REVIEWS -- APRIL 21, 1999
Brandy Ė Almost Doesnít Count
Brandy - Almost Doesn't Count
     (**)  Brandyís convertible breaks down on the side of the road, so instead of changing the flat tire or whatever, she just walks down the road, singing. Her efforts get her a ride from a guy driving a pickup truck, who makes her sit in the truck bed and wear a cowboy hat for humiliation. Or maybe just because she wonít stop singing. Okay, now Brandy has gotten herself a cheap hotel room; I think I want out of this trip before Norman Bates kills her in the showerÖ Iíd also like to take this chance to review Brandyís "No More Smudges" video. Okay, itís not an actual video, itís a Cover Girl mascara commercial Brandy does with Niki Taylor. I really donít expect any of the nationís youth to take beauty advice from Brandy "Bug Eyes" Norwood. You know, Brandy, if youíd used this stuff from the beginning, the boy probably would be yours after all. ĖAndrew Hicks
Brandy - Almost Doesn't Count

Jesse Camp Ė See You Around
     (zero)  Kurt Loder introduces this video. Figures. He tells us Jesse and his band were expelled for failing to abide by the dress code, specifically the part that says students must wash their hair at least once a month. "See You Around" falls into that long-forgotten musical subgenre Ė the "I ainít goiní to school no more" video. So what does he do? He fucking goes to school, taunting the teacher, playing in the gym and skateboarding down the hall. How novelty is this? A few 3 a.m. airings to fulfill their contractual agreements and youíll never see this on MTV again. You know, as a singer, Jesse is about as good as he is as a veejay. He barely squawks out his lines, his hair is a cross between Joan Jett and Coolio, and he half-talks. If this guy even sells one record, Iím retiring from my position as music consumer. --AH
     (zero)  Every once in a while, a video comes along that sucks in so many ways, you almost appreciate it. The funny part is, Kurt Loder (who introduces the video as an MTV news segment) and I both know this is a joke, but Jesse is surely convinced this is the beginning of his great career, which will bring metal out of the ashes, like the proverbial phoenix. Heh, yeah. Heís a lot like that NFL seventh-round draft pick that thinks heíll have a great career. In the video, Jesse is too messed up to go to school, and is better off for staying home with his buds. He tries to rock out and present a Robert Smith-esque image, while accomplishing neither. This is without a doubt the most self-indulgent thing that MTV has ever allowed, and that includes the existence of Pauly Shore. ĖJames Wallace

Whitney Houston Ė Itís Not Right But Itís Okay
     (**)  The second video in Whitneyís round of attempted badassery, "Itís Not Right" has Whitney falling into the current trend of shiny black dominatrix clothing and way too much makeup. When will this trend end? Everyone in this video is wearing black, the background is black, the dancers are black. Well, thatís not much of a surprise, but there are better ways of creating a visual motif. By the end, the lights come up and a gallery of beautiful women sing the chorus with her, letting Bobby and the rest of the evil men know itís not right, but itís okay. Whatever that means. The production on this song, like "Heartbreak Hotel," is syncopated and sparse, but it only ends up sounding like a bad remix version of the typical Whitney ballad. --AH

Wyclef Jean f/Refugee All Stars Ė Guantanamera
     (***)  Wyclef gets bailed out of prison so he can wander Spanish Harlem and ogle a hot girl. Itís not a bad day for a rapper. Whatís even stranger, Wyclef doesnít seem out of place brandishing his acoustic guitar on the streets with a bunch of old Mexicans, walking across the bar sideways and eventually walking out with the divine Miss Guantanamera. Toward the three-minute mark, Lauryn Hill leans out an upstairs window and raps down on a street parade before Wyclef gets thrown through a plate glass window. Like I said, not a bad day. --AH

Baz Luhrmann Ė Everybodyís Free (to wear sunscreen)
     (zero)  Iím still appalled by this video, now even more so. I thought this was done by a no-talent nobody who recorded it on a shoestring budget and may have even hoodwinked the world of MTV. Oh, no. This video comes to us from the director of Romeo and Juliet, the Leo version. That makes sense. It was written by a newspaper columnist as a mock graduation speech. That makes sense. It was an Internet e-mail hoax disguised as a speech from Kurt Vonnegut. That makes sense. What doesnít make sense to me is why anyone is taking this seriously. One of my best friends, whom I thought used to have impeccable taste, loves this song. I think itís bullshit. The only line I agree with, for the sake of everyone involved, is, "Whatever you do, donít congratulate yourself too much." --AH
     (zero)  Somebody I actually respected tried to convince me that the message of this video was entirely positive. Maybe so, but I mean, Good God. Nobody should be this presumptuous, especially now that I know the circumstances surrounding the video. Besides which, if you donít already know all of this, you need to rent a clue. Hereís a quarter. --JW

Ricky Martin Ė Liviní La Vida Loca
     (*1/2)  Part Jon Secada, part Brian Setzer, Ricky Martin gets the VH1 "Inside Track" Artist of the Month award. Inexplicably, MTV has also picked it as Buzzworthy. A former Menudo member-turned-pop sensation, Martin has sold six million albums in Mexico. And just about every girl I know thinks this guy is hot as hell. Sounds like someoneís been drinking the waterÖ The video looks just like Brian Setzerís "Jump, Jive and Wail," except our protagonist is Mexican and wears leather pants. He grinds with some hot girls, one of whom straddles his lap as he drives his convertible around the wet city streets. Any video that duplicates the ill-begotten sex scene from The Chase can never hope to get more than a star and a half out of me. --AH
     (*)  I knew who this was before the credits came on. Thatís one of the side effects of watching MTV and itís ilk for several hours a day. The government should force them to put a warning on its broadcast. Something in the nature of, "Warning: You wonít be able to get this crap out of your head." Of course, thatís about a half-second after I figure out itís not "Jump, Jive and Wail" by Brian Setzer. Apparently, the set hadnít been torn down yet, so Ricky said, "What the hell?" Oh, Iím sorry, he actually said "Que el Diablo?" Not to force him to speak English or anything. Ever since Ricky was kicked out of Menudo for the sin of turning 15, heís been sitting down in Mexico, planning his revenge. This is it. Hmm, cute, blond Latino guy in leather pants makes a video. I donít suppose thatís a marketing ploy, do you? Hello, you fucking tool! Itís a good thing Iím not there, or Iíd give you a vida slapa upside your heada. --JW

Sarah McLachlan Ė Building a Mystery
     (***)  I wonder if Sarah knew what sheíd start when she put this song out. Chick folk would never be the same, the world would never view the world "Lilith" the same way and Paula Cole would never shave her underarms again. But "Building a Mystery" isnít earth-shattering; itís just an all-around solid pop song and video, and it comes from the days before she turned into a gerbil. Lushly photographed, it enhances McLachlanís natural beauty, supplementing that with shots of the "beautiful fucked-up man" she has this love-hate relationship with. There are plenty of self-constructed walls and doors, too, but Iím not going to try to analyze the meaning behind those. I donít have to. --AH
     (***½)  In this video, Sarah, contrary to everybodyís belief, makes her "get a life" statement against sandal-wearing mysticism. She drips with feminine mystique and a simple beauty that hasnít been seen since then. Not to say that Iím not still in love with her and wouldnít be her slave, or course. I wonder how many people miss the fact that sheís making fun of this pagan wannabe the entire video. The lighting is great, and the pinhole lights and smoke make her all the more alluring. --JW

Metallica Ė Whiskey in a Jar
     (**)  Following hot on the heels of Guns-N-Rosesí smash album, The Spaghetti Incident, Metallica releases a collection of remakes, including this white-trash anthem. The band plays a house party for a group of good-looking, drunken women who appear to be stuck in the year 1988. Thatís okay, so is Metallica. As Lars and the boys jam out, the girls head two by two into the upstairs bedrooms, where they enter the sandman, if you know what I mean. Later, thereís vomiting and a general trashing of the apartment. No night with Metallica would be complete without either. Two stars, because this video is a lot more fun than Metallica usually seems to let itself have. Itís much better to just give in to your cheerful, redneck roots. --AH
     (**½)  Why is Metallica playing in a house full of big-haired, white-trash lesbians? Why not? Itís a big lesbian vomit party, and Metallica has sent out invitations to us all, RSVP. Metallica (who have never before seemed as much a hillbilly band) plays for the ladies while they drink and "show each other the upstairs" if you know what I mean. It all "climaxes" in a big lesbian pillow fight, followed by a general trashing of the apartment, which Lars and his gang are invited to join in on. That makes sense, because they have been playing like a bunch of pussies lately. --JW

Jennifer Paige Ė Crush
Jennifer Paige - Crush
     (**)  Oh, itís just a little crush. We all know that. This girl came along before the glut of sugar pop really came on hard. Consequently, I donít hate this song as much as most of the other crap thatís been passed off on us in the last four or five months. And I simply loved its placement in the Simply Irresistable trailer. The "Crush" video features the old standbys of bad pop Ė the singer on a huge tree swing, the singer driving around in a convertible, the singer putting her arms around a rented Calvin Klein model. Itís so malignant itís benign. --AH
Jennifer Paige - Crush

R.E.M. Ė At My Most Beautiful
      (*)  After about 15 years of brooding alternapop, R.E.M. finally succumbs with this video from the Never Been Kissed soundtrack. You know what? Michael Stipe has never been kissed, either Ė by a woman. And thatís his fucking problem. The "Most Beautiful" video, a blue-and-white masterpiece, has Stipe sitting around an empty house. Whatís he doing? Yeah, heís brooding. Meanwhile, people run down the street, falling on their face. Theyíre all just miserable, and they look like theyíve been transplanted directly from the "Everybody Hurts" video. I count myself in those numbers whenever this one comes on. --AH

1,000 Clowns Ė Not the Greatest Rapper
     (*)  You got that right, honky. --AH

Shania Twain Ė That Donít Impress Me Much
     (**)  This donít impress me much. Iíve reviewed three Shania Twain videos now, and theyíve all gotten two stars out of me. No more, no less. Clad in all-leopard skin (bra, coat, hat, collar, pants and overnight bag), she wanders the desert while a motorcycle stud circles her and she tries to hitchhike with a guy driving an oil tanker. All the while, she talks about how some fictional manís attributes just donít measure up ("So youíre Brad Pitt / That donít impress me much"). Oh, thereís the requisite black horse. This must be a country video. --AH
     (**)  Why does Shania insist on dressing like some kind of villainess from the old "Batman" television series? In this one, I think she would be called "The Leopard Woman." Itíd be like one of those episodes where they couldnít get Eartha Kitt to come back one more time. Oh, while weíre on the subject of dress Ė youíve got an awesome-looking stomach, Shania. We get the point, now try a shirt that fits. This whole thing is an entirely-forgettable "okay" country video masquerading as VH1 pop. Letís do the list of things that donít turn Shania on: brains, looks, cars, coolness. Those wonít keep her warm in the middle of the night. Apparently, all she really wants is a good shagging. "What, do you think youíre Elvis or something?" No, Shania, do you think youíre a diva or something? That donít impress me muchÖ --JW

Classic Videos

Mariah Carey Ė Dreamlover (1993)
     (***1/2)  Mariah was the farm girl from heaven in this video, wearing tied-off flannel and Daisy Duks and frolicking in the fields with some very out-of-place b-boys. Yes, the whole thing is choreographed, but it seems so much more genuine than the R+B crap Mariah puts out now. It doesnít hurt that she runs that flower over her lips every chance she gets and eventually ends up swimming in the creek. Hell, this entire video is a wet dream waiting to happen. Me likes. --AH
     (***)  Mariah, before the big internal "gangsta bitch" conflict started. Sheís got the look of a wild farmerís daughter whoís ready to party, complete with checkered plaid shirt, Daisy Duke shorts, and pig tails. HmmmÖ also, she actually makes use of her great voice and eight octaves, instead of trying to be competition for Faith Evans. They seemed to film this out in the country somewhere. I can just picture Mariah and her all-black dance troop going out to lunch at Country Bobís Eatery. Itíd be like that part in 48 HRS when Eddie Murphy interrogated  those hillbillies. --JW

Dr. Dre Ė Dre Day (1993)
Dr Dre - Dre Day
     (***1/2)  One of the great gangsta rap videos, "Dre Day" is Dr. Dreís six-minute masturbatory slam at Eazy E, a stance he probably regrets at this point. In the video, "Sleazy E" sits down with an evil white executive who promises to make him a star if heíll go out and get himself a posse. He does, picking up two no-account brothers (I guess this part isnít a commentary on the other members of N.W.A.) and running into a few enemies. As he heads back to the white execís office, the secretary serves them 40-ouncers and the exec tells them to "sign your life Ė I mean your name Ė on the contract." Cut to Dr. Dre, shown pointing a laser sight at the camera, in his own form of social commentary, I guess. Then, mercifully, Snoop takes over, the house party starts and Luke from 2 Live Crew is anally raped on camera. Thatís a form of social commentary in itself. --AH
Dr Dre - Dre Day
     (***1/2)  Probably my third-favorite rap video, the first two also involving Dr.Dre. In this video, Dre is seriously pissed off at Easy-E. Err, I mean Sleazy-E, since thereís no resemblance to any persons, living or dead, in this video, and any such coincidence is purely coincidental. Dre shows how Eazy-E sold out to white male record producers, and then proudly displays his Funkadelic t-shirt that I guarantee came from Sam Goody. As Sleazy prepared to sign his life away to the record executives, Dre bursts in and blows them muthas away with his laser pointed AK, which cracks me up so much I have to rewind it every single time. Young Snoop then takes over, and the house party commences, as we get to see Luke from 2 Live Crew get anally raped by some seriously large G-thug. Thatís an image Iíll take with me for the rest of my life. --JW
Dr Dre - Dre Day

Guns ĎN Roses -- Patience (1988)
     (**½)  This great song from Lies is ruined by a video whose purpose was to convince us that Axl Rose is sensitive. What a waste. What the hell? Why is Axl wearing two hats? Also, whatís with that damned studded belt? It looks like you stole it from Lita Fordís closet. How do you expect to get rock Ďn roll chicks dressed like that? The message I take away from this is: Nobody thinks youíre sensitive Axel, just get over yourself. Also, youíre not a conductor, so put your damn arms down. Only Jim Morrison can swing a microphone like a maniac and get away with it, and sir, you are no Jim Morrison. --JW

P.M. Dawn Ė Set Adrift on Memory Bliss (1991)
     (***)  No one ever seemed to take these guys seriously. Of course, when youíre part of an act where the lead singer is always wearing a tie-dyed muumuu, that rarely happens. Psychadelic rappers? Such a trend could only have come from the early Ď90s. For that matter, a song that mentions Christina Applegate could only have come out of the early Ď90s. Itís embarrassing as hell, but I have these guysí first two albums, and I like them. The video takes place on the beach, ethereal fly girls doing interpretive dances in clouds of blue smoke while these gurus sit on the beach, brightly-colored headbands and bracelets flaring as they rap. They really thought they were onto something here. --AH

U2 -- Even Better Than the Real Thing (1992)
     (***)  Bono falls down a long building while U2ís propaganda flies past the screen. I guess thatís a pretty good metaphor for their career in the nineties. I kind of preferred U2 before they discovered they could bitch through video, but this is still a far cry better than their latest offerings. Question: Could Bono have developed some sort of crazy third eye? That would explain the giant sunglasses. --JW

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions