David Bowie – Thursday’s Child 
     (*½)  I don’t think I’ve ever heard Bowie sound quite so spooky and old mannish. "Thursday’s Child" is an overproduced, almost painful folk/pop ballad that sees Bowie staring into the bathroom mirror for four minutes. (He’s trying his hardest to compose a song called "She Came in Through the Bathroom Mirror," and it just isn’t working.) His wife comes in for awhile to use the sink and fish out her contact lenses, and as she stands there, Bowie starts seeing reflections of the past. Of himself and his wife at a younger age, as he sings about getting over the past. I guess that isn’t happening, considering how pissed he gets when he thinks he has the young version of his wife back and realizes he’s stuck with the old, bitter one. Poor bastard; he has to deal with Thursday’s child. So do we, those of us who have VH1, for another two weeks or so. What a sad attempt at art. –AH 

Ani DiFranco – Joyful Girl (remix) 
     (**½)  Did Bjork take a lover? Ani spends this video covered in clay and mud, decked out like Brendan Fraser in Encino Man. (Speaking of that, how easy do you think it was for Brendan to admit to his girlfriend that he got the lead in Dudley Doright? There’s better ways to put bread on the table, you know.) Ani makes it look almost elegant, singing this trip-hop lounge song for an audience of unappreciative seniors. I can picture some guy in his eighties named Cletus yelling up to the stage, "Do you know ‘Old Man River’?" I’m not usually much for any of this chick’s 32 flavors, but right now, I don’t know, this video is doing something for me. Maybe it’s the tattoo that runs all the way across Ani’s chest. Anyway, you go, girl. –AH 

Melissa Etheridge – Angels Would Fall 
     (**)  In her five-year absence, Melissa doesn’t seem to have grown much musically. Aside from the Steve Winwood "Higher Love" percussion intro, this sounds like everything else she released in the days when VH1 originally started questioning its identity. If anything, Melissa is even more adult-contemporary now. The blue-tinted "Angels Will Fall" video borrows most of Cher’s "Believe" extras, featuring shot after shot of ethnically diverse twentysomethings dancing with each other. And there’s that requisite tender depiction of one angst-ridden gay man running his hand over the other’s cheek. All the while, Melissa is strumming away on her guitar, looking like a 50-year-old country singer you could definitely describe as a "mother." Well, not in Etheridge’s case, but you know the look I’m talking about. –AH 

Natalie Imbruglia – Identify 
     (***)  This is a risky call since, after all, Natalie Imbruglia is nothing more than an Australian soap opera star-turned-pop icon and now she’s being made over as Billy Corgan’s goth vixen. And "Identify" is from the Stigmata soundtrack, so the video is full of clips of an angst-ridden Patricia Arquette bearing the bloody wrist wounds of Christ. I can’t help it, though; I like this song right now, and the video looks good. The new Natalie is a cross between Madonna in the "Frozen" video and Sheryl Crow at That Time Of The Month. She’s moody, she’s sexy in that black power suit and apparently she also bears the stigmata. Natalie wanders around two sets, one dark and cloudy and the other sky-blue. There are stained-glass portraits of Christ and a movie screen playing Stigmata highlights – gee, which is more nourishing to the troubled soul? I could try not to like this, but only the most calloused of critics can reject a singer who bleeds from her hands and feet, and I’m not about to be that insensitive. –AH 

Lil’ Troy f/Yungstar, Fat Pat, Lil’ Will, Hawk and Big T – Wanna Be a Baller 
     (*)  It took me half the video just to type out the artist credit. You almost need a Sgt. Pepper number-outline guide to keep all these people straight; I can’t tell my Fat Pat from my Big T, much less which Lil’ is Troy and which is Will. You probably don’t need my expertise to figure this out, but "Wanna Be a Baller" is an embarrassment, a sub-Master P ghetto improvement anthem that tries to glorify and demonize inner-city excess all at once. ("I hit the highway, makin’ money the fly way, but there’s gotta be a better way, a better way.") The song’s music consists of a Casio drum track and four-note keyboard sample from "Little Red Corvette," and the visuals are mostly nighttime driving shots and club scenes, with shots of hundred-dollar bills thrown in every 30 seconds or so. I hope rap really hasn’t come to this, and I know you didn’t ask, but this song is from the album Sittin’ Fat Down South. --AH 

Brian McKnight – Back at One 
     (*½)  Brian spends most of his time during this video wandering through a wheat field, the exact same field where R. Kelly sang "I Believe I Can Fly," and the same field where a vaguely spiritual voice continually whispers, "If you build a three-chord ballad, an RIAA-certified platinum album will come." First we see a man carrying a small child, then we see a few fireman rush by and we realize, Brian’s plane just crashed and all he can do is sing this damn song. You know how it goes – in the event of a crash, oxygen masks fall from the ceiling and Brian McKnight starts wailing out a last-gasp R+B ballad. "Back at One" is a real three-hanky Diane Warren-quality effort –any song that has a chorus built around numbers ("Four, repeat steps one through three") is going to be uninspired – and the video goes so far as to show us flashbacks of the crash and Brian’s wife getting the call that the plane went down. Trite, and no damn fun. –AH 

Method Man and Redman – Tear it Off 
     (**½)  It looks like the people who make music videos have finally figured out midgets are funny, and there’s no funnier one than Verne Troyer, the guy who played Mini-Me in the second Austin Powers movie. He’s going to get a lot of mileage in the music video world, I’m betting. This is at least his third video, and he hams it up as the referee in a dirty wrestling match. Everyone hams it up in this video, which sees its protagonists cameo throughout as enormous trailer-trash rednecks. (Oh yeah, the people who make music videos have also figured out trailer-trash rednecks are funny.) The rappers begin the video by watching the wrestling match, then make the mistake of breaking a folding chair over the head of one of the wrestlers’ mothers. But they prove the gangsta rapper is mightier than the 350-pound redneck wrestler, and I don’t think it hurt that they paid Mini-Me to throw the fight. "Tear it Off" is one of the more fun-to-watch rap videos of recent days, enough so to make me forget how absurd and egomaniacal it is. Just like wrestling. –AH 

Sevendust – Denial 
     (**)  I’m sure these guys get compared to Living Colour all the time, by virtue of the facts that their lead singer is black and knee-deep in dreadlocks and they play hard rock music (the band, not the dreadlocks). I won’t go there, then. Instead, I’ll speculate that Sevendust was probably some city’s big local band, one that languished in obscurity for years and finally broke through to become another mediocre buzz band that gets a shot at national stardom. "Denial" is a flashy video clip, I’ll admit. There are lots of searchlights, lots of twisting camera shots and lots of occasions for the singer to hang from the camera crane and stare right into the lens. (Tom Petty fans will recognize this as the "Eddie Rebel shot.") The entire video has a deeply metallic look to it, plenty of silvers and blues (only the band members shirts appear in color) and video standbys like rain and catwalks. This may go somewhere and it may not, but it certainly won’t change anything. –AH 

Shaggy – Hope 
     (*½)  This video is screwed from the outset, not only because it’s Mr. Boombastic’s soundtrack comeback attempt but because it’s the flagship song from the new Kevin Costner baseball movie. You can’t be musically impressive when your reggae video is full of clips of Costner shaking off signs from the catcher and romancing Kelly Preston. "Hope" is supposed to be some kind of soul anthem, with headphone-clad Shaggy walking down the streets of the city, singing along. He’s midway through the second chorus before he even realizes there’s a hoard of people following him, days brightened by his words of hope. Even the falafel vendor is dancing in the streets, and so’s the guy pasting For Love of the Game posters all over the walls. Subtle, real subtle. –AH 

Sixpence None the Richer – There She Goes 
     (**)  And the nominees for most gratuitous remake of the year are… Here we go again, another gender-bending cover song from an adult-contemporary artist. First it was Sheryl Crow romanticizing "Sweet Child O’ Mine" for the Big Daddy soundtrack, now it’s Sixpence None the Richer romanticizing the So I Married An Axe-Murderer soundtrack for their own album. I thought this was a Christian crossover group – why on earth is a girl singing about another girl racing through her brain? It’s a tantalizing idea but a markedly bland video, featuring a dinner party so avant garde it has people wearing lampshades as hats and cutouts of little girl faces all over the walls. This is definitely one of those musical situations that, if it was described to me, I would have a hard time believing. Yet it seems so blithely appropriate for such a white bread band. And, shoot me, but I’m going to come clean – I bought the single for "Kiss Me." I just can’t fathom the point of this. –AH 

Classic Videos 
from the "Adam Sandler’s Funny Videos" special 

Biz Markie – Just a Friend (1989) 
     (zero)  Nonsense. That’s the only word to describe "Just a Friend," the ultra-embarrassing late-‘80s rap from Biz Markie. He spends half his video dressed as Mozart, pretending to play the piano while he belts out the chorus like he’s a featured soloist for the Down Syndrome Boys Choir. The other half, he’s dealing with his girlfriend, who is cheating on him with a guy who she says is – you guessed it – just a friend. ("Really, Biz, I love it when you sing in my ear and get it all slick and shiny with your rap spittle, but I’m spending the night with my platonic friend who doesn’t dress like Amadeus.") "Just a Friend," if nothing else, is a time capsule for the excess fashions of rap in 1989 – Biz’s rival has a massive flattop and a gold chain that would have most pawn shop owners creaming their shorts. The fact that this was on the Cold Chillin’ record label says it all, I think. --AH 

Sam Kinison – Wild Thing (1988) 
     (***)  Sam Kinison was one of the best and most underappreciated comedians of the ‘80s. Sure, there was the whole shouting thing, but his stand-up acts also included some of the most caustic, dead-on observations about women and religion ever to be uttered in the hallowed halls of a Funny Bone. The "Wild Thing" video, though, is strictly a shouting match. Kinison appears in his trademark beret and tweed trenchcoat, singing the Troggs cliché with lyrics mostly of his own invention. ("You’re a lying, unfaithful, untrustable tramp, and I think I love you.") Shot on a brick alley set, "Wild Thing" features a sleazy female model borrowed from Whitesnake ("Just have her back by sunup tomorrow, Sam. We’ve got a video to make, too.") and cameos by Slash, Billy Idol, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi. Never would have guessed Kinison was into hair metal, would you? Imagine the sheer amount of cocaine consumed at this video shoot. --AH 

Chris Rock – Champagne (1998) 
Chris Rock - Champagne
     (**)  The funniest part of this Chris Rock video is the prologue, which parodies Notorious B.I.G.’s "Hypnotize" video. Rock sits on a yacht, lamenting the state of R+B, then he spends the rest of the video parodying Puff Daddy. He does about as much work as Puffy usually does, too, letting an unidentified woman sing about how much she loves drinking "Champagne." (Lines like, "I trade my welfare and food stamps for a bottle of Dom," that no white comedian could ever get away with.) After every line in the song, Rock pops in with some kind of sarcastic response, some of which are pretty damn funny. The video has a strictly Hype Williams look to it – the woman doing the vocals has different colored hair every time she appears on camera – and is no chore to watch, but there are also some seriously lame moments, most of them involving Rock in a bathtub, brandishing a bottle of champagne as he sails past blue-screen landmarks like Mount Rushmore. "No Sex (In the Champagne Room" is a lot better. --AH 
Chris Rock - Champagne

Adam Sandler – The Lonesome Kicker (1997) 
     (**)  There’s an entire generation of people, my age and a little bit younger, who think Adam Sandler is a brilliant comedian. I’m not one of them. He’s never made a movie I truly enjoy, and I still think his best days were when we only had to deal with him for ten minutes at a time on "Saturday Night Live." Sandler can be funny in small doses; he captures an uncertainty and self-loathing we’re all familiar with from time to time, and some of his songs are good parodies of rock cliches and conventions. "The Lonesome Kicker" is his epic, full of Meat Loaf-level emotion, a story of a field goal kicker who’s made fun of by the other players, whose wife is cheating on him and kids don’t listen. ("Screw the kicker. Who cares about the kicker?") There are plenty of shots of Sandler singing from the shower room, Dire Straits-like football blooper shots and player cameos. Frank Coraci, director of The Waterboy and The Wedding Singer, plays the kicker. A couple of minor laughs are in there somewhere, but it’s really not worth the effort. --AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions