MUSIC VIDEO CRITIC AT LARGE
MTV Top 100 of 1996 -- Reviews #80-71
80. Ghostown DJ's -- My Boo 1/2
No, this isn't a tender love ballad from Casper the
friendly ghost. It's a talentless dance tune from a bunch of bikini girls
who can't sing. This has to be one of the worst club hits I've heard, and
I bought two Dance Mix USA CDs. And how about the video?
It's got the requisite beach volleyball shots and poolside antics,
inspired I'm sure by "The Grind," which has inspired many great
works of art. In fact, wasn't Handel's Messiah loosely based
on the C+C Music Factory / Kris Kross episode of "The Grind"?
79. Garbage -- Only Happy When it Rains ***1/2
For someone like me who goes out of his way to
lampoon critics who make really bad word plays (e.g. Gene Shalit,
whose true talent for movie reviewing is revealed when you take the
"al" out of his last name) by thinking of the worst possible ones I can,
a band named Garbage offers limitless opportunities. That's why it
sucks that I like them so much. This almost fits with the theme of the
song, bad things being good, pain being pleasurable (in a non-sexual
The video itself showcases the charismatic lead
singer, Scottish Shirley Manson, who shows off bright blue and red
mini-dresses. It adds brightness to an already colorful video, but
there's also a dark edge. Oddly enough, it's the dark edge that comes
off optimistic and the bright edge that exudes pessimism and anger.
The bright edge is dark and the dark edge is bright, further
perpetuating the duality... I've been writing college papers too long,
I've got this intellectual b.s. thing down pat.
78. Mariah Carey -- Forever *1/2
I'm still in love with Mariah after all
this time. Who cares if she's married to some 55-year-old record executive, he'll
probably die before I'm 30, by which time I'll be rich and
world-renowned and our storybook romance will finally commence.
Who says I can't separate fantasy from reality? Certainly not this
pink fairy on my shoulder...
Five sentences later, I've established my ongoing
adolescent crush on Mariah Carey, but still haven't explained why I
only gave this video one-and-a-half stars. The thing is, Mariah just
doesn't throw her heart and soul into making decent videos for teenage
boys to drool over like Janet or Madonna. For every lusterpiece like
"Dreamlover" or "Fantasy," there's a so-so video like "One Sweet
Day," "Hero" or this bland live performance from last year's NBC
In addition, "Forever" isn't even a good single
choice. I own the Daydream album, I've listened to it countless
times, I would have gone with "Underneath the Stars," "Melt Away"
or her remake of Journey's "Open Arms" before releasing this generic
ballad to radio. But then I'm not a record exec and I'm not 55, so what
do I know?
Just let me leave you with this prediction -- "Forever"
will not last forever. They won't even play it on radios after next year
and it probably won't end up on Mariah's greatest hits collection.
That prognistication is probably a million times more likely than the
future existence of Mariah Hicks.
TOO NEW. L.L. Cool J -- Ain't Nobody ***
Enjoying his best level of success ever in what is his
third comeback (and I know I shouldn't call it a comeback -- he's been
here for years), L.L. proves that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. His past four
singles have all been sex-oriented, and "Ain't Nobody" ain't no exception.
Sampling the Chaka Khan classic, this version appears on the Beavis
and Butt-head Do America.
His past four videos have all been three-star features --
again, no exception. This time, L.L. has an Artic pool party in the dead of
winter. It's indoors, of course, so all the women sport bikinis, except for
the unidentified female who sings the chorus. The celebrity guests (ha!)
include MTV's Doctor Dre and Ed Lover and a bunch of helmeted snow
mobile riders. I asked L.L. who those people were and all he said was
"ain't nobody." Funny man, that L.L.
77. Counting Crows -- Angels of the Silence 1/2
How do I hate thee? Let me count the crows... These
guys have gotten on my nerves since "Mr. Jones" back in 1994. Their
follow-up videos are no better, this one in particular. The dreadlocked
singer's still flailing around uncontrollably and their songs still suck.
"Angels" is better than the whiny August and Everything After
hits, but not that big an improvement. This video is boring performance
stuff that has the Crows playing to a packed audience. So it's a fantasy video...
76. Oasis -- Don't Look Back in Anger *
You know what? Oasis sucks. That they
claim to be a second incarnation of the Beatles makes them seem that much
less talented by comparison. Liam and Noel Gallagher are no Lennon and
McCartney and their claims that their album represents a cross between
Revolver and the white album are met by nothing but laughs from
most serious music fans, who know Oasis couldn't even approach the worst
Beatles album, Beatles For Sale.
"Don't Look Back," the third single from What's the
Story, Morning Glory? is about as good as the other two. With their
overinflated egos and whiny singing, either you like these guys or you
hate them. And it's important that I make it clear early on in the countdown
that I don't like Oasis. The video has Oasis playing in front of somebody's
house. If it was mine, I'd unleash the hounds, but then again I'm not their
#1 fan, or their #1 million fan, for that matter.
75. New Edition (The Reunion) -- Hit Me Off **
This, as the MTV title card informs us, is the first video
from a reunited New Edition, who are trying their damndest to come off
cool for a new generation of music-buying kids. Take it from this kid who
buys a lot of music -- they don't. The tailored suits and rubber pants
(safe threads) just don't work, but neither does the reunion idea in the
This video begins with some nervous CIA employees
deciding to "reactivate" New Edition. Apparently, they were frozen in
Area 51 with Walt Disney and the captured aliens. I hope the government
wasn't involved in the New Edition reunion. If I knew taxpayer dollars
were funding music like this, I'd have no recourse but to move to Canada.
"Hit Me Off" is better than "I'm Still in Love With You"
because it's a generic R+B dance tune rather than a generic R+B ballad.
The video is better too, mainly involving the reactivated New Edition
singing from a basement hallway in the CIA building. It's still nothing
worth paying money for. My advice to New Edition -- cash those
checks quick before they bounce.
74. Hootie and the Blowfish -- Sad Caper **1/2
I've never liked Hootie and the Blowfish's mush rock
(I'm of the opinion that, talent-wise, they blow fish), but "Sad Caper" is
their best video, mainly because Darius Rucker and the boys are hardly
in it. And, what can I say, it's not as much fun to hate a band when
they're not selling anymore.
"Sad Caper" is another entry in the popular Las Vegas
genre of music videos that showcase flashy casinos and luxury hotels (no
Nas video would be complete without them). This video follows one man
who loses it all, walks around in a daze, wakes up in a strange hotel room,
gets a ride back to the casino from a marching band (Hootie and the
Blowfish in cognito) and wins a bunch of money. But the moral of the
story is -- even with all the money he could ever want, he still has no
desire to buy the Fairweather Johnson album.
73. Soundgarden -- Blow Up the Outside World **
Soundgarden enters Rage Against the Machine territory
here by trying their hands at a little social commentary. Cornell, looking a
little too much like Brad Pitt, is bound to a chair, forced to watch images
flashing on the screen. Each is accompanied by a subtitle, such as "God,"
"Country," and "Happiness." They even have a picture of Hitler titled
"Enemy." I'd flash a picture of Soundgarden up and call it "Mediocre."
These guys used to kick so much ass; what happened?
72. En Vogue -- Don't Let Go (Love) **1/2
I'd swear these girls broke up, especially when one of
them released an ill-fated solo album early last year, but here they are again,
four attractive black women singing the theme song from a movie about
four attractive black women, Set It Off. (Okay, so Queen Latifah's
not that attractive; just go with me on this one.)
The "Don't Let Go" video has a look almost identical
to "Whatta Man," another video of theirs, with them standing around a
crowd of men, singing their overly made-up heads off while Set It Off
clips are liberally dispersed. "Don't Let Go" is a pretty generic ballad that
doesn't rank with classic En Vogue tunes like "Free Your Mind" or "My
Lovin'," but it was still a welcome comeback, even if it was just a
soundtrack song and not an actual album.
71. Donna Lewis -- I Love You Always Forever **1/2
We think civilization is getting more sophisticated, but
every year there are a few of these saccharine pop songs that slip by.
There are always a few one-hit wonders we'll deny ever liking in a year
or two, most of which are blond-haired, breathy-voiced women. 1986
had Stacey Q, now 1996 gives us Donna Lewis, who looks like Crystal
Bernard from "Wings" and sings like Little Orphan Annie.
The video is passable, with Little Orphan Lewis all
alone in a room with shoes on her hands and a constantly twisting camera
that steals the very equilibrium from your body. (Don't attempt standing up
when this one's on.) She also tries to fool the world into thinking she can
play the piano, when we all know it's her amazing vocal prowess we're
drawn to. Why, she's got almost a two-octave range!
Adult-contemporary crossover hits were big in 1996.
That this VH1 ditty actually popped up on the MTV countdown testifies
to that. It almost gives Phil Collins and John Mellencamp something to
shoot for in 1997.
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Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks / Fatboy Productions