Backstreet Boys – Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely 
     (zero)  Okay, I’ll play devil’s advocate here. You’re 35, and you’re down in your parents’ basement one Friday night. A stand-up comedian mentions your name, and the joke isn’t particularly good, but the entire crowd bursts into appreciative applause anyway. The mere mention of your name is a guaranteed punchline, and you spent your royalty money years ago, and your wrists still hurt from the choreographed dancing. Can you picture it, Nick, Howie, A.J., et al? Good, because it’s coming. That’s the meaning of being lonely, and it can’t get here soon enough for you guys. What is this, your eighth hit? Even NKOTB was cashed at this point. (Anyone remember their bad-boy comeback attempt in 1994, "Dirty Dawg"?) And, dammit, those kids knew no one was interested in hearing them attempt meaning. A body is pulled out of an ambulance as this video opens, and the goofy-faced redhead sings to it from behind the hospital glass. ("I’ve been stabbed and a Backstreet Boy is singing to me. What did I do, God?!") Another one is riding a bus, a tear dropping from his eye as he clutches a photo of his sweetheart. A third is at the bus stop, fantasizing about how he could have pulled her out of the way in time and taken the blow instead because, yeah, we all know the Backstreet Boys would die for our sins. Zero stars – we shouldn’t have to deal with this in the new millennium. –Andrew Hicks 

Sheryl Crow and Friends – There Goes the Neighborhood (live) 
     (**)  Sheryl Crow went straight from eclectic rocker to weathered, old-fart legend in a year’s time. How did it happen? Well, first, she cut her hair. All serious musicians have to do that sooner or later. Then she started hanging out with (translation: blowing) Eric Clapton and popping up on VH1 concert specials every month or so. Oh yeah, the security guards on the VH1 lot don’t even stop her – they just wave her through, she’s so damned familiar. "There Goes the Neighborhood" is one of the stronger tracks from The Globe Sessions, a four-minute ditty recalling the time she "dropped acid on a Saturday night just to see what the fuss was about." This being MTV, there’s an incoherent overdub, so now she’s either dropping "Allen" or "alley" or something like that. Strict concert-performance video here – nothing more, nothing less. You know, I saw Sheryl live last spring (yeah, it’s not something I generally brag about), and her vocals sounded a hell of a lot better than this. I guess all that "hanging out with" Eric Clapton can wear on a girl’s throat. –AH 

DMX – What’s My Name 
    (*½)  What’s your name? Why, DMX, of course. You’re a scruffy, obnoxious gangsta rapper who relies on overly simplistic, mechanized samples. Damn, that shit you’re smoking must be pretty good if you can’t even remember your own vanity license plate initials. "What’s My Name" is probably the best-looking video from DMX; instead of riding a bike down a street this time, he’s in the Lenny Kravitz Blue Party Dome. Three tiers of honeys are grinding to his red leather jacket antics, but apparently, he’s just the opening act for a pit bull fight. Rather appropriate, I’d say. Twenty bucks says the dogs each grab a rapper arm and lay into it. After all, if his music sounds this bad to human ears like mine, imagine how it must sound to the sensitive ears of a dog. –AH 

Eve f/Faith Evans – Love Is Blind 
Eve f/Faith Evans - Love Is Blind
     (**)  I guess I have 20/20 vision, then, because there’s nothing on Earth that could make me love Eve. She has an interesting vocal style, yes, and she’s made some quality one-verse cameo appearances on other artists’ songs (hell, she held her own against Prince/The Artist on his new album), but "Love is Blind" has the same nursery-rhyme structure and repetitious production as her breakthrough single, "Gotta Man." The video tells a bland ghetto love story as Eve reminisces about a friend who died before her time. (Ten bucks says at least one USC grad student has done a dissertation on the social ramifications of depictions of premature death in hip-hop videos. HINT: Eve’s red velvet cowboy hat does NOT signify death.) This video is "For Andrea." Strange, the only Andrea I know would hate this far more than I would. But she’s still alive and breathing, so she must not be the same Andrea. RANDOM THOUGHT: Damn, is Faith Evans the kiss of death. –AH 
Eve f/Faith Evans - Love Is Blind

Ghostface Killah f/Raekwon – Apollo Kids 
     (*½)  Yes, the murderer from the Scream movies has finally been given his own video. Actually, this is just one more member of the Wu-Tang Clan going on the bland solo tip. Ghostface Killah’s gimmick, it seems, is that he covers his face with a ski mask until he actually has to rap, then the mask comes off. The mask would interrupt his flow, you see. During this video, he seems to be presiding over a shoe factory, a luxury-car show and a demented product-testing facility. (Believe me, they perfected the sample-retardant ski mask.) And he only makes us wait two minutes for the requisite slow-motion, counting-the-money shot. I’ll stick with the Ol’ Dirty Bastard, thanks. –AH 

Whitney Houston – I Learned From the Best 
     (**)  She sure did. If nothing else, Whitney has learned Janet Jackson’s technique of saturating the market with a seemingly endless series of videos from the same album. This is the sixth (!) from My Love Is Your Love (including two remix videos), an uninspired, still-haven’t-seen-it-on-MTV ballad. Whitney once again tells off her man ("Did you really think that you could walk back in my life / After reuniting with New Edition and still failing to pay the bills?") I can’t exactly figure out the concept – is Whitney filming a video within a video here or just taping a TV appearance? She’s on a well-lit stage while an appreciative infomercial-perky audience sways and claps along. Meanwhile, her abusive boyfriend (not played by Bobby, by the way) paces in the wings, watching himself be slandered in front of the crowd and meticulously gathering up objects to beat Whitney with. Belt? Check. Broken-off piano leg? Check. Four-hour director’s cut of The Bodyguard? Double-check. How many more bland videos does Whitney have in her from this damn album? --AH 

Montel Jordan – Get It On Tonite 
     (**)  I have to apologize for this week’s reviews. I watched a lot of Box while I was home. I know this won’t even make a dent on MTV, but I feel compelled to review it anyway. This is the guy who, a year after his big hit, was already taking second banana to a 400-pound Eddie Murphy with a Nutty Professor cameo. Who, in the opening of this video, tells his girlfriend off properly. Montel is not going to that party with her boring-ass friends. "I ain’t (bleep) with them," he declares, and seconds later he’s being e-paged by Tiff. "Get It On Tonite" is an okay song, built around a guitar sample so distorted it sounds like a harmonica, and an okay video. Just okay. It’s filmed in the Lenny Kravitz heroin-party color scheme, with Montel honey-frolicking through a wild party and arriving home just before his girlfriend does. "So what did you do tonight?" she asks as he polishes off the orange juice directly from the carton. "Nuttin’," he replies, and barely resists winking at the camera. Ladies and gentlemen, readers everywhere, this is an omen. You must get it on tonite. Montel decrees it. –AH 

Q-Tip – Breathe and Stop 
     (**)  I liked Q-Tip’s first post-Tribe Called Quest break-up single, "Vivrant Thang." At the time, I think I provided some self-indulgent quotable line like, "This is the summer rap anthem we needed." Well, I downloaded the song on MP3 and got sick of it quick. Q-Tip has a good flow, but the production on "Vivrant Thang" and now "Breathe and Stop" just doesn’t have that classy Tribe feel. It’s a lot more repetitious and a lot closer to the Puffy/Master P mold, and this video is a virtual remake of the clip for "Vivrant Thang," crossed with the blue-tinted, metallic dome look of "No Scrubs." This hack job comes to us from the same director of both those videos, Hype Williams, who used to be the best hip-hop auteur working. He’s since sullied himself with the likes of Puff and Puff-related artists, and this video has the same gratuitous booty-shaking close-ups and endless rows of meticulously arranged flashing lights. Nothing original here. –AH 

Will Smith f/Biz Markie and Slick Rick – So Fresh 
     (*½)  Will liked the 1987 scene in his "Will2K" video so much he decided to film his entire next video in the same style. Or maybe he realized he could use an existing set to produce a whole video and pocket the money the record company gave him. Either way, "So Fresh" is a bland, bland video, and it begins with the same time machine box from "Will2K." DJ Jazzy Jeff has hijacked the machine and sent them both back to 1987, which is only appropriate because, back then, Will and Jeff were on equal terms. Jeff’s name actually came first then. ("Take that, Mr. Hollywood.") So we get a four-minute homage to LL Cool J and Run DMC, the same shit we got for one-minute in his last video. Complete with break dancing and close-up shot of hi-tops with no laces in the shoes. The best parts of the video, and this should be obvious, are the cameos from the other artists. It’s probably the first time in his entire life that Slick Rick has come forth with a G-rated rhyme. WAY-TOO-TELLING CREDIT: The "So Fresh" video was co-directed by D.J. Jazzy Jada Pinkett-Smith. –AH 

Type O Negative – Everything Dies 
     (**)  Back in my high school days, I had a friend who could get you any CD you wanted for five bucks, ten if it was a double set. During lunch, he would open up his trunk and reveal endless rows of brand-new discs, and people would crowd around and throw money at him. He eventually quit stealing CDs after a copy of the Guess Who Collection set off the store alarms, but he’s the reason I know who Type O Negative is. He deliberately stole a CD of theirs (called Bloody Kisses, I believe) because it had a picture of two vampire-looking girls on the front in a near embrace. He didn’t know if it was going to be 12 tracks of girl-girl phone sex or what, but he was disappointed to learn it was just sub-grunge industrial metal. He eventually sold that CD to a wallet-chain wearing kid in my Honors English class, but that was the last I heard of Type O Negative. Now, almost five years later, I come across "Everything Dies" on The Box, and it seems like even these guys are selling out for the new millennium. Toned-down near-ballad music with enough of a gruff edge to appeal to people like my brother, "Everything Dies" is full of your standard green-tinted angst imagery. The singer has kind of a goofy-faced, Lyle Lovett look, which probably produced said angst, and it has to be said, he doesn’t look the least bit badassed. Isn’t anyone truly evil anymore? Not on The Box, I guess. –AH 

Classic Videos 

Pink Floyd – Brain Damage Eclipse (1977) 
     (***)  I had no real appreciation for Pink Floyd until I moved into Apartment Y. It was several quarter-ounces of marijuana later before I could even view it as anything but meandering ‘70s drug music, but it definitely has its place. And, thanks to the VH1 Classic Rock channel, I actually came across a video for one of the Dark Side of the Moon tracks. "Brain Damage Eclipse," naturally, isn’t an actual video. It doesn’t have the band in it, but then again, the band members all look like high school history teachers anyway. No, just a lot of trippy stock footage here, along with some sequences I assume were filmed specially for the video. It starts with a long tracking shot down a sterile hospital hallway, surgeons all posed in full scrubs, not moving. The camera stops on a blinking "Emergency" sign and cuts to footage of things exploding and world leaders with goofy looks on their face. It’s a lot of the same stuff Roger Waters shows onscreen at his concerts today, but the footage has been updated to include newer public figures, like Yeltsin playing Twister with a jug of Burnett’s vodka. Here, the best we are offered is Nixon looking shifty as an anonymous eyeball darts around the screen and the moon slowly lines up with the sun. Thus begins the millennium-long reign of Pink Floyd. –AH 

Stevie Ray Vaughn – Little Wing (19??) 
     (**½)  Also by way of VH1 Classic Rock is this seven-minute clips video from Stevie Ray Vaughn. "Little Wing" is an instrumental guitar-jam cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic, and the little-seen video is crammed full of footage of old guitar legends doing their thing (yes, of course there’s the scene of Jimi himself coaxing flames from his guitar), not to mention masturbatory shots of guitars being manufactured and guitar buffs taking proper care of the SRV guitar collection. There’s even a montage of neon signs from clubs where guitar legends play. As the video wears on, we even see montages of B.B. King and Eric Clapton’s dentures floating in glasses of water. Great cover of "Little Wing," but the video only gets two-and-a-half stars, just because this insane love of the guitar does indeed border on the pornographic. –AH 

Coming Soon: 

Blaque – Bring It All To Me 
Bush – Letting the Cables Sleep 
Crazy Town – Toxic 
Da Brat – That’s What I’m Looking For 
Goodie Mob f/Big Boi and Backbone – Get Rich to This 
Incubus – Pardon Me 
Jay-Z – Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up) 
L.L. Cool J – Shut ‘Em Down 
Santana f/Wyclef – Maria Maria 
Staind – Mudshovel 
Stroke 9 – Little Black Backpack

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions