MUSIC VIDEO CRITIC AT LARGE
MTV Top 100 of 1996 -- Reviews #50-41
50. Stone Temple Pilots -- Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper
This is the worst STP video ever, no small
considering the scant quality of videos like "Creep" and "Big Empty."
This one, though, is a bunch of home and rehearsal footage that looks
like it was taped on a camcorder. I was waiting for a graduation or a
trip to Disney World. Best we get is one of the Pilots on a horse. I say
we send the video director into rehab with Weiland.
49. Garbage -- Stupid Girl ***
Synthesized drums, remixes, keyboards, samples.
This is alternative music? The line between alternative, dance and
even pop has been stretched to an almost-unrecognizable point these
past couple years with artists that defy being lumped into one genre.
Alanis gets played on adult-contemporary stations between Michael
Bolton and Kenny G. while also topping the request lists of rebel
gets Buzz Clip status on MTV but also gets
played on VH1. Groups like this cross all sorts of borders, although by
the looks of Shirley Manson and her compatriots, they still consider
themselves heavy grunge musicians. "Stupid Girl" is the best of the
three Garbage singles this year (including "Milk," which barely
skimmed the charts), a condemnation by Shirley of girls who look and
act a certain way to get attention. Maybe she doesn't realize she poses
as the stereotypical alternachick to be considered cool herself.
The video, directed by Samuel Bayer, is a
dirty-looking collage of browns and deep reds. "Stupid Girl" has the
overly-grainy feel of a filmstrip that has been run too many hundreds
of times, and only finds itself getting the least bit colorful at the very
end. Not as good as "Only Happy When It Rains," but certainly not
48. R. Kelly -- I Can't Sleep Baby (If I) *1/2
Kelly mopes about his alpine cabin, mourning the
loss of yet another one of his ladyfriends. His lamentations fill the
house, carry out to the porch and even accompany him to the general
store in town. There are no subtle gestures here, just check out the part
where he bangs the hell out of the steering wheel in his Jeep. You have
to wonder if he thinks he's going to win a music video Oscar or
something for falling to his knees and flailing his arms wildly.
"I Can't Sleep" is one more soundalike tune from
Kelly. All his songs sound alike, don't they? But as far as I know, none
are quite as contrived as this one. "I can't sleep baby, I can't eat baby, I
can't live baby." Might as well add "I can't write original lyrics baby"
to the list. Stuff this bad should be kept on the down low.
47. Dave Matthews Band -- Too Much ***
1996 had a lot of follow-up flops, from Weezer and
Hootie to Sheryl Crow and Soundgarden. Probably the only
non-disappointing sophomore effort this year was from Dave
Matthews Band, whose Crash was even better than their first
album. "Too Much," the second video from the second album, is a
song about excess. Dave says he drinks too much, eats too much,
thinks too much, etc. But he hasn't watched 54 music videos in a row
There's never a disappointing music video from
DMB. Sure, "Satellite" was pretty routine, but not bad. The "Too
Much" video finds the band members in a big room of people wearing
brimmed hats and Coke-bottle glasses, turning their heads about every
which way. After seeing these guys for four minutes, you start
thinking, "Too much!" but they serve their purpose. This video, as far
as I know, is the only one which gives us a tambourine's eye view.
There should be a special MTV Video Music Award for innovative
techniques such as these.
46. Metallica -- Hero of the Day 1/2
Remember my discussion of bad follow-up
albums released in 1996? Add Metallica to the list. They were heavy metal
staples of the 80's and even the early 90's (with "Enter Sandman"), but
the Load album was a load of you-know-what. The speed
metal group everyone loved the way they were cut their hair and
slowed their music down. Who wants Metallica ballads? Such a
thing remains unforgiven.
"Hero of the Day" starts out as a ballad but works
its way up to the usual rock level. But has anyone noticed that when
James Hetfield, the Goose Gossage look-alike, tries to sing a slow song
he sounds just like Weird Al Yankovic? It's true. It just doesn't sound
right, but then this video isn't right either. It's basically a collection of
flickering black-and-white TV images (with the band enacting western
reruns, game shows and other such television programming) one kid
watches in between plenty of less innocent activities.
45. Dishwalla -- Counting Blue Cars (Tell Me All Your
Thoughts on God) ***
Pick a name like Dishwalla and you can't
be anything but a one-hit wonder, or perhaps a cover band that plays
itty-bitty nightclubs. I have to admit, though, that I liked their one hit
and it even had a good accompanying video. Watch out pregnant
women, this one will give you motion sickness. The cameras fly past
the band members, never settling on an object, while the director cuts
back and forth between the free-falling cameras. It's enough to
We also get the visual technique that washes out the
face to make a person seem more attractive than he or she really is. It's
worked wonders for a lot of over-the-hill rockers and women of
average attractibility, but why do it to a bunch of young guys? And
why do the Van Halen "Right Now" thing and flash a bunch of
ambiguous yet intelligent-sounding soundbites? Check these classics
of modern poetry out: "Chance must be systematically explored" and
"Lose yourself in the oblivion of action."
I smell a bunch of Commies. Any decent
red-blooded American would have already encited the wrath of the
WASPs by suggesting God is a woman, as this song's chorus does over
and over. Why, it's almost as bad as imitating Eddie Vedder, as the
Dishwalla lead singer does over and over... Okay, I take it back. This
44. Busta Rhymes -- Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check ****
The best new rapper to come along in 1996
Busta Rhymes, and the best new rap video director was Hype
Williams. Put them together and you get the first of three four-star
Hype videos on the list. Much of that judgment comes from the fact
that, though I am white as can be, I am still a connoisseur of all
varieties of black music from rap and hip-hop to soul and gospel.
The video, like just about every video the
constantly-busy Hype Williams put out this year, is brightly-colored
with many original and artistic sets and costumes. In "Woo-Hah!!"
Busta Rhymes wears at least six different distinctive outfits matching
at least six distinctive sets. His manic personality goes incredibly well
with Hype's directorial style, and even though there is a plethora of
MTV-deleted lyrics, Busta's creativity and sense of humor show well
in the song and the video. Everyone involved deserves a pat on the
back for this one.
43. Soundgarden -- Burden in My Hand **1/2
Oh how the times have changed. Two years ago,
Soundgarden made #4 on the year-end countdown. Now they don't
even crack the Top 40. It must give Chris Cornell and the boys a good
feeling to know they've been beaten out by Los Del Rio and the Quad
City D.J.'s, huh? What's happened? Let's analyze... a fickle buying
public isn't loyal enough to pay money for an album far inferior to its
One Soundgarden tradition that's continued into the
second album is to make a couple low-budget videos and then splurge
on one really-expensive, super-artistic, non-sensical video. "Burden in
My Hand" is just that, featuring Chris in the desert, playing his guitar
in a tree while the long-haired, bearded guy from the "World I Know"
video walks around. How Soundgarden degenerated so rapidly in just
two years is super-unknown.
42. Sheryl Crow -- If It Makes You Happy ***1/2
"If It Makes You Happy" is the best music
video Sheryl Crow has ever made. I know that's not saying much,
considering the simplicity of her Tuesday Night Music Club
videos, but Sheryl's given herself a complete makeover which demands
flashy, intricate videos. Gone is the best-friend's-older-sister denim
look she exhibited in 1994. It's been replaced by, well, the slut look.
Lots of makeup, giant boots and mini-mini-skirts. She looks like Heidi
Fleiss now. And I think I'm in love with her.
The video accompanies her new outlook perfectly.
Set in a museum between the glacier and marsh exhibits, Sheryl's got
her own red room with one of those swirling egg chairs. As a group of
boy scouts stares in at her, she sings her fiesty little song. And I can
understand why the kids are so fascinated -- I'd be the first to turn in
my permission slip if we were taking a field trip to ogle Sheryl Crow.
Here, director Keir McFarlane gives us quick cuts, periodical lighting
flashes and a Hype Williams color scheme.
This video may start a new trend. Bands will flock
to museums to film music videos. I hear Blues Traveller already tried
it but abandoned the concept when they realized once they got to the
museum, they wouldn't be able to tell lead singer John Popper apart
from the stuffed mastadons.
41. Mary J. Blige -- Not Gon' Cry **
Waiting to Exhale song on the countdown, this Babyface-penned
number is about as good as the movie itself. Written from the
perspective of Angela Basset's character, the song pretty much exists
only to come up with new ways for Blige to tell the evil man that she
should have "left yo ass" long ago. I say whoever was in charge of the
soundtrack should have left Babyass off the project.
"Not Gon' Cry" marks a new era in slang.
Apparently, the word "gonna" is too intellectual now. It's been
shortened to just "gon'." The video for the song has Blige in full
mourning regalia. Black clothes, black scarf, black lipstick, black
sunglasses. Whether she's lamenting Basset's situation or the fact
that she made a mistake agreeing to sing this cliche-ridden song is
To Videos #40-31
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Copyright 1997 Andrew Hicks / Fatboy Productions