REVIEWS -- AUGUST 11, 1999
Tal Bachman – She’s So High
     (*½)  When did the guy from Deep Blue Something go solo? Okay, I’m going to rattle off a list of soundtracks – stop me when I hit the one this song is on. Never Been Kissed, "Dawson’s Creek," She’s All That, American Pie, "Party of Five." Am I close? Anyway, that’s where this college-geek fluff belongs. I mean, come on, one of the first lines of the song is, "She’s touch, smell, sight, taste and sound." The guy’s rattling off olfactory senses as the object of his desire walks down the street with angel wings protruding from her shoulder blades and aviator goggles atop her head. Tal pines from the fire escape, his Craig Kilborne hair flopping in the breeze. But it gets better. The girl climbs the fire escape, one rung at a time, and walks across his phone line like it’s a tightrope, then dives off head-first, landing in a mud puddle. The assembled crowd claps, and Tal Bachman’s precious heart skips a beat. Dawson would love this shit. –Andrew Hicks

Beck –Jack-Ass
     (***)  Beck is turning into one of the great artists of the ‘90s. The alternapoprap stuff is one thing, but his Mutations album is full of jangly, bluesy guitar and carefully crafted rock. Real music, in other words. No samples. "Jack-Ass," the last single from Odelay, was a sign of the things to come. It’s a meandering, trippy black-and-white video that sees Beck working in the coal mines. His dreary existence is enhanced by Willie Nelson, who rides through in a mine car and throws glitter in his face. You see, not everyone constructs reality the same way you and I do. Okay, I’m going to turn my back and, when I turn back around, Beck, I want to see the White-Out and magic markers on my desk. No questions asked. –AH

Jewel – Jupiter (Swallow the Moon)
     (*½)  At last, Jewel is ethereal again. She stands on a black soundstage for most of this video, singing her beautiful poetry as clip art pops up in the background. "Good love is delicious," she sings, and an apple graces the screen. "Makes you so crazy you want to swallow the moon," she adds. There’s the moon. "Jupiter, steal my little heart," and there’s Jupiter. Someone was paying attention during that field trip to the planetarium. I’m having a hard time believing this video was directed by Matthew Rolston, one of the original fashion-photographer video auteurs. His videos used to be sexy and bankable, but now I guess he’s swallowed his pride and the moon. –AH

Kid Rock – Cowboy
Kid Rock - Cowboy
     (**)  Up jumps tha boogie again, as Kid Rock makes one more blue-eyed attempt to convince us he’s a badass playa. The media has even legitimized this guy – the Rolling Stone people gave his album a good review, Newsweek hailed him and Limp Bizkit as rap-hop trend setters and BET said, "No comment." White people have been watering down black music for years, but at least this Kid Rock video is more entertaining than the last one. It’s his "Santeria," complete with lazy Latin guitar and Gary Coleman in a miniature white cowboy costume and 10-gallon hat. Closer to five, actually, but who’s counting? The video has stock images of gambling, dancehall girls and an 18-wheeler that I’m sure is jammed full of gunbelt-wearing honies. Toward the end, Kid Rock apologizes for his almost-Monster Magnet level of garishness by uttering, "I’m not straight outta Compton, I’m straight out the trailer." Confucius was never this pithy. –AH
Kid Rock - Cowboy

Jordan Knight – I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
     (zero)  The zero-star rating is one I don’t try to give out too much, but this year’s continued onslaught of boy bands and, for Christ’s sake, singers from boy bands from 10 YEARS AGO, has exhausted my patience. Now Jordan Knight decides to remake one of my favorite Prince songs, a rocking 1987 track about guys who put women off if they think the relationship is going to be too much work. Jordan slowed it down to ballad level, lost all the guitar and completely missed the point of the song. When Prince told the girl in the song that he could never take the place of her man, it was because she was fucked up and had two kids and all he wanted out of the deal was raw, paisley sex. When Jordan tells her, it’s because he genuinely thinks he isn’t worthy of the woman and her mound of obligations. Well, he isn’t worthy, and this video proves it. He’s on the corner of a tall building (NOTE TO CREW: When you see Jordan Knight perched perilously on the edge of the building, you PUSH him. It’s worth the jail time.), watching the girl take shit from her boyfriend in an alley. Later, he meets her in the subway and gives her an apple… is that how guys like Jordan get girls? I’d watch Wild, Wild West a thousand times before I’d watch this video again. –AH

Naughty By Nature f/Zhane – Jamboree
     (**)  These guys have really softened up as the ‘90s have worn on. "O.P.P." was cool and "Hip Hop Hooray" was passable, but by 1995 and "Feel Me Flow," it was obvious they’d lost their hold on the Jam of the Summer title. "Jamboree" is a weakass attempt to create another summer jam, and the very fact that they have Zhane (anyone heard from them since 1994?) singing back-up vocals proves this won’t go anywhere. So they didn’t throw too much effort into the video, which is your standard carnival-fun shoot. Did we all want to see Treach ride the Tilt-a-Whirl? He’s got his shirt off, and all that’s left to adorn his chest are suspenders and a neckerchief. Problematic. –AH

Puff Daddy f/Hurricane G – P.E. 2000
     (*)  Puffy never had much of an identity, but I never thought he’d turn into a neo-glam Marilyn Manson rapper. He’s got more fur here than Yogi Bear and the intelligence to match. I’ll give "P.E. 2000" a little credit, though, for not having any recognizable samples. He didn’t steal a Police song or anything; how about a round of applause? Actually, it’s a direct remake of a Public Enemy song. On the other hand, this video is like 12 minutes long, with all the Hype Williams excess you might expect. It’s at least the third video where Puffy’s being chased by helicopters, racing down the street in his Iroc or whatever. What else does this video have to offer? Puffy rapping in front of a bunch of lightbulbs, like "Ghetto Supastar." Puffy rapping in front of looming black clouds, like "She’s a Bitch." Puffy rapping in a computerized, metallic-blue room, like "No Scrubs." Puffy rapping in front of flames, like the cross in his front yard. I’m going to get some letters for that one… --AH

Chris Rock – No Sex (In the Champagne Room)
Chris Rock - No Sex
     (***)  This is the kind of thing I wish there was more of on MTV. The only comedy videos I’ve seen are from Weird Al, Denis Leary and Adam Sandler, and MTV doesn’t have the balls to play Leary’s videos. "No Sex" is a hip-hop parody of "Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)," the pretentiousness-overload graduation speech from last April. Rock’s version is four minutes of advice from the ‘hood, addressing the lack of sex in strip-club champagne rooms, the beauty of cornbread and the politics of dating. ("If a woman tells you she’s 20 and looks 16, she’s 12. If she tells you she’s 26, and she looks 26, she’s damn near 40.") The video is a cross between the New Age clip-art of sunscreen and the washed-out glitz of a Hype Williams hip-hop effort. Not everything Rock offers is funny, and some of it is dulled by the PG-13 world of MTV, but "No Sex," even as a novelty, is a better bet than just about everything that’s out right now. –AH
Chris Rock - No Sex

Sporty Thiev$ – No Pigeons
     (**½)  God, men are sensitive. Women have been dealing with misogynist rap songs for more than a decade, and they’re finally trying to get back at us. "No Scrubs" wasn’t classy, but it was fun, and it led straight to the even harsher Destiny’s Child knockoff "Bills, Bills, Bills." Now Sporty Thiev$ has cooked up a response, a gangsta rap novelty hit that samples "No Scrubs" and accuses bitches of being pigeons. What are the distinguishing characteristics of a pigeon? Lee’s Press-On Nails, a Jenny Jones makeover and "drawls with skidmarks." Okay, so it’s not a savage satire, but it’s a fun three minutes. --AH

TLC – Unpretty
     (**)  After all the mentions of "No Scrubs" I’ve made this week, I’d might as well review the new TLC video. "Unpretty" is TLC’s entry in the feminine self-esteem genre, with lilting synthesized strings and acoustic guitars. This may make a few 13-year-old girls feel warm and fuzzy, but to me, it’s just gay. They’re in the middle of a field of roses, dressed in ungodly genie/guru outfits. The video also cuts to TLC’s bachelorette pad, which has floating pods for them to sing from. And the rent is only $800 a month. Here’s what disturbs me about the video – the notion that these girls would ever even undergo self-esteem problems. There’s a scene in this video where Chili’s boyfriend tries to talk her into getting breast implants, and she has this hurt, inadequate look on her face. Give me a break. And how disturbing are those shots of the fat girl alone in her room, shoveling whipped cream into her massive, tear-stained face? Who is this woman, anyway? The person who actually does the vocals for TLC? –AH

Classic Reviews

Billy Joel – It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me (1980)
     (zero)  For all the good Billy Joel was trying to do with this song, I doubt he realized he was making one of the worst videos of all-time. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always loved driving down open roads with my windows down while singing along too loudly to this song, but the video – God, the video. It was made on a barren soundstage, and Billy’s band members remembered to wear the tackiest button-up shirts in their closets. Billy is decked out in a red suit with a slender white tie that has some sort of diamond pattern on it, and every time he gets to the bridge, he claps along as the camera on the left of him intercuts with the camera to the right of him. You know what they called that procedure in those days? State-of-the-art special effects. –AH

Dave Matthews Band – What Would You Say (1995)
     (***½)  This was Dave’s debut – impressive, original and arty without being pretentious. I liked this so much I borrowed the CD from a friend (who borrowed it from his friend, who stole it from Best Buy) and never returned it. I more or less severed a friendship for a Dave Matthews CD. "What Would You Say" is still a cool song, after more than four years of near-constant rotation on every adult album rock station in America. The video is still inherently watchable, too, mingling footage of the band playing with computer-manipulated animation of a nude couple dancing and pieces of a family on the couch. It’s kind of like something Herbie Hancock would have done with the "Rockit" video if he’d had a budget. I don’t know what happened, but Dave lost me after Crash. The three singles I’ve heard from his new album all suck, and I’m sure the rest of the album isn’t worth calling home for, either. But we still have "What Would You Say" to remember him by. –AH

Ce Ce Peniston – Finally (1991)
    (**)  I have a theory – Ce Ce Peniston and Robin S. were the same person. Each had that watered-down, black-girl soul voice applied to a couple of over-produced hits in the early ‘90s, and both were never heard from again. And, as you recall, you never actually saw the two of them together. "Finally" still pops up on Box Classics every now and then, and I’ve still got a copy of it on an MTV Top Jams of All-Time Countdown from early 1993. Needless to say, it wouldn’t pop up on a countdown today. Ce Ce frolics on an empty white soundstage, while colored boxes and circles added in post-production dress up the proceedings. For half the video, she’s surrounded in blue and red silhouettes, which leads to the inevitable question of why a music video director would want to make his audience think it was watching an old-time 3-D movie without the glasses. I tried watching this video with 3-D glasses once; it didn’t work. Like my life would have been bettered by seeing Ce Ce Peniston’s head come out of the screen and into my life. Sounds like the plot of The Last Action Hero 2 or a very bad Internet sex story. –AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions