REVIEWS -- MARCH 10, 1999

Bizzy Bone Ė Nobody Can Stop Me Now
     (*1/2)  A Bone Thug goes solo, proving that, without the rest of the Thugs, he still can make music that sounds exactly the same. This video is just plain silly, with a pin-stripe suit-wearing Bizzy rapping in an empty cathedral about death and the like. What is it about the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony guys, always waxing philosophical and emotional about death? Did their parents all die when they were babies? One thingís for sure Ė I wouldnít go anywhere near them. They have the Angela Lansbury curse; someone they meet drops dead every week and they write another song about it. Always keeping bizzy, these guysÖ Keep an eye out for the notice at the end of the video that child abuse is a serious matter and that you should call this number if you or anyone you know regularly beats a child with a garden hose. Come on. I think we can all agree the Bone Thugs are the last people we want to take social consciousness lessons from. --AH

DMX Ė Slippiní
     (*)  There goes the ambulance, as DMX raps that heís slippiní, heís falliní and, no, he canít get up. Thatís why that bracelet was invented, DMX. I get the feeling that, if DMXís career goes completely down the tubes, he may be able to secure a future as Medic-Alert bracelet pitchman on the basis of this song alone. Looks like DMX has been sent to some gangsta rap hell Ė green smoke, lava, tarnished gold chains. Looks like we also have flashbacks to DMXís sad childhood. Grandma wonít let him play with his pit bull? That girl just wonít respond to his advances? He canít smoke bud anymore? Itís no wonder heís such a menace to society. I donít know about the rest of the world, but Iím getting sick of this wave of bad-childhood rap videos. Why the fuck are rap stars so wistful now? I mean, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has almost turned the music video medium into some kind of fucked-up psychotherapy. --AH
     (*)  With this video, DMX hopes to cash in on the nostalgia we all feel for the Medic Alert bracelet commercials of the early Nineties. "Iím slippiní, Iím falling, I canít get up," says DMX over and over again as he realizes his album is being completely outsold by year-old offerings from ĎN Sync. Apparently, the entire video is him describing how much his life is going to suck after his fifteen minutes are up. Maybe heís just trying to be "gritty," but in this era of watered-down gangsta rap, it just seems pathetic. --JW

Harvey Danger Ė Save it For Later
     (*1/2)  I know James is going to say this in his review, but how badly does this lead singer want to be Elvis Costello? This movie is such shameless promotion for 200 Cigarettes, MTVís newest movie. Can a company use one leg of its media empire to promote another? Isnít that illegal? Does anybody know? It doesnít seem right, especially when we have to see the airwaves clogged up needlessly by a doomed Harvey Danger follow-up. There are better sub-sub-genres than movie soundtrack cover songs by otherwise one-hit wonder bands. Especially when the video has the band use the same sets from the movie and "interact" with the characters, all of whom are portrayed from the back only by doubles in that Weezer video, "I donít have time for reshoots" technique. Please put some more effort into these soundtrack videos, guys. Even if you know their shelf life is only three weeks. ĖAH
     (**)  I said the lead singer was trying to be like Elvis Costello even before I knew Elvis Costello was in 200 Cigarettes, which this video is a bad parody of. He keeps saying she "let him down," and both Jeremy and I keep saying "Veronica!" when he pauses. Itís kind of sad, really. Anyway, they managed to get body doubles to recreate the movie. This allows Harvey Danger to believe they were partying down in the Ď80s too! You let rock stars watch one too many infomercialsÖ What do you want to bet this rash of "teen movie" soundtracks wonít be cherished the same way Simple Mindís "Donít you Forget About Me" video for The Breakfast Club was? Of course, we did forget about them, and Harvey Danger seems destined to the same fate. --JW

Marcy Playground Ė Cominí Up From Behind
     (**)  I smell sex and follow-ups. This Marcy Playground effort falls into the same category as the above Harvey Danger video, except this one-hit group is piggybacking on the Cruel Intentions soundtrack, hoping to cling to whatever fickle pop culture scraps it can merit. The Marcy boys wander around a giant, empty mansion as clips play from the movie. They stop to impress us with dadaist crap every once in awhile Ė holding microscopic forks and watching a stand-up bass rotating on a spit (I know Iím not that messed up right now), for instance. The song itself has a strange feeling to it. It has a bad Broadway, lounge singer feel; it just doesnít seem like real music. You know what kind of song Iím talking about. It sounds okay on the surface level, but the more you hear it, the more it just doesnít sound right? But you canít put your finger on it Ė itís frustrating. Jeremy likens this song to the kind of music played at Showbiz Pizza in between the animatronic monkey singing "Twist and Shout" and "Mr. Tambourine Man." Like "Catís in the Cradle" and anything by Neil Diamond. --AH
     (*1/2 ) This is their second hitÖ man. Itís the followupÖ daddy-o. Snap, Snap. Are you hep to Marcy Playgroundís jive? Alternapop is mixed with coffee-shop bass poetry "cool daddyo" rhythm to make this cheap plug for Cruel Intentions. To save time, they just recycled the same freak set from their first video. Of course, that was good. This? This is just soundtrack filler that somehow got a video. I wish it was Mike Myers instead: "I am lonely. I am forlorn. This videoÖ sucks." --JW

Alanis Morissette Ė Unsent
     (*)  At last! We can watch an Alanis video and have a romantic story told to us at the same time! And it stars Alanis, who is apparently using this video as a screen test of sorts. The entire video has subtitled dialogue scenes that lead me to believe that, as misconceived a notion as it is, Alanis will star in her own movie in the near future. Some executive at Miramax will decide the "Unsent" video is impressive and that Alanis shows a lot of charm in her role as God in Dogma, and that executive will make a decision that will later result in his or her firing. Trust me, I know how the movie industry works. I subscribed to Entertainment Weekly, got the free Ď70s Dance Machine set and everythingÖ But this video? Well, it makes me long for the good old days where Alanis was just a spoiled brat, going down on guys in theaters and such. Now everything has to have deep meaning. So we see a few vignettes of Alanis and the men in her life. Mercifully, only one of these vignettes has Alanis wearing a bad wig. What do we learn from these scenes? That sheís an obsessive bitch who invites herself along to a night out with the guys, that men take advantage of her, that I would never date her. Iím starting a contest immediately Ė send me the best plot and title for the soon-to-be-major Alanis movie. Interesting ones will be reprinted in future review columns. If a major Internet service ever picks our column up, you may even win a date with Alanis herself. Then you can be the subject of eight angry chick ballads! --AH
     (*1/2) Luckily for us, they caught Alanis meeting her biggest fan on "Fanatic" after the show on tape. Alanis sings over the footage while we get a transcript of the small talk they were making. Suddenly, Iím having flashbacks to the Clinton disposition. Anyway, they hooked up, had a great time, and now Alanis thinks of him "whenever I think of the early nineties." For some weird reason, I always think of the Meat Puppets when I think of the early nineties, but to each their own. Now, next scene. A guy is thanking his girlfriend for being open to some kind of new freaky sex thing, and again we get the transcript. "Thanks for being open to this," he says as he strokes her. "Yíknow, new experiences, muddy waters." Muddy waters? Man, youíd never get laid using pick up lines from an Alanis video. Let that be a lesson to you. --JW

Orgy Ė Blue Monday
     (*1/2)  History moves in cycles. Damn you, history. Just when it seemed we were rid of art fag music like New Order, Pet Shops Boys and Erasure, along comes Orgy, with this track from the album Candyass. Hell, when weíre drunk we can come up with better possible band names and album titles. One of these guys has green makeup, another has an orange face and pink lipstick, and some silver-faced girls are looking around like they donít know what the fuck is going on. Everyone is appropriately naïve when theyíre trapped in an Orgy video, I guess. This was directed by an ex-porn auteur, too, which prompts me to declare, "This video is the best thing since Planet of the Gapes 2: Journey to the Center of the Ass!" Letís see the record company quote that in a newspaper ad. --AH
     (**)  I think my brother said it best when he remarked, "Ever wonder what PCP is like?" I think these guys have had generous amounts. Do PCP, watch enough bad 80s New Wave, and youíll end up like these fruits. I can just imagine the lead singer of Orgy and the guy from Placebo getting together and doing each otherís hair, and then itís pedicures all around! And theyíre all so very shiny. The thing is, this isnít a bad song. In fact, they did it exactly like New Order did about fifteen years ago. Of course, the teenyboppers wonít notice the difference from this all new video, but Iím forced to say "Whatís the point?" --JW

Rockapella Ė Every Morning
     (zero)  So Rockapella wants to play with the big boys, eh? Put a video title on the Folgers commercial, will you? Well, you just set yourself up for the fall, boys. You called down the thunder well now youíve got it! I mean, do people actually go see Rockapella in concert? They probably play all the big venues, like the free Six Flags concert, opening up for the Mighty Morphiní Power Rangers Stunt Spectacular, or the side stage at your local county fair. I bet they play all the hits too, like "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego," and "Folgers Commercial." --JW

Raphael Saadiq f/Q-Tip Ė Get Involved
     (**1/2)  I like Tony Toni Tone. I like A Tribe Called Quest. When a representative from each goes solo and cross-collaborates, itís supposed to be a good thing. The song is good, but the videoís kind of creepy. Thereís a simple premise behind the "Get Involved" video Ė everyone has a TV for a head. Most people have the black model, as youíd expect, but a few people have the white model and the cute girl has the pink model. Still, four minutes of TV-head people driving around the hood, playing basketball and shooing away birds that have perched on their head can get kind of old. Even less impressive is the fact that "Get Involved" is from "The P.J.ís" soundtrack. --AH

Rob Zombie Ė Living Dead Girl
     (***)  I donít like Rob Zombie very much Ė that whole "growl rock" subgenre isnít my thing Ė but he made a damn cool video this time. You have to have seen some really old German expressionist silent films to appreciate it, though. The entire video flickers with telltale shadows around the edge and the occasional color tint. It has Nosferatu written all over it. Rob serves as a carnival pitchman who tells the appreciative crowd about the "living dead girl" he has. A brief, convoluted plot ensues, but rest assured the crowd is praying for the living dead girl. And the credits at the end assure us that the doctor is played by "R.W. Zombie." --AH

Z-Music Video of the Week

M.C. Hammer Ė He Brought Me Out
     (*1/2)  He who? Some scheming record executive who was looking to dabble in the Christian music industry? I doubt that, if you had told me in 1990 that Iíd be watching MC Hammer imitate Kirk Franklin on Z-Music and Vanilla Ice imitate Korn on Box Pulse, I would have believed you. I also wouldnít have known who Kirk Franklin and Korn were. The good news is, Hammer doesnít rap the way he used to, with that annoying, unwanted trill sound. The bad news is, he seems to actually be taking this seriously. He does a fairly good Franklin imitation, too, and even has a church choir backing him up. The video takes place on a fairly elaborate series of sets; itís really not all bad. Iím almost tempted to say most church ministers couldnít touch this. But Iím bringing up his past, and a wise Hammer decrees at the beginning of the video, "Donít mention my past." As if his present is any more artistically impressive. --AH
     (*1/2)  Yes, this is a Z-Music review, and this is an M.C. Hammer video. And no, itís brand new. Becoming too holy to do the theme song for FOX Familyís new "Addams Family Hour," Hammer retrieves his title of Master of Ceremonies to do HIS soundtrack. He gets "righteously indignant," as Carman would put it, foregoing normal choir girls for the more youth-accessible fly girls. I can just imagine going to his church to hear a sermon. All the choir girls would be wearing Daisy Duks, and the organ would be pumping out "Canít Touch This, But He Can." Aww, yeah, God... I think the closest M.C. Hammer will ever come to the secular venues again is Kris Kristofferson doing a special "Behind the Music" dedicated to him. Until then, thank God for Z-Music. Although, maybe we could have Hammer back for a while, Lord? Weíll trade you back Kirk Franklin. Címon, whaddya say? --JW

Classic Videos

Bananarama Ė Venus (1986)
     (***)  I know this isnít saying much, but this 12-year-old Bananarama song blows the Spice Girls away. Itís fluff, I know, and itís a remake of a 1970 Shocking Blue song, but it was so cool when I was 8. Thatís what keeps all those 50-year-old women listening to Dion, I guess. I donít care what people think about Bananarama, those three British girls were damn cute, not to mention that brunette vixen with the devil tail who dances around for the entire video. Lush colors, flames, dancing girls Ė thatís what the tacky half of the Ď80s was all about. And I think all us sons of the Ď80s can agree we wouldnít mind being pushed around by these talentless Venuses. I donít respect this, I donít condone this and artistically I donít approve of this, but I have this song on four different Ď80s CDs. Volume has to count for something. --AH

Phil Collins Ė You Canít Hurry Love (1981)
     (*1/2)  Iíve had nightmares where there are three Phil Collinses in sunglasses singing a Diana Ross song, but I must admit Ė of all the elevator music that came out of the early Ď80s, this is one of my favorites. The video was made on a shoestring budget, though. Seriously, if you pawned your own shoestring, youíd probably have more in your hand than was spent on this video. The Phils, on a black soundstage illuminated in a blue spotlight, sing the 1966 Supremes song. Well, one Phil sings lead and the other Phils sing backup. Iím not going to waste too much time wondering how much it would suck to be a backup Phil. Suffice it to say, Iíd probably quit the band. --AH

Sarah McLachlan -- Into the Fire (1991)
     (***1/2)  Iím probably the only man in the world who buys Sarah McLachlan albums. This video was made when Sarah was at her most beautiful. Sheís covered with mud, and itís sexy. Sheís bathed in fire, and itís sexy. Then, she emerges from a waterfall, and my god, itís like staring into the face of an angel. Watching a Sarah video is like a religious experience Ė the feeling coming over you tells you that somehow everything is going to be alright. I think itís stylish, but I admit some people may be tempted to have a "what the hell" reaction, a la Tori Amos. --JW

Snow Ė Girl, Iíve Been Hurt (1993)
     (*)  A few weeks ago, I reviewed a Snow video everyone has probably heard of. Hell, I heard "Informer" on the muzak in Wal-Mart last week. (Swear to God.) But how many of you remember this reggae-tinged follow-up hit? Iím reviewing this only to prove one thing Ė that the hundreds of music videos I taped from tenth grade through my sophomore year in college are good for something. Iíd never heard of the Internet when I was in tenth grade. How was I to know I could retrieve and review long-forgotten videos five years after their expiration dates and, better yet, that some random person Iíd never met before would remember that video? So prove me right, people. If you remember Snowís "Girl Iíve Been Hurt," e-mail me. Regurgitate some of the chorus so Iíll know youíre not just bullshitting. Okay, Iíll give you a few hints about the video -- Snow is actually rapping in the snow as the furry flaps of his hat cover his sensitive, pink ears. There are models dancing around in fur bikinis. A DJ actually has his turntables set up in the middle of a blizzard. The phone lines are now open, people. Prove my theory right. --AH

USA For Africa Ė We Are the World (1985)
     (**)  Lionel Richie followed by Stevie Wonder followed by Paul Simon followed by Kenny Rogers followed by James Ingram followed by Tina Turner followed by Billy Joel followed by Michael Jackson followed by Diana Ross followed by Dionne Warwick followed by Willie Nelson followed by Robert Cray followed by Bruce Springsteen followed by Kenny Loggins followed by Steve Perry followed by Daryl Hall followed by Michael Jackson again followed by Huey Lewis followed by Cyndi Lauper. Letís see Puff Daddy try to match that of-the-moment cameo star power. And these people were all convinced they were part of something. If not for the fact that the Pointer Sisters and Dan Aykroyd were part of the choir, I would have been inclined to agree. ĖAH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions