REVIEWS -- MAY 19, 1999
Backstreet Boys Ė I Want It That Way
     (*1/2)  Maybe Iím just in a pleasant mood, maybe itís because thereís an Ď80s metal girl on our couch trying to defend it, but "I Want It That Way" doesnít seem as painful as the last few boy group videos Iíve had to review. The boys walk through an empty airport terminal and play to the camera as Avis Rent-a-Car clerks look on. Later, they stand in front of an airplane as the captain explains to the passengers that they canít take off because thereís boy group blocking the runway. At the end of the video, they finally give in to ego and show themselves being mobbed by adoring fans. Itís an exciting week, ladies and gentlemen, and my reviewing partner James and I have formulated an agreement Ė heís going to wait in line to get two tickets for Star Wars and Iím going to wait in the midnight line and get two copies of the new Backstreet Boys album. And what a Wednesday weíll have. ĖAndrew Hicks

Blink 182 Ė Whatís My Age Again?
     (***)  These guys are more or less a watered-down Green Day, but everything I hear from them, I like, so I guess I should quit bitching. The video itself is pretty damn clever, with the three band members and their tattoos running naked through the city Ė down the street, past a couple making out, past the little girl with the magnifying glass. I guess this will be cited as further evidence that our culture is decaying, but so what? It has them running naked through the set of "Talk Soup," through a Gap commercial and through a TV news set. What can I say? Itís childish but fun. --AH
     (***)  Every week, the boys of Blink 182 look at their nose rings in the mirror, search their souls, and ask themselves this question. The song describes all sorts of juvenile acts that they shouldnít be committing because theyíve reached the big two-three, and showing the visual effect by streaking through downtown, the sets of "Talk Soup," a Gap commercial, and Fox Sportsí "Last Word." The use of nudity here is better than in the Alanis video. Or at least they have better thighsÖ --James Wallace

Cher Ė Strong Enough
Cher - Strong Enough
     (*)  My only consolation right now is that I havenít yet seen this on MTV. Iíve seen it on VH1 and Box Pulse but never on the corporate Viacom giant. How to describe this video? Well, it further cements Cherís status as Ultimate Fag Hag 1999. The fact that she also held that title in 1969 and 1979 makes it even more pathetic. This is pure disco; if you told me it was made 20 years ago, I wouldnít even question it. Compare this songís synth violin solo with the identical one in Gloria Gaynorís "I Will Survive." The video is pure late Ď90s, though, with Gap boys and girls hanging out in a living room while Cher is trapped in the TV. Two of them play her like a video game, which Iím sure Sonny Bono did for many decades. --AH
Cher - Strong Enough

Citizen King Ė Better Days (And the Bottom Drops Out)
     (***)  This buzzworthy one-hit wonder video has been out for awhile, but this is the first occasion weíve had to review it. Frankly, thereís not much to say about Citizen King. Their hit sounds like a cross between Sugar Ray, Everlast and Eagle-Eye Cherry. Somehow it earns my approval amidst those neo-modern rock clichés, though. Not to insult Kevin Smith, but this video is almost Clerks-like. The singer cleans out his grocerís freezer, takes his push broom through the aisles and waters the produce. Along the way, he manages to pick up the milk delivery girl, greet some aliens and get himself arrested by two donut-eating cops. Carrie hates this video, but Iím obliged to give it a thumbs-up. I told you Iím in an optimistic mood this week, and this even has a mariachi band. --AH
     (***)  I should probably dislike this, but itís decently funky rock for 1999. The band plays in a supermarket freezer, which probably wasnít too hard to get the rights to, since the lead singer probably worked there before they got their big break. In fact, Iím pretty sure a guy with that same hair cut showed me where the Cocoa Puffs were last week. Hmm. We figure the video will end on an up-note, as the lead singer leaves with the cute milk delivery girl. Then, everybody but him is kidnapped by a flying saucer. Damn. "Clean up on aisle seven!" Sorry guy, back to work. --JW

Freestylers f/Definition of Sound Ė Here We Go
Freestylers - Here We Go
     (***)  Call it a bold prediction, but this may be the legitimately good dance single of the summer. It has some clichés Ė music that sounds fairly old, record scratches and all that, but the rapping is good without being harsh and the whole thing just flows. The video is, I would say, buzzworthy. A cast of Calvin Klein ad rejects hangs out at the demolition derby, crashing spray-painted cars into each other as the performers hang out in a half-finished house. There are even a few Mad Max allusions thrown in. For what this is, a cross between "Amp" and dance club music, "Here We Go" is a damn cool video. Consider this a thumbs-up. --AH
Freestylers - Here We Go
     (**½)  This could be genuinely funky, in that good way. I mean any video with a demolition derby, a classic beat and little mutant children running around must have something going for it. The action takes place in a post-apocalyptic demolition derby, where DJís are kept in cages to play the beat while the girls bang their jalopies into each other. A door with "The 80s Suck" is smashed off into oblivion. I guess itís easy to see where their sentimentalities lay. --JW
Freestylers - Here We Go
     RANDOM CARRIE COMMENT: You know, I think I heard this at the skating rink 15 years ago.
Freestylers - Here We Go

Geri Halliwell Ė Look At Me
     (*1/2)  Interesting strategy: Geri quits the Spice Girls and releases for her first solo outing this novelty single that sounds like an outtake from a Ď50s musical. Itís one of those "Iím a bitch, Iím a lover, Iím a child, Iím a mother," songs about how her mood changes every few minutes. She tries to sound badass and vampy but only comes off as laughable. The video is the same way Ė shots of her in a nunís habit intercut with shots of her looking like a whore. Which one do you think got her the record contract? This shit wouldnít even float as a B-side from Madonnaís Iím Breathless: Songs From and Inspired by Dick Tracy album. Mark my words, this will sink without a trace. --AH
     (*½)  "Who is Geri Halliwell?" weíre asked in the first seconds of the video. Funny, thatís the same question most people are going to ask when they see this album in the music store. The girl was in Spice World, but now she wants to be taken seriously. I canít say doing a video that makes her seem like somebodyís "moll" will do the trick. The video is a black and white attempt to do Ď30s lounge music in a Ď90s style, but itís just sad ans pathetic. If sheís lucky, somebody like Ben Stiller might decide to stick this in some campy moment in his next movie, but my bet is that this will be completely forgotten within a year. --JW
     RANDOM CARRIE COMMENT: She looks like Fergie.

Jamiroquai Ė Canned Heat
     (**)  Jamiroquai made one of the best videos of the Ď90s with "Virtual Insanity." This follow-up isnít quite disappointing. Itís fun enough Ė the singer dances through rooms, jumps through walls and at one point flies through a space-time continuum via blue screen. Heís got the soul for it. But the music itself is just watered-down Ď70s funk. (Lyrics like "You know this boogie is for real"? I mean, come on.) This band has its own sound; why donít they stick to it rather than this discofied, wannabe Stevie Wonder fluff? As you can tell, Iím conflicted, because this is a fun video, but itís lacking. --AH
     (**)  It seems like this guy is unable to move normally. Itís always like the room is made of jelly. Lacking the ethereal jam of their first video, this one sounds more like a song made for The Last Days of Disco, like a remake of some Sly and the Family Stone album track. Moving floors, dancing on the ceilingÖ youíd think I would like this, but itís just boring. --JW

Lit Ė My Own Worst Enemy
     (**1/2)  When did it become classy to be tacky? These guys went out of their way to find powder-blue leisure suits with butterfly collars and walk into a bowling alley together. And you know they spent a shitload of money on that see-through red lucite bowling ball. And look, there are three hot girls on the next lane. This is pretentious, but the band is having fun with it, rolling balls every which way, grabbing themselves and generally acting tasteless. With that many tattoos, itís understood, I guess. My roommates both dislike this, and I donít really have an attachment to it, but I find this strangely appealing in a way. Itís decent MTV fluff. --AH
     (**)  Understand, the rating of two stars in no way endorses this video as "OK." More to the point, itís a symptom of how bad things have gotten with videos lately. The video is ripped from the pages of The Big Lebowski, set in a bowling alley. I seriously have to wonder if these guys have ever been inside a bowling alley. I mean, they probably played their first gigs in places that served fondue. Donít ask me why, but apparently wearing bowling outfits and Ď70s leisure suits make you "alternative." Give me a break. --JW

Ricky Martin Ė The Cup of Life
     (1/2)  Congratulations, Ricky Martin. Youíre going home with my worst rating of the week. Itís okay, though. This isnít a real video; itís the theme song for the Winter Olympics or World Cup or something. Iím not sure; ask an Entertainment Tonight reporterÖ The video is pure concert drivel, with white girls in the audience going nuts at every interval and the brass section sounding funkier than ever. And his tight black t-shirt? Purely sexy. I donít know, I almost get the feeling that Ricky Martin is one of Gloria Estefanís second cousins and right now sheís sorry she ever played his demo for that record executive. --AH
     (zero)  Hey, this one is in English. Geez Ricky, I was just kidding last time. This non-video makes Ricky seem like he should be the buddy on some teenage girl sitcom. Remember that Joey Lawrence hit? WoahÖ thatís all I have to say. Woah, indeed. --JW

Will Smith Ė Wild, Wild West
Will Smith - Wild, Wild West
     (**1/2)  This is the spectacle video of the week, a seven- or eight-minute attempted epic with a dramatic beginning, middle and end. It opens with Will Smith and Salma Hayek in bed, love candles blazing. As she goes into the next room, tarantulas crawl on the walls and the bad guy kidnaps her. Shit, Will, you have your work cut out for you, better get to work writing that movie theme. Do you know which disco hit youíll build this one around? "Forget Me Nots" worked so well as the "Men in Black" theme. How about the Stevie Wonder song "I Wish"? You can get the Dennis Rodman-looking guy from Dru Hill to sing the chorus and get a few tailored but smooth cowboy suits. Hell, Puffy, Babyface and Stevie Wonder may even make cameos. You just tell Stevie heís going to the hair stylist and he should just sit on that bench and look pretty. That way you wonít have to pay him. And as you walk past Puffy, you can lean in close and whisper, "You know what the difference is between me and you? I make this look good." In the end, as tarantulas crawl all over Salma and silver ninja stars fly everywhere, you can ride to her rescue. Wouldnít that be nice, Will? It may even seem chivalrous. But it wonít seem respectable. --AH
Will Smith - Wild, Wild West
     (**)  Great, another summer blockbuster song, this time for a movie I have absolutely no interest in seeing. Will wakes up in a heavy sweat ("I had that nightmare again. Kenneth Branaugh was in it.") and his girl reassures him, "Donít worry, honey, he wonít make you do any more independent films." Just then, the evil Kenneth kidnaps Selma and spirits her off. Looks like itís another Six Degrees of Separation for Will after all. Willís starting to turn into a blockbuster summer artist. First the theme song to Men in Black, and now this. He wears this white suit that makes him look like heís selling "Uncle Willieís Miracle Tonic!" Then Will has to save Selma Hayek from a descending mechanical spider. Will this be the end of Will Smith? Stay tuned, same Will time, same Will channelÖ --JW
Will Smith - Wild, Wild West

Britney Spears Ė Sometimes
Britney Spears - Sometimes
     (*1/2)  After the raunch of "Baby One More Time" and her photo shoot for a recent Rolling Stone issue that hasnít left our bathroom since, Britney tries to redeem herself. Dressed in a wholesome white sweater, she wanders up the pier carrying a beach ball. During the chorus, she dances with guys and shows off her stomach. Trivia tidbit Ė the extras standing on the pier are in the video because they won an MTV contest. "Sometimes" is innocuous fun, but I have to penalize it a half-star for having a choreographed shot where the dancers form a heart around Britney. Itís painful. If you look closely, youíll notice the lonely, charming widower in his early 20s walking down the beach with his dog. Yeah, thatís the one sheís singing to. --AH
      (**)  Britney comes out and serenades us, dressed in virgin white. Yeah, anyway. No really, sheís pure as snow, boys, so give up all those thoughts you developed during "Baby One More Time." This song sounds like an ĎN Sync throwaway. "Sure Britney, we can give you one of our songs." "Really Justin? Wow, youíre the keenest!" Also, Iíve decided Britney only had time to learn one dance move for this entire album. I mean, she was too busy being a cutie-pie, so I donít entirely blame her. Somehow, I doubt this follow-up will hold up, simply because weíve already seen her stomach and there arenít any Catholic school girls. --JW
Britney Spears - Sometimes

Classic Videos

Huey Lewis and The News Ė Doing It All For My Baby (1987)
      (**1/2)  I get the feeling Huey Lewis took his videos very seriously. They always spent a shitload of money on them, he always hammed it up and always made sure the rest of the band got absolutely no airtime. Here, Huey puts their heads in jars and hangs them from the wall to make sure heís the one they pay attention to. Heís the mad scientist, you see, with a lab coat, glasses and a wild gray wig that makes him look like Doc Brown from the Back to the Future movies. And I know heís not singing into that test tube... Huey brings an Ď80s model to life in some Bride of Frankenstein experiment gone wrong, while his two-headed assistant plays a double-neck guitar. Yes, Huey Lewis and The News studied silent comedy under the careful tutelage of Buster Keaton. I might be inclined to rate this video higher on kitsch value alone (Huey always has that effect on me) if not for the scenes where Huey plays a double role as Frankensteinís monster. --AH

Madonna Ė Burning Up (1983)
     (***)  They left this song off Madonnaís greatest hits and Iíve never understood why. "Burning Up" captures carefree pop sexuality far more effectively than "Lucky Star" and "Like a Virgin." Sheís sultry, sheís slutty and sheís cute. Most importantly, at this point, she wonít join the Lilith Fair for another 16 years. There are plenty of early MTV camera gimmicks to go with it Ė the split screen, the repeated images contained in small circles Ė but they donít distract from the pure energy Madonna has. The scenes of her lying in the boat and writhing in the streets validate her career in themselvesÖ I guess you can tell, as much as I bash her now, I put a great deal of stock in the early days of Madonnaís career. No other female pop icon quite measures up. --AH

Miami Sound Machine Ė Bad Boy (1986)
     (*)  They left this song off Gloria Estefanís greatest hits and Iíve never understood why. I mean, it was the theme to Three Men and a Baby! The videoís motif is another matter; the boys are all dressed up as cats, complete with makeup, ears and tails that pop up at suggestive times. And theyíre supposed to be in some kind of street gang, apparently, but I canít imagine any gang member would play a xylophone that looked like a fish. Even the West Side Story crew is more hardcore than that. Thanks a lot, Gloria Estefan. --AH
     (*)  It almost sounds like Amy Grant should sing this, but you know she would never do such things. There would be no cat erection in an Amy Grant video, although there probably should be. Oops, thereís the police cat with the whistle. Is he there to bust the bad boys? No, thatís the immigration service coming for Gloria. The bottom line? Switch off this video, and go see Cats instead. --JW

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions