Bloodhound Gang – Bad Touch
     (**½)  We’ve mentioned, James and I, our friend Carrie on this site. Die-hard ‘80s hair-metal kind of girl, and she threw a party a few weeks back. It was my fault we didn’t stay longer (sick as a dog as I was – sorry, Carrie), but while we were there, she had a few Bloodhound Gang songs playing on the stereo. It was the first I’d heard of this stuff, and I thought it at least beat the Limp Bizkit school of warmed-over, white-guy guitar hip-hop. Now I catch the video for “Bad Touch,” and I realize the Bloodhound Gang also beats the hell out of the non-sequitur pop-culture rhyming of LFO. (Okay, that’s not a huge compliment. Pat Boone beats the hell out of LFO.) Against a musical backdrop that reeks of the ‘80s Brit new-wave sound of Depeche Mode (or the band of your choice from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack), the Bloodhound Gang refers to Battleship, Mr. Coffee, “The X-Files” and Daylight Savings Time. And the chorus, “You and me ain’t nothing but mammals / So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel,” is the kind of shit that makes you spit out your drink the first time you hear it. The band is dressed up in cheap monkey-boy outfits, wreaking havoc on an entire city’s population. They lock the citizens they don’t like (a midget mime, for example) in a public cage and torment them, running at a couple Frenchmen in berets at one point. It’s maddening, it’s surreal, and I don’t think I’ll ever see it on MTV again. –Andrew Hicks

Cardigans – My Favorite Game
     (**½)  I’m confused. Didn’t this come out last year? And when it did, wasn’t it filmed in that blue-green, Dolores O’Rierdan color scheme? Nonetheless, we have a full-color version of it blasting on “120 Minutes” as I write this, and the naïve Swedish girl we knew in “Lovefool” now sports two-tone Berlin hair, leather pants, an arm-swallowing tattoo and a bag full of something MTV sees fit to blur out. Oh, and she’s driving a beat-up convertible down a two-lane highway. The entire premise of the video is that, occasionally, the Cardigans singer will veer into oncoming traffic and cause other cars to spin out and flip over. (That’s okay; Boss Hogg’s on her trail.) The band – I presume it’s the band; I don’t know what anyone looks like except for the Girl From The Cardigans – makes a cameo in the end, driving a Mystery Machine-looking van and in the direct path of the GFTC’s out-of-control convertible. Just before the moment of impact, the video ends, and the suspense is almost unnerving. Right. To be continued, I guess. –AH

Mariah Carey f/Joe and Nas – Thank God I Found You / Make It Last Forever (remix)
     (*½)  Why do I get the feeling that recording guest-rap vocals with Mariah is like suddenly finding yourself stuck in a bad Jake Steed Pimps, Hoes and Floes porn flick? “Great vocals, Nas, but I have no money with which to pay you.” “Thas too bad, girl, ‘cause it’s gonna cost you.” “Well, what can I do? Unless…” Cue bad synthesized pseudo-hip-hop ballad porn score that sounds, uh, a lot like this remix. Name-only remix, I should say. It’s basically a remake of “Make It Last Forever,” originally recorded by lahdnozewho. All I can say for sure is, that keyboard hook sounds an awful lot like the one from “Can’t Let Go.” God, Mariah recycles more than the fucking Sierra Club. She shows up here in cornrow braids and one of Eve’s cowboy hats. (ASIDE: I love how Whitney and Mariah try to keep up with the trends. It’s an odd but fun spectator sport that’s left Whitney going for the Lauryn Hill bobbed-perm look and Mariah copping a Ruff Ryder stance.) The video for TGIFY/MILF(R) is mostly low-budget lip synch stuff with behind-the-scenes footage of Mariah hanging out with Nas, Joe and other assorted posse members. (“Thank you all so much for your vocals, but I really have no way to pay you. Unless…”) That’s right, fellas – coming to an adult video store near you, Mariah’s “Thank God I Pound You” 100-man Bukkake gang bang. One last question: What am I to make of the Nas lyric, “Hot as jalopenos / She knows how to hide the ninos”? –AH

Chris Cornell – Preaching the End of the World
     (**)  I don’t know if this is the legitimate follow-up to “Can’t Change Me” or what, but “Preaching the End of the World” is a lackluster, almost embarrassing second video to pick from Euphoria Morning. (I know no one cares about the album anymore, but “When I’m Down” would have been a much better choice.) What we have is the old Chris, goatee and unwashed hair like we like it, standing in front of a series of bright, What Dreams May Come blue-screen backdrops. The song is tender guitar-ballad stuff, angst-ridden but way too sappy to connect with anyone but the VH1 set, and as Cornell’s emotion grows, so then do the clips grow negative. Man appears on the scene of this blue-screen utopia, spewing exhaust into our atmosphere and creating mushroom-cloud explosions, and all our pissed-off friend Mr. Cornell can do is sing in response. Sing, man. Sing your heart out. I hear two blocks over, someone is clubbing a baby seal. Better hurry. –AH

Jay-Z f/Beanie Segal and Amil – Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)
     (½)  “Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up).” Why do I get the feeling that the cops have said these exact words to Jay-Z many times? In the press I’m always seeing this unclefucka mentioned as one of the best MCs around. I consider his raps an exercise in mealy-mouthed idiocy myself. You watch the VH1 movie Two of Us last week? It’s got me tempted to refer to all this bad pop shit as “nursery rhymes,” and the more I hear Jay-Z lyrics like, “4 a.m, we at the Waffle House / 5 a.m., we at my house,” the more tempted I become. That’s definitely what Jay-Z’s obnoxious non-flow amounts to, although I’ve never heard the word “mahfucker” in a nursery rhyme. Bad beyond words, this is standard New York street party shit with the same blue-white color scheme as Jay’s video from Blue Streak and a highly disturbing amount of words cut out. “Y’all better hope we gracefully bow out,” he says at one point. I guess we’d better, because natural selection doesn’t seem to be doing a very good job of things here. –AH

The Lox – Wild Out
     (*½)  The Lox – not to be confused with the knock-off rap group Da Kream Cheez – has left the Puffy camp (never a bad idea) and joined up with the Ruff Ryders. Them and Mariah both, in the same week. Exciting developments, folks, and if it’s good enough for Eve… “Wild Out” is built around an animalistic shouted chant of the song’s title – almost sounds like “Voila!” the way they yell it, but I’m not quite convinced that any of the Lox are fluent in intro French. If there’s one thing the people at the group’s new label should have told them, it’s that you don’t release a single that has 80-90 words cut out. This is one of those annoying, half-solved “Wheel of Fortune” puzzle videos (“I’m good wit’ ----- / I’m great wit’ ------ / I’ll eat yo’ face”), and the approach seems to be that of Gritty Realism. Members of the Lox rap from the sublime comfort of their prison cells while large drops of water fall on their heads and sewer rats pulse and bob to the music. Oh yeah, and there’s a prison break. Interesting look and color scheme, but this is definitely a ------- song. –AH

Mr. Orzo – Flat Beat
     (***)  This is the best kind of acid, the shit that lasts for three minutes and then disappears. “Flat Beat” is a simplistic techno song, all instrumental keyboard effects and manipulated noise. The video is also simplistic, but it has to be seen to be believed. We’re in a corporate office, and behind the green IMac-looking desk sits an animal puppet. What kind of animal? I can’t tell. It’s definitely a mammal. This puppet sits behind the desk, holds a phone in the air and forces some unnamed person to listen to the song. A secretary comes in a moment later, a huge stack of portfolios in her hands, and the puppet goes to work signing the cover page of each to the beat of the song. The signatures never match, of course, and it doesn’t serve a purpose. It doesn’t have to, though. The video is surreal and mercifully short, and if you can catch it, consider yourself lucky. –AH

‘N Sync – Bye Bye Bye
     (*)  Aw, leaving us so soon, guys? Finally conceding victory to the Backstreet Boys? We should be so lucky. This is the leadoff single from No Strings Attached, so Justin and the boys have to show us once and for all that there is no damned puppet master pulling their strings – not an aggregate, braces-covered 14-year-old girl with disposable daddy money, no pudgy, 50-ish latently homosexual manager at the helm. Not no one. And don’t you forget it! To accomplish this, video director Wayne Isham (the visionary behind almost all of Bon Jovi and Great White’s classic videos) opens with a long tracking shot through a pair of parted curtains and into the ‘N Sync puppet show, where the five boys are controlled by – yes – a female puppeteer, although she’s at least 19 and obviously not quite as self-actualized as one would hope. She cuts the strings, leading to a convoluted story-line where two of the band-boys run on top of and through a train to escape her demented clutches. Whatever. And you can count on the now-cliché space-age blue video room where the laws of gravity don’t apply. This is what happens when you indulge 18-year-old pop stars who can’t play instruments. Okay, we’ll take this midtempo dance track one of the staff writers left in the “In” box last night and, ideas? Demented bitch puppeteer? Good. Train chase? Mmm, sure. Weightless room? The boys in the effects department can green-light that, I’m sure. It’s a go, boys. Brilliant as always. Nice working with you. Did anyone ever tell you you’re as talented as Great White? –AH

Smashing Pumpkins – Everlasting Gaze
     (**)  That’s it. Billy Corgan is Cartman. I suspected it ever since “South Park” debuted, and the increasingly whiny vocals on the last Pumpkins album had me rubbing my forehead in deliberation. With “Everlasting Gaze,” there’s no doubt. This is the same grating, inhuman voice that sang “Come Sail Away” on the Chef Aid album. Haven’t the nine years of therapy helped even a little bit? Come on, man. Grow the hair back and start going outside in the fucking daytime. This video is the first to feature the new Smashing bassist, played by the bassist from Hole. (The bassist from Hole… you know, that’s certainly not going to make Corgan any less fruity.) The bassist from Hole, by the way, is played by the band-camp girl from American Pie, who was played by the strange chick from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” They’re all the same person. “Everlasting Gaze” takes place entirely on a blue-green set, colors right out of “Basket Case,” and the band is all Versaced up. Toward the end, there are deliberately cheap editing techniques used to show parts of the video that were filmed by the band members themselves. (Notice the interior framing. That’s art.) The song can only be charitably described as noise, with Corgan’s riff from “Celebrity Skin” recycled and an unwelcome acapella rap in the middle. I’m starting to wonder if even Michael Stipe thinks this guy is acting a little strange. –AH

Z-Music Video of the Week

DC Talk – Jesus Freak (1995)
     (***)  DC Talk was tired of not being taken seriously as a band (hint – next time, don’t sample the Doobie Brothers song “Jesus Is Just Alright” without irony) and being all but ignored by the corporate behemoth of MTV. So they hired Mark Romaneck, one of the most respected music-video directors ever, to direct the video for “Jesus Freak.” They wanted it edgy, and the guy who directed “Closer” should certainly have been able to provide edge for them, but “Jesus Freak” is standard, G-rated fluff. There’s been a lot worse material on MTV, far worse, but the subject matter ensured that it would be confined to the realm of Z-Music. (DC TALK: Does it make me stranger that my best friend was born in a manger?  MTV: Well, frankly, yes.) The “Jesus Freak” video begins with arcane newsreel footage declaring that “all men are free and equal… do you hear that, MTV?” The three band members sit in an empty, desolate room in perfect Bergman formations, watching the footage go by as a strobe light or two occasionally goes off. It’s got me thinking, though, isn’t it kind of counterproductive for them to represent Christianity in this video in grainy, black-and-white tones, as if the entire idea is something out of the distant past? Maybe that’s what scared MTV away. –AH

Classic Videos

Cardigans – Lovefool (1996)
     (***)  Guess what – it’s Cardigans Week here on eMpTyV! We’re reviewing not only the band’s new (?) video, “My Favorite Game,” we’re also covering the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack song everyone fell hard for in 1996! Okay, no one’s excited, but I have to admit, I’ve always liked “Lovefool.” Somehow the energetic, retro-kitsch factor just rubbed off on me at the time, and I never got sick of it. I even bought the Cardigans album for $4.99 at a used-record store. (I realize, I should leave this off my resume.) In the video, a bedraggled, shipwrecked man shoves a message into a bottle. The band, in true “I Dream of Jeannie” fashion, is in the bottle. The singer is cute and innocent here, wearing that foreign-exchange, deer-in-the-headlights look for the duration of the video. The video is bright and catchy, just like the song, and it almost makes me wish they would have been able to come up with something half that much fun to follow it up with. Alas, this is one-hit wonder territory, plain and simple. –AH

Ice Cube – Wicked (1992)
     (***½)  You know, Ice Cube is so much cooler when he’s pissed off. The aloof, lukewarm Cube in Next Friday is nothing compared to the bandana-clad, anger-spewing Ice Cube in the “Wicked” video. He was in his prime with the singles from the Predator album, this one a direct response to the 1992 L.A. riots. With the quick-cut footage of destruction, Ice Cube rapping in front of a burning car and even a few night-vision camera shots, “Wicked” makes it seem like the entire sum of inner-city havoc was singlehandedly wrought by Cube himself. (“They’re looking for the one who did it / But like En Vogue, you’re never gonna get it.”) This was the white-hatin’ guy who called the Statue of Liberty a lazy bitch and wanted to bust Mike Tyson out of prison, and this manic video captures the attitude perfectly. Very little compromise, and it’s patently obvious – this is one of the least-shown Ice Cube videos ever. –AH

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