Coco

From the opening Disney title screen to the end, Disney/Pixar’s Coco had me running the gauntlet of emotions. The movie opened with a mariachi rendition of the Disney classic “When You Wish Upon a Star” and I was immediately hooked, and the movie held J and I all the way through the message telling people to learn more about Dia de Los Muertos.

Coco follows Miguel Rivera (voiced by the talented Anthony Gonzales) as he embarks on a journey to become a famous musician like his idol Ernesto de la Cruz. The catch to this tale is that Miguel’s family of shoe makers are not very fond of music or musicians. Miguel’s family wants him to continue the family legacy as a shoe maker, and his abuela tells him that his family will show him how when they visit from the land of the dead on Dia de los Muertos. How will Miguel live his dreams? I guess you’ll have to get your tickets and find out.

Coco is a beautiful film directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina that Disney/Pixar fans of all ages will love. The design of the land of the dead is beautiful and the music (composed by Michael Giacchino) was excellent. The casting department did such an amazing job with this cast. With Benjamin Bratt, Gael García Bernal, Edward James Olmos, Cheech Marin, Jaime Camil, Renee Victor, Alanna Ubach, John Ratzenberger (it is a Pixar), and more, this almost fully Latino cast brought the metaphorical house down. That being said my favorite voice actor had to be Ana Ofelia Murguía. The way she voiced her character brought a lot of emotions up in me. Mainly because she reminded me of my abuela who suffered from Alzheimer’s.

The story is fantastic, and is one that people of all ages will love. Coco felt like home. There were so many comparisons I was making between the film and my own life. Many of the characters in Coco that reminded me of my own family, especially Miguel’s chancla throwing abuela. The family shoe business reminded me of my grandma’s breakfast burrito/tamale delivery business. Seeing Miguel’s abuela’s tamales reminded me of all the hours that my brothers and I spent tying little strands of husk around tamales that would be devoured in seconds. Hearing Miguel’s abuela say, “you’ll feel better after you eat,” brought back even more memories.

Even though Coco has heavy themes surrounding family, I feel that the biggest theme is about remembering. With the track “Remember Me” being everyone in the town’s favorite song and with the movie focusing so much on the land of the dead, it’s hard not to notice it. It can feel like the theme is being hammered into your brain, but I feel like this is a theme that needs to do that every now and then.

Do not forget that this is a Pixar film, and that usually means you will need a Costco size box of tissues to make it all the way through Coco. There are so many happy and sad moments in Coco that I can’t really explain without spoiling the film, so I’ll just say that you need to be prepared to cry.

While there is Spanish dropped here and there, you don’t need to know the language to fully enjoy Coco as context will help you understand. I loved that the writers sprinkled Spanish in the script. I felt like it made some of the scenes pop more than if they just used the English equivalent. While the movie is based around traditions of Dia de los Muertos, Coco is not an educational film. It is meant to get people who may not know the customs interested, hence the disclaimer at the end of the credits.

My one negative comment actually has nothing to do with Coco, but with the Olaf short film in front of Coco. It was way too long and it seemed like Disney put it in front of Coco to get the white audience interested in seeing Coco. Just don’t leave after the Olaf feature. Stay for Coco. I promise that you will enjoy it.

Coco is Rated PG for thematic elements. Coco was written by Matthew Aldrich and Adrian Molina, and was directed by Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina.

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Disney on Ice: Dream Big

This is a sponsored post. I was provided tickets by The Summit Group in exchange for my thoughts on the show. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Unlock your imagination and enter a world of magic and wonder as Disney on Ice presents their latest show, Dream Big. Be whisked away on a journey through some adaptations of your favorite Disney movies like, Aladdin, Snow White, Cinderella, The Princess and the Frog, Frozen, and more. Disney on Ice brings the magic of Disneyland and Disney World to a town near you with it’s amazingly fantastic show.

Disney on Ice “Dream Big” has everything you and your kids could want in a Disney style production. With audio tracks straight from the movies and some of the most magical skating you will see this year, Disney on Ice “Dream Big” will have you and your children at the edge of your seats. Release your inner child and join your children in singing along to some of your favorite songs like “One Jump”, “Part of Your World”, “Let it Go”, “Summer”, and more.

Overall, we loved the show. J got all dressed up in his best Aladdin costume, we sang all our favorite songs and got some souvenirs to take home. The performers were outstanding, I couldn’t believe some of the stunts they were able to pull off. This is a show we would definitely recommend to children of all ages. The show is just about an hour and a half in length with a 15 minute intermission about an hour into the performance, so plan your bathroom and snack breaks accordingly. There are some points of complete darkness and some pyrotechnics that might give frighten some younger children, but over all this show is really an all ages show, so pick up your tickets today!

Disney on Ice “Dream Big” will be at the Vivint SmartHome Arena until November 19, 2017 with a 7pm show on the 17th, 3 shows on the 18th (11am, 3pm, 7pm), and 2 shows on the 19th (1pm, 5pm). Ticket prices range from $15 – $50 and can be purchased at Ticketmaster.com.

“Spoiler-Free” Justice League Review

DC fans rejoice, the team up movie we’ve been waiting for has finally come. Well, rejoice might be a strong word. It’s no secret that I am not s Zac Snyder fan. I think his movies have an interesting look, but the editing is always choppy and the movies tend to be longer than they need to be. While Justice League suffers from some of the same choppiness as Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, one of things the movie doesn’t suffer from is its length. At just under 2 hours, Justice League is a movie you can sit through without worrying about having to take a few bathroom breaks throughout. Justice League has some pacing issues, but I felt that the story was more solid than anything Snyder did with Man of Steel or Batman v Superman.

The cast was great. I was worried that the studio would make Flash a darker character in order to fit him more into this cinematic universe that DC and Warner Bros have created. Luckily, they chose to have a closer to comic version of Barry Allen. Ezra Miller did a fantastic job as the scarlet speedster. Batfleck did a great job and still holds his spot close to the top of my favorite Batman portrayals. Ray Fisher was a good choice for the cinematic version of Cyborg, I was hoping for more of a Khary Payton “Teen Titans” Cyborg, but that would not have fit this universe. Gal Gadot did a fantastic job reprising her role as Wonder Woman, although I wish Patty Jenkins would have directed Gal Gadot’s scenes. Then there was Aquaman. What can I say about Jason Momoa’s Aquaman? It was a fresh take on the King of Atlantis, and I loved it! Because of Momoa’s performance, I have a new found respect for Aquaman.

I think all that I can say without getting into spoiler territory is that Justice League is a good movie that people should see in theaters at least one time. If you were a fan of Snyder’s previous DC films, you will love Justice League. For everyone else, I think that Justice League is enjoyable. If you are thinking about taking your kids, just know that there are scenes that might scare the young ones. There are also long scenes that might bore younger children. If your kids were able to sit through Man of Steel or Batman v Superman, they should be able to sit through and enjoy Justice League.

Keep your eyes peeled, there are quite a few easter eggs that will make all the DC fans smile from ear to ear. Be prepared to sit through the credits because you get a mid credit and an end credit scene that you do not want to miss. Because of the choppiness of film, I would say Justice League sits at a “B-” from me. There were scenes that I personally thought could have been shorter and some that even seemed unnecessary.

Let me know what you think about Justice League. Comment here or on any of our social media pages.

Justice League is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi violence and action.

Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes Recap

***This is post is sponsored by Feld Entertainment and The Summit Group. We were provided tickets for the show in exchange for our thoughts about the show. All thoughts in this post are our own.***

Two of the biggest teams in the Marvel Universe join forces to take down Loki and his band of villains as they are on the hunt for the mystical Wand of Watoomb. The hunt starts aboard Yondu’s ship, the Eclector, as he and his team of Ravagers have recently recovered the wand for The Collector. Nebula is sent by Loki to retrieve the wand from Yondu with an army of Chitauri soldiers by her side.  A fight ensues and just as Nebula is about to retrieve the wand, Star-Lord drops in along with the other Guardians of the Galaxy to retrieve the wand and take it back to the Nova Corp. After a lengthy battle, Nebula grabs the wand and vanishes from the battle. The Guardians must now travel to Knowhere to use another mystical artifact to find Nebula and the wand.

Cut to New York, the Green Goblin has conducted one of his biggest heists along side Black Cat, Rhino, Electro, and Lizard. It’s up to Spider-Man to battle this team of villains with his Spidey wit and skills. While in the midst of battle, Green Goblin shoots some explosive pumpkins toward Spider-Man but they are not normal explosive pumpkins. These pumpkins contain a poisonous nerve gas that overpowers the web slinger. Just before Green Goblin takes down his arch-nemesis, Captain America, Black Widow, Wasp, Black Panther, Iron Man and Thor come to Spidey’s aid. The villains are no match for the likes of the Avengers and the battle is easily won by our heroes. After the battle, Doctor Strange appears and asks for the help of the Avengers in recovering the Wand of Watoomb. With the help of Bruce Banner, they calculate where Nebula will appear next. The Avengers split into two teams and head off to K’un-Lun and to the Savage Land. Will the heroes be able to track down Nebula and stop Loki from achieving his master plan of Universal domination? You have to see the show to find out.

Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes is a spectacle not to be missed. If you are a fan of the comics, movies, and cartoons, you will enjoy this all-new original story that brings together some of our favorite Marvel heroes and villains. While the show is action packed with explosions, fighting, and motor cycle stunts, it is also beautiful in that it integrates aerial silk dancing, fire spinning, and more. Be on the lookout while the Guardians are in The Collector’s museum. You might see some familiar faces in the collection. The performs play to a soundtrack and the voices of the characters are voices of the actors from the Disney XD Marvel cartoons. J (6) absolutely loved the show and wishes we could see every performance that is happening in SLC. My wife and I (both in our 30s) also loved the show. There was cheering from all age groups in the audience. Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes truly has something that everyone will enjoy.

We had the opportunity to talk to some of the people behind the scenes of Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes and those interviews will be up on the Geek Parenting Podcast very soon. Tickets for Marvel Universe Live! Age of Heroes start at $20 and go up to $75, the SLC leg of the show goes from now until October 1, so click here to get your tickets today, and join the world of wonder and magic that only the Marvel Universe can bring.

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Avengers Assemble, Guardians Come Together!

You’ll Float Too, an IT Movie Review

The IT miniseries came out at the beginning of the “go go 90s”. In those days, parents were less strict about what their movies their kids watched or what video games they played. Kids gathered at parks and schools to have unsupervised play with their friends until the street lamps lit the sky. I was about 6 the first time I saw IT and I remember it putting the fear of clowns in my heart.

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©NewLineCinema/WarnerBrosTelevision

In my opinion, the reboot almost left me with the same feelings as the 1990 original. Of course, minor changes were made to the story. The childhood scenes take place in the late 80s instead of the 60s, Mike is not the historian of the Losers Club, and some scenes were more graphic and disturbing than it’s 90s counterpart. With that being said, none of those changes made the movie unwatchable for me and most of them actually made sense for the story. With said changes, we actually get to see a little more of the characters’ backstories.

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©NewLineCinema

From the moment I watched the first trailers for the reboot, I was stand offish toward Pennywise. In my opinion, he is supposed to be a clown that kids wouldn’t inherently be afraid of, he should be a clown that kids would warm up to until the moment he struck. This Pennywise, however, would be terrifying for a young child to happen upon and most children would run the other direction if they saw him. And then there was his voice. I thought his voice came across as too creepy for a clown trying to lure children to their doom. This took me out of the story for a brief moment, but I was able to push those thoughts aside so I could enjoy the film.

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©NewLineCinema

As I had mentioned earlier, there were scenes that were more graphic and disturbing than they probably needed to be. The town bullies did such a great job at bullying the Losers Club that it made any scenes with the bullies almost too uncomfortable to watch. It made me feel sick to my stomach, and if I hadn’t been in the center of the theater, I probably would have stepped outside for those scenes. So if you are triggered in anyway by scenes of kids being bullied, you have been warned.

Before this gets too long or starts getting into the spoiler territory, I just have to say that the movie had everything that a great horror movie should have. There were some great scares, but there was also a lot of humor to cut the tension brought on by the scares. I think that the kids did a wonderful job with their characters. After pushing aside my early critics of Pennywise, I came to enjoy the performance by Bill Skarsgård. There were some questionable edits that brought my rating of the movie down a little, but it wasn’t bad enough for me to not like the film. I would say that the majority of movie goers will probably like IT and a few will have something negative to say about it. So, I would recommend that you head down to the theater and get your tickets today!

(NOTE TO PARENTS)

This is an “R” rated horror film. There will be blood, gore, uncomfortableness, and sexual references. I would recommend not taking your young children to see this film. Seeing as the main cast is teenagers, my suggestion would be not to take anyone under the age of 13 to see IT. We had a few 6-10 year olds in the theater (one wearing a 90s Pennywise shirt) with their families, and it looked like they left the theater within the first 10 minutes. So if you are going to terrorize your young ones with this film, save your money for their tickets and wait to show them IT until it comes out on Blu-Ray.

IT has a runtime of 2 hours 15 minutes and is Rated “R” for violence/horror, bloody images, and for language.

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Ducktales, Woo-oo!!

If you want nostalgia to punch you square in the jaw, then make sure you watch the all new Ducktales on Disney XD. David Tennant takes the reigns, as the very rich, Scrooge McDuck in this new series. Tony Anselmo brings his iconic Donald Duck voice to the show while Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, Bobby Moynihan, and Kate Micucci bring their talents as Huey, Dewy, Louie, and Webby. Beck Bennett rounds out the main cast as the ever lovable Launchpad McQuack.

In the premier episode we see the triplets (Huey, Dewey, and Louie) living with their Uncle Donald on a house boat in Duckburg. The triplets are eager to get their uncle out of the house so they can go on their own adventure, but Donald catches them in their scheme and puts a quick end to their adventure. In a rush, Donald must find someone to watch the triplets while he goes on to a job interview. Worried about being late to his interview, Donald calls his Uncle Scrooge, who he hasn’t spoken with in 10 years, to have him watch the triplets.

While under the care of Scrooge, the triplets meet Webby who is a big fan of Scrooge’s previous adventures and makes it her job to know everything about Scrooge. Webby and the triplets become fast friends and head on a little adventure throughout the house, and accidentally unleash three ancient evils. After the kids help Scrooge put lid on the unleashed evil, Scrooge decides that the kids are ready for an even bigger adventure to the lost city of Atlantis. Make sure you watch the episode to see how that adventure turns out!

The show is filled with slapstick comedy that the audiences of all ages will love. The writing was fantastic and the voice actors are a perfect fit. This Ducktales reboot is better than I expected and I am so glad that J loved it as much as I did. The premiere episode is titled “Woo-oo!” and is directed by Dana Terrace and John Aoshima. The runtime is 44 minutes and is rated TV-Y7. You can watch Ducktales now on the Disney XD app or check your listings on Disney XD.

What did you think of the Ducktales reboot? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook!

My Very Own “Awesome Mix”

If you follow our social media feeds, you know that J and I are all about Guardians of the Galaxy. J has cosplayed as Rocket Raccoon one day of almost all conventions that we’ve attended. We watched Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 1 ten times before the premier of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, and J has even curated his own “Awesome Mix” with his iPad on my Spotify account. To celebrate the digital release of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, I was asked to create an “Awesome Mix” of songs that have shaped my life and have inspired me.

This playlist was hard for me to make because there are so many songs that have shaped my life. When I was a kid, I wanted a career in the industry as either a rock star or a talent scout for a record label. My parents raised us on every genre of music they could from country to rock and everything in between. We listened to show tunes, classical, mariachi, and banda. They had their favorites, but they wanted my brothers and I to develop our own taste in music. My playlist started as my top 10 favorite songs, it then stretched to 20 songs, and finally rounded out to a cool 30 songs.

I would like to think that after Peter listened to Awesome Mix Vol 1,  Meredith (his mother) sat down with him and explained her reasons for putting those specific songs on her mix. And, she probably would have done the same with Awesome Mix Vol 2 had she survived her cancer. So, like any parent wanting to share something they love, please click here to listen to the playlist and read along while I explain why I chose the songs for “James’ Awesome Mix”.

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  1. Superstition by Stevie Wonder: Superstition gets me to that place. Any time I’m feeling like something can’t be done, I turn on this track and just let the arrangement go straight to my veins. I always feel like I can accomplish anything after listening to this song.
  2. La Bamba by Ritchie Valens: Ritchie Valens was an inspiration for me as a young latino wanting to be a musician. He showed that at times when the racial divide was so great, a young latino man could cross a racial barrier and be successful.
  3. Rapper’s Delight by The Sugarhill Gang: I’ve always loved Rapper’s Delight, but it became a special song in my life. I didn’t always have the greatest relationship with my step mom, and that was always on me. She always tried to make a connection, but I would just put up a wall. Long story short, those walls came down and my step mom and I have a great relationship. This song is on my mix because this is her jam.
  4. Oye Como Va by Carlos Santana: Carlos Santana, what can I say? Santana has been a major inspiration in me wanting to play guitar. This man is pure skill and I couldn’t have a mix without a Santana song.
  5. Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix: One of the most influential guitarist of all time. Jimi broke down walls with his experimental sounds. Purple Haze was the first Jimi Hendrix song I learned how play on the guitar
  6. Spanish Caravan by The Doors: My oldest brother introduced me to The Doors. I immediately fell in love with Jim Morrison’s lyric style and with the music. Spanish Caravan is one of my favorite Doors song and had to be on my mix.
  7. Sunshine of Your Love by Cream: In my opinion, Sunshine of Your Love is one of the best rock songs in the history of music. Its simplistic melody and guitar riff brings you in and the rhythm just gets you to that special place.
  8. Come Together by The Beatles: The Beatles played quite often in our home when I was a kid. I remember my dad’s love for The Beatles music. He would turn on the music and just lose himself in the music. He’d sit in his chair and just close his eyes and I remember wanting to be just like him. So when I got a job, i bought a stereo with a record player, some headphones and a Beatles album and would just lose myself like I saw him do years earlier.
  9. Careless Whisper by George Michael: Carless Whisper is one of those songs that I never knew what it was about as a kid. I just loved the saxophone and melody. As an adult I love the song because of the passion of the lyrics, but I still love that saxophone.
  10. Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters: Under the Boardwalk was the first song I had the opportunity of singing a solo for when I was in my middle school “jazz choir”. Listening to this song takes me back to a time when I knew that I could face my own fears.
  11. Runnin’ Down a Dream by Tom Petty: Like “Superstition”, this song makes me feel like I can do anything. The rhythm makes you want to move and the lyrics inspire me to work hard on whatever project I’m working on.
  12. Yakety Yak by The Coasters: The Coasters were a fun group. They had imaginative songs and fun melodies. We would listen to The Coasters a lot on weekends when we were doing house work. Yakety Yak was one of those songs that reminded us that we could have fun while doing chores.
  13. Africa by Toto: I have so many memories of me just singing this song at the tops of our lungs. For me, Africa is a song that reminds me to not take myself seriously and always be ready to drop whatever you’re doing and start singing whenever this song comes on.
  14. Strutter by KISS: This is another song inspired by my dad. My dad was a huge KISS fan, he made KISS costumes for us one Halloween, and it was one of my favorite Halloweens ever. The first concert my dad took me to was a KISS concert in 1993. This one is for you dad!
  15. Crazy Little Thing Called Love by Queen: You can’t have an “Awesome Mix” without Queen. One of the most influential groups of the 70s and 80s needs to be represented on this mix. While Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions, and Another One Bites the Dust are fantastic songs, I have always been drawn to Crazy Little Thing Called Love.
  16. The Cisco Kid by War: This is another song that would play often while we were doing chores. My grandpa used to watch reruns of The Cisco Kid when he was babysitting my brothers and I, and the 1994 remake movie with Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin was our family movie, next to Three Amigos.
  17. Heartland by George Strait: I grew up in the Colorado farm town known as Sterling. Before we got our first Wal-Mart your choice of employment was fast food or farm hand. This song reminds me of home. My mom is a big George Strait fan and when my parents were going through their divorce, I was pretty sure he was going to be my step dad. This one is for you mom!
  18. Lithium by Nirvana: Growing up in a farm town and not really feeling like I fit in was rough. Losing myself in Nirvana’s music made me discover that it was okay to not fit in and that everyone had struggles they were dealing with.
  19. Basket Case by Green Day: i firmly believe that I would not be the person I am today without Green Day’s influence. While other kids were getting invited to parties, I was in my room with headphones listening to Green Day and playing along on my guitar. You’re probably thinking, “how sad”, but honestly I look at it as a god send. I wasn’t out getting in trouble, and I wasn’t sad.
  20. Girl’s Not Grey by AFI: It took me a while to really get into AFI. I started listening to them when I joined a band the summer going into my senior year of high school. I loved the guitar riffs and would try similar things in our music.
  21. Soco Amaretto Lime by Brand New: The soundtrack to my senior year. This song reminds me of when I started getting invited to parties with kids in my grade. One of the funnest times I had at school was playing this song at the school talent show with one of my best childhood friends. Sterling High School Class of 2004, this one is for you.
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  22. Papercut by Linkin Park
  23. Numb by Linkin Park
  24. Leave Out All the Rest by Linkin Park
  25. One More Light by Linkin Park
    I have Linkin Park grouped together because of the importance of their music in my life. Like other people, I’ve dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts in my life. One of those bouts of depressions came around the same time I discovered Linkin Park. Their songs spoke to me in a way that music never really did up to that point. I always saw music as speaking to me, and this was the first time that I felt like music was speaking for me. Chester was singing and screaming things that I wanted to say but that I didn’t have the courage to say. Linkin Park’s music was a life changer and I don’t know if I would have come out of some of those dark times without their music. Thank you Linkin Park. My heart is broken from the loss of Chester Bennington, but I think it’s a wake up call that we need to make sure that if we are feeling low that there is a way out. Please talk with friends and family. We can’t keep things inside anymore. If you need someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.             ______________________________________________________________
  26. Amie by Damien Rice: As I grew in my age, I found a love for acoustic music. Damien Rice’s music is so amazing. If I ever feel nerves rising, I can sit with my guitar, play some Damien Rice songs and just feel the tensions of the day melt away.
  27. Falling Slowly by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova: All of the songs from Once are amazing and that story reminds me of my young dreams of wanting to be a musician. This song reminds me to keep following my dreams, even if circumstances change.
  28. A Beautiful Mess by Jason Mraz: This song helps to try and see the beauty in heartache. It has helped me get through the pain of losing my grandfather a week before my son was born. There is a beauty in looking at your situation and just stating, “we’re still here.”
  29. Ain’t No Sunshine by Bill Withers: The soul of this song is amazingly inspirational. The harsh reality of the lyrics taught me that life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and that we have to make our own sunshine.
  30. I Caught Fire by The Used: My wife and I got married when we were pretty young. We were both fans of The Used when we were dating, and this became “our song.’ Whenever I listen to this song, it reminds me of the spouse I want to be, because my wife deserves every feeling this song shares. My partner in life and love, this one is for you.

There you have it! My very own “Awesome Mix” has been fully explained. I hope you enjoy the playlist and the peek into my life as you are listening to the music and reading this post. What would your “Awesome Mix” look like? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is now available on Digital and will be available on 4K/BluRay/DVD on August 22. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is rated PG-13 for sequences of sci-fi action and violence, language, and brief suggestive content.

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***Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for creating a playlist and writing this post. I chose all the songs for the playlist and all the thoughts in the explanations are my own.***