Review – Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town’s “Smokin’ and Drinkin'”

Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town Smokin' & Drinkin'

So about “Roots & Wings” being the next single for Miranda Lambert, we now have an answer. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen now or at any other time. We were probably just lucky for Ram Trucks to allow her to release a full version of the song, let alone get it released as a single to radio. It’s a shame because it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard from Lambert. Of course it probably didn’t help that her last single “Little Red Wagon” stalled out at radio and didn’t perform that great sales wise, so they couldn’t go with such a country song as a followup. Instead Miranda Lambert’s new single is “Smokin’ and Drinkin’,” which also features Little Big Town. I’m not surprised to see this as a single because Little Big Town is hot right now on all of the charts and just reached the top ten in airplay on the Billboard chart last week. Lambert is trying to rebound and what better way than to release a single featuring the hottest group in country music right now.

First off this song is nowhere near as good as “Roots & Wings.” It’s not even close. “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” is a song about…well smoking and drinking. Okay it’s more than just this. The song has a reflective theme, with the people in the song thinking back to their younger years and how they rebelled against their upbringing by smoking and drinking. The song is part nostalgia, part “wiser with age” thinking. It’s very broad and doesn’t get too deep. What you hear is what you get with this song. Now upon the first couple of listens you think this song isn’t half bad, but the more I listen to it the more I’m bored by it. And I think I can put my finger on why: the instrumentation and the vocals.

The lyrics are at least decent, but the instrumentation gives me a lukewarm feeling. It sounds like 80s pop rock, something I found myself saying a lot when reviewing Little Big Town’s Pain Killer album. From the synth to the drum loops, I’m certainly not impressed. The vocals bug me even more though, especially at the beginning of the song. Lambert’s voice sounds animatronic-like and dare I say robotic. When Lambert and Little Big Town harmonize in the chorus, I expect to be blown away as both Lambert and lead singer of Little Big Town Kimberly Schlapman can be great singers. Instead I’m underwhelmed and left wanting a lot more. It’s really hard to distinguish the different voices in the harmonies too.

Lambert and her team had a chance to really impress everyone by releasing “Roots & Wings” as a single or really one of the traditional tracks off of her Platinum album. Instead we get 80s pop rock that simply makes me say, “meh.” I’m really not sure how this will perform on the charts. On one hand, as I mentioned in the opener Little Big Town is hot right now. On the other hand, two female vocalists on one song is a big red flag to the likes of Keith Hill and radio programmers. I could see this going either way on the radio charts. Regardless I’m back to being unimpressed by Lambert singles and continue to hope that the next one is better. “Smokin’ and Drinkin'” is definitely not amongst the worst in mainstream country music, but you can thank the lower than ever bar for that. Some will use this to try to defend this as a good song, but I won’t because my bar hasn’t lowered. I can neither recommend nor not recommend this song. It’s a song that simply exists.

Grade: 5/10 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

30 thoughts on “Review – Miranda Lambert & Little Big Town’s “Smokin’ and Drinkin'”

  1. Zack June 24, 2015 / 11:07 am

    It’s an unpopular opinion but I hate this even more than Little Red Wagon. She sounds like a freakin’ robot in the verses and honestly the countrypolitan vibe does nothing for me. For me personally it’s a 3/10, but can’t argue with a 5 🙂

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  2. Raymond June 24, 2015 / 11:19 am

    I love this. Josh you do know the vocal in the verses are Miranda Kimberly and Karen. I do like the reflective lyrics. I am curious though how this does. When they performed it on the CMAs it busted so hence Little Red Wagon. Also with Kelsea Ballerini in does that leave Miranda having a slower run. This is a song chart watch I am gonna see. Also it is always nice to hear a Miranda and Carrie song back to back on the radio. Joy!

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  3. Kevin Davis June 24, 2015 / 11:22 am

    I think 5/10 is a fair score. I might be a little more generous with a 6. For what it’s worth, this song sounds better as a part of the album, which I enjoyed as a whole. If the entire Platinum album sounded like this, then that would be horrible — and that is basically the Pain Killer album.

    Like others, I do not understand the choices for singles from Platinum. “Priscilla” would have made a great single. There’s also “Another Sunday in the South” and “Hard Staying Sober.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • theknightswhosayni4 June 24, 2015 / 5:08 pm

      I would agree. I’d say the singles released from Platinum have been, overall, the worst songs from the CD. I don’t know who’s choosing them, but Little Red Wagon never should have touched radio. Something Bad was no better. This song is mediocre. There are some really really good songs on her album that people won’t hear because Country Radio wouldn’t touch them. I would totally agree with your choices of “Another Sunday In the South” and “Hard Staying Sober”. If “Old Shit” didn’t cuss, I would also include that with better single possibilities. Too bad we get what we got.

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      • Kevin Davis June 24, 2015 / 5:37 pm

        Yes, if I only knew this album on the basis of the radio singles, I would have litter interest in it. What’s interesting to observe is that Lambert co-wrote the last four tracks on the album, which includes some of the best material (like “Hard Staying Sober” and “Another Sunday in the South”) and two co-writes with Ashley Monroe (as with “Heart Like Mine” from Revolution).

        In general, Lambert is at her best when she is either the sole writer (“What About Georgia,” “New Strings,” “More Like Her,” et al.) or co-writer (“Mama, I’m Alright” and many more). She has earned her place in country music. I would prefer that she return to writing the majority of her material. Of course, she is no longer the ambitious upstart from small-town Texas, and fame has the tendency to affect the quality of songwriting (and song selection).

        Liked by 1 person

      • Scotty J June 24, 2015 / 7:48 pm

        ‘New Strings’ is probably my favorite song of Miranda’s and frankly I wish we could see more of that type of thing from her instead of the bad ass sexified version that we are now getting. Her career arc has been a disappointment to me despite her great success. Feels like she could be so much better.

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  4. Cobra June 24, 2015 / 12:55 pm

    I actually had the same overall grade, but reversed feelings on instrumentation and lyrics. I found the lyrics a bit repetitivve and dull while I foubd the musoc a bit more enjoyable. Vocally, autotune seemed overdone. Same grade in the end. When the album came out, i liked it the sobg a lot more than I do npw. It’s an okay, but overall forgettable song.

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  5. Kuzco June 24, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    Yep, you nailed it. Very forgettable. I’ll be shocked if it’s a big hit. Her label already pulled it once because they thought Little Red Wagon was a better option, and we know how that one turned out. I guess the reason for releasing it again now is that Little Big Town is hot, but I doubt that will be enough, especially given radio’s reluctance to accept Girl Crush. It will probably sell well enough, and maybe that’s all they’re going for, but I don’t expect a top 10 on radio.

    Like many others, I don’t get the single choices from Platinum. Priscilla is probably the most single-sounding option left, but I’m guessing they think people won’t connect to the lyrics. Babies Makin’ Babies and Another Sunday in the South are probably the best options, but they both lean pretty traditional, and it’s clear that her label doesn’t want to position her as a traditionalist. Still, picking Smoking and Drinking is the most forgettable, “safe” choice they could have made. The problem is that there is no safe choice these days when it comes to women on country radio. It has to be exceptional in some way even to stand a chance.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Derek Hudgin June 24, 2015 / 2:07 pm

    My God, what a boring song. I hate the vocal effects in the song.

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    • Cobra June 24, 2015 / 2:23 pm

      I may be mistaken, but the “effects” just sounded like autotune to me. Even as a fan of Miranda, I have to say, Platinum was just a dull and lifeless album.

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  7. Scotty J June 24, 2015 / 2:33 pm

    Another major problem when the biggest stars release so many underwhelming singles is that it starts to hurt their legacy after awhile. These are the songs that they are going to be known for in 5,10,15 years when people look back on them. The cool album cuts may be remembered by their super fans but not by the average listeners. When we look back on Loretta or Merle we think of their hits and not some long forgotten album cut that probably is pretty damn good. But the big difference is that for many of these acts the singles were great and now even for some of the more respected current acts like Lambert the singles are the worst they have to offer. It really is weird to think that in twenty five years when Miranda Lambert plays some show she will be playing songs like this or ‘Little Red Wagon’ instead of ‘Priscilla’ or ‘Another Sunday In The South’ because this will be what people remember.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 24, 2015 / 4:34 pm

      Yep, you’re right on target. These singles represent these artists’ legacies and I think many of them forget to think about the long-term effects. Essentially every time they pick a meh or terrible song, it puts another dent in their reputation. Of course the super fans will rightly point out the great album cuts, but the casual fan does not care. That’s why I applaud, despite his poor single choices on his last album, Garth Brooks for his focus on albums as a whole rather than single cuts. A truly great album will be remembered for decades, while a catchy hit song gets 15 minutes before the next one replaces it.

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  8. Noah Eaton June 24, 2015 / 2:50 pm

    This era has been such a letdown to my ears as far as single releases are concerned.

    During her previous album “Four the Record”, she also anchored the album on a trio of underwhelming single selections, but then saved the best for last. It was refreshing to see “All Kinds of Kinds” see the light of day at radio even if it was ultimately the worst-performing of its five singles. And while I know you can’t stand “Mama’s Broken Heart” and agree her writers could have avoided the revenge angle altogether and just focus on the generational commentary with its lyrics, it still stands out lyrically and was kind of fun.

    In contrast, we’re going on four singles deep this era and she still hasn’t released a single I like. I mean, I can at least give credit to Lambert and her fellow writers for trying to tackle a different theme with “Automatic”, but the tonality of the song lost me and ultimately kind of soured it, at least to me. And as for ts two follow-ups……………….please don’t remind me of those! -__-

    *

    Now we have this atrociously boring and overproduced-to-death snorefest……………………….and, honestly, I really don’t have much more to say about this. I think you explained EXACTLY what my issues with this song are.

    I suppose the one point I’ll add is that nostalgia songs are most effective when they have their share of slicing, colorful and emotionally charged imagery and narration to back up those feelings. Say what you will about Kenny Chesney, for instance………………but as hackneyed and boring as so many of his songs may sound, his songwriters nonetheless had a knack at never taking the imagery for granted when it came to nostalgia. When you listened to “Don’t Happen Twice”, it’s hard not to visualize not singing a Janis Joplin song on the hood of a car, stargazing on a late summer night. When you listened to “I Go Back”, it’s hard not to visualize standing on a football field with an old flame, old gym floors and the smell of Sunday chicken at the church. And so on.

    Hell, even most recently with Eric Church’s “Talladega”, he understood and nailed this. You can easily visualize the lyrics as you sing them.

    But “Smokin’ & Drinkin'”? The only two morsels of imagery you get out of this song are blue jeans smelling like smoke, and painting on a bridge. But WHY is it important to mention your blue jeans smelled like smoke? WHAT did they paint on the bridge, and WHY is it important we need to know that? There’s hardly any narrative at all, but rather just a string of interjections a la: “Yeah, it was cool hangin’ out with friends and smokin’ and drinkin’ back in the day!”

    *

    I guess the only other thing I can add is predicting how this will fare commercially.

    One thing’s for sure: this plays it a whole lot safer than her last two singles did in terms of arrangement and production. I do expect radio callout will be less polarizing for this than her last two singles were, so it has that in its favor.

    But on the other hand, where this may reverse her recent downward spiral at radio, I can’t see this moving the needle digitally. Because while “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” strikes me as that kind of song that’s not likely to elicit a strong negative callout score, it also isn’t that kind of song that will elicit a passionately positive or even somewhat positive response. The latter is precisely why Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush” has beyond held its own; it may have among the highest negative ratings on radio callout, but it ALSO has among the highest passionate positive scores. It’s a love it or hate it release, and those work wonders in moving the needle.

    Now I already know you’re thinking: “But wait, how do you explain “Somethin’ Bad’ and ‘Little Red Wagon’ stalling at radio?” I think it mostly comes down to the fact “Girl Crush” has enjoyed an exceptional amount of crossover appeal as reflected by its consistently sky-high digital sales week after week. Sales generally determine the ultimate fate of airplay these days. “Somethin’ Bad”, on the other hand, may have sold great early on, but the sales were more frontloaded in its commercial run and had eased significantly by the end of its radio run. As for “Little Red Wagon”, sales were superior to its airplay, but it also never exactly blew up as reflected by it not receiving a Gold certification yet.

    I think “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” is going to fare even worse digitally, because at least “Little Red Wagon” was a love-it-or-hate-it song that was more likely to command your attention. “Smokin’ & Drinkin'” will mostly elicit “Eh, that’s pleasant enough!” reactions………………..which work better for radio but worse for sales.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Josh Schott June 24, 2015 / 4:30 pm

      Great points as always, Noah. Miranda’s single output has been pretty disappointing for a while now and she had a chance to really shake it up by releasing “Roots & Wings” as a single. But then again that’s the story for a lot of artists. (fill in the blank) could’ve released this great song, but instead released this meh song.

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      • Raymond June 24, 2015 / 5:28 pm

        Why release a song thats not off Platinum the album is still selling well. Given this song is the safest option left on the album this to me will be the test to see bow much momentum she has.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton June 24, 2015 / 9:01 pm

        “Roots & Wings” was her best bet at courting both radio and retail.

        I can understand why some are suspicious of the former considering it’s her most country-sounding offering since “All Kinds of Kinds”. But then again: 1) it has a potent rock chorus, 2) “Automatic” was wordier and still became a hit and 3) “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” proves traditional – leaning country still has a market (even despite its abysmal sales)

        I’m absolutely convinced “Roots & Wings” can more than likely be a radio and retail hit. It wouldn’t peak as high as “Somethin’ Bad” did on the Billboard Hot 100 and it’s a tall order to go Platinum in this sales climate. But I think it would have stronger legs and go Gold digitally while going Top Three at radio.

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      • Raymond June 24, 2015 / 10:14 pm

        Noah I am calling bull on that claim Roots and Wings has no album too it. So unless that is a lead off song there is no point sending it to radio.

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      • Derek Hudgin June 25, 2015 / 9:20 am

        Not necessarily. While an album to promote along side the single would only help, there’s still an opportunity to release “Roots & Wings” as a stand alone single. We’re in a culture where most people are willing to buy singles as opposed to albums. And if the song does sell well, that could be an opportunity for Miranda to A, kick off a campaign for a new album or an EP. B, release it on a greatest hits like Carrie with LTG or SITW. Or C, re-release Platinum with a special edition including “Roots & Wings.” (For the record, I’m not a fan of options B or C, but we’ve seen them happen and work well with other artists.)

        Miranda still has a lot of fire power as one of Country’s top females, and could afford a risk, so to speak, with “Roots & Wings.” If it does well, great! If it doesn’t, oh well. It’s not like it would scar her career much with a single dud.

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      • Raymond June 25, 2015 / 10:57 am

        I think it could. She gets 2 songs that stall and then bam she has no momentum. Miranda doesn’t havr enough hits for a greatest hits album. Also given Roots and Wings is a commervial song. It could take a while to officially relrase it. By then Miranda has no momentum.

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      • Noah Eaton June 26, 2015 / 4:32 am

        I am quite confident Miranda Lambert definitely has enough hits for a Greatest Hits: Volume One collection if she really wanted to go that direction. Heck, Blake Shelton’s first hits collection “Loaded” PRECEDES the vast majority of his #1 hits to date, and that sold quite well.

        Airplay peaks only tell part of the story as to a single’s larger fate. Look at “Kerosene” and “Me And Charlie Talking”. Neither of those singles went Top Ten, but “Kerosene” has went on to enjoy some considerable recurrent airplay because of its cult appeal, and “Me And Charlie Talking” is a passionate fan favorite. Even “Gunpowder & Lead” barely went Top Ten, but it is a hit on recurrent airplay and a mainstay at karaoke bars far and wide.

        Between her single releases alone, she has ten Top Ten hits at airplay. Then she has another one that went Top Ten at Hot Country Songs (“Little Red Wagon”). Then you add her feature on Keith Urban’s “We Were Us”, and that’s twelve. That’s already enough to justify a first Greatest Hits collection. But of course “Kerosene” and “Famous in a Small Town” are about as memorable as many of her biggest airplay hits have been, and she can easily push fourteen tracks that way.

        Of course she has enough hits to justify a Greatest Hits set.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Heather June 25, 2015 / 11:34 am

    Wow guess I’m the first girl to post and shockingly don’t agree w/ the above review. Frist off LRW did better sales than many #1 singles (Keith Urban & Church, Chesney, etc.). It is almost gold w/ little radio support and a 17 million + vevo count. Also NOT a rebound w/ LBT it was scheduled @ CMA (remember them performing it) but was switched so LBT could do their own single of Painkiller to try an increase sales (which sadly have been low). “Miranda’s low bar” is a ridiculous comment. If her bar is low many others in Nashville don’t seem to even have a bar! Lambert will want to move more albums. She has good album sales, Chesney, Blake, Tim, Brad, etc. don’t even have half of her sales. Only Church, Aldean, Gilbert (neither still platinum another few months for 1 million sales) have sold more. So maybe she isn’t getting platinum singles BUT people are buying her entire albums. Give a gal some respect. Anyway have you heard it live b/c it is a great song and nothing like what is currently on radio. It reminds me of being w/ friends in summer around bonfires on the beach. Miranda has NEVER catered to radio. Wagon might not be your favorite but it is always a highlight at concerts-the crowd loves it (sorry). Stop comparing this to Roots and Wings (not on Platinum) it was released since people wanted to hear the entire song.

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    • Noah Eaton June 26, 2015 / 4:58 am

      You certainly make some fair points, and I know she was thinking of her live show when she released both “Somethin’ Bad” and “Little Red Wagon”. The fact the music video for “Somethin’ Bad” looked like a trailer to a theatrical summer blockbuster film explained it all: it was intended for entertainment as opposed to art. Same with “Little Red Wagon”.

      The point that was raised earlier is that when you develop a pattern of releasing consecutive songs that veer too far to a certain end of the continuum (whether it be the artistic or the entertaining), you further risk listener burnout: of which fans comprise many of those listeners.

      “Platinum” has sold respectably. It’s at 716,000 copies sold to date. Its sales have been quite for the last two months, however. It’s at #176 on the Billboard 200 this week, and hasn’t appeared in Billboard Top 25 Country Albums listing for two weeks now and was straddling below the Top Twenty before then for about a month and a half.

      Yes, “Platinum” has obviously sold better than the solid majority of A and B-list bro-influenced male country entertainers. But that’s just one side of the story and it is important to maintain a broader perspective. Chart longevity also matters a whole lot. And when it comes to chart longevity, “Platinum” hasn’t fared as well as “Revolution” or “Four The Record”. “Platinum” may have sold nearly three times as many copies out of the gate as “Revolution” did, but “Revolution” has flourished via the slow and steady wins the race approach and is right on the cusp of two million units sold.

      *

      What do I gather from all of this?

      “Platinum” has done well for sure, but it could be doing even better. I think RCA Records Nashville has sold her short this time around.

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      • Scotty J June 26, 2015 / 11:20 am

        I think when we look back at her career that ‘Platinum’ will be when she started to slide down the other side of the mountain with the mediocre performances of some of the singles and sort of a quiet sense of disappointment that is voiced my many people. That doesn’t mean that she won’t have more hits and won’t have some good albums but as far as being at the top I think she might have passed those days.

        It’s another angle to the women in country story actually where it seems that with the exception of maybe Reba McEntire none of the highly successful women have that super longevity that some men have. It seems to be for many reasons also from Shania just disappearing to Faith Hill chasing Hollywood and pop success to other more inexplicable declines like Mattea, Tillis and the like which are probably indicative of a systemic problem.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton June 26, 2015 / 8:26 pm

        I think “Revolution” is going to be remembered as her definitive album when listeners look back at her career twenty years from now.

        The interesting thing is that while “Four The Record” sold about two-thirds of what “Revolution” sold, “Four The Record” is also her only consistent singles album to date in terms of chart performance. “Dead Flowers” flopped right out of the gate in promoting “Revolution”, and “Only Prettier” was sandwiched between #1 hits and fell short of the Top Ten.

        But I think both “Revolution” and “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” are going to hold up better over time than this or “Four The Record”. And I agree that “Platinum” is going to be looked at, over time, as the moment where there was finally too much excess and bloat in her sound to where it overshadowed her stage personality and, in effect, somewhat undermined her populist appeal.

        Her next album will undoubtedly say a lot about how self-aware Lambert is of the general arc of her recent recording career, for better or worse. I do think she’s still capable of producing another million – seller that will resemble another career peak: with “Four The Record” resembling a plateau and “Platinum” an alpine valley. But if she isn’t wise to scale the polish and big sounds back somewhat, she’s only going to accelerate burnout with listeners and continue a trend of diminished returns.

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      • Raymond June 26, 2015 / 9:49 pm

        But you know she will get Female Vocalist of the year every year til Carrie Underwood finds the cure for cancer or if one of the new female artists stick . There is just no way in hell she wins this year I am just failing to see it this time.

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      • NoahHibiscusEaton July 1, 2015 / 1:18 am

        Maybe Kelly Clarkson will pull the unlikely upset? 😉

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  10. petemarshall724 June 25, 2015 / 11:57 pm

    3 in a row for Miranda that songs I don’t like. “Smokin’ and Drinkin’ ” is a terrible song in opinion it’s auto tuned not country at all. 1/10

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  11. Debbie T July 12, 2015 / 4:38 pm

    I suppose I am not in the circle, of dissatisfied fans, but, I LOVE this song, it reminds me of going out on the down and having a great time with friends. I play this one song off my CD over and over… I love it!!

    Debbie

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  12. Steven Young August 13, 2015 / 4:35 pm

    It’s okay, but “meh” is an apt description. That’s what I thought when first hearing it too. And more listens have made me like it less too. Both Miranda & LBT are a lot better than this.

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  13. Stephanie October 22, 2015 / 2:23 am

    I LOVE this song! Of course, I’m 45 and have a lot if reflective thinking to do. In any case, I find it very ABBA-ish, and I enjoy that every song that artist cuts on an album don’t all sound the same. I think that us why some of Kenny Chesney’s fans became bored; he got list in the islands. I am still a. Chesney fan, but every song is the same now, and I find myself unable to listen to an album for any continuous amount of time.

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