scored movies.

And I have a lot of scores of movies I didn't like or even didn't seen. :spiny:

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With Peter Pan, Signs, The Village, and many others, I'm tempted to say JNH. But then, my heart goes to Patrick Doyle. The only bug I have with him is that I find his albums to be a tad subdued to be a perfect listening experience.

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I don't know if anyone really questions Horner's talent. It's his lack of willingness to use it.

I'm not sure anymore. He's written many wonderful scores (a few great ones, too). But it's so long since I've heard a good new score by him, I'm beginning to wonder if he still has talent. Of course, I haven't been paying that much attention to his scores from the last few years, but Beautiful Mind was blah, Troy was a mess, and The Forgotten was even worse.

Marian - apologizing for this rant.

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I don't know but I was personally appalled when I heard that blatant Stargate rip in Troy. Continuing to do things in the manner in which he does has hurt Horner and is going to keep hurting him. A shame because I think he has talent.

Of course, my choice in the poll was James Newton Howard, for the reasons stated above, and I think in the past five years or so, he has really reached a new level of maturation, evidenced in things like Signs, Snow Falling on Cedars, and The Village. He is, just incredibly versatile. He's being recognized a bit now as being close to that top echelon.

I hope he can the get the assignments he deserves that will let him shine, Horner just gets too much stuff I'd like to see others score, Zimmer and his crew too.

I also love Patrick Doyle, I think he's already one of the "top" composers really. His pick for GOF reflects his status I feel. I love his work, but he's not nearly as versatile. And he drags a bit for me at times on a whole listen.

Interestingly, Doyle and JNH are near the same age, but I see Patrick Doyle as being a younger one of the more traditional set, and James Newton Howard as being an older member of the more contemporary set. He will use synths when appropriate, but not overdo it, and always in a fresh, intelligent way. Much like Goldsmith. Doyle is more in the Williams tradition.

There's a lot of talent brewing in the more unproven composers, I'd like to see them not overdo it on the synths and give them a few years.

John Debney is a great talent. It's all about projects really (which brings me back to Zimmer and Horner, grr) Brian Tyler I think shows promise.

And I'd give anything for David Arnold to do some knockout projects (NOT Bond), but some other big stuff he can stretch out on. But I don't know if he's not being offered, or he's not accepting. I mean, he's outstanding!

Goldenthal, well he's more suited for the concert stage I feel, though his scores are very good. But many friends who love film music otherwise just don't find him accessible for the most part. I am really looking for him to make a mark as a concert composer. I think he has much to say in that arena.

Shore, had a homerun with LOTR, wonderful work there, his other scores haven't done a lot for me though, he often lacks something.

Elfman, is already a top composer. He's not always my cup of tea, but very popular for certain kinds of films and creative.

Silvestri is a great action writer (though I totally love Forrest Gump), has had great hits and some misses, again depends on the project, and what in the future comes out of his director collaborations.

Greta - stepping off soapbox now

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The only aspect of Star Trek that I enjoy is Goldsmith's scores. If you like, I can dumb down my vocabulary just for you (not really)   :)

Just kidding, of course

Well, change "Trekkie" into "nerdie" :ola: .

And while you're dumbing down your vocabulary, you might as well improve on your musical taste, just to keep your personality balanced.

;)

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Alex Cremers

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Brian Tyler, his time is coming

Hmm. I'm interested in why you think Tyler? Incidently, I would have excluded him from this list as this applies to 40 and over crowd. My apologies to Ms. Dudley and Portman if they aren't over 40.

I would put Tyler into the Ottman, GIacchino, Shearmur, Brion, group. Young, and still largely unproven compared to the folks in my poll.

I couldn't be limited to your list, sorry, as for Tyler, eversince I first heard his music, I've been intrigued. He's talented, far moreso than say Giapoopoo.

He's not the next Williams (there is no such thing possible)

He's not the next Goldsmith (there is no such thing possible), but Tyler's score for Timeline is personally more enjoyable that Goldsmiths, which I felt was his typical rehash score (as were they all near his death).

He's not an A lister, but I hope he is one day, even John wasn't always an A listers, but he's given his films a flair and intensity, far beyond what they deserved. He's made wretched films watchable, or even enjoyable because of his scores.

back to your list, I am not sure anyone is going to be a breakout artist. I suspect that they are all similar horses who tend to stay even, it will be a youngster who comes in an breaks this race wide open.

Still as you said, Shore has King Kong, and if he hits a home run with it, watch out, and the same can be said with the late Patrick Doyle, if his score for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is as magical as the book itself, it could Avada Kadavra the competition, and move him out in front.

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Well, change "Trekkie" into "nerdie"  :) .

And while you're dumbing down your vocabulary, you might as well improve on your musical taste, just to keep your personality balanced.

:ola:  

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Alex Cremers

Well that's a little uncalled for. I'll admit my memory isn't great, but did I do something to piss you off? There's nothing wrong with my musical taste, you just happen not to agree with it apparently.

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bondo don't worry about Alex, he's just superior to you, and me, his tastes are perfection unlike ours,

or it could be he's just jealous of you because your avatar is far cooler than his (I don't even know what it is)

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