REVIEWS -- JUNE 2, 2000

                                 NOTE: Okay, so I realize these reviews haven’t been as reliably updated as, say, The Onion or your favorite ABC day-time soap opera, but I’m living by myself again, and I anticipate far fewer distractions and far more chances to dominate the music video flow on the TV. So, I’d say, from this point on, you’re in good hands, except for the distinct lack of classic videos this week. Oh, well. Let another hot, boy band summer begin...
Dr. Dre f/Snoop Dogg – The Next Episode
     (***)  I see Dr. Dre still hasn’t taken my advice and released “What’s the Difference” as the big single from Dr. Dre 2001, but that’s okay – this track has been growing on me for the last couple months. The fundamental thing, though, is that the two-and-a-half minute album version of “The Next Episode” is a mere interlude. So Dre, as he’s been known to do, adds an extended instrumental outro that is damn funky. (I wouldn’t mind coming across an uncensored 12” version of this track.) It compensates for the original song’s payoff, Nate Dogg’s sing-song admonition that we “smoke weed everyday.” (Yes, sir, Nate, sir.) The video is nothing overly special, but it fits right into the West Coast gangsta echelon. As it opens, Dre, Snoop and XHIBIT, among others, wander into a strip club in Reservoir Dogs slow motion. And I can’t tell what turns me on more, the hint of booty from the strippers or the Della Reese perm on Snoop. Come to daddy, Doggy Dogg. FAVORITE LYRIC LEFT INTACT BY MTV: “Get my drink on and my smoke on / And come home wit’ something to poke on.” –Andrew Hicks

Dynamite Hack – Boyz in the Hood
     (*)  I once came across an MP3 on a random computer lab hard drive of Phish doing a laid-back acoustic cover of Snoop’s “Gin and Juice,” R-rated lyrical warts and all. This track from Dynamite Hack is in the same vein, quiet college pop (think Weezer – the sweater song) paired with cheeky gangsta slang. I can only imagine what the surviving members of NWA think about being name-dropped by these ascot-wearing, country-club bastards. The video opens with a slow pan of a car on blocks, smack in the middle of a perfectly manicured lawn and just in front of a Victorian, white-as-hell mansion. They proceed to play golf and croquet while dodging slap-happy MTV content censorship. “Boyz in the Hood” is missing about 35 to 40 words, but more than that it’s missing any real sense of inventiveness. Hell, I was more impressed by the Travis acoustic cover of Britney’s “Baby One More Time.” This is some wack, annoying shit. –AH

Foo Fighters – Breakout
     (**½)  Two thoughts are presenting themselves to me. One, it’s the year 2000, and you still can’t show a middle finger – even one delivered by a kindly old lady – on MTV. Two, a little Dave Grohl goes a long way. I’ve always kinda liked the Foo Fighters, although not to the point where I’d buy their albums. (And this is coming from a guy who owns more than 500 CDs.) They’re really not much more than a novelty act that occasionally makes a good video, and watching them open for the Chili Peppers in April only hammered it home for me. Anyway, in this video, Grohl plays the archetypical born loser – it’s him doing his Jerry “Hey Ladies!” Lewis routine, so far as I can tell. He shows up for a date with the chick from Dirty Work, who is really much cuter than you’d expect someone from a botched Norm Macdonald vehicle to be. And he starts things off by wrestling with her dog (which was much funnier 20 years ago with Airplane!) before heading off to the drive-in for opening night of Jim Carrey’s latest Farrelly Brothers masterpiece, Me, Myself and Irene. (Not coincidentally, “Breakout” is the flagship song on that movie’s soundtrack.) There, the black midget from Friday steals his girlfriend, the other Foos squirt ketchup and mustard all over his new sweater, and Dave loses his personality pills in a bathroom stall. And, no, none of it is particularly amusing. Well, there’s always the Nutty Professor 2 soundtrack, guys. –AH

Lucy Pearl – Dance Tonight
Lucy Pearl - Dance Tonight
     (***)  In case you don’t know, Lucy Pearl is an R+B supergroup of sorts. You’ve got Rafael Saadiq from Toni Tony Tone doing lead vocals and whatever instruments he might play, Dawn from En Vogue on harmonies and co-lead vocals and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest (have I mentioned yet this week how much I fucking love Tribe?) on production detail. And the result, predictably, sounds like an especially smooth Toni Tony Tone song with collaborative vocal help from the ladies of En Vogue. There’s lots of twangy rhythm guitar, lazy bass and layered vocals, and I’m going to have to resist impulse-buying the album this week. (I’m paying two rents this summer, after all, but I’ll probably buy the sucker anyway.) “Dance Tonight” is also on the Love and Basketball soundtrack, but never mind that – it’s a top-notch single all the way, and the video pretty much shows these three R+B icons moving in together and christening their new pad in style. Classy stuff, and if you’re as fed up with the current “Jams” shit on MTV as I am, you should take a gamble on the album. And tell me how it is – I am paying two rents, after all. –AH
Lucy Pearl - Dance Tonight

matchbox twenty – bent
     (***)  I just know the next nine inch nails video will target Rob Thomas & Co. for eschewing capital letters in the name of trendiness. Then we’ll find out Rob Thomas co-directed the video and actually shares a lace-ensconced queen-size bed with Reznor most nights of the week. (Sorry, Marisol and Marilyn.) But that’s just my troubled imagination talking… Okay, slate-cleaning time. I admit freely, I liked “Smooth” the first hundred times I heard it. I also liked it the second- and third-hundred times I heard it. It found some kind of chink in my pop-critic armor and plunged right through. But the fact remains – I hate Matchbox 20, matchbox twenty and all future syntactical incarnations of the same, and I could really do without Thomas, who very well may have gone so far as to sexually abuse the Metatron when Carlos wasn’t looking. The video? Well, “bent” starts with a “Starsky and Hutch” car chase that sees Thomas knocked to the ground and mugged. (I love it so far.) But Thomas, bent as he is, pursues the perpetrator of the crime, stopping every now and then to sing lyrics to random passersby. He asks a cowboy-hat-wearing hippie, “Could you sympathize with my needs?” and the hippie attacks him. (Still love it.) Day gives way to night, and Thomas’ Maybelline still hasn’t worn off. His assailant then tracks him down in an alley and kicks the crap out of him. (I’m nearly orgasmic by this point.) Now it’s day again, and Thomas sees the same car bearing down on him. He’s trapped in his own Groundhog Day hell, and let’s don’t forget about it. I’m spent. Three stars. –AH 

Metallica – I Disappear
     (**)  I know, Lars, you disappear every time teen-pop makes a resurgence, but when Tom Cruise called you on the phone and said, “Hey, guy, need you to rock hard on my sequel soundtrack,” you were all ears. Well, guess what, “I Disappear” sounds like another warmed-over, post-Load (post-Reload, even!) Metallica-filler effort. You guys have nothing to worry about – I wouldn’t even think about downloading this one from Napster. That’s okay; Limp Bizkit is all too willing to carry the M:I-2 soundtrack for you. Okay, my customary Metallica-bashing aside, what we have here is indeed a video that recycles a lot of the motifs from the M:I-2 trailer and adds a guy running – from what, I don’t know. Probably the director of this video, Wayne Isham, who’s a little rusty after his last video for Motley Crue, like, ten years ago. I’d write more, but I really can’t bring myself to rewind the tape and scrutinize the video a second time. –AH

Mighty Mighty Bosstones – So Sad to Say
     (**)  I’m at a loss for words. Which insult riff do I go on, the ska-is-dead thing in general, the title of the song or the lead singer’s assertion that “You’ve got a lotta nerve”? Let’s just settle for all of the above. I don’t care how many times the Bosstones present us with the proverbial snow globe – no one’s going to shake it again. You wonder about this video? More of the same, white-soundstage nonsense with a few decent special effects, a lot of business suits and even more displays of the band’s logo. (Hey, we know who you are, but we’re still not shaking the snow globe, okay?) More than anything, though, the strict, vertical black-and-white color scheme invokes memories of old INXS and Paula Abdul videos. If you’re a band trying for a comeback, I wouldn’t call that a good strategy. –AH

Mandy Moore – I Wanna Be With You
     (*)  Wow, Mandy Moore’s really running the full gamut of the teen-pop machine. Now, for her second video, she gets to do the fan-blowing-on-hair, tender-ballad video and the token-soundtrack-single-from-the-latest-teen-flick video in one shit-music fell swoop. In this case, it’s from the fast-fading Dirtier Dancing stinker Center Stage. (I got paid to screen it, I got paid to review it, and I still want my money back.) So, as she’s in an empty hardwood-floor recital hall with a fan blowing on her hair, the male dancer/actors from the movie all pirouette around her. You may have guessed already – it’s as gay as a French horn. –AH

Nelly – Country Grammar
     (*½)  I guess I’m somewhat obligated to like this, since Nelly is from St. Louis and I’m from St. Louis, since Nelly is a dirty gangsta pimp and I’m a dirty gangsta pimp. But the truth is, it was because of scruff-heavy attention-gettas like Nelly that I got out of St. Louis. Don’t get me wrong – he whores out the Arch and the baseball Cardinals like I would if I was making a St. Louis rap video. I’d also go a step further and utilize the Old Courthouse and the International Bowling Museum. (Definitely the International Bowling Museum.) But more often than not, Nelly is seen rapping in front of – alternatingly – two convertibles and a shitload of St. Louis extras, his wares of hubcaps and rims, and some local beauty shop where he no doubt applied the contents of bags full of pre-braided hair to scores of willing heads. Hey, I can say that and still be politically correct because I’m from St. Louis and I’m a dirty gangsta pimp. –AH

nine inch nails – starsuckers, inc.
     (**)  I still haven’t gotten over being taken by Spike Jonze and his fictitious dance troupe in Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” video. So this Marilyn Manson-attack vehicle leaves a pretty bad taste in my mouth, now that I know Reznor and Manson are best of friends again. (MANSON: Sorry I stole your routine and crossed it with dime-store Satanism.  REZNOR: That’s okay. Just promise you’ll never dress like David Bowie again.) “starsuckers, inc.” (nee “starfuckers, inc.”) is nonetheless the Reznor equivalent of an Eminem video. He rides around in a strobe-lit limo, Manson eye makeup flaring, and proceeds to tear him a new ritual sacrifice hole. (It doesn’t help that Reznor’s climax involves a sample from Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.”) Along the way, he also lampoons Fred Durst, Michael Stipe, Billy Corgan and Courtney Love, and some of it is actually pretty amusing. But, shit, now that I’ve discovered Manson actually co-directed “starsuckers,” it’s obvious Reznor is still every bit the attention whore he’s accusing his rivals of being. –AH

Travis – Why Does It Always Rain on Me?
     (**½)  Like ‘em or hate ‘em, I think we can all agree there’s only room on the current music scene for one Ben Folds Five. And, unfortunately, Travis came second. But that doesn’t stop this VH1-safe college band from trying with this piano- and bass-heavy meld of perky gloom. And I’ll be goddamned if “Why Does it Always Rain on Me?” isn’t actually pretty fun to watch. It begins with the singer in the trunk of a car, mouth covered with a liberal slice of duct tape. (He gets no points, however, for lip synching through the tape – that’s been done and done again.) As the video wears on, we get scenes of band members running across the – British, I’m sure – countryside, jumping off a cliff and into the ocean, and emerging through a trapdoor onto a barge that houses a living room set. It’s not half bad, but it’s also not Ben Folds Five. –AH

Copyright 1999 Apartment Y Productions