REVIEWS -- JULY 14, 1999
Christine Aguilera – Genie in a Bottle
     (*1/2)  "I’m a genie in a bottle. You gotta rub me the right way." What late-night phone sex commercial did those lyrics come from? I’m sure the B-side to this single is the extended dance mix of "Pick Up the Phone." (You have basic cable – you know what I’m talking about.) All lame innuendo aside, this is just another weak entry into the one-hit wonder pop scene. We all know Christine Aguilera only got a record contract because she was the son of ex-New York Mets pitcher Rick Aguilera, and because she has a tight little stomach. Granted, she does have a tight little stomach, and she shows it off for the duration of the video. James and I have started to wonder, does music right now suck as badly as we think it does or are we just too old to appreciate the new stuff? I know I’m not insane, though. Songs like "Genie in a Bottle" could never be considered quality music. We had Ace of Base in high school, and that was bad enough, but give me a break. How many weeks will this be #1 on the "Hot 5 at Nine," I wonder? –Andrew Hicks
     (*1/2)  Damn, she’d be my first, second and third wish. Typically, I’ll throw out a bonus half-star for good objectification, especially when it’s obviously intentional. Other that that, I’m kind of missing the point of this video. Maybe when she didn’t get the part as Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, this was her fallback plan. The thing that bothers me the most about this video is that she’s ripping off Britney Spears! My god, what’s left? Oh wait, no she’s not. She’s got a soulsista rapper backing her up, that must mean she’d hard edged. However, they do bring back an old record executive mantra: when you run out of ideas, hot chicks on car hoods always sells. –James Wallace

Chemical Brothers – Let Forever Be
     (**)  This is Buzzworthy, so we get to hear Matt Pinfield give an introduction every time it airs, claiming this video is "like altering your conscience at a rave." It’s actually like manipulating one person to appear like eight or nine, very ‘80s and not really impressive. ("Here in my car, I can lock all my doors…") It’s filmed in that Duran Duran, "Planet Earth" washed-out white lens, with intermittent split-screen and color-wheel effects. The sets are arranged to enhance the effects and make them seem more seamless, but it never works… well, the one time it works is when the dancers have cardboard cutouts of the normal dancer’s head at varying sizes. Then it’s kind of trippy. Otherwise, this video is commonplace "Amp" material. As a matter of fact, it’s not 1 a.m. and it’s not Saturday. I shouldn’t be seeing this right now. What’s wrong, MTV? --AH
     (*)  Man, this video rips so many ideas off, I hardly know where to begin. Let’s start with the lameass synth line stolen from The Beatles’ "Tommorow Never Knows." It’s completely obvious they meant to make this seem trippy but failed miserably. The video uses about every cheap video trick from the eighties, and uses it badly. The home video film quality, the swirling cutaways… blah. I keep expecting a car to drive up somebody’s chest. If this is, as Matt Pinfield swears, a visual representation of an acid trip… well, Timothy Leary was full of shit. –JW

Destiny’s Child – Bills, Bills, Bills
Destiny,s Child - Bills, Bills, Bills
     (*1/2)  My brother came in the room when this video was on. "Great, it’s the scrub song again," he remarked, and even though he was wrong, he was right. This track from Destiny’s Child has the exact same sound and some of the same lyrics. The only difference is these girls are less pissed off about their man hanging out the passenger side of their best friend’s ride than the fact that he can’t pay their phone bills. This video doesn’t take place in the sci-fi, patent-leather world of TLC but in some kind of neo-hair salon that has half a bedroom sunken into the floor. It serves as a backdrop for the dramatic prologue to the video. (HER: I’m sick of you triflin’. You need your own car.  HIM: Vanessa, why you buggin’?) If you like "Bills, Bills, Bills," wait until you hear their other hits, "You Ran Up A Damn Balance On My Discover Card" and "You Shoulda Had Your Tires Rotated (300 Miles Ago)." --AH
Destiny,s Child - Bills, Bills, Bills
     (**)  Now see, I’m confused. I thought TLC didn’t want any scrubs? But this guy in the beginning of the video is clearly a scrub. I mean, he doesn’t even have his own car? But wait, they said they didn’t want no scrubs. That actually means that they want scrubs, because it’s a double negative. Ahh, now it makes sense. Still, I feel sorry for the girls. First, they get scrubs, and now they seem to be surrounded by triflers. Yep, they definitely seem to be complaining about guys trifling. Maybe they just need to meet some decent guys, and they could do a positive, male-happy album. Maybe they’re using this album to set up their ideal for the perfect date. Wait, you don’t suppose I’m a trifler, do you? –JW
Destiny,s Child - Bills, Bills, Bills
     RANDOM JEREMY COMMENT: These girls’ costumes were all designed by Edward Scissorhands.

Lauryn Hill – Everything is Everything
     (**1/2)  Off of every huge album, there inevitably comes The Single No One Remembers. I have a feeling this will be the forgotten one from The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. It’s no catchier than any album track, and it’s almost filler compared to tracks like "To Zion" and "I Used to Love Him." The video is just about average, too, with New York City converted into a giant turntable that rotates around the Empire State Building. Lauryn runs around the rotating city, trying to avoid the giant needle that’s cutting up the streets. Every once in awhile, a giant hand will descend and shake the entire city, producing a cosmic scratching sound, and people will fall to the ground. I’m sure there is a huge thematic significance to this, like hip-hop comes from the city and the city comes from hip-hop, or that the DJ is God of the dance floor. Or maybe Lauryn Hill just does a lot of hallucinogens. In any event, the video would make Frank Castle proud. --AH
     (***)  Lauryn makes a lot of assertions here: "Everything is Everything." No shit. "After winter must come spring." No shit! "I’m not really from Haiti." Again, no shit. Who cares? Now go back into your hut and finish that Andrew voodoo doll I’ve been telling you to work on. That’s better. Anyway, this video is a lot better than I’d expect from Lauryn Hill solo, and will probably be the only three star I grant her from this album. Not because of the song – the song is a lame throwaway – but the video is rather original. The idea is that Manhattan is really a record, and a DJ is spinning it around a needle, a.k.a the Empire State building. Everything shakes when the DJ does some phatty scratches, but everybody seems nonplussed about it. You know how New Yorkers are: "What the hell was that?" "Ehh, looked like a giant record needle tearing down 52nd street. So, what do you want to do tonight?" –JW

Whitney Houston – It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay (remix)
     (**)  Same video, only faster. This is the club version, because Whitney always remembers to look out for her sistas who be clubbin’. The director didn’t even seem to care that, when they speeded the song up, Whitney’s mouth was moving at rapid Micro Machine pace, like stop-motion animation gone seriously to waste. This entire leather diva incarnation of Whitney isn’t right, but it’s okay, I guess. She’s too harmless for any of us to ever object. –AH

Sarah McLachlan – I Will Remember You (live)
     (**)  So this is what it’s like to sit in the audience of the Lilith Fair, in a good seat – if you were in a bad seat, you’d see this video on a microscopic level, maybe on the equivalent of one of those handheld TVs people used to carry around in the ‘80s. Man, that sucks, and you sat through Paula Cole and Missy Elliot to see this bitch. Wouldn’t you demand your money back? I would. This video shows Sarah stripped down, performing her song with a guitar player, drummer and backup singer while she wears a feather boa. Somehow I think an emotional performance for Sarah constitutes that feather boa falling off her neck to the ground while she rouses herself to play some extra-emotional chords on the piano. Who needs Pink Floyd-esque pyrotechnics when you have flying feather boas? --AH
     (**1/2)  Don’t expect anything too dramatic here. Just a concert video, albeit a really well put together concert video. Think Sarah unplugged. Truth to tell, I wish she’d do her albums like this: Her singing, and playing a piano, and backed up by some really good session musicians. Forget about all that unnecessary synth pop and concentrate on being ethereal, which is what she does best. As usual, she looks radiant in the video, except for some reason she’s dressed like the madam at a house of ill repute, feather boa and all. That with the overdone makeup reminds me of Sheryl Crow’s "Yep I’m a slut" look on her last album. That aside, this is enjoyable simply for the fact that you can sit back for a few minutes, sink into your chair, close your eyes, and enjoy. –JW

98° – I Do (Cherish You)
     (*)  This copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy boy band takes us through every 14-year-old girl’s fantasy, a picturebook wedding with a sensitive, devoted beefcake in a well-designed tux. The creative concept involves each boy in the band romancing this girl and fantasizing about taking her to the altar, and then she ends up with Screech. Or at least he looks like Screech – maybe he’s actually in 98°. He’s probably the one who can actually sing. "I Do" features the same computer-enhanced spinning-camera freeze-frame effects as Eminem’s "Guilty Conscience," although the artists only share their skin color in common. Note the slow-motion shot of the bouquet flying through the air and the 20 girls who weren’t picked to play the bride fighting over it. I applaud the director’s skill in capturing this pure, unadulterated emotion. As Carson Daly said to the girl who called in right after this video aired, "You rule." 98° and rising! --AH

Tonic – You Wanted More
     (**1/2)  "If you could only see the way we negotiate soundtrack deals, maybe you would understand…" Yes, this is the end-credits music for American Pie. I can almost see the tagline: "Music to fuck pies to." I always thought Billy Ocean was good piefucking music, but I’ve been proven wrong by this new Tonic track, which sounds a lot like the old Tonic tracks. The video serves as an extended advertisement for American Pie, with the lead singer as a janitor in the same high school. He spends most of the video buffing the floors of an uncaring hallway, auditioning for his future career if the band ever tanks. Don’t worry, Tonic, there’s always room on the Now 3 compilation. Really, though, this isn’t so bad, it just doesn’t have an edge. I bet somewhere, right now, there’s someone in a cubicle listening to this song whose productivity isn’t the least bit lowered by it. That’s a testament right there. –AH
     (*1/2)  If you could only see the way this sucks, then you would understand… err, sorry, wrong Tonic video. Definitely, a better Tonic video. This one is just lazy, and you can tell they didn’t really want to do it. It’s a quick throwaway made for the American Pie soundtrack that meant to re-introduce the public to Tonic while they wrap up their new album, which may be good. Who knows? This tells you nothing about it, because it doesn’t even really have a sound. It’s just the lead singer’s vocals thrown over the same old distorted three-chord guitar licks. Same thing with the video: it’s just the band playing in the school gymnasium interlaced with scenes from American Pie. On that note, why the hell does that kid try to fuck a pie? That’s just idiocy. He probably keep looking at the prop with dread. "Oh hell, I’m going to have to fuck that pie. I have no choice, it’s in the damned title of the movie." Oh, and the lead singer walks through the halls singing and mopping. He’d best watch it, or that could be foreshadowing. –JW

Vitamin C f/Lady Saw – Smile
     (*)  See my Christine Aguilera review. Delete the comments about ex-New York Mets pitcher Rick Aguilera and rubbing his daughter the right way, and add the comment, "This one is even more pathetic." This is one of those life-is-tough-but-you-might-as-well-smile songs ("It’s so tough / It ain’t easy"), so naïve it’s laughable, so bad you can’t turn away. The psychadelic visual gives way to Lady Saw, a ragga bitch who reminds you to "Spread your love and fly." She also reminds Vitamin C to never streak so much cherry Kool-Aid through her hair again. How much more of this shit will we have to endure? –AH
     RANDOM JEREMY COMMENT: Is this before or after she got her Neiman Marcus bill?

Classic Videos
from Beatles Anthology Volumes 6-8

Beatles – Free as a Bird (1995)
     (***)  I’ve had a thought watching these videos – instead of releasing the three Anthology compilations in 1995, the Beatles should have gotten their hands on the 12 best unreleased John Lennon demos and made them into an album. "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love" would have been the singles, and the rest of the songs would have been the album tracks. It would have had vaguely jangling adult-contemporary production values to it, like a renegade Tom Petty album, but it would have been damn good. MTV may have even been behind it. As it was, the "Free as a Bird" video got dick from MTV, and only moderate rotation for a few weeks from VH1. It’s a good video, too, produced almost entirely with computer animation. The filmmakers tried to squeeze in every possible Beatles lyric reference they could, which distracts from the fact that John is gone and the rest of them look like death. It’s good stuff, even if it’s only pseudo-Beatles. –AH

Beatles – Hello Goodbye (1967)
     (***)  The Anthology version of this video includes an absolutely hilarious introduction from "The Ed Sullivan Show," with Ed reading a telegram from John Lennon. ("Winter has come to our fair England. Stop.") Pity the Beatles can’t be on their shew in two weeks, when Mayor Lindsey names the theater after Sullivan, but the band has sent Ed this video in celebration. Of course, Ed doesn’t realize it’s a big fuck-you, that the video was made after the cast and crew ate a sheet of high-powered blotter acid, but if you won’t tell, we won’t. (Psst, those plate-spinners used to take drugs, too, Ed.) The video is simplistic in the extreme, with the four Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper costumes, in front of a psychadelic backdrop, trying their hardest to act like they’re playing their instruments. Ringo gives up after a couple minutes and John at one point does an Elvis impersonation, but Paul takes the prize for being furthest away from reality. Just watch him when he hits the "Why, why, why-why-why do you say goodbye-bye-bye-bye-bye" part. It’s just too many why’s and bye’s for the poor bastard. "That was very, very thoughtful of the guys to prepare that for us," Ed beams after it’s all over. –AH

Beatles – I Am the Walrus (1967)
     (***1/2)  From the almost unendurable Magical Mystery Tour movie, this video sees the Beatles out an English field, monumentally fucked-up and having a damn good time. John is wearing an Uncle Fester skullcap the entire time, I guess to prove he’s the Eggman, and everyone else is in their typical 1967 gear. Every once in awhile, the camera will cut away to people in Walrus or Easter Bunny costumes – it’s the kind of thing that will get you kicked out of NYU film school now or, if you sell your soul to the devil, get you a contract to direct four Parker Posey movies. Back then, it was all they had, and the Beatles have so much fun with it and so much on-camera charisma that they can sell it to us even today. Imagine the kind of videos we’d see if these guys were unleashed on the current MTV climate. –AH

Beatles – Something (1969)
     (***1/2)  I don’t know if this video was put together for the Anthology or if it was done back in 1969, but it’s a good companion to the song, which is still my favorite Beatles tune. If Frank Sinatra does a cover of it, it must be good. The "Something" video is a montage of the four Beatles and their significant others, roaming a park separately as the camera cuts between them. We get the strained shots of Linda McCartney (yuk!), Yoko (double yuk!), Ringo’s first wife (semi-yuk!) and George’s wife (hot!). Yes, George’s wife is hot, and I don’t blame Eric Clapton for stealing her away with "Layla." But it would take a special man to love Yoko, to pose nude with her on an album cover, to weather her screeching tantrums. That man was John Lennon, and he’s dead now. Let that be a lesson to subscribers of the alt.binaries.erotica.yoko.pan-flute newsgroup. –AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions