REVIEWS -- AUGUST 25, 1999
  Marc Anthony - I Need to Know 
     (*)  No wonder Cleopatra was so bored all the time. She had to contend with this Ricky Martin/Robbie Williams wannabe. "I Need to Know" continues the Latin-tinged sugar pop trend (please tell me this guy was never in Menudo) with a video set in a flashy nightclub. The fly girls shake their asses, Marc flexes his pecs under his silk shirt and the crowd laments a three-dollar cover gone to waste. "I Need to Know" also features some Jordan Knight "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" shots of Marc in a damp alley, begging a woman on a fire escape to take him back. Iím betting there are a lot of fire escape confrontations in the apartment complexes of teen idols. Why, Donny Osmond even slipped on his fire escape and broke a hip last weekÖ - Andrew Hicks 
      (**) I thought he died at the Battle of Actium? Shows with the History department at UMC knows. Latin pop, backed up by violins is actually a cut above the Ricky Martins of the world, and actually a little classier, but it still fails to meet the mark. The only people who could really get into this probably aren't reading this review, because clerical staff aren't allowed to use the web for personal business.  He keeps singing, "I need to know, I need to know" and I have to resist the urge to shout back "If you think you're gonna leave then you better say so!" Of course, I don't think Tom Petty would appreciate it, so I refrain.  This will probably be making a debut in a dance club near you, with the violins replaced by a drum machine. Does he really deserve any less though? - James Wallace

Mariah Carey ? Heartbreaker 
     (*?)  Mariah Carey bills "Heartbreaker" as her most ambitious video effort to date, a complicated concept video about two women in love with the same man. You might expect some emotionally charged Alanis dialogue or a painfully choreographed Janet video. What you get is two Mariahs, one of them in a black wig, the same black wig that separated Selena from Samantha on "Bewitched" and Jeannie from Jeannie II on "I Dream of Jeannie." Some concept. Good Mariahís friends take her to the movie theater, where her no-good boyfriend is seeing a movie with Bad Mariah. On her way in, she stops at the concession stand for a large Hi-C and popcorn with butter spread throughout, and the concessionists leap over the counter to dance with her. She then heads inside, where she finds boyfriend Jerry OíConnell and Bad Mariah. Okay, whatís more appalling, the fact that Jerry OíConnell actually agreed to appear in this video or the fact that they actually expect us to believe Mariah would date a white man? And you know what movie theyíre watching? An animated Mariah Carey film complete with Jay-Z cameo. But just you wait until the end, when you get to watch Good and Bad Mariah go at it in the bathroom. Fight, I mean. "Heartbreaker" is an embarrassing, bloated effort, not quite as bad as the original "Honey" video but extremely hard to watch all the same. I wonder if she even realizes the irony of her lyric, "I just keep on coming back incessantly." - AH 
     (** 1/2)  This really isn't that bad at all, especially considering the "Gangsta Bitch Mariah" (tm) we've had to deal with in the past few years. True, she still retains this title, but she actually seems to resemble the sweet girl we (admit it Andrew) were fawning over in her Music Box days. Ok, the premise is rediculous, but it's amusing, at least on initital viewing. It goes a little something like this: Mariah goes to the movies with her friends to confront her boyfriend, played by Jerry O'Connell (yes, the guy from Sliders. No, I don't get it either.) who is cheating with "evil" Mariah, who for some reason looks like Morticia Addams. They meet in the bathroom, and an old fashioned cat fight ensues, complete with incidental music. From Mariah's melodramatics, it's pretty obvious that she's looking for a movie deal in the near future. Meanwhile, Jerry seems resigned to the popcorn barrage he's getting from Mariah's crew. That's what happens when you're triflin', I guess. Even Jay-Z, my old nemesis, is faintly bearable in his cameo as the narrator of the animated Mariah Carey movie they're watching (Of course, the upside is we don't actually have to see him). Would I go see that movie, you say? Do you stop and watch traffic accidents? Stop asking silly questions. All in all, it's a good solid effort, which I'm sure I'll be sick of after having it force fed to  me about a million times, but it's worth leaving on. - JW

Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott f/Big Boi of Outkast and Nicole -All N My Grill
     (**)  ATTENTION WHITE PEOPLE: The title of this song does not refer to the myriad porksteaks, bratwursts and burgers currently sizzling on Missy Elliottís monster barbecue grill. What does it refer to? Hell if I know. All I know is Missyís been done wrong by her man, so she dons some Whitney "Itís Not Right But Itís Okay" garb and walks down the sidewalk, rapping as traffic stops in the street. (Donít everybody throw your spare change at once, now.) Halfway through, it turns into a reverse of Usherís "My Way," as Missy throws on a Pepto Bismol-pink suit and leads some mannish fly girls in choreographed street dancing. Eventually, Big Boi of Outkast comes to the rescue, telling Missy she ainít all that and a bag of po-tay-to chips after all. "All N My Grill" isnít up to par with the usual surrealistic Missy Elliot/Hype Williams videos; itís just a bright gangsta rap effort that looks like every Mase video in the MTV Jams library, probably because every Mase video was also directed by Hype Williams. - AH 

Fatboy Slim - Gangster Tripping
      (***)  This is the only Fatboy Slim song I actually like, and that just because of the movie Go! The video also gets my thumbs-up for the sole reason that it shows things blowing up for four minutes. A home entertainment center bites the dust first. I enjoy the subtle composition of the debris as it flies across the room. Itís a clever metaphor for the ultimate destruction wrought by consumerism. The exploding refrigerator? Thatís a metaphor for the ultimate destruction wrought by Maytag repair men. Exploding cosmetic nightstand? A metaphor for the ultimate destruction wrought by Maybelline and their horrendous mascara testing on rabbits. Pink bed and stuffed animals? Destruction wrought by 12-year-old Backstreet Boy-loving girls everywhere. Fatboy Slim may not have a doctorate in philosophy, but he has a can of kerosene and a whole lot of matches, which makes him one of the most poignant commentators of our time. ?AH

Jimmieís Chicken Shack - Do Right
     (***)  Itís always interesting to watch a band thatís been trying to break through for awhile just go all out to create a Buzzworthy video. "Do Right" does it right, though, mixing a flashy McG look with a pseudo-documentary approach, as testimony after testimony abounds from people who used to know the Jimmie of whose shack chicken doth flow. "He used to cut my lawn," says a neighbor. "He was kind of a strange kid. I heard he sleeps in closets." Hearing the ex-girlfriend claim she wrote all the songs, a cop claim he almost killed them, I donít know, it spices up an otherwise routine video. It almost makes you feel like you know the band, which is a good marketing technique. When you feel like you know somebody, naturally youíll want to buy their album. Itís not exactly going to cause me to run out and buy the CD (if just because I canít bear the thought of owning an album by a band named Jimmieís Chicken Shack), but millions of individuals who are weaker than I may well do it. Thereís hope, Jimmie. - AH
     (** 1/2) Behind the scenes with Jimi's Chicken Shack, where I got some excellent hot wings once, but that's an entirely different story. Apparently everybody in town turned out to see the guys play, and all have their own takes on Jimi from his youth. His ex-girlfriend saved all of their...ummm, precuations, the cop almost had to kill them, the ex-ex-girlfriend wrote all their songs, he apparently sleeps in closes, etc etc. What we end up with is a Behind the Scenes kind of music video, with the music spliced in with recollections from people who Jimi claims he didn't even know at the end of the video. The main theme is simple, but catchy, and fills that neccesary genre I like to call "geek rock". Fastball, your reign is over. These guys have been around for a few years, but have only scored a hit with this video. It's amazing what a good producer/director can accomplish. Maybe there's hope for me yet;  I wonder if Dr.Dre is busy?  Question:does the black guy say anything but "yeah"? -JW

Sinead Lohan -Whatever it Takes
     (**)  "Whatever it Takes" stars a girl, her short hair, her acoustic guitar and her sleek black cat. The girl strums her guitar in her country house and hands her unseen lover some steaming herbal tea. This is a world I know nothing of. "Whatever it Takes" is pure bottled estrogen ? Michael Jackson wouldnít have needed the pills to keep himself feminine if this video had been out back then. Iím almost having a period just watching the damn thing. CURIOUS NOTE: This video was directed by James Brown. Iím sure it was some other James Brown and not the Godfather of Soul, but I still have a picture in my head of Brown behind the camera, yelling at Sinead, "Ah, good God! More soul, Sinead! It needs more soul!" as Sinead breaks down, crying. "I donít have any soul, James." People named Sinead never do.- AH

Train - Meet Virginia
     (*?)  My question after watching this video is, will Train open for Tal Bachman or will Tal Bachman open for Train? Or maybe theyíll both just open for Matchbox 20. Who knew the pseudo-clever, cutesy guitar-pop guy genre would come back? I thought Hootie killed it off for good. This kind of music is calculated to make sensitive college girls wet, and that bothers me, probably because my writing never makes sensitive college girls wet. Yeah, I guess Iím jealous of Train, of its pretentious, grizzly singer, of its power chords and Deep Blue Something backup harmonies, of its conductor, engineer and dining car. Especially of its dining car. The video shows a harrowed waitress in a diner, who I can only assume is Virginia. She deals with irate customers, gives off pouty looks and wipes the counter longingly. Why does the music video world have such great sympathy for pretty waitresses? Is there any reason to immortalize them with such lyrics as, "Her confidence is tragic and her intuition magic"? Hereís hoping Train is the opening act, after all. - AH

"Weird Al" Yankovic - It's All About the Pentiums, Baby

     (**)  Every Weird Al album has had questionable choices for parodies. From the beginning, there was "My Bologna" and "Another One Rides the Bus," and the ë90s brought us "(Donít Go Makiní) Phony Calls" and "Taco Grande." I guess itís no surprise, then, that Weird Al has gotten around to doing a Puff Daddy parody. This video is funny for about a minute ? as Weird Al does Puffyís trademark "uh-huhÖ yeahÖ uh-huhÖ" and leads a group of fly girls through the Office Space cubicles. But the premise, gangsta rap megalomania applied to Internet technology, is entirely one-joke. Unfortunately, the joke isnít that funny. (SAMPLE LYRIC: "You think your Commodore 64 is really neato / What kind of chip you got in there, a Dorito?") Whereís Herbert Kornfeld when you need him? --AH

Zen Mafia - California
     (*?)  I watched some "120 Minutes" this week, hence the handful of videos you might not have seen in regular MTV rotation. Iíve never heard of Zen Mafia, just like Iíve never heard of Buddha Guild or Talmud Union. I probably would have been better off not having heard of them ? "California" is a collection of stolen influences. The rapping is pure "Loser"-era Beck, the song is built around samples from "Sweet Home Alabama" (yes, the chorus is "Sweet home California, where the skies are so blue." Guess they havenít looked at the California skies lately.) and the video is something right out of Kid Rock. It opens in the middle of nowhere, as two guys pull up to a shack, where an overly-tattooed, cowboy-hat wearing attendant plays guitar on the stoop. The singer ends up hitching a ride with a convertible full of honeys, who are apparently on the way to a photo shoot. Better cancel those plans, girls. The Zen Mafia has better things in mind. You know something? For the singer of a redneck grunge band, the Zen Mafia frontman is awful cute. He looks like Enrique Iglesias in this video, and you know that canít be good. - AH

Classic Videos

Color Me Badd - I Wanna Sex You Up (1991)
     (?)  Why did we allow this? Did we ever stop to notice what these fuckers looked like? At least the Backstreet Boys have a little fashion sense; Color Me Badd used to nance around in primary-color coordinated suit jackets and sing in a ball-wrenching near-falsetto. These guys couldnít seduce Madonna. I mean, really, youíre a girl, you see any one of the Color Me Badd guys come up to you in a bar, you start laughing. In this videoís prologue, an idly rich French woman declares, "I will watch my videocassette." In goes the clip for "I Wanna Sex You Up," which features a surprisingly voyeuristic storyline. The guys each go after different girls in different settings as an invisible master controller watches them on four monitors and the French woman writhes around on her couch. Maybe we have made progress as a society. - AH

Starship - We Built This City (1985)
     (*?)  Oh, Starship built this city on rock-and-roll, did they? I wonder if Grace Slick even remembered by this point which band she was in back in 1969. I almost consider the Casey Kasem-approved ë80s bastardization of Jefferson Starship one bad, three-year Grace Slick acid trip come to life. "We Built This City," the first #1 hit from their album Knee Deep in the Hoopla, was their embarrassing synthesized attempt at a rock anthem. The guy from Starship, who I consider even worse off than Grace, leads a group of perky ë80s kids to the Lincoln Memorial, where they sing the songís chorus to Lincolnís statue. Thatís all it takes for the marble Lincoln to leap out of his chair and play some air guitar. Seriously. Itís almost as good as the scene later in the video where giant neon dice fall from a Vegas marquee and a panicked crowd stumbles down the street to get away from the enormous rear-projection dice. - AH

TLC - Red Light Special (1995)
     (***)  This was one of the original R+B oral-sex songs, from the days when TLC cranked out hit after hit and they actually sounded decent. What they put out now is all novelty music, but this single from Crazysexycool recalls the days when they were a bonafide girl group. The concept of "Red Light Special" is a simple one ? the girls of TLC are lounging around their kitchen, engaged in a perpetual poker game while a mob of glistening-pecs Tyrese clones gathers around, waiting for the girls to throw them a bone. Or vice versa. Just rest assured these men could by no means be classified as scrubs. The colors are lush, Left-Eyeís pimp wear is hilarious and, best of all, their faces arenít hidden under layers and layers of geisha girl makeup. - AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions