REVIEWS -- JUNE 9, 1999
 
 
                               
 
Phil Collins Ė Youíll Be in My Heart
     (*1/2)  I take it this video is from the upcoming Disney version of Tarzan. Phil Collins now joins an elite club of Disney singers that includes Michael Bolton, Elton John and Peabo Bryson. You should see their softball team whoop up against the Christian Coalition team every Saturday. Youíd never know this was Disney-related, though, because Collins apparently refused to allow any clips from the movie in the video. There is no more hubris-filled adult-contemporary singer, and I wonder why, seeing as heís now down to that last wisp of hair on the top of his head. We know this because we get near-constant head shots of Phil, a gift I liken to a stocking full of coal at Christmastime. This video probably couldnít be any more harmless and politically correct; it even shows a wheelchair basketball game, for Godís sake. Not that it isnít reassuring to know Iíll be in Philís heart. ĖAndrew Hicks
     (*1/2)  Isnít it obvious? Donít these guys realize what happens when you do the soundtrack to a Disney cartoon? Wasnít Elton John a good enough example for the rest of you? If I was Phil Collins, I would be doing everything I could to avoid "Old Fuck" status, but he keeps screwing himself at every turn. First he quits Genesis, and now this crap. Also, Phil? Shave your head, Iím begging you. That little wisp of hair in the middle is making you look like an ugly Kewpie doll. Somebody is going to tie a ribbon on your head if youíre not careful. That out of the way, this video is pretty boring even by Disney standards. At least with "Circle of Life," we had cool animated lions. Now, all we have are backgrounds scrolling past and merging with Philís head. Just what I need: Iím looking up into a beautiful sunset, and I see Phil Collins' giant head merged into the sky and looming down at me. Itíd be a definite sign of the Apocalypse. Phil, youíve sold your soul to Disney; you might as well face it. That pain youíre now feeling is Michael Eisnerís dick up your ass. --JW

Sheryl Crow Ė Sweet Child Oí Mine
     (**1/2)  Sheryl Crow makes her foray into soundtrack remake-land with this cover of the 1988 Guns Ní Roses classic. We quickly find out itís for the Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy, as Sheryl stares into a 13" TV that happens to be showing clips of it. Iíve often wondered how much of a bitch it is for music video directors to find new ways to integrate movie clips into their concept videos. This one, with Crow wandering around a junkyard and looking into that TV (which doesnít happen to be plugged in), is one of the less creative ones. Still, the video and the song itself, arenít bad. Itís just standard cover fare Ė Crow making the song sound like most of her other songs, with strings, jangling acoustic guitars and vocals that could be a whole lot stronger. Thereís a lot worse soundtrack stuff than this. --AH
     (**)  A few years ago, Sheryl appeared on Encomium: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin doing a rendition of "Díyer Míker" that was... well, weak. It could have been great, with her cries of "Oh, oh, oh oh oh" during the chorus, but the whole thing was flat, like she just didnít care. Such is also the case on her version of Guns Ní Rosesí "Sweet Child of Mine." The video is her sitting in an abandoned car singing  and playing acoustic guitar, which could have been okay if she had just put some heart into it. All the ingredients are there: Sheryl, looking quite sexy and backed up by a string section, playing a song that she could crank out sexual energy on. I mean, is it that hard to be more intense than Axl Rose? But no, she just meanders through the song, trying to get it done with. In then end, her hand is covered up by a black circle. Maybe sheís trying to flip off the record executives for forcing her to contribute to the Big Daddy soundtrack. Contactual obligations are a bitch, arenít they? --JW

Missy Elliot Ė Sheís a Bitch
     (***)  The Missy Elliot songs I hear usually sound about the same, but her videos are almost always right-on. Maybe sheís doing the right drugs, and Iím sure the Hype Williams collaborations donít hurt, either. "Sheís a Bitch" is the next look-alike video from the black leather/cold metallic video library (Bustaís "Whatís It Gonna Be," TLCís "No Scrubs," etc.) and not bad to watch. Elliot, as usual, is made up to look as hideous as possible, with head shaved and black makeup eating up her entire face. Midway through, a giant black M arises from the ocean for Missy and her dancers to perform on as clouds loom ominously. Itís not a bad mise-en-scene, but Iím half expecting Kenneth Branaugh to pop up in Wild, Wild West crazy villain garb with a weather-controlling machine. --AH
     (*1/2)  She certainly is, but she goes so far to show it she just ends up annoying me. How many times are they going to recycle this TLC/Busta Rhymes set? Rappers are seemingly discovering computer graphics the same way they discovered mixing in the 80s; the record executives liked the idea. Somebody needs to teach these people that CG is a privilege, not a right. This scares me though, on so many levels: Missy is without a doubt, very black. Black clothes, black body paint, black bald head... she looks like the Gimp from Pulp Fiction. --JW

Hole -- Awful
     (*)  When I was writing this review, I asked Andrew, "This is awful?" He nodded. "It sure is." I quickly corrected myself: "I mean, ĎAwfulí is the name of the song?" Well, it seems I was right the first time around. Having run out of steam for new videos, Hole has resorted to the old concert video option. Plus, all of Courtneyís songs sound the same. They all seem like sheís moaning off-key and making angry gestures. Their lead guitarist, who is a lot more pleasant to the camera and can actually sing, gets drowned out by Loveís noise, and all I get to hear is ĎAuggh aaaah aaah auuuggh oh yeahí --JW

Lenny Kravitz Ė American Woman
     (**1/2)  Why write a song for the Austin Powers soundtrack when itís only going to be overshadowed by Madonnaís "Beautiful Stranger"? That seems to be Lenny Kravitzís approach, as he tosses this remake of the Guess Who freedom-rock anthem into Mike Myersí lap and seals his secondary fate. The video is standard Kravitz fare, with plenty of masturbatory guitar-handling and heroin-eyed models dancing around the desert and riding motorcycles. About midway through, Heather Graham shows up, slinking across the top of a trailer and flashing Lenny her most seductive look. It only makes sense Ė Mike Myers pops up in Madonnaís video; why shouldnít Graham pop up in Lennyís? To his credit, Kravitz doesnít rub his ass all over Grahamís face like Madonna did. --AH
     (**1/2)  Lenny stands on a stand with a background of the American flag and plays a Guess Who classic while his heroin chicks rave on. I was appalled by this remake, and wondered where Lenny got the nerve to remake such a freedom rock classic, until I sat back, took a deep breath, and realized a few things. First, "American Woman" is not a great freedom rock classic. It was recorded in 1978, and it really sucks. Today, you can find it in any given edition of AM Gold, right after the "Pina Colada" song. Renewed, I was able to approach this song and video on its own merits, and realized itís mediocre all on its own. Donít get me wrong; it has its strong points, including Heather Graham crawling seductively on a bus, but lacks any improvement of the original song musically. I could learn the main guitar riff in about five minutes, Iím sure. Still, despite all that, itís got a quirky nature that makes me want to leave it on. Iím sure in a month Iíll be sick of it, but for now itís... well, okay, and thatís about the best it could hope for. --JW

Mase f/Blackstreet Ė Get Ready
     (*)  A camera crew asks Mase what makes him think heís a good rapper. His response consists of one word: "Puffy." Mr. Daddy is nowhere to be seen in this most recent outing, and I think there might be a reason for that. This seems too bad even for him, with Mase chased through the airport by paparazzi, lounging poolside with some honies and pledging his unending love to some girl he wants to bone. "Get Ready" could basically be interchanged with every other Mase video, down to the fly girls dancing onstage in front of showering sparks. You know, Iíve given up on trying to put into words just how bad Maseís rapping really is. Besides, I thought this bastard was retiring because he found the Lord. Maybe God didnít want him. --AH
     (*)  Iím incredibly unobservant. Andrew informs me, that for the longest time, Iíve been spelling Mase with a "C." Maybe itís because a MaCe is what Iíd use to beat in his hack brains. In this video, MaSe takes a nod from Prince (except he appears to have raided L.L.Cool Jís wardrobe), being surrounded by reporters like heís Page 1A material. "Mase, why do you think youíre such a good rapper?" she asks intensely with seeming admiration, but it comes out as an accusation. Accordingly, Mase is dumbfounded. This has the same old crap as his other videos: the same fly girls, same sparking construction set, same Day-Glo outfits... god damn. --JW

Orgy Ė Stitches
     (*1/2)  So glam theyíre harmless, so alternative theyíre pop, so much makeup they could get an endorsement contract from RevlonÖ itís Orgy! That New Order remake put them on the map, and now theyíre back to prove they can hold their own with their own material. I think. This could also be an obscure remake, but I doubt it. Itís too much of a watered-down neo-punk glam rock effort to be a remake. The video, awash in white and light-blue, is the very definition of pretentiousness. The band performs in a lucite box that apparently serves as some kind of museum exhibit, or at least the centerfold from the latest Gadzooks catalog. The "obligatory female" shows up to pout and look sexy and weíre made to read the lyrics from time to time. I like the blue lipstick on the bass player. --AH
     (*)  My, my, look who wants to be Radiohead? The post-modern cynicism of this song is so directly lifted from OK Computer, I can barely believe itís legal. Orgy takes us through their video, pointing out every important part, because of course the general public couldnít understand it. What the general public really canít understand is how you guys think watching you preen for four minutes makes an entertaining video. To paraphrase my advice to Missy Elliott, body glitter is privilege, not a right. If Trent Reznor knew that opening up industrial music in the U.S. would to this, he would have killed himself to end the horror, Iím sure. --JW

Silverchair Ė Anaís Song
     (*1/2)  I avoided these guys like the bubonic plague during their last incarnation, and I donít plan on biting this time around, either. This Australian alternapop group, still pretentious as hell, now puts out a song based on its singerís two-year bout with an eating disorder. Considering how slender and feminine he is, itís not a surprise. Really, heís damn cute. Iíd do him. --AH
     (*1/2)  Is it just me, or are Silverchair not ready for prime-time? They seem like one of those first bands you join in high school before you graduate and move onto other things. I mean, the lyrics and tempo of this song seem to be made up as they go along, like something we used to do at the lunch table. I guess this just shows what happens when talent scouts start running the public school circuit. This song is all about bulimia, and itís effective in getting the message across, because when itís over, I just want to purge myself and listen to better music. --JW

Smash Mouth Ė All-Star
     (**)  Our music videos have become movies and our movies have become music videos. So why should it surprise me that Ben Stiller and the rest of the Mystery Men cast, auditioning superheroes ("Iím Pencil Head. I erase crime."), find the lead singer of Smash Mouth has super powers? One listen to this song and itís obvious he doesnít. I mean, the words "Get your game on" are in the chorus. How much more trite can a band be? But Iíll admit, itís pretty catchy until it gets to the chorus. With the competition for Summer Radio Song as slender as it, this will probably get all the airplay of a Sugar Ray song. Why do I compare this to Sugar Ray? Because the Smash Mouth singer has decided this time around to act just like him, down to the self-absorbed hand gestures into the camera. "All-Star," celebrity cameos aside, is just another McG video, with washed-out colors, white fly girls and fancy cars. And the scene where the Smash Mouth singer lifts a school bus off a girl in garters while several twentysomething cheerleaders edge him on from the sidewalk? Pure gold. --AH
     (**1/2)  Iíve always wondered why this guy was Smash Mouthís lead singer? I mean, heís fat, unattractive, doesnít play an instrument and sings like the front man from the Bosstones with a bad cold. I mean, Iíve got nothing against the guy, but it just seems an unlikely setup. Of course, thatís unless the whole thing is just a massive setup to cure his self-esteem problem. This video would seem to fit along with this theory, anyway. He auditions to be one of the Mystery Men, who observe him doing good deeds all over, his squad of sleazy cheerleaders behind him all the way. All rock stars should spend their free time this way. After all, "with great album sales comes great responsibility." Super-hero histrionics, itís a catchy tune, even if it is a novelty. Of course, that hasnít stopped Offspring in the past year, so why should it stop Smash Mouth? --JW
 

Z-Music Video of the Week

Carman Ė Jesus is the Lamb
     (*1/2)  Carman makes his first travelogue video, standing on the beach, sitting next to a babbling brook and watching a bunch of Polynesian girls dance in hula skirts. And the reason itís okay? Because those hula girls know Jesus is the lamb. Heís the milk-fed veal of their souls. This video proves once again how inconsistent Carman is; one day itís rap, the next itís techno. By Friday, he goes Polynesian. The only constant is that bright blue blazer he wears, even when on vacation in the Caribbean. I donít know about you, but if I took a trip to an exotic island and saw Carman lounging poolside, Iíd probably check into another resort. --AH
     (*)  I believe in Andrew Hicks. I believe he can change his evil ways and come back to the Lord. That's why last month when I was perusing the Carman web site, I happened upon a way to bring him back to the light. I quickly signed up for the "One in a Million" program, where I pledged to believe for Andrew. About a month later, I was delighted to recieve my "One in a Million Believers Kit!" Included were two "One in a Million" bumper stickers (One for me, and one for the heathen, of course), an inspirational letter, and a signed Polaroid of the man himself; Carman in a pose that would frighten all the demons from my dear friend. That was then. Today, Andrew is a youth group leader, and seems delighted to help all those small children... err, actually, that may not have anything to do with his salvation. Anyway, it worked for us, and it can work for you! --JW
 

Classic Videos

Blondie Ė Heart of Glass (1979)
     (**)  Iíve had an argument going with James for about a year over this song. I say itís a disco song; he says it isnít, and I know itís because he likes "Heart of Glass" and he would never admit to liking anything that has to do with disco. Except Barry Gibbís sweaty chest, of course. Disco or not, "Heart of Glass" is a pop classic, but the video is a long way from classic. Deborah Harry, still hot as hell at this point, had yet to master the art of lip synching. She sings out of the right side of her mouth for the entire video. Itís filmed on a simple soundstage, with bright disco lights rotating and flashing andÖ whatís that I see? The drummer holding a giant DISCO ball during the solo? But no, this could never be a disco song. --AH

EMF Ė Unbelievable (1990)
     (*)  This video is a four-minute ad for Vision Street Wear, which no one has had the vision to wear on the street since Bush left office. That didnít stop EMF, Europeís answer to New Kids on the Block, who actually played their own instruments. I bet they even wrote the song, which is in that elite club of pop hits Tom Jones has seen fit to cover. The "Unbelievable" video itself hasnít aged well. The strobe lights, the colors of the Italian flag in the background, the hats worn at a perfect 90-degree angle from the head. Itís, well, unbelievable. Actually, godawful would be a better word. --AH

Georgia Satellites Ė Keep Your Hand to Yourself (1986)
     (***1/2)  One-hit Ď80s white trash never got better than the Georgia Satellites, which was part AC/DC, part country and part George Thorogood. "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" has been a sing-along classic among my friends for the better part of the decade. We brought the guitar and amp out to the porch on a Saturday night a few weeks ago and blasted the entire apartment complex with an impromptu rendering. A stray redneck from another apartment wandered over toward the end, a Miller Lite in his hand. "This sounds far more interesting than the party I came to," he told us, and it was the greatest compliment we could have received. The video is simplistic but a hell of a lot of fun; the band plays from the back of a pickup truck, the singerís bushy hair flapping in the breeze. Toward the end, we get the hillbilly wedding scene, where a chicken flaps around the reception and the band plays, again from the back of the truck. I canít explain why this still seems so cool, but kitsch accounts for plenty. --AH

Notorious B.I.G. f/Puff Daddy Ė Hypnotize (1997)
Notorious B.I.G. f/Puff Daddy - Hypnotize
     (***)  Theyíre after Biggie in helicoptersÖ but who are they? The FBI? Paparazzi? The composers of the song Puffy is sampling? Weíll never know for sure, but B.I.G. sure kicks his yacht into high gear as Puffy collapses in the back of the cabin, curling into the fetal position. Now theyíre on land, Puffy chauffeuring the BMW as Biggie raps about the motorcycles and Humvees out to get him. Itís a fun video, made even more so by the rappersí tendencies to take it completely seriously. Repeat after me, Puffy, you canít take a video seriously when the words to the chorus appear on the screen with a bouncing cartoon happy face following along. I donít know if itís coincidence, but this is the last B.I.G. video before his untimely demise, and it also happens to be the last Puffy-related song I like. --AH
Notorious B.I.G. f/Puff Daddy - Hypnotize

 
 
 
Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions