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Wednesday, November 03, 2021

I’m batting .500 this week with a couple of my daily-use gizmos:

- I bought a new, and needed, electric razor: Panasonic’s latest wet/dry cordless model. It replaces a Braun model that was my first, and probably last, purchase from that brand — never felt it gave me a good shave, and it seemed to break down too quickly (after barely more than a year). The Panasonic looks and feels good so far, delivering a smooth whisker-trimming this morning in the shower. I’m hoping I can count on this one lasting 2-3 years before replacement.

- My 1st-generation iPod Touch finally died — or so I thought. I was having a devil of a time trying to recharge it over the weekend, and wasn’t able to get it to hold a charge until I connected it to Windows machine (go figure). In the meantime, I visited one of the local Apple Genius Bars for their diagnosis, in the hopes that they’d set me up with one of their $79 battery replacements for it. To my surprise, they didn’t offer that — apparently, my 2007 model is too old for them to bother with. Instead, my only option is to turn my beloved iTouch in to an Apple Store for recycling, in exchange for a 10 percent discount toward the purchase of a new iPod. Not particularly the solution I was looking for. I’m now contemplating third-party battery replacement, just to keep my iTouch as a supplementary alarm clock and limited-use media player.

Nothing earth-shattering. I’m recording these minor developments here just for my personal reference. Which will serve a purpose, until I buy some other shiny toys with which to distract myself.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/03/2021 11:51pm
Category: General, iPod
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Monday, October 04, 2021

shuffling forth
The title of this post alludes to the six-month gap since the last edition of my iPod/iPhone’s shuffled-up music track output. No particular reason for the lapse — the randomized nature of the source also extends to my desire to actually document it here.

That said, here are the last five numbers to play on my earbuds, with lyrical snippet for each:

1. “Month of May”, Arcade Fire - The violent wind blew the wires away.

2. “Candy Perfume Girl”, Madonna - Speak delicious fires.

3. “Vasoline”, Stone Temple Pilots - One time a thing occurred to me.

4. “Frisky Girl (Michael Conway Remix)”, Thee-O & D’Morse - Close your eyes.

5. “Pray”, M.C. Hammer - Just to make it today.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/04/2021 09:28am
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Thursday, September 30, 2021

This is a good enough place as any to make a record of this: Today I bought a new pair of in-ear headphones with inline mic, for use with my iPhone. They are, in fact, this V-Moda’s Faze Nero model.

Let’s see how long these babies last. Anything will be an improvement over the set they’re replacing, the Scosche IDR400M. I’ve already trashed those on Amazon, seeing as how they lasted a mere two months before starting to fall apart.

A quick sound test of the Neros on the iPod shows promise — certainly not audiophile quality, but good enough for my purposes. I’m crossing my fingers on the phone mic performance when I try it tomorrow morning.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 09/30/2010 11:51pm
Category: Tech, iPhone, iPod
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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tonight, I deleted every single song by The Hives that was on my hard drive/iTunes library (and, by extension, my iPhone and iTouch).

I’m treating this development as a sign of unexpected maturity. Let’s go with that.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/28/2010 07:39pm
Category: Pop Culture, iPhone, iPod
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Monday, June 21, 2021

hours and minutes
If you squint hard enough, you’ll see that the screen time displayed in the above iPhone image reads 9:42 AM. Apparently, that’s a theme:

I’ve noticed that in all the commercials, print ads and outdoor ads for the iPad, the time is always shown as 9:41 a.m. Then I noticed that the time in all the iPhone ads is always shown as 9:42 a.m.

I know that watch ads like to show the time as 10:10 so the watch hands are open to reveal the brand name, but cannot figure out why Apple likes times before 10 a.m. in its ads.

Furthermore, checking this blog’s iPod category, I notice that the standard iPod Touch image similarly sports a 9:42. So this is consistent across all of Cupertino’s touchy-feely product line.

The reason remains a mystery, as Apple apparently isn’t talking. The old 10:10 minute-hand/hour-hand watch timestamp is a tempting clue, but I’m not sure there’s any connection. I can’t imagine a rational reason though.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/21/2010 11:02pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., iPhone, iPod
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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A minor stir was generated this week by reports that some major American universities were banning iPads due to strains the device causes on campus wireless networks.

If that sounds at all familiar, it should. Because two years ago, the then-new iPhone encountered the very same “banning” at Duke University and other college campuses.

Duke eventually fixed their glitch, so Cornell et al will figure out their current iPad aversions in due order. Maybe they can figure out how not to hire computer-science geeks who can’t build halfway decent wireless access points, while they’re at it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 04/21/2010 10:17pm
Category: Internet, Tech, iPhone, iPod
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Friday, March 12, 2021

random call
No, it didn’t take long after getting my iPhone 3GS for me to file an iPod Random Tracks post. Battery-drain be damned, I’ve gotta keep the music flowing during the daily commutes!

So this is the first edition of this little shuffled-up tunestream report to come out of my telephonic device. I’ve still got my iTouch, and it’s still going strong; but I don’t see listening to music on it as much anymore. The iPhone will be my personal jambox going forward (and no need to change the name of this Category, since the media-playing functionality is called “iPod” in the iPhone’s OS).

And with that, let’s get onto the list: The last five randomized tracks to pour through the earbuds, with accompanying lyrical snippet from each.

1. “Mathematics”, Little Boots - Don’t know my Fibonacci or Pythagoras.

2. “Great DJ”, The Ting Tings - Don’t you feel you’re growing up undone?

3. “Fancy Footwork (Death To The Throne remix)”, Chromeo - And maybe do the twerk.

4. “Ice Cream (Van She Remix)”, New Young Pony Club - Treat that treats you so mean.

5. “Hot Hot Hot!!! (Extended mix)”, The Cure - But I like it when that lightning comes.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 03/12/2021 01:44pm
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Monday, March 08, 2021

sender
As with any techie-computer default setting, the “Sent from my iPhone” email signature has become a familiar sight in inboxes everywhere.

When the Mail app came to my iTouch, I naturally resented the inclusion of that inaccurate descriptor on my outgoing email messages. So I made a point of editing it to: “Sent from my iPod (not iPhone!)”. And the few people who noticed it got a kick out of it.

Now that I’ve got an iPhone, I suppose I can comfortably use the rest of the iNation’s default tagline. And yet, my previous declaration regarding my iTouch-origined email compels me to retain my previous qualifier. So then, my iPhone’s email signature reads as follows:

Sent from my iPhone (not iPod!)

For those that know my mobile-email history, it’s clear enough. For those that don’t, well, they’ll just have to wonder.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 03/08/2021 10:35pm
Category: Internet, iPhone, iPod
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Saturday, March 06, 2021

phoning it in
After a couple of years of toting around my iPod Touch, and thus being ID’d as a lookalike iPhoney/iFaux, I’ve finally taken the next logical step: I’ve gotten an iPhone 3GS.

And I have to say, Verizon Wireless provided the final push I needed to cross over. Their new pricing plans, which practically force you to add a data package if you want anything but a bare-bones phone, really soured me on re-upping with them. I rationalized that, if I was going to be forced into adopting a smartphone anyway, I might as well go with the only one I’d want. So once I reconciled that with the heftier phone bill — which I’d have had anyway, give or take a few dollars — the choice was easy. (I’d be very interested to find out if many others are abandoning Verizon thanks to this tactic.)

In a very real way, my time with the iTouch pretty well primed me for transitioning to an iPhone. The interfaces and applications are practically identical between the two Apple devices. Whereas a Droid phone would have required something of a learning curve (even with all the copycat touch features), the iPhone is just a continuation of what I’ve already been carrying in my pocket daily. Only better, of course.

So now, I’ve got a new toy, and a new provider in AT&T Wireless. I’m crossing my fingers on the coverage, being well-acquainted with the gripes. As for the handset itself, it’s mostly customized now, with my iTouch music, apps, contacts, notes, and photos all ported over. The main things to address now:

- Finding a decent ringtone. The on-board selection is surprisingly weak — or, perhaps, not so surprising, given that AT&T and Apple are in the ringtone-selling business. I just have to figure out which iTunes-purchased track I like enough/works best as a ringer. (A shame I can’t hack in a customized sound-snippet, as I used to do around the turn of the century.) (EDIT: Thanks to Gary for his tip on an iTunes-workaround for creating your own ringtone! I’ll have to try it — again, once I figure out which song I’d stand to hear chirping out of my phone a few times a day.)

- Search for new apps, including those that wouldn’t have made much sense on the iTouch but are suited for the iPhone (especially given the 3GS’ noticeably speedy rendering).

- Find an appropriate cover. I’d like one that has a built-in pop-out stand in the back, so I can actually prop it up on a flat surface and watch the screen while keeping both hands free. Depending on how the battery performs (the sales-tech claimed it’ll last two solid days between recharges; I’ll believe that when I see it), I’m also considering a combination protective casing and power-extending source.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 03/06/2021 05:38pm
Category: iPhone, iPod
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Sunday, January 31, 2021

slap-appy
While it’s probably true that “there’s an app for that” — no matter what “that” calls for — it’s not surprising that most people stick to a tried-and-true handful of favorite icons:

The average iPhone or iPod Touch owner uses 5 to 10 apps regularly, according to Flurry, a research firm that studies mobile trends. This despite the surfeit of available apps: some 140,000 and counting… The next generation of gadget users might prove different, but for now it is clear that people prefer fewer choices, and that they gravitate consistently toward the same small number of things that they like. Owners of iPhones are no different from cable TV subscribers with hundreds of channels to choose from who end up watching the same half-dozen.

For me and my iTouch, I figure I’m on the low end of that estimate. I play two games almost exclusively (although I’ve just picked up a new one, Bird Strike, that I anticipate will keep me occupied for a while), use Twitterrific pretty regularly, and fire up WifiTrak most days. Then there are the apps that come pre-loaded: I use Mail, Safari, Weather, Clock, and Notes all the time — but I’m not sure they count in this context.

When it comes to acquiring new apps, I do have a self-imposed restriction that keeps the additions low: They must be able to run while simultaneously allowing the iTouch’s music library to play uninterrupted. You’d think that would be a no-brainer, yet it seems like most apps — particularly games — don’t work this way. But since my primary use of the device is to listen to music, it’s a dealbreaker. Therefore, that simple requirement keeps me from overloading on page after page of apps.

But it’s nice to know that extra doo-dads are only a short download away. Even if I’ll never try, or even see, 99 percent of them.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/31/2010 10:11pm
Category: Videogames, iPhone, iPod
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So, yeah: The iPad.

I can’t say I’m not tempted. In some ways, this was the type of device I was wishing for when I contemplated buying the first-rollout iPhone in 2007, just for the wireless Internet.

That was before Apple followed up with the iTouch shortly thereafter. I snapped up that gadget shortly after its debut, and haven’t regretted it. But the lack of always-present Web access has been a mixed blessing, which is why I think I’m finally going to pony up for an iPhone in a couple of months.

So given that, I can’t really justify laying out $600-800 for an iPad. The bigger screen size would certainly be nice, but I like having the pocket-sized portability that an iPhone/iTouch provides. Of course, I’m constantly lugging around my man-bag anyway, but that’s beside the point…

I have little doubt that the iPad will be a success, without my participation. In some ways, it is just an overgrown iTouch — although, crucially, the built-in 3G signal makes it a true mobile Web device. But the capabilities Apple is packing into it — notably, the reworked iWork productivity suite — hint at bigger aspirations. Frankly, given the prior examples of trendsetting advances, I figure that Apple is giving us a solid preview of what the standard personal computer is going to look like some 5-10 years from now. As it is, the iPhone platform is already considered a “30-percent computing solution” for some; the iPad starts the march toward something closer to 100 percent.

So, given that, I can wait until the iPad and its descendants become truly mainstream. Not that I won’t be drooling with envy in the meantime.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 01/31/2010 03:50pm
Category: Tech, iPod
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Thursday, January 21, 2021

I have to say, I spend an inordinate amount of time playing both Sumo! and Saucelifter! on my iTouch. While listening to music, usually — multi-tasking in everything, of course.

The games can’t be much more different, in either theme or mechanics. Sumo! is strictly a tap-and-count board game, nicely ported for touchscreen but hardly reliant upon the iPhone/iTouch interface. Saucelifter!, on the other hand, makes good use of the accelerometer for navigation, to complement the touch controls for action. You’re body-slamming belly-to-belly in one, and laser-blasting military armor in the other — all for fun.

If I’m going to endorse any iTunes App, I guess these two would have to be the ones. Neither is free, but considering how many hours I’ve spent playing them, I’d say they’re well worth the purchase price.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/21/2010 11:44pm
Category: Videogames, iPod
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Monday, January 18, 2021

royal
The trend has definitely set in: This is the fourth time in a row that the iPod Random 5 updates during holiday time. My iTouch must have a thing for commemorative events.

As luck would have it though, none of the songs that spewed from my music player jibe in any particular way with Martin Luther King Jr. Day. But I liked the sequence, regardless. So here’s the random shuffle-generated list, with the customary lyrical tease from each:

1. “No Time (Sh*t Robot Remix)”, The Juan MacLean - Saw you dancing with the human.

2. “My Love Is For Real”, Paula Abdul - Gave you excuses with each storyline.

3. “Heartbreak (Make Me a Dancer) [Club Mix]“, Freemasons - Long as I’m moving it feels true.

4. “Play With Fire”, The Rolling Stones - Not in Knightsbridge anymore.

5. “Casey Jones”, Grateful Dead - Trouble ahead, trouble behind.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/18/2010 11:23pm
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Tuesday, December 22, 2021

shuffling along
Once again, this latest posting of my latest iTouch shuffled-up output occurs on a monthly schedule. And once again, it comes just ahead of a holiday.

None of which is particularly germane to the particular songs that make up this Random Tracks lineup. But in lieu of a unifying theme amongst the following tracks, the backstory will have to do. Besides, the pre-Yuletide timing is rich enough context.

And with that, the most recent music to hit my earbuds, with accompanying lyrical snippets:

1. “Ghosts (Toxic Avenger mix)”, Ladytron - Doesn’t mean I’m sorry.

2. “My Love Sees You”, Beni - Sees you.

3. “Prophets Of Rage”, Public Enemy - But I’m past the days of yes-y’allin’.

4. “Paris Four Hundred (Etienne De Crécy Remix)”, Mylo - [instrumental]

5. “She Wolf (David Zafra Dance Mix)”, Shakira - This is lycanthropy.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/22/2009 11:25pm
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Like a lot of current fashion, my new(ish) winter coat boasts of being optimized for modern-day personal tech, thusly:

One of the interior pockets has a built-in slit, designed to reign in those ever-present iPod/phone headphone cords. Run the cord through that tiny opening, drop the device into said pocket, and no more tangled-up hassles.

Good idea. So why did this coatmaker put a largely decorative button right near this cord-concealing action? It’s right there, on the outer shell of the pocket, in a perfect spot to catch the little bit of wire that’s still exposed. And yes, you guessed it — the earbuds cord connecting my head with my iTouch gets snagged on a regular basis. It’s maybe a little more organized than my usual shirt-pocket placement, but not much.

So much for forward-functional fashion. My search for the ideal ipod-cket continues…

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/22/2009 10:13pm
Category: Fashion, Tech, iPod
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Thursday, December 03, 2021

vid-track
When I bought a new videogame for my iTouch yesterday, I didn’t give much thought to whether or not the game’s soundtrack was also available for purchase. (In fact, one of my persistent gripes about App Store games is that too few of them allow you the option to override in-game music in favor of letting the iPod music play; but that’s something for another post…)

But indeed, the oddly-named hovercraft-racing game “Ground Effect” comes with an embedded iTunes link to buy the theme music. Here’s the philosophy behind the move:

Diefenbach, a really cool Danish indie band, have allowed us to feature an instrumental version of one of their most amazing tracks “A Rock in a Pond” as the soundtrack for “Ground Effect” from their album “Dark Spinner”.

[App developer Glenn Corpes] was really excited as an indie developer about the prospect of teaming up with an indie band; much has been made recently about the cross-promotional possibilities and it makes sense that if gamers habitually listen to music on their iPhones it would be shame not to use the opportunity as a game developer to introduce them to great bands they might otherwise have not been exposed to.

That last part is the heart of it: Providing an opportunity for exposure on the audience’s preferred platform. This is the same concept as what’s driving music sales via “Rock Band” and “Guitar Hero” console interfaces. You take your wares where the action is.

I’d be surprised if there aren’t more apps that meld this experience — not just games either. The ability to push sales of multimedia elements within an app could soon be a commonplace and expected aspect of iPhone/iPod interaction.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/03/2021 10:53pm
Category: Business, Pop Culture, Videogames, iPod
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Thursday, November 26, 2021

holi-pod
Along with a nearly-monthly frequency, this iPod Random Tracks category seems to be morphing into a holiday-time content well. Just as last month’s contribution came around Halloween time, today’s falls on Thanksgiving, oddly enough.

The songs that most recently came forth from my iTouch have nothing to do with Turkey Day. But that’s neither here nor there. The point of this exercise is to recount the randomized tracklist that the Shuffle setting yielded, along with a catchy lyric sample for flavoring. Hey, there’s a Thanksgiving angle!

And with that:

1. “Hot N Cold (Yelle remix)”, Katy Perry - Surprends moi, ou va t’en.

2. “My Back Pages”, The Byrds - I’m younger than that now.

3. “Music Has No Meaning”, Consolidated - But all we get is empty distraction.

4. “Money Ain’t A Thang (Bonus Track)”, Jay-Z & JD - I been spendin’ hundreds since they had small faces.

5. “The Have Nots”, X - This is the game that moves as you play.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 11/26/2009 10:46am
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Wednesday, November 18, 2021

Not long ago, I questioned the real demand for a Kindle in a smartphone world:

I don’t see how the e-book readers can compete, frankly. Why lug around an extra, oversized display screen when you can carry around your library in your pocket? Obviously screen-size is sacrificed, but most people are accustomed to reading off their phone screens by now. If anything, I see the Kindle, [Sony] Reader, et al becoming niche products, for those who can’t do without large-print reading; everyone else will do their e-book reading via iPhone/iTouch. The disruption comes from including the e-book capabilities in the price of the device, versus shelling out a few hundred dollars for a separate reader.

Today, my paper of record validates my view:

“These e-readers that cost a lot of money only do one thing,” said Keishon Tutt, a 37-year-old pharmacist in Texas who buys 10 to 12 books a month to read on her iPhone, from Apple. “I like to have a multifunctional device. I watch movies and listen to my songs.”

Over the last eight months, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and a range of smaller companies have released book-reading software for the iPhone and other mobile devices. One out of every five new applications introduced for the iPhone last month was a book, according to Flurry, a research firm that studies mobile trends.

For the record, I’ve yet to consume any books on my iPod Touch. I do read plenty of Web content on it, though. And write a fair amount via the virtual keyboard. I’m obviously not hankering for an e-ink screen…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 11/18/2009 11:29pm
Category: Publishing, Tech, iPod
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Tuesday, October 27, 2021

fiving
At this point, this whole randomly-generated playlisting off my iTouch is becoming a monthly feature around here. Once every 30-ish days might not sound like a regular schedule to you, but to me, it reeks of an unwanted consistency.

And with that… The last five shuffled-up songs that emitted out of my earbuds. With brief lyrical sample, naturally:

1. “The Simple Life”, The Juan MacLean - I lost you to oblivion.

2. “Mama Said Knock You Out”, LL Cool J - Don’t call it a comeback.

3. “Metropolis (The Twelves Remix)”, Cicada - I would.

4. “Enter the Newground”, DJ Kentaro - Continue.

5. “The MC”, KRS-One - I black out and wake up to catastrophe.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/27/2009 08:55am
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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Saturday, September 19, 2021

It’s actually called The Commuter Tie From Thomas Pink:

The clever new design features a small yet subtle pocket on the reverse of the tie. The [iPod Nano-sized media player] is placed in the pocket to avoid having expensive devices on display or damaging the line of one’s suit. An extra fabric loop keeps headphone wires out of sight and close to the body, leaving hands free to pick up a daily coffee or answer that all-important call.

But I’m giving this hundred-dollar neckwear its proper, functional name in my above post title. Because I’ve long wished for a handy iPod-cket that doesn’t dictate my dress-shirt choices. Unfortunately, it sounds like the tie and pocket are too narrow to accommodate a full-sized iPod or iPhone, so that leaves me out. (Could a demand for hanging larger handheld devices off the neck usher in a return to the ultra-wide ’70s-style neckties? I’m simultaneously humored and horrified at the prospect.)

Anyway, I’ve already got far too many ties in my closet. I have started wearing them on a regular basis again after a long hiatus, but that probably won’t last. Although again, if said fashion accessory provides a good way for me to stash my iTouch, then I’ll gladly wear the old neck-noose daily.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 09/19/2009 02:18pm
Category: Fashion, iPod
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Tuesday, September 08, 2021

six-pick
It’s time: Another blog-chronicling of the last five tracks that randomly shuffled forth from my iTouch, including a lyrical sample from each song. Not so long after last month’s entry, either.

In fact, that little music-player was on such an uninterrupted hot streak today — precluding my usual fast-forwarding when an unfavorable song ticks up — that I’ve decided to extend the list. So instead of the usual five, I give you six musical samplings from my digital collection. Behold!

1. “Me Against The Music - Chix Mix (Bloodshy & Avant, No Madonna)”, Britney Spears - If you really wanna battle, saddle up and get your rhythm.

2. “Get The Fuck Outta Dodge”, Public Enemy - You’re straight from Babylon.

3. “Hit The Decks”, Cirrus - Oh my god.

4. “Funplex (CSS Extended Remix)”, The B-52′s - Chandalabra’s in a wonder bra.

5. “Anyway You Choose to Give It (Extended Mix)”, The Black Ghosts - But don’t think you can imitate the accent of fate.

6. “Look On the Floor (Angel City Extended Remix)”, Bananarama - Devil’s in your eyes and he’s looking at me.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 09/08/2021 10:49pm
Category: Pop Culture, iPod Random Tracks
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