REVIEWS -- MARCH 17, 1999
Bryan Adams and Mel. C – When You’re Gone 
     (*1/2)  Does everybody remember that this guy was kind of cool in the ‘80s? Good, because you’d never know it from this video, which teams Adams up with that pillar of longevity, Sporty Spice. They both wander around a huge, sterile house for the duration of the video, never coming into contact with each other. You know where they got the concept from when Bryan opens the song with the line, "I been wandering around this house all night wondering what the hell to do." The fun can only spring from there – by the guitar solo, Sporty’s throwing magazines around and Bryan’s vacuuming the hall. I wouldn’t make this up. Eventually, Monica and Brandy come over to watch "Video Soul" and the Backstreet Boys drop by, trying to sell magazine subscriptions. You’ll never get me near that apartment complex. I bet Canadians love this. –Andrew Hicks 
     (**)  What the hell? Bryan is wearing twice as much makeup as Sporty Spice is. Does anybody but me think there's something wrong with this? Bryan has been suffering from a mid-life crisis since 1995, and this is the latest phase. This is a pairing that should appalling, but instead I'm seeing the possibilities of a Mel C. solo career. She'd be a lot like Melissa Etheridge, except not gay. Err, as far as I know anyway. As for Bryan, my hope is that he'll wake up, sell the sports car and hook up with Eric Clapton and Neil Young for the Old Fuck Tour ’99. Age with dignity, man! --James Wallace 

Blackstreet with Janet f/Ja and Eve – Girlfriend / Boyfriend 
     (***)  This video has, fortunately, come along during the early days of a new music video trend. They’re trying to make everything look like a Playstation game -- or, in the case of this video, like five or six different Playstation games. "Girlfriend/Boyfriend" starts out like a pinball game and turns into a motocross game with a "Mario Kart" twist. Later, it turns into anime. The video has an interesting look to it, though, and is a good follow to Garbage’s "Special" air-raid game video. I’m giving it three stars because I know it’s going to grow on me. Even if it is further proof that hip-hop artists can’t do anything alone anymore. I thought the purpose of having a four or five-man vocal group was that between them all, they could handle all the singing. --AH 
     (***)  Janet seemingly will pimp herself out to anybody these days. Of course, it could be a lot worse. Instead of Blackstreet and Busta Rhymes, we could get Britney Spears and Puff Daddy. The video is apparently a take off of the motorcycle race from "Tron," set in a pinball machine. Yep, 80's kitsch is in full gear. Still, it's got a great beat and sounds better than most of the offerings from The Velvet Rope. --JW 

Blink 182 --Dammit 
     (**1/2)  I know this song from Can’t Hardly Wait, the only movie from this wave of teen cinema that’s truly made me want to relive my high school years. "Dammit" is kind of a popified funk song. As the band plays on a sparse set, a crowd of rowdy teenagers wreaks havoc on a movie theater and its lobby instead of sitting through Patch Adams like they were supposed to. Oh, look, the cute girl’s responding to their screwball puppy-dog antics. This is so charming. --AH 
     (***)  Dammit, I like this, and I feel bad about it because it's sugar pop all the way. The problem is, it's got that "feel good" quality. It reminds me of my friends and I going to the dollar show with the sole intention of being loud and irritating people. Take away all the piercings, and this could easily be pleasant memories instead of a music video. Of course, in our memories, the girl never would have left with the dorky usher. No, that guy would have been sitting at home planning out how he was going to make them pay. Make all of them pay one day. You'll see! --JW 

Busta Rhymes f/Janet – What’s It Gonna Be 
     (***)  A spectacle. It’s obvious they just poured money into this. Busta Rhymes is a cyborg and Janet is some kind of bondage queen. Special effects are rampant. There’s the Abyss water morphing effect, cube-sectioned walls that come out at you, and Janet spends most of the video in front of some odd waterfall / tidal wave. Later, Busta Rhymes leads an entire silver marching band of freaks while Janet sings from the leather prison of her restrictive clothing. She’s got so much makeup on that there’s actually silver on the edges of her eyes, but her cleavage is still bounteous and plentiful. The video is disturbing but worth watching. You know, this is the first video I’ve seen in a long time with a "Starring…" and "Directed by" credit screen at the beginning. I can’t decide if that’s a good thing or not. --AH 
     (*1/2)  Yeah, you just know Busta is loving this. He knew he'd hit it big, but he didn't know he'd hit it this big. The problem is, I think it's just too big. Too much animation, too slick, and a waste of Janet's talent. It reminds me of what they did with Michael Jackson's "Scream" video a few years ago, and will probably be about as well remembered. While the Blackstreet video used her vocal stylings effectively, here she's been reduced to the status of backup singer. In fact, the only thing she probably added to the video was a couple hundred grand to the budget, which was probably already high enough to finance four or five independent films. The end result is an bloated pop culture video that rivals Godzilla in its overbearing attempt to entertain, which it completely fails to do. I just didn't like it. --JW 

Cake -- Sheep Go To Heaven 
     (** 1/2)  An animated Cake (a la "South Park") dressed up like KISS plays for an animated frat party. Already, the metaphors are just swimming in my head. Who's three dimensional? The frat boys? Is Cake living a lie? Gasp! Unfortunately for this shindig, a disgruntled misfit comes along to break up the party, with a machete. The poor lad is then tried and executed, and we get to see him burning in an animated Hell. How shocking. Yet another life systematically snuffed out by insecurity and hopelessness. What a sad commentary on the hierarchical structure of America's teens and the Machiavellian weeding out of the unfit. Maybe now that this video has been made, it will never have to happen again. Good show Cake, good show. --JW 

The Cranberries – Promises 
     (*1/2)  No, they won’t take a hint. The Cranberries still think they’re welcome on the music scene, that it’s still 1994 and they’re not just a late-night VH1 band. Well, here they are, lead singer Delores O’Rierdan now bleached blonde with raccoon-eye makeup. The skies cloud up as the band plays from the top of a water tower. Down below, her fellow band members flee on horseback, fake Wyatt Earp mustaches flaring. Come on, guys, stop playing around with the props. They need them back on the set of "Walker, Texas Ranger." I mean, we can take a joke, but enough is enough… Do you want to know what the band members are fleeing from? A wicked, flying witch who is shooting cosmic rays from her mouth. For real. --AH 
     (**)  I'm seeing a trend here. Dark colors, angry makeup and outfits and ripping guitar chords. Hmm, is the ethereal chick rock of 1997 over with? It seems as if the grrls have something new to say, as Jewel, the Cardigans and now the Cranberries have subscribed to this new message. Now, as for the video, we get the Cranberries rocking out in the desert while cowboys get attacked by the Wicked Witch of the West. I think they were drinking a little too much Guiness when they came up with this video concept. I can just see this video as a bad editorial cartoon though, except the brave cowboy would have "IRA" written on his hat, and the witch would have "England" written on her dress somewhere. --JW 

VJ Review: Carson Daly 
     (Expiration Date: 2000)  Don't you just get the feeling that Carson Daly likes everything he hears on "Total Request Live"? Like he’s genuinely enthusiastic when he introduces the new Five video? Most people categorize their CD collections by artist; I bet this guy does it by month. Still, you have to feel sorry for him. His last Christmas and birthday presents? Jennifer Love Hewitt CDs. Don’t worry though, in about a year the "ditzy frat boy" look will go out and he’ll be gone. --JW 

Goo Goo Dolls – Dizzy 
     (**)  The Goo Goo Dolls make a video that looks like a Hollywood trailer for Pretentiousness: The Movie. In any event, it comes off looking like a glam rock version of a ‘70s cop movie, with Goo Goo Dolls jumping off roofs and chasing suspects down and watching angels standing on high buildings. Wait, wrong Goo Goo video. But isn’t that the point? This song sounds like their last song, which sounded like their song before that sped up a little, which sounded like their first hit. Isn’t that how it goes? --AH 
     RANDOM JEREMY COMMENT: Why does this fucking guy want to look like Rod Stewart? He’s got neo-Rod Stewart hair. 

Hole -- Gold Dust Woman 
     (***)  No! This is not done by Hole, this is done by Fleetwood Mac, and sung by the enrapturing Stevie Nicks, not throated out by Courtney Love! My fantasies have all been ruined. This is mid-‘90s transitional Hole, too where Courtney officially confirms she wants to be like Stevie. What's next? Will she dress up like a gypsy and start dating Tom Petty? Now that's a scary thought. Although… this actually doesn't sound too bad, and even manages to make Courtney look human. Imagine that. Let's just hope I never have to give Hole a good review again. --JW 

Jewel – Down So Long 
Jewel - Down So Long
     (**)  Here’s Jewel trying to convince us she can rock. I bet some of the attendees of the Lilith Fair even snap their fingers politely when she performs this one. She starts the video in a sexy but modest sweater and leather pants, singing wistfully in front of that decorative tree branch. Then it cuts to Jewel in her rugged, low-cut tank top as she plays with the boys, most of whom then proceeded to smack the hell out of her and rape her. And later she’s wearing gingham. Yeah, this video will play on VH1 for about six months… The chorus is straight out of Jewel’s living-in-my-car days, too: "I’ve been down so long that the end must be drawing near." Well, you’re right about that last part. I hope, anyway. How many more hits could this woman have in her? --AH 
Jewel - Down So Long
     (**)  I don't know, somehow I doubt Jewel would ever find her-self  "down". She’s way too deep and independent for that. Of course, I hear it can be a form of empowerment for some women, so who can say? Anyway, the theme of ethereal-siren-turned-grrl-rocker continues. It must be the coming millennium. 1997, Jewel delivers soulful commentary on the world. 1999? Guess what? Jewel can rock out with the best of them. I think Jewel going electric is a harbinger of the coming Apocalypse. All she needs now is to shoot up with Tori Amos a few times and her transformation will be complete. --JW 
Jewel - Down So Long
     RANDOM JEREMY COMMENT: Is that Madonna? Oh. Never mind… 

Jordan Knight – Give it to You 
     (*)  After many days of closed sessions, the UN Security Counsel granted Jordan Knight permission to record a solo comeback hit. Boy, was that a mistake. He’s brought us a light-hearted video set in an amusement park as he dances like Aaliyah minus the stomach. Somehow I don’t think Timbaland was involved in the production of this song, although you wouldn’t know it from the song’s verses, which rip off "Are You That Somebody" directly. The song picks up the tempo for the choruses, which in turn sound like techno night at a gay bar. But the ferris wheel keeps spinning, the carousel keeps turning and Jordan keeps dancing with those nicely scrubbed ex-Mickey Mouse Club motherfuckers. Is anybody going to buy this? Should you have the technology, please visit Jordan on the web at  --AH 
     (½)  Jordan has given up "Hangin’ Tough" and has instead started buying his clothes from Savage Garden’s garage sale. Okay, maybe that’s a little unfair. The J-Crew catalogue it is. This male pop/hip hop answer to Britney Spears’ "Baby One More Time" sounds so much like Aaliyah’s last video that I keep expecting Dr. Dolittle to pop up in the corner on a video screen. My entire theory with the New Kids’ solo careers is that Maurice Starr kept his last secret weapon hidden to explode in case of his demise. Now that he’s gone, we get Jordan and Joey solo albums. I can just picture Maurice and his minions laughing in some secret fortress in Nevada. It’s like some weird alternate universe: I never would have believed the world would get so poppy in such a few short years. --JW 

Joey McIntyre – Stay the Same 
     (1/2)  In the intro, Joey sings soulfully with a gospel choir, then tells them he’s going to take a break and leaves. ("And don’t come back, muthafucka!") This guy was the cute New Kid, right? The baby-faced one? Now he’s 27 and looking to ditch that insurance salesman job. It’s an interesting race, though, seeing which of the 1999 New Kid solo hits is going to peak first. Jordan’s pulling ahead… no, it’s Joey on the outside, Joey on the outside. His video has been played 23 times on The Box this week! It’s a tough decision, to be sure. Jordan has sanitized b-boys while Joey has sanitized soulsistas. Jordan’s is a peppy dance hit, while Joey’s is an emotional ballad. Who says sugar pop doesn’t have its own yin and yang? --AH 

Sixpence None the Richer – Kiss Me (Usher Version) 
     (**)  I would dismiss this as nothing more than bland pop if not for the fact that I saw this song is on Wow 1999, the annual collection of the biggest Christian songs. As I type this, it’s 2:24 a.m. on a Monday. This video is playing on MTV, with peppy clips from She’s All That, where the student body president makes a bet with his friends to more or less bed the freakiest girl in school. Well, I guess if you’re going to cross over, you might as well go all out. I mean, really. At least with Amy Grant and DC Talk you can imagine the lyrics have some kind of vague reference to God. If "Kiss Me" is being sung to God, then there’s some new religious fetish I’m not aware of out there… Note: Despite the strange MTV title credit, Usher does not make an appearance in this video. Best news I’ve heard all day. --AH 

Classic Videos 


D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince – Parents Just Don’t Understand 
D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince - Parents Just Don't Understand
     (***)  I remember how happy I was when my mom let me put a few posters up in my room. Will Smith had graffiti spray painted on all four walls. What an upbringing. Then again, he’s the Fresh Prince. This video is in the same vein as the song – novelty, baby, novelty. The graffiti backdrops (one of them says "Sinbad." How dated is that?), the mom in drag, the part where Will lights that giant thermometer on fire, and this is the only MTV video I know where the star is wearing a butterfly collar one minute and nearly seducing a 12-year-old runaway the next. I also don’t know of any other song that makes me laugh in multiple places every time. It’s just fun, and it proves Will was likable more than 10 years ago, before he had his own show, before he made $20 million, before he gave white suburbia the word "jiggy" as a catch phrase. --AH 
D.J. Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince - Parents Just Don't Understand

Dr. Dre and Ice Cube – Natural Born Killaz 
     (***1/2)  Here is a partial list of words and phrases cut from this video -- barrel, click, bullet, revolver, .44 mag, nut, open. Yet even the MTV-censored version of "Natural Born Killaz" goes a lot farther than any gangsta rap videos you’ll see today in terms of sheer gruesomeness. Dr. Dre looks genuinely disturbed as he raps about how when he grabs his sawed-off, niggas get hauled off. Ice Cube is sitting on a pile of flaming skulls as mayhem ensues in the streets. All the while, skulls are rapidly superimposed over both rappers’ faces and Lieutenant Gerard is outside trying to capture them. The Fugitive 2: This Time It’s Racial, coming soon to a theater near you. I think this video was the sole reason MTV put a disclaimer on their hip-hop special. It’s worth the price of admission to see Ice Cube do his best impression of a Singapore jailer. --AH 
     (***1/2)  I think this video is the pure face of evil, and I like it. What does that say about me? I’m forced to give a hearty toast to these two bastions of indecency. If Ice Cube was Satan and I had to stand before him while he’s sitting on a throne of skulls...well, it might be time for a change of underwear; forthwith. At the end of the video, the police take these Natural Born Killaz out, courtesy of sharpshooter Tupac. Later, Dre and Cube would return the favor. Eh, eh? Wink, wink. It’s like some freaky scene from the end of Seven. Of course, we’d all love to drag Charles Manson out of a trunk and beat him, but how many of us would actually do it? --JW 

Ice-T -- High Rollers 
     (*1/2)  How is it that this guy is respected in the music industry? He raps just like Freedom Williams from C+C Music Factory, and he looks like him, too. Whenever I listen to an Ice-T song, I’m always thinking the next line is going to be, "I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut, so move your butt." This video, which has "late ‘80s" written all over it, follows a day in the life of Ice-T. He’s easy to spot in a crowd because of that big gold pistol hanging from his neck. He lives in a mansion and has fly girls all over him, a big pool and giant bags of cocaine. Perhaps sensing the criminal activity inside, as well as the seduction of an impressionable white girl by Ice-T, the SWAT team surrounds him outside ("Put down the turntable!") No, kids, crime doesn’t pay. "You ain’t got nothing but a one-way ticket to death row," Ice-T cautions us at one point in the song, then advises us to shoot a police officer.--AH 
     (*1/2)  This video just gives me the idea that Ice-T didn’t know what the hell was going on in the ’hood during the ‘80s. Thank god for Death Row records. If not for them, this nonsense might have been allowed to continue into the next decade. Of course you can tell it’s the ‘80s, because the gangsters (still spelled with an "er") are old-school thugs, and the lifestyle is seen as something to avoid. Then, strangely, we get to see Ice-T’s rap sheet -- Drug Bust, Drug OD, PCP arrest, etc etc. As a final clue to the era of the video, he claims to be smarter than the criminals on "Miami Vice." What a claim to fame. --JW 

Notorious B.I.G. – Big Poppa 
Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa
     (***)  This video helped correct an image problem for Biggie Smalls, who previously was known only as the sixth "Before" shot from the right in that Nutri System ad. But there’s so much more to him – why, all the girls want to spend the night with Biggie, who languishes in the back of a nightclub. Yeah, he’s in the middle of a booth full of honeys, chicken wings to the left and to the right. By the second verse, he heads up to the bar, pushing a smaller mack out of the way and hitting on a hottie directly. "Yeah, and after we leave Old Country Buffet, we’ll get some dessert at Baskin Robbins. Then we can go home and watch a movie and order a pizza." By verse three, he’s rapping poolside as Puffy entertains some hos in the jacuzzi. That’s before B.I.G. makes him get out of the jacuzzi so he can take his bath and play with the plastic battleships and rubber duckies. --AH 
Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa
     (***)  Even this was a better time for rap music. Biggie could rap and Puffy knew to shut the hell up and do mixes. He was almost cool in a sidekick position... I wonder if Biggy would have been able to get laid if he wasn’t famous? Well, apparently Busta Rhymes ain’t gettin’ none when Mr. Smalls is around. Of course, I bet he makes the women do all the work in bed. How selfish. And apparently, Puffy used to get women in hot tubs solely because he knew Christopher Wallace. Ahh, the good old days. --JW 
Notorious B.I.G. - Big Poppa

Public Enemy – Night of the Baseheads / Fight the Power 
     (**1/2)  It’s hard to believe these guys could hate white people so much when they’re wearing such large, functional wall clocks. This video chronicles the "Brown Bag Protest," as Lily White-Americans get together to protest the evil of rap. MC Lyte is the correspondant for PETV. Oh no, she’s not biased… Okay, MTV just switched it to "Fight the Power," which is more or less the same song. It takes the same anti-whitey stance and the clocks are still big and functional. This Do the Right Thing theme song is one of the great angry rap hits of the late ‘80s, and the video is still somewhat impressive. A huge crowd forms in the streets as Farrakhan’s men hold the crowd back. I don’t quite share their white-devil rage, but I definitely don’t blame Public Enemy for hating Elvis, John Wayne and Bobby McFerrin. --AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions