Fiona Apple – Fast As You Can
     (**)  I guess Fiona Apple heard "Everyday is a Winding Road," too. I’ll admit, I didn’t like the song at first, but after a few listens, I find it kind of catchy. Damn you, Fiona. "Fast As You Can" was directed by Boogie Nights auteur Paul Thomas Anderson and sparked the disclaimer from Carson Daly that any discrepancies in the lip synching were purely intentional because Anderson used a camera from 1909. That’s the kind of video this is – they undoubtedly paid top dollar for a look that’s sub-standard, particularly the scenes where the camera lens fogs up and Fiona has to stop to wipe it off. (Actually, I’m sure there’s some deep symbolic purpose to that, but I’m not going to stop and rationalize it in my own mind.) Otherwise, there wasn’t much budget here. Fiona wanders through an empty subway and sits out in the woods as the camera focuses mostly on huge closeups of her face. I particularly enjoyed her filmed apology to the family members of her and her friends for exposing them to the dread Blair Witch. "Fast As You Can" even has the Jennifer Lopez interlude, only here the song slows down to half-speed and basically sounds like your standard Tidal track. Oh, and at one point, she sticks a lit match in her mouth, closes it and withdraws the still smoking match stub. In future Fiona videos, we’ll also see her tie a cherry stem with her tongue. She knows why the caged bird sings. –Andrew Hicks

Brandy f/Shaunta and Da Brat – U Don’t Know Me (Like U Used To) (remix)
     (**½)  After three tepid videos from her Never Say Never album, Brandy tries to earn herself some much-needed street cred with "U Don’t Know Me." An important first step, of course, is knowingly misspelling the title of the song. The next step is hiring out help, in this case, Shaunta and Da Brat. Shaunta I know nothing about, and I would have sworn we’d heard the last from Da Brat. (Somewhere, from a gold-plated booster seat, Jermaine Dupri is having a good laugh.) The third and most crucial step is to give the video a badass look. In this area, they actually succeeded. They stuck Brandy in a black leather halter-top, covered her in pink-white lip gloss and sent her out to a street crosswalk, where the action is stopped, sped-up and spun around intermittently. I’ll never actually buy a Brandy album, but for once I’m ready to be quoted in newspaper ads as saying, "Ol’ Bug Eyes is back." –AH

Destiny’s Child – Bug a Boo
Destiny's Child - Bug a Boo
     (*)  Bug a Boo. Noun. Triflin’ brutha who gets all up in his girl bidness. He bugs his boo, you see, and that makes him a Bug a Boo. That also makes him the subject of the second Destiny’s Child single. I haven’t heard the album, but I have to imagine there’s at least one song that doesn’t go out of its way to rag on the triflin’ bruthas of the world. I admit, "Bills, Bills, Bills" had its kitsch value; a friend and I sung it in the car all the way to Washington state. (One would think we’d get sick of it by Montana, but no dice.) "Bug a Boo," though, is just sad. These girls have to block the Bug a Boo’s phone number, apparently, because he calls and tells them every time he buys a new pair of shoes. This is a Ricki Lake show I have yet to witness. The video starts with the Destiny girls on the street, dressed all hoochie, and continues through a men’s locker room, where they happen upon gold sequined cheerleader outfits. Note the look on their faces – it’s a dream come true. Not even a Bug a Boo can squelch these girls’ ambitions. Reach for the stars, you children of destiny, and kick that man to the curb. –AH
Destiny's Child - Bug a Boo

Eminem – Role Model
     (***)  Here it is, the last remaining Dr. Dre-produced song on the Eminem album and another one I wouldn’t have pictured getting past the MTV censors. Enough of the original spirit of "Role Model" survived to make this worth watching, but there are quite a few re-recorded lines and random words excised by MTV. (Note to artists – you can’t say "homegrown" or "lez," and you definitely can’t talk about killing the pope and smearing the blood on a white Bronco, but you can refer to digging up the corpse of your rival’s grandmother and throwing it on his front porch). This video, like "My Name Is," was co-directed by Dr. Dre and Philip Atwell, and has some strong creative elements. The prologue is filmed silent-movie style, with "The Great Eminem" buried in a water tank under 10,000 pounds of pressure. (Bonus points for actually killing him off at the end.) The rest of "Role Model" features Em rapping as a priest, a boxer and a cartoon beating the shit out of Foghorn Leghorn, and this is the first video that actually shows him performing for a crowd, with the usual strobe light shots. Overall, it’s just what you’d expect from the most creative, homicidal honky rapper of the decade. –AH

Live – The Dolphins Cry
     (*½)  The title says it all. These guys are still as pussy as ever. The thing is, in their time, they were the only show in town. Now the pussies have polarized, Orgy on the acidic side of the pH and Train and Tal Bachman on the basic. Live just falls somewhere in between, with pulses of guitar energy and all the facial convulsions of Pearl Jam. The video has the band in the middle of the street, singing about – what else? – dolphins crying. It’s a medical phenomenon; the dolphins wail and weep until you put giant pairs of headphones on them and play the new Live album. Then they curl up and sleep like babies. Midway through the video, a wall of water sweeps through the city as panicked citizens race toward dry ground. The band does no such thing, weathering the water even as Billy Zane and Leonardo DiCaprio fight over a life vest. In the end, all that’s left is Live and some earth-conscious citizens, ready to start anew in a society where the dolphins promise them in a covenant that they will never destroy the earth by flood again. --AH

nine inch nails – we’re in this together
    (***)  e.e. reznor has struck again. his new album the fragile is number one in america and, as the newly crowned ruler of music, he has decreed that henceforth no one is allowed to use capital letters, for they surely represent the domination of white patriarchal society, coming first and towering over the little people who follow. reznor, our favorite white patriarch, presides over what is admittedly a pretty damn cool black-and-white video where concerned citizens wearing all-black flee a poorly constructed city. trent, when he’s not running, spends his time singing from behind a chain-link fence as strobe lights illuminate him. or are those flashbulbs capturing for photographic posterity his newfound status as white patriarchal king of music? i’ll leave the deconstruction of the album to james, who i’m sure will mention that he waited in line at a midnight release party to buy it. my only comment, take it or leave it, is, reznor definitely hasn’t grown musically in five years. this isn’t inherently a bad thing – with all the established geniuses of the world changing their sound every couple years (i’m talking to you, mr. corgan), it can be reassuring to hear that someone sounds the same. --ah

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Around the World
     (***)  This video, as far as I can tell, is a high-budget update of "Higher Ground." The song is just an update of "Give It Away," with a manic Flea bass-line and intermittent rapping from Anthony Kiedis. They’re topless again, and you know the director had intricate storyboards worked out to keep from revealing the track marks on the inside of Kiedis and guitarist John Frusciante’s arms. The camera tricks here range from multi-imposed shots of Keidis getting busy with some sort of floating translucent apparition (Good God, it’s the Fiona Witch!) to overlapped blue-lens shots of Kiedis, making it appear that he has four to six arms. So many veins, so little time. I also liked the glowing, see-through boxes. "Around the World" is alright as Chili Peppers songs go, but there’s better stuff from Californication. There are a couple places where Kiedis just mumbles random syllables for lines at a time, unless he’s become fluent in Mandarin Chinese and not told us. You get the sense that the record company didn’t even listen to the whole thing. "Uh, yeah, we liked the first song on there. Go with that for the second single. Radio stations will keep playing ‘Scar Tissue’ anyway." –AH

Savage Garden – I Knew I Loved You
     (*)  Wait, these guys are still around? On VH1, granted, so it’s not exactly a barometer of cool, but that doesn’t mean we should have to listen to Savage Garden. Just think, when these guys originally popped up, there was no Backstreet Boys, no Britney Spears and no ‘N Sync. These guys helped prompt it all, unknowingly, like the kid in Gremlins who just happens to spill water on the Mogwai. "I Knew I Loved You" is, correct me if I’m wrong, the eighth Savage Garden video to feature the falsetto-tinged lead singer riding the New York subway. (I mean, we knew he didn’t exactly ride in a limo, but still, are these guys taking kickbacks from the Department of Transit?) Kirsten Dunst appears in the video as the love interest, her second worst career decision of the year. We’re not even going to mention Dick. –AH

311 – Come Original
     (**)  Ever heard of The Urge? Probably not, unless you’re from St. Louis or some nearby city. They do this ska punk rap metal funk thing a lot better than 311, who has decided to cut the crap and just appeal to the lowest common denominator with this video. Namely, shots of skateboarders, rows of speakers and giant bar codes. Oh, I get it, we’re back in the late ‘80s again. Is that how the game is played? "Come Original" is probably what I’d tell these guys if I saw them – the strobe lights, hula girls and, for God’s sake, cardboard cutouts of palm trees just don’t cut it. For some reason, I’m dwelling on the line, "If you’re not original, I guess you will get shot." If only that were true… Would there be enough bullets to cover the teenybopper music scene? --AH

Z-Music Video of the Week

God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation with special guest Cheryl "Salt" James -- Stomp
     (**½)  God created Kirk Franklin sometime during the second day, along with all the other gaseous entities on the earth. Even God probably didn’t know what he was in for, a bellowing hip-hop "Gospocentric" preacher with a posse much larger than the Wu-Tang Clan’s. God’s Property extends across several rows of risers on a basketball court, singing the song’s chorus and being promptly drowned out by Franklin, who yells out lines like, "You can’t take my joy, Devil!" and "People, if you don’t mind, I feel like having a little church in here!" Midway through, he’s accompanied by Salt, who declares that the Lord is, "Twelve inches to a yard, and have you soundin’ like a retard." Franklin looks a little perplexed, for some reason. The "Stomp" video for me has always been a guilty pleasure, gospel with a tight beat, and one of the few Franklin songs I can sit through. The video is bright but nondescript and, I guess, the best thing you can say about it is it almost looks like it doesn’t belong on Z-Music. –AH

Classic Videos
Enigma – Sadeness Part I (1990)
     (***)  Before a nasty rumor spreads, I want to make it clear I don’t own a copy of Pure Moods. I do, however, own copies of the first ten MTV Party to Go albums. Purchasing them used to be a pleasurable $9.96 ritual for me. "Sadeness" is the opening track on the second Party to Go and one of the best dance songs to come out of the musical dark age between 1989 and 1991. Enigma had a certain charm to them, pretentious and utterly European but capable of bizarre, catchy synth hooks and lyrics out of Latin rites. Indeed, the video for "Sadeness" takes place in an old castle, where The Guy From Enigma roams in a bright red robe and The Girl From Enigma, surprisingly hot, stares into the camera and intones something that sounds like "Sad, dim one… Sad, Don Juan," over and over. Oh yeah, and she’s naked. On the Party to Go CD, this leads into P.M. Dawn’s "Set Adrift on Memory Bliss," and I wouldn’t have it any other way… Shit, I didn’t used to sound like Rob Sheffield. –AH

Thompson Twins – Hold Me Now (1984)
     (**)  These guys were so Reagan it hurt. "Hold Me Now" is a definite Lost ‘80s Lunch guilty pleasure with a catchy synth bass line and percussion so odd it’s almost overdone, but the video a minimalist effort that takes place entirely on a blue soundstage. For almost five minutes, we get to watch the guy with the Flock of Seagulls cut, the white girl with the goofy hat and the black guy with the dribble-size dreads play while the director relies on the best in 1980s editing effects to take care of the rest. He doesn’t just go split-screen, he breaks the screen into three boxes and has those boxes rotate around each other. It’s enough to make your grandmother seasick. –AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions