REVIEWS -- MAY 12, 1999

                                    NOTE: It’s been a long, wonderful, traumatic semester for both of us. There have been weeks we posted our reviews late or not at all and weeks where, frankly, we could have done it better. To be honest, during those no-show weeks, MTV and the other music channels didn’t provide us with shit. But it’s summer now, we’ve got our free time back and MTV has promised to premiere 11 high-profile videos in the month of May. If you can consider Britney Spears “high-profile.”
     Also, we should note that, for a couple months now, we’ve planned to end our semester with a theme week that pulls together 12 to 14 of what we consider the worst videos of all-time. It turns out MTV, with the help of Denis Leary, Janeane Garofalo, Jon Stewart, Chris Kattan and the voting public, has gotten there first. So, since many of the picks are the same, we’re centering this week’s reviews around their countdown. But we promise, sometime before the summer is out, we’re doing our own “Worst of the Worst” week that will acknowledge the videos MTV missed in their “25 Lame” special. Videos like REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You” and El Debarge’s “Who’s Johnny.” It’s going to be a long, hot, cynical summer.
--Andrew Hicks and James Wallace
From MTV's "25 Lame" Countdown
Aqua – Barbie Girl (1998)
     (1/2)  Did your town have a radio station that did a “Hot Five at 9” countdown every night where shit like “Somebody Farted” and “Short Short Man” would get voted to the top for weeks and the DJ would play conversations he had with 13-year-old girls calling in to request it? Aqua’s “Barbie Girl” is made for just that purpose. Best-case scenario: the single sells a million copies, maybe they get to record an entire album nobody buys and, in the end, everybody shakes hands, splits up the money and goes their separate ways… The video is ultra-pastel and ultra-stupid, with a hot model playing Barbie as she sits under a hair dryer and cruises around town in her hot-pink sports car. Ken, on the other hand, looks like a Pakistani version of Daddy Warbucks, bow tie attached in perfect Vegas bouncer fashion and everything. You can’t respect this on any level. It’s worse than anything the Partridge Family did. –AH
     (1/2)  I made fun of this on every level until I met a girl who owned the album and played this song all the time. Then I understood, this is their audience. This fits her perfectly. Since then, I’ve understood almost every piece of crap that MTV has unveiled as good music. The band drives around living the Barbie Dream, which of course disgusts them because, in reality, I’m sure they hate all that stuff. The lead singer herself surely thinks money is “icky.” My brother stole this CD from a girl at a party once, and she ran around crying and screaming, “Where’s my Aqua CD?” He laughed his ass off. Then he came and told me about this shameful act, after which I of course responsibly proceeded to laugh my ass off as well. --JW

Chumbawamba – Tubthumping (1998)
Chumbawamba - Tubthumping
     (*1/2)  This is the newest video on the “25 Lame” countdown and one of the ones that definitely deserves a place here, but more because of the song itself. There are some bad pop phenomena that are absolutely huge, like the Macarena and the Backstreet Boys, and there are others that are just incessantly annoying for a season. The concept of heavy rotation only proves that the hand that feeds you can also bite you. Note Chumbawamba, a European anarchist band reduced to novelty status by MTV. This song sucks, and it’s composed of four different mini-hooks, all of which grate on the nerves. The “Tubthumping” video itself, though, is nondescript. The singer and his mascara stroll through a bar where beer is drained from glasses in romantic closeups. You get the feeling that, on the other side of the bar, the members of Semisonic are trying to herd everyone out for the night. –AH
     (*)  (subliminal message from Chumbawamba: MTV is just a bunch of commercialist dogs to add this fine video to their worst of all  of all-time. Steal this album. Steal this video. The Queen is bollocks…) Of course, everybody knows what “Tubthumping” really is. You make a hot bath, you’re feeling all warm and cozy, you’re all alone… eh? Anyway, if a bunch of frat boys got drunk and decided to make a music video, this would be the result. A bunch of thrown-together gibberish recorded by fools who didn’t know better. “It’s just for us, mate, honest!” they swore to him. The liars. Of course, the girl is cute. Who is she? Why, their disapproving academic advisor, of course! I saw this video once, I took a whiskey drink. I saw it twice, I took a vodka drink. They aired it again, I took a lager drink, and well, you get the idea. --JW
Chumbawamba - Tubthumping

Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
     (*1/5)  <song parody> (sung to the same music) Once, there was this guy who, couldn’t sing and so he mumbled through the lyrics, and when, he tried a comeback… they said, “This is so 1994.” </parody>  I mean, who besides my mom bought this album? Now, my friends will point at me and say, “Hey, James, we all know you went to see them in concert.” Come on, give me a break! It was free! The line for the Screamin’ Eagle roller coaster was just too damned long, and I was out of ones for the game booths! --JW

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up (1993)
     (*1/2)  This is one of those songs we’re going to try to convince our children never existed. But you know you remember this, you know one of your friends probably bought the album and you know at one time in your life you liked it. Maybe you still do. You have to admit, though, the video sucks. The fashion is hideous – remember the huge stovepipe hat she wears with the giant goggles? The Pippi Longstocking pantyhose? The dreads? The time the lead singer asked you if you wanted to supersize that Extra Value Meal in a Pasadena McDonald’s last fall? NOTE: My best friend and I still swear Katharine Hepburn could have the comeback of a lifetime recording a cover version of this song. --AH
     (*1/2) Every day, the lead singer would walk to the subway. Every day, the gutter trash would ask, “What’s up? What’s up, baby?” Well, one day she couldn’t handle it anymore and decided to tell them, to tell all of them… what was going on. Well, that would have been my voiceover intro, anyway. This song would get her through the dark nights, when daddy was in one of his “black moods.” I scoff now, but just like everybody else I liked this song and this video, frizzy black locks, Dr. Suess hat and all. The sad part is, if it had come a year later, they would have let her sing it at Woodstock ’94, and sing it proud. --JW

Gerardo – Rico Suave (1991)
Gerardo - Rico Suave
     (zero)  Yes, 1991 was definitely a shitty year for music video. Gerardo was probably the prettiest one-hit wonder of his era, though. What an incredible set of abs. I don’t know, this video just seems like an extended tourism ad for Puerto Rico from some ambitious, scrapped campaign borne of the early ‘90s. Everything is over-choreographed, with spandex, doo-rags and leather for all. “Rico Suave” is another of those travesties that shouldn’t exist. Our kids are going to give us so much shit for this. I have a feeling that, for the next generation, watching music videos like these will be akin to what movies like Reefer Madness and A Summer Place are to us now. There probably is no unexplained phenomenon quite like the barrage of really bad videos from 1989 to 1992. Even this ‘N Sync and B*witched stuff isn’t as bad. --AH
Gerardo - Rico Suave

Debbie Gibson – Electric Youth (1989)
     (1/2)  Remember how Debbie Gibson was actually taken somewhat seriously? Like, in the midst of Tiffany and the New Kids, she could actually play a few piano chords and write her own songs and everything. The entire “Electric Youth” video looks like it was filmed on some secluded side of the carnival, like one of those fake “music videos” you see in movies like Stay Tuned and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when Pee-Wee is racing through the Warner Bros. studio on his bike. None of this looks real. --AH
     (*)  This video is what was going on in the dungeon during the Backstreet Boys “Everybody” video. “Electric Youth” was quite the phenomenon. Everybody had the single, every girl had the derby and the “exclusive” Electric Youth perfume, and I even remember a few Trapper Keepers. Girls wanted to be her, because she was so strong and yet so wholesome, and guys wanted to have her, because she was so strong and so wholesome, and for just the right guy she’d go all the way… you just knew it. My God, there was something very wrong with me as a child… --JW

Daryl Hall and John Oates – Maneater
     (**) I feel like these guys are doing me a huge service with this video. I’m…strangely mesmerized. You can’t help being drawn in as they urge you to “watch out!” Hall’s enthusiasm is contagious; that’s all I can say. --JW

Hammer – 2 Legit 2 Quit (1991)
Hammer - 2 Legit 2 Quit
     (*)  One of the downsides to the entertainment industry is the egotism we have to suffer when a star gets bigger and decides to keep less of his or her name. In 1991, we saw one of the worst rappers ever, M.C. Hammer, decide his career would thrive more if he lost the “M.C.” designation. It was easier to take, though, because ninth grade was all about the Too Legit To Quit album. My friends and I thought it was the shit – come on, it even had a song about getting ready for work. Sarcasm. The video for the title track, made on a budget that could have provided low-cost housing for everyone in Hammer’s hometown, trots out faded stars like Jose Canseco and Kirby Puckett. They perform the “2 Legit 2 Quit” hand sign, which never quite caught on like its optimistic inventor hoped for. Shot on an enormous soundstage with pyrotechnics, a junior Hammer and way too damn many dancers, this video is an overall embarrassment to everyone involved, even the guy hired to play Michael Jackson’s glove-covered left hand. Remember the Hammer/Michael Jackson feud that Hammer hoped to provoke in 1991, including challenging Mike to a dance-off on network TV? How pathetic was that? It seems like the plot to an episode of “California Dreams.” –AH
Hammer - 2 Legit 2 Quit
     (zero)  Hammer drops the “M.C.,” figuring that people stupid enough to buy this follow-up would need as short a name as possible to remember. Hammer brings everybody together -- sports stars, comedians, actors, etc. -- to bring us a truly balanced video, which explains all by itself why he went broke. In the end, we see that Hammer has crushed his arch rival… well, I’ll just call him “MJ,” as he too does the “soon to be legendary” “Too Legit to Quit” hand sign. I’m sure Hammer believed that the Bloods and the Crips would be throwing this at each other within a week of the video’s premiere. It’s a shame to see optimism like that just wasted.  Of course, Hammer has grown so much since then. The new “Reverend” Hammer would never do the soundtrack for an Addams Family movie. Amen. --JW
Hammer - 2 Legit 2 Quit

Don Johnson – Heartbeat (1986)
     (*)  This was presented as the lamest video of all-time by the MTV “25 Lame” special. I disagree. This is a spectacle, yes. It’s horrible, it’s hilarious and it shouldn’t exist. They spent way too much money on it, the clothes are laughable and Don Johnson is a bad singer. I concede these things, but “Heartbeat” just doesn’t have the spark of true talentlessness that the truly godawful videos do. This is nowhere near the level of a Gerardo or a Vanilla Ice video. With its familiar wardrobe and gratuitous explosions, “Heartbeat” just seems like a bad episode of “Miami Vice.” Nothing more, nothing less. Somewhere, on some obscure satellite channel, this video should be playing at all times. It’s the American way. --AH

Journey – Separate Ways (Worlds Apart) (1983)
     (zero)  This is the only video I can think of that’s set on a wharf deck. The band, hair just a little bit out of control, plays invisible instruments and is arranged and choreographed in such a meticulous, fake way that the whole thing is inherently laughable. Eventually, Steve Perry leans against the metal grooves of the warehouse wall, leg up, venting his emotional angst. (Girl left you for the lead singer of Toto? That sucks, man.) You know, just watching these guys jump out in front of women and sing their feelings into the camera, watching that drummer play a metal toxic-waste barrel, watching Steve Perry hang out of a steam roller, it gives me hope that my existence is not in vein. If these guys can get laid, dammit, so can I. “Separate Ways” is without a doubt one of the worst videos of all time. I can’t imagine anyone who would disagree with me on this. --AH
     (**)  My dad’s band used to play a cover of this, I swear this to you with a straight face. The video is actually a behind-the-scenes look at how Journey makes a video. First, they gather together and sing and pretend to play their respective instruments (or an air-version of them), then a real band comes along and actually lays the music down. Poor slops. Another thing that makes this video fruit is the girl. She looks like the runner up for the “Maneater” video. Watch out, Steve Perry, here she comes! The video ends showing us where Journey is today, as they play on the warehouse docks using oil barrels from drums, and wearing K-Mart’s “Fall ‘82” clothing lineup. --JW

Eddie Murphy with Michael Jackson – Whazupwitu (1993)
     (zero)  Good call, MTV. I thought I was the only person who remembered this monstrosity. I’m trying to decide why each would enter into such an agreement. Why would Michael Jackson attempt to lend credibility to Eddie Murphy’s singing career? Why would Eddie Murphy make us laugh harder than ever at him by clowning around with Spooky Mike? Why would the director put them in front of a blue screen the whole time? The “Whazupwitu” video is an exercise in sparseness as well as unintentional comedy, and it even seems to have some homoerotic overtones. Me bets Michael plays the woman in that relationship. And, just think, he looked that freaky six years ago! --AH
     (zero)  Damn!!!
                No wait, I really meant to say:


Nelson – After the Rain (1991)
     (zero)  Their attempt at an epic. Inside a turbulent double-wide trailer, Mom and Dad fight as their teenage son retreats to his bedroom. He puts the headphones on and watches his poster come to life. (“Whoa, that’s some pretty good acid!”) Unfortunately, the Nelson brothers then step out of it and beckon him inside. Why does this sound like the setup for a gay porn movie that its makers hope will sweep next year’s Adult Video News awards? The Nelsons take the boy to their outdoor Aztec, dry-ice-filled soundstage, which also comes with leather and paisley suit jackets for all to wear. The drummer declines, opting instead to go topless and show off his paisley suspenders. A few of the rebellious girls in the audience even seem moved by the proceedings. Remember, after the rain you live again, unless your last name is Nelson. --AH
     (zero)  I just don’t get it. Who liked this? No heterosexual boy has ever, in the history of the world, had a Nelson poster that big on his wall. The first time Nelson grab me into their poster (I don’t care how much my drunken father is abusing me…), it’s time for the drugs to stop. I think this kid was happier to be at the Nelson concert than the girl who was kidnapped by Cinderella into their poster. Something about that frightens me, on a very basic level. --JW

Snow – Informer
     (zero)  I’m not ready. Soon…I promise, I’ll “licky boom-boom down.” Just you wait. --JW

Vanilla Ice – Ice Ice Baby (1990)
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
     (zero)  This is the voyeuristic experience of the year, watching Vanilla Ice and Denis Leary watch “Ice Ice Baby” together on this “25 Lame” special. Later, they destroy the video with a baseball bat. Even as he does it, though, Vanilla claims he’s trashing the video so people will focus more on his new, Korn-like musical efforts. You know what that says about capitalism? That even after being vilified by the world and becoming nothing more than a typecast talk-show punchline, Vanilla Ice is ready to do it all over again. But he’ll never get the chance, thank God. This video and our collective memory of its performer are two things future generations must never know existed. You can see all the emotions in Vanilla’s face – hubris, greed, superiority, optimism. And remember, the dance moves are all his! Yo, he pulled himself up from the gutter. Word to your mother! … The graffiti, the ridiculous hair (complete with a braided tail – do you remember when that shit was popular?), the synchronous, pitiful dancers, the Korean whore spraying the word “Ice” backward, “Ice Ice Baby” is definitely a spectacle that cannot be turned away from. But the future generations must never know. --AH
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby
     (zero)  I don’t get it. MTV only rated this #9 on the lamest-videos countdown. Number 9? You must be joking. This is the worst of the worst, the very cream of the crap that we review… why, the very King of the Bad Video! It’s so bad, I’ve had it sitting around for months, wondering when I would be ready. The answer is never. One could never have enough skill to review this in any capacity, and truly do it justice. However, I’ll give my utmost. [At this point, an out-of-work reviewer who praised this when it came out possesses James.] He’s got the hair, the looks, the dance, and the clothes, and the posse to take all those other wannabes right out of #1! He’s Vanilla Ice, and you must stop, collaborate and listen! He rolls right past all the fly honies. He could stop, but he’s way too cool for that, and he just flippantly dismisses them with a wave of his hand. Ouch! Too Cold! Too Cold! He gets funky while his DJ revolves it. What? The review is over? Well, peace, we outta here. Word to your mother. [James at this point regains control of his review.] Damn. Did you stop for another Top-40 hit Vanilla? “Nah, I just rolled right by.” I think that says it all. --JW
Vanilla Ice - Ice Ice Baby

Warrant – Heaven (1988)
     (*)  This is the roll of pictures the people in the back of the Wal-Mart one-hour photo shop probably hate to develop – the redneck power trip with candid black-and-white shots of each band member before the show. The video adds names under each member’s portrait (how badass – cursive writing that says “Jerry”). The rest of “Heaven” is your standard concert-tour piece, with the sweaty chests, big hair and country-western women’s power suits. Keep your eyes out for the emotional slow-motion shot of the Warrant bassist riding his cherry-red motorcycle through the back of an empty amphitheater in the middle of the afternoon. Give ‘em hell, Jerry! Don’t let ‘em change you! --AH
      (zero)  Is this a rock-concert or a VO5 commercial? I mean, I’ve never seen such big, vibrant hair in my life, and I’ve watched a lot of late-night Cinemax! Of course, I hate any video that allows Janeane  Garofalo to tell that same tiredass conditioner joke one more time. The video also features black-and-white photos and a video “behind the scenes” with Warrant. If you look really closely, you can see an indictable offense. It’s fun for the whole family! In conclusion, I would bet that there is a strip-club somewhere in America where you can get a private dance with one of the fine members of Warrant for 25 dollars. --JW

Wham – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (1984)
     (*)  Has George Michael ever had sex with a woman? God only knows, but this also ranks up there with the worst of music video. If nothing else, it’s definitely a nominee for Queerest Video of All-Time. George, 17 and hair impossibly shiny, sports a white t-shirt that reads “Choose Life” in big letters. It’s a very Up With People kind of video and, later, he can be seen wearing hot pants and a long-sleeved fuschia t-shirt with canary-yellow mittens that have the fingers cut out of them. Some fashion coordinator actually got paid good money for thinking of that. His partner (The Other Guy From Wham) has a hot-pink, Sahara-desert headdress-looking thing. This video is excruciating and, I must warn you – you can watch this video for three minutes but turn away after that, my friend, because the fourth one makes you gay. --AH
     (zero)  Wham! Wham! Wham! Suddenly, George Michael had a realization: “Get off for a minute, man. I just got a great idea for a band name!” Actually, I used Wham! lyrics in casual conversation last night, and now here the video is. That’s just too damn weird. I once saw a guy wearing a “Choose Life” T-shirt. On the back was information condemning abortion. Something tells me George’s shirt had a slightly different, less Southern Baptist message. For me, it’s not the yellow gloves that make him gay. It’s not the hair or the makeup or even the dance. No, for me, it’s the two-tone lifeguard shorts that were made for a much-smaller lifeguard. The ironic part is that every girl in the audience has probably had sexual fantasies about him. This video is the most fun if you turn the sound off, and sing “Oh yeah, you can do it! Work those buns and go right to it!” in a falsetto, Richard Simmons voice. --JW

Wilson Phillips – Hold On (1990)
      (*1/2)  Can we charitably describe Wilson Phillips as a celebrity super-group? I think we can – from the loins of the schizophrenic mastermind behind the Beach Boys and 1/3 of the Mamas and Papas comes Glen Ballard’s most polished creation since Alanis. Three big hits in 1990 and they were never heard from again. You remember the composition of this group – two brunette Wilsons and one blond Phillips, all of whom were molested at an early age. “Hold On” is set high in the mountains, the girls never once standing up. They’re always sitting on rocks, leaning against trees and staring intently into that refreshing mountain stream. The entire video seems like an extended house ad for Target’s clothing line. –AH
      (**) You know, different members of the Wilson clan deal with depression in different ways. For Brian, the answer was found in psychedelic drugs and madness. For Wendy, joining an adult-contemporary band filled the gap. For Carnie, only snack cakes and her own talk show would fill the void. The girls dress in black and walk the streets, frantically searching for that vital fourth member to complete the circle of their coven. My theory is that they found her, went back up to the mountains in the video and lived happily ever after… until the food ran out and Carnie ate them. It’s a video that’s not astonishingly bad or offensive or fun or… anything, really. It just seems like it should be playing on a TV monitor over racks of jeans at Famous Barr. --JW

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions