Antichrist Superstar (album)

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Antichrist Superstar
Antichrist Superstar cover
Studio album by Marilyn Manson
Released October 8, 1996 (27 years ago)
Recorded February 1996–1996 at Nothing Studios in New Orleans, Louisiana
Genre Industrial metal, industrial rock, noise rock
Length 77:26
Label Nothing, Interscope
Producer Trent Reznor, Dave Ogilvie, Marilyn Manson, Sean Beavan
Discogs Discogs-logo.jpg View at Discogs
Analysis and Interpretations

Shock Logo (Nachtkabarett)
Tetragrammaton (Nachtkabarett)
The Baphomet (Nachtkabarett)

Marilyn Manson chronology
Smells Like Children
Antichrist Superstar
Remix & Repent

Antichrist Superstar is the second full-length studio album by American rock band Marilyn Manson. It was released on October 8, 1996 in the US through Nothing and Interscope Records. The record's success in mainstream charts propelled the band to a household name and overnight turned its frontman into an bonafide rock icon. The band's anti-Christian stance as well as the transgressive and confrontational nature of their music, performance and appearance, led to numerous protests from religious and civic groups such as the American Family Association.

The album's concept is that of a rock opera, and the first installment in a trilogy that includes Mechanical Animals and Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). After the release of Holy Wood, Manson revealed that the over-arching story within the trilogy is divulged when listening in reverse chronological order. Holy Wood, therefore, begins the story, followed by Mechanical Animals, and concluding with Antichrist Superstar.[1] It was recorded at Nothing Studios in New Orleans and produced by the band's frontman and Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.

To date, the album has sold over 7 million copies worldwide with 1.9 million copies sold in the United States alone[2] and has spawned three singles and an autobiography. The band supported the album release with their controversial Dead to the World tour in 1996/1997.


"I am so all-American, I'd sell you suicide."
—opening line of "Irresponsible Hate Anthem"

The album's title is a takeoff on Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1971 musical Jesus Christ Superstar.[3] Similarly, the record is that of a rock opera[3] which, in an issue of Kerrang! magazine, edited by the band's frontman, is stated as a tribute to—and inspired by—the works of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.

After the release of Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death), Marilyn Manson divulged that his concept album trilogy is an autobiographical story told in a reverse timeline (chronologically reverse from their actual release dates). That means Holy Wood opens the storyline followed by Mechanical Animals and concludes with Antichrist Superstar .[4] Furthermore, though Antichrist Superstar and Mechanical Animals made sense as individual concept albums on their own, there was a hidden over-arching story running through the three releases.


for a complete overview of the Trilogy see Triptych.

The three part storyline, nevertheless, begins with the Nietzschean statement "When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you". The backdrop is set to a landscape of 'victims' (the 'weak'; Nietzsche's 'slaves' in his Master-Slave morality) by "The Beautiful People" (the 'masters'), a kratocratic plutarchy whose power is, in a double entendre with phallic and religious connotation, "relative to the size of [their] steeple" and whose authority is Social Darwinism taken to the extreme—they are "justified" by the existence of the weak. Among the populace is an abused and insignificant being, the protagonist, called "The Worm"[5], who developed aspirations to revolt against the elite. However, he is rejected in as simple terms, wallows for a time in sorrow and self-pity then concludes to exercise his will to power and seize authority with his own hands. The backdrop established, the record now follows his journey and evolution presented in the metaphor of a worm to angel metamorphosis.


In his rise to power, he fashions himself into a charismatic and influential demagogue and hierophant, the "Little Horn", to proselytize self-determination and self-realization and to usher in a new metanarrative in place of the hitherto reigning ideal. In spite of this, the Little Horn is self-punishing, with self-doubt still lingering from his dejected former self. The people respond to his revolution with adoration and blandishment. Thus, though he is successful in his aims, he is soon disillusioned and begins to despise those very adoring and sycophantic disciples when he comes to the realization that they aren't interested in being saved and quite content to remain weak, imitative and oppressed. It's under this intolerable failure that he begins the final stage of his development. Transforming, in the manner of a caterpillar, the Little Horn rebirths himself under intense pressure, emptying his cocoon of the self-loathing, guilt and abuse that marked the Worm in harrowing fashion, to "get his wings".

Having transcended his lesser nature, all he has left is his bitterness and disenchantment. He has shed his ability to feel empathy for anyone and with newfound stature and confidence, repurposes himself into in becoming the ultimate culture war iconoclast, the eponymous "Antichrist Superstar", having finally concluded that what the people truly want is what he sought to dispose of. They no longer deserve salvation. In this manner he adopts as his personal insignia the epithet "When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you" as he lets his scathing vitriol spiral into nihilism and misanthropy, ranting against everything. Spent and disconsolate, the "Man That You Fear" intimates that "I'm on my way down now, I'd like to take you with me. I'm on my way down" as he embarks on a final scorched earth campaign of apocalypse, delivering the condemnation, "your world is an ashtray, we burn and coil like cigarettes [...] it's the nature of the leeches, the virgins [to feel] cheated, you've only spent a second of your life" and contracting the world like the pupil of an eye into the size of a bullethole, "one shot and your world gets smaller". He begins to destroy everyone and everything including himself and his revolution, declaring, "pray your life was just a dream, the cut that never heals [...] the world in my hands, there's no one left to hear you scream [...] no one left for you". As he abrogates everything into nothingness, he begins to understand that "when all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed"[6].


The album has elaborate packaging, consisting of a black cardstock sleeve covering the plastic jewel case with graphics of Manson on both the front and back, the latter of which is flanked by the red Superstar Shock logo and the roman numerals IX, VI, III and VII. The booklet contains pictures of the band, a visual worm-to-angel metamorphosis, symbols related to the Kabbalah, medical diagrams, printed lyrics to each song, and liner notes including traditional thanks and credits as well as a curious entry found under the lyrics to the song "Irresponsible Hate Anthem", stating it was recorded live on February 14, 1997, despite the album being released well before that on October 8, 1996.

The album, despite containing a gap of silence a few minutes long, is cyclical, as both opening and closing seconds include the distorted phrase "When you are suffering, know that I have betrayed you." When the album is placed on loop, the pacing between the sentences matches that of the additional distorted recitation found in the preceding hidden track.


"The Beautiful People" is the first single from Antichrist Superstar. The video was released on September 22, 1996 and directed by Italian director and photographer Floria Sigismondi. According to Manson, the title "The Beautiful People" was an inspired for a book that came out in the mid 60's by Marilyn Bender. This book contains information on the life of the Kennedy family, politics, fashion and culture. Moreover, the single was certified gold record with by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), besides being one of the most heard in the United States occupying the position twenty-six in the Modern Rock Tracks of Billboard and UK position eighteen. The music channel VH1 named this single twenty-eight of their 40 Greatest Metal Songs.

"Tourniquet" is the second single from the album. It was released on September 8, 1997 and was also directed by Floria Sigismondi. In the video Manson is a humanoid moving through a wheel. The band uses a variety of costumes bizarre with each passing scene. This is one of three music videos where Manson appears without makeup, the other two videos are Get Your Gunn and Lunchbox.

"Cryptorchid" is the third single from the CD. The video was directed by E. Elias Merhige and displays images from his 1991 experimental film Begotten. Some scenes were replaced by Manson to avoid the original publications of the tape.

"Antichrist Superstar" was released as the fourth single. The video was also directed by E. Elias Merhige and, like Cryptorchild, contains footage from Begotten and also depicts footage of Manson on a podium bearing the era's lightning bolt symbol. In addition, there is footage of military warfare, probably used for the song's fascist aspects. Before its planned launch, the video was screened at the 1997 San Francisco Film Festival, however, Interscope Records was appalled by its quality and prevented its release. In 2010, the unedited video of "Antichrist Superstar" was leaked on YouTube in its entirety.[7]

"Man That You Fear" was the last single from Antichrist Superstar. The music video was directed by W.I.Z. and adapted from the Shirley Jackson short story The Lottery. The video also contains aesthetic and symbolic references to the 1973 film The Wicker Man and the 1989 Alejandro Jodorowsky film Santa Sangre.


Critical reception[edit]

 Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
allmusic 4.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau Rating-Christgau-dud.png link
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars [1]
Entertainment Weekly (B) link
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5 stars link

Lorraine Ali of Rolling Stone commented "The rise of Marilyn Manson marks the end of the reign of punk realism in rock & roll [...] the layered effect of the music recalls that of Ministry, but Marilyn Manson's execution is not as dense. Instead, Antichrist Superstar writhes with a cool, sinister and taunting feel [...] before lurching out from the shadows with hammering percussion and static-loaded feedback [...] For all of the album's attractions, the band could have compressed Antichrist Superstar into a more powerful blast of evil."[8] Jim Farber of Entertainment Weekly commented "With Antichrist Superstar, Manson offers a combination vintage concept record and cheesy exploitation flick [...] To match his antisocial outbursts, Manson offers grinding metal guitars and death-rattle bass lines, letting his own deformed screech serve as the poison cherry on top [...] At least Manson's high-concept depravity has its own sick charm."[9] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of allmusic commented "Though the sonic details make Antichrist Superstar an intriguing listen, it's not as extreme as it could have been—n particular, the guitars are surprisingly anemic, sounding like buzzing vacuums instead of unwieldy chainsaws. Even with that considered, [It] is an unexpectedly cohesive album and will stand as Marilyn Manson's definitive statement."[10]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album debuted at № 3 on the Billboard 200. According to Soundscan, the record moved 132,000 units in its first week.[11]


According to Antichrist Superstar is the 14th best album of 1996,[12] the 180th greatest record released during the 1990s[13] and the 973rd greatest of all-time.[13] In 2001 Q named Antichrist Superstar as one of the 50 Heaviest Albums Of All Time.[14] In 2006, sister British magazines Classic Rock & Metal Hammer included Antichrist Superstar in The 200 Greatest Albums of the 90s. [15][16] Furthermore, in 2001, Classic Rock ranked the album 92nd in its 100 Greatest Rock Albums Ever.[17][16] The French edition of the British magazine Rock Sound ranked Antichrist Superstar 11th in their Top 150 Albums of Our Lifetime (1992-2006)[18] and 13th in their their 1996 Albums of the Year.[16][19] Kerrang! ranks Antichrist Superstar 3rd in their 1996 list of Albums of the Year[20], 14th on their 100 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die[21] and 88th in its 100 Greatest Rock Albums[22].[16] Dutch magazine Muziekkrant OOR ranked Antichrist Superstar 109th in their 1996 Albums of the Year list.[23] Rolling Stone listed Antichrist Superstar among its Essential Recordings Of The ‘90s in 1999[24] and ranked it 84th in their The 100 Greatest Albums of the 90s[25] in 2010.[16] The record is also listed in the book Albums: 50 Years of Great Recordings.[16][26] British magazine Record Collector also list the album among their 10 Classic Albums from 21 Genres for the 21st Century.[16][27] German magazine Visions considers the album 37th in its list of The Most Important Albums of the 90s.[16][28] The French FNAC ranks the record 606th in their The 1000 Best Albums of All Time.[16][29] Furthermore, the French music magazine Rock & Folk lists Antichrist Superstar among The Best Albums from 1963 to 1999.[16][30] In 2008, Consequence of Sound identified Antichrist Superstar as a modern classic in their "Dusting ‘Em Off" feature due to its counter-cultural and social impact during the late 90's.[31] The album is also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[32]

Dead to the World Tour[edit]


Following the release of Antichrist Superstar, Marilyn Manson staged a worldwide stadium tour, titled the Dead to the World tour. Beginning on September 5, 1996 and lasting until September 16, 1997, the tour included eight legs spanning Europe, Japan, Oceania, Hawaii, North America and South America with a total of 175 shows.

A concert film depicting the tour, titled Dead to the World, was recorded and released on February 10, 1998 in VHS format.

Track listing[edit]

Cycle I: The Heirophant

  1. "Irresponsible Hate Anthem" – 4:17
  2. "The Beautiful People" – 3:38
  3. "Dried Up, Tied and Dead to the World" – 4:15
  4. "Tourniquet" – 4:29

Cycle II: Inauguration of the Worm

  1. "Little Horn" – 2:43
  2. "Cryptorchid" – 2:44
  3. "Deformography" – 4:31
  4. "Wormboy" – 3:56
  5. "Mister Superstar" – 5:04
  6. "Angel with the Scabbed Wings" – 3:53
  7. "Kinderfeld" – 4:51

Cycle III: Disintegrator Rising

  1. "Antichrist Superstar" – 5:14
  2. "1996" – 4:01
  3. "Minute of Decay" – 4:44
  4. "The Reflecting God" – 5:36
  5. "Man That You Fear" – 6:10
  6. Track 99 – 1:39

Tracks 17 through 98 are blank and about four seconds long.


Alternative tracklisting[edit]

Alternative tracklisting for Antichrist Superstar
  1. "Irresponsible Hate Anthem"
  2. "The Beautiful People"
  3. "Little Horn"
  4. "Tourniquet"
  5. "Angel with the Scabbed Wings"
  6. "P Is for Porno"
  7. "Little Black Spots"
  8. "Wormboy Gets His Wings"
  9. "Astonishing Panorama of the End Times"
  10. "The Minute of Decay"
  11. "Suicide Snowman"
  12. "Antichrist Superstar"
  13. "1996"
  14. "Mr. Superstar"
  15. "Art of Dying"
  16. "Man That You Fear"
  17. "D Is for Dirty"

Album credits[edit]

1 irresponsible hate anthem

[lyrics: Manson, Ramirez/music: Berkowitz, Gacy]
live guitar: Zim Zum

2 the beautiful people
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez]
descending horn guitar: Sean Beavan

3 dried up, tied and dead to the world
[lyrics: Manson/music: Manson, Ramirez]
additional guitars: M. Manson

4 tourniquet
[lyrics: Manson/music: Berkowitz, Ramirez]
additional guitar: Daisy Berkowitz

5 little horn
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez, Reznor]

6 cryptorchid
[lyrics: Manson/music: Gacy]
drums: Gacy/mellotron: Reznor

7 deformography
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez, Reznor]
additional guitar: Reznor

8 wormboy
[lyrics: Manson/music: Berkowitz, Ramirez]

9 mister superstar
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez]
lead guitar: Reznor /
additional rhythm guitar: Daisy Berkowitz

10 angel with the scabbed wings
[lyrics: Manson/music: Manson, Ramirez, Gacy]
lead guitar: Danny Lohner

11 kinderfeld
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez, Gacy]
additional guitar: M. Manson/ live drums: Chris Vrenna

12 antichrist superstar
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez, Gacy]
Additional guitar: Daisy Berkowitz

13 1996
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez]

14 minute of decay
[lyrics and music: Manson]
guitar: M. Manson

15 the reflecting god
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez, Reznor]
Acoustic Guitar: Danny Lohner

16 man that you fear
[lyrics: Manson/music: Ramirez, Manson, Gacy, Berkowitz]

rhodes piano: Reznor

All Tracks
Songs of Golgotha
Music/Dinger & Ollie Music,
administered by Dinger &
Ollie Music, BMI. ©1996 All
rights reserved

All Tracks Except 6 & 14
Blood Heavy Music/Dinger &
Ollie Music, administered by
Dinger & Ollie Music, BMI.
©1996 All rights reserved

Tracks 1, 6,10, 11,12 & 16
DCLXVI Music /Dinger &
Ollie Music, administered by
Dinger & Ollie Music, BMI.
©1996 All rights reserved

Berkowitz: Tracks 1, 4,8 & 16
Caducci Thrift
Music/Dinger & Ollie Music,
administered by Dinger &
Ollie Music, BMI. ©1996 All
rights reserved

Reznor: Tracks 5, 7 & 15
Leaving Hope/TVT Music, Inc.
ASCAP. ©1996 All rights

Antichrist Superstar was
conceived and created by
Marilyn Manson
Produced by Trent Reznor &
Dave "Rave" Ogilvie
Co-produced by M. Manson
Except tracks 3 & 11
Produced by M. Manson &
Sean Beavan
Engineered by
Dave "Rave" Ogilvie
& Sean Beavan
assisted by Brian Pollack &
Chris Vrenna
Mixed by Sean Beavan
Editing & Programming:
Chris Vrenna,
Trent Reznor, Sean Beavan,
Charlie Clouser
& Dave "Rave" Ogilvie
Nothing Studios,
New Orleans
Mastering: Tom Baker

at Future Disc Systems

Marilyn Manson: all voices,
guitar, pan flute
Twiggy Ramirez: lead and
rhythm guitars, acoustic
\guitar, bass
M.W. Gacy: all keyboards,
loops and other original
pieces of 16-bit audio
Ginger Fish: live drums,
and introducing
Zim Zum: live guitarist for
Antichrist Superstar

Management: Tony Ciulla
Booking: Alex Kochan for
Artists and Audience
Legal: David Codikow
Business Management:
Jay Sendyk
Nothing: John A. Malm, Jr.

Design & Digital
Illustration: P.R. Brown
@ Bau-Da Design Group
Photography: Dean Karr

Thanks: Tony Ciulla, Barb
and Hugh, Missi, Trent, Sean
, John Malm, Jr., Jeff
Anderson, All at Interscope,
Sioux z., Jay, Gerri & Rich, E.
Elias Merhige, Dana Maher
and Family, Gerry Gerrard,
Danny & Podboy, Robin Finck,
Sam Kirby, Frank Proia, David
Lynch and Jennifer, J.
Mahoney, Veronika, Natalie
Natero, Maxie & Garrett,
Mike Nastasi, Chris Meyer,
all the Bier, Wilson & Yip
families, J. Rach, Gary Talpas,
Silvia Garcia, Howard
Schomer, Steven Hirsch,
R. Rosen, M. Toorock, Dean Karr
and the U Ground, Anton
, Andy and all at
Barrister's Gallery, Tommy

Manipulation by S.M.G.

Fan Club:
Marilyn Manson Family
25935 detroit Rd. suite #329
Westlake, Ohio 44145.
© 1996 Interscope Records.

All rights reserved.

Cover gallery[edit]

Charts, certifications and procession[edit]


Chart (1996) Peak position
Australia (ARIA)[33] 41
Austria (Ö3)[33] 37
Finland (Mitä Hitti)[33] 13
France (SNEP)[33][34] 116
Germany (Media Control)[35] 100
Hungary (Mahasz)[36] 21
New Zealand (RIANZ)[33] 5
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[33] 50
United Kingdom (OCC)[37] 73
United States (Billboard 200)[38][39] 3


Region Provider Certification Shipment Actual Sales
Australia ARIA Gold[40] 35,000+
Canada CRIA 2x Platinum[41] 200,000+
United States RIAA Platinum[42] 1,000,000+


Year Single Chart Position
1996 "The Beautiful People" Australia (ARIA)[43] 42
Netherlands (MegaCharts)[43] 96
New Zealand (RIANZ)[43] 29
Modern Rock Tracks[44][45] 26
Mainstream Rock Tracks[44] 29
United Kingdom (OCC)[37] 18
"Tourniquet" Finland (Mitä Hitti)[46] 16
New Zealand (RIANZ)[46] 41
1997 Mainstream Rock Tracks[45] 30
United Kingdom (OCC)[37] 28


  • "The Beautiful People" - directed by Floria Sigismondi
  • "Tourniquet" - directed by Floria Sigismondi
  • "Man That You Fear" - directed by W.I.Z.
  • "Cryptorchid" - directed by E. Elias Merhige (This uses scenes from his film Begotten. However, it was banned from MTV due to its graphic imagery. It would later be included on the God Is in the T.V. VHS.)
  • "Long Hard Road Out of Hell" - directed by Matthew Rolston
  • "Apple of Sodom" - directed by Joseph Cultice
  • "Antichrist Superstar" - directed by E. Elias Merhige (This also includes scenes from Begotten as well as Nazi military videos and book burnings spliced in with Manson at a podium.)

Press kit[edit]

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  • A poster depicting the booklet cover of Antichrist Superstar appears in Vol. 1, #43 of The Punisher (now known as Punisher: Frank Castle), published by Marvel Comics' MAX imprint.
  • If the roman numerals that appear on the back of the album sleeve (IX (9), VI (6), III (3), and VII (7)) are multiplied by themselves, the resulting number equals 1134. When 1134 is properly read upside-down, it appears as 'hEll' ('Hell').
  • Both the first and last four second long "empty tracks", tracks 17 and 98, equal 1666 when multiplied together.
  • The photographs of Marilyn Manson in the album's liner notes were taken at Manson's New Orleans apartment.[47]
  • The title track, "Antichrist Superstar", was originally meant to be a single from the album. A music video was filmed in 1996 and was never released, but can be found on youtube.
  • There is a popular belief that the track title "Cryptorchid" is actually a misspelling of "Cryptorchild". This is false however; 'cryptorchid' refers to when one or both testicles on a body have failed to sink into the scrotum.
  • Remixing the album is impossible as it was reported that Trent Reznor had lost all master discs for Manson's albums on or prior to Nothing Records going out of business in 2004. Manson stated he believes Reznor destroyed or misplaced them on purpose.
  • The names of the two latter cycles in the album seem to be referencing two films by avant-garde filmmaker Kenneth Anger: Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome and Lucifer Rising.
  • In 2011, some demos of Antichrist Superstar were leaked online.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Marilyn Manson[48]
  • Sean Beavan – producer, engineer, editing, mixing, guitar, guitar synthesizer
  • Trent Reznor – producer, editing, mixing, mellotron, guitar, rhodes piano
  • Robin Finck – live (guest guitar), additional keyboards (uncredited, however Manson confirmed his work on the album)
  • Danny Lohner – guitar
  • Chris Vrenna – drums, programming, engineer, editing
  • Dave Ogilvie – producer, programming, engineer, editing, mixing[49]
  • Brian Pollack – production assistant, assistant engineer
  • Tom Baker – mastering
  • P. R. Brown – digital illustration, design
  • Dean Karr – photography


For further reading and in depth analysis please refer to The Nachtkabarett: Antichrist Svperstar


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  2. Paine, Andre (2010-11-08). "Marilyn Manson: Antichrist Indie Star". ABC News. Retrieved 2010-11-22. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 Thigpen, David (1997-02-24). "Music: Satan's Little Helpers". TIME Magazine.,9171,985963-1,00.html. Retrieved 2010-12-09. 
  4. Saidman, Sorelle (2000-09-18). "Marilyn Manson Unveils Tour Plans, First Single For Holy Wood". MTV News Online (latterly Retrieved 2010-11-16. 
  5. Perlah, Jeff (2000-10-01). "MARILYN MANSON: THE WIZARD OF ODD". Onstage Magazine. Retrieved 2010-08-22. 
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  27. "10 Classic Albums from 21 Genres for the 21st Century". Record Collector. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
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  29. "Les 1000 CD des disquaires de la fnac". FNAC (latterly Listology). Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
  30. "Choix des critiques ou des lecteurs depuis 1993". Rock & Folk. Retrieved 2011-03-06. 
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  35. "Chartverfolgung / Marilyn Manson / Longplay". PhonoNet. Retrieved 2009-03-23. 
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  40. "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1997 Albums" Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved on March 05, 2011.
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  44. 44.0 44.1 Alternative Songs charting. Retrieved 2010-11-17.
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See also[edit]