REVIEWS -- JUNE 9, 2000


                           Aaliyah f/DMX – Come Back in One Piece
     (*½)  You know, Romeo Must Die was broken down and left in its canisters at our theater, like, two months ago, and there was a reason for that. So why now, as the multiplexes are churning with summer movies, is there another Aaliyah video from the Romeo soundtrack? Hell, I still haven’t seen the JD “Sledgehammer” video from the Big Momma’s House soundtrack. (That’s not a complaint, by the way.) I guess director Little X knew what he/she was up against, because no effort whatsoever went into “Come Back in One Piece.” It haphazardly switches from conventional letterbox to “Say My Name” vertical letterbox format, from Romeo Must Die footage to music video footage. We get such exciting shots as DMX shopping at a convenience store and casting an evil eye at an NYPD squad car, and Aaliyah walking her dog. (The chorus, by way of explanation is, “You can go wit’ yo dogs, but come back in one piece,” which, incidentally, is the same thing June Cleaver said every morning as she’d hand Wally and the Beav their lunchpails.) Aaliyah is pretty much relegated to chorus duties and hanging off DMX, whose rapping is as barked and muddled as ever. Ah, well, I’m sure this video will fade as fast as Romeo Must Die itself. –Andrew Hicks

BBMak – Back Here
     (*½)  Such are the times, when boy bands whose members actually know a few guitar chords are considered Buzzworthy. Actually, wait, wasn’t “MMMBop” a Buzz Clip three summers ago? BBMak is a three-guy group, and all of them are cuter than *N Sync, if that’s any predilection toward future success. The video takes place in an enormous, blue-tinted subway terminal (“Savage Garden was here!”), where the guys chase after an elusive beauty and end up attracting an impromptu audience that tosses coins into their open guitar case. (“Hey, it beats the advance we got from the record company.”) The song itself is about as Buzzworthy as Backstreet’s “As Long As You Love Me,” which also featured acoustic guitar that was drowned out by obnoxious drum machines and treacly harmony vocals. It’s the same old crap, in other words. –AH 

Da Brat f/Tyrese – Wha’chu Like
     (**)  I know exactly what Da Brat was thinking – Missy Elliot isn’t covering her body with garbage bags anymore, and she looks nastier than I do, so why the hell can’t I be a sex symbol? And I know exactly what Da Brat’s producer/mentor Jermaine Dupri was thinking – Why not wear that bikini backward? She didn’t, thank God, but it turns out Da Brat, slathered in makeup and flattering lighting, doesn’t look half bad. I guess there’s no need for those enormous jeans and shapeless flannels anymore. Still, I can’t forgive her for ripping off A Tribe Called Quest wholesale (“I like ‘em brown, yellow, Puerto Rican and Haitian”) and hiring out Tyrese for sensuality’s sake. The video, which opens on a white-sand beach, has Da Brat getting a deep massage while Tyrese releases a soulful “Ohhhhhh” every time a honey passes. It’s not exactly making me orgiastic. –AH

D’Angelo – Send It Back
     (**½)  I’m starting to wonder if D’Angelo is going to make a normal video from Voodoo. “Untitled” was an exercise in nude, one-take sparseness, and I mostly dismissed it on sight. It reminded me too much of Alanis’ “Head Over Feet” video, and I didn’t want those memories conjured up once again. But upon realizing “Untitled” was a more perfect Prince ballad than anything the current Prince is capable of, I impulse-bought Voodoo. I recommend the album heartily to anyone saddened by the lack of genuine soul music on the current scene, and I’d go to the grave defending D’s 1995 debut, Brown Sugar. Anyway, “Send It Back” is the token concert video from Voodoo, somewhat appropriate considering D’Angelo’s tour is earning raves – what with endless musical improvisation, three-hour set lists and all. But as a video, it’s way too concerned with highlighting the sexual fervor D’Angelo incites from his female fans. He’s wearing a simple wifebeater/black leather pants combo, and his hair is as corn-rowed as ever. And every time D’Angelo reaches down to shake a hand or two, the audience goes shriek-happy. I mean, hey, some of us like D’Angelo for his music; a few more shots of the band wouldn’t hurt… Oh, damn, he just took off his shirt. Look at that chest! Lord help me, I feel a shriek coming on! –AH

Everclear – Wonderful
     (*)  Art Alexakis has found a new niche, it seems – he’s a Napster-hating encourager of little girls. By “encourager,” I don’t mean, “Hey, pretty thing, do you want some candy? I have a box of Dots in the back seat. Climb in. My, that’s a cute little dress.” No, I mean Art is now a shiny bringer of self-esteem to adolescent girls. “Wonderful” is a creepily happy video for a perky pop song, and not only is Art beaming the entire time, but we see lots of smiling little girls. Life is happy for them – there are new albums from *N Sync and Britney, the Backstreet Boys are back this fall and this creepy, bleached-blond man is giving them all the Dots they can eat. By the end of “Wonderful,” there’s an entire chorus of bouncing unisex lads, and Art has enough Dots for all of them in the back seat. Art is even seen wiping a tear from his eye at one point. Before I move on to Kid Rock here, I want to say one thing, and I say it with sincerity and hope for an intervention – Art, you’re sober, and we appreciate that, but I think it’s time for you to start doing every drug on the table again. I really don’t like this Katie Couric routine. –AH

Kid Rock – American Bad Ass
     (*½)  Don’t call it a comeback; Kid’s been here since the early Bush administration. Yeah, if not for those welfare cuts, Kid Rock would have sat on his ass for the past ten years, drinking Stroh’s and demanding TV dinners be brought to him, fully cooked and with the plastic wrap removed, by his bitch. Instead, he had to get up off his wigger ass and go platinum “seven times.” Fuck you, George Bush. “American Bad Ass” is Kid’s token name-drop comeback brag rap, in which we learn – among other things – that he doesn’t use Rogaine, thinks “boy bands are trash” (way to take a stand) and likes AC/DC and Skynyrd. How surprised are we there? Oh, and Kid goes out of his way to mention the names of all his other singles to date, like we’ve forgotten the misery they caused. Ron Jeremy is in the video, along with an assortment of female porn stars, a fur coat and sides of beef hanging from the ceiling. It’s the same old crap, in other words. –AH

Kina – Girl From the Gutter
     (**½)  I’m sure a few months ago, some cigar-chomping WASP record exec barked into the phone, “Get me another Macy Gray! The white-sounding black chicks are hot again!” The result is Kina, who actually reminds me of Des’ree. (If you’re 20 or older, you might remember that particular VH1 two-hit wonder.) Kina spends most of the video wandering down the streets and through a highway tunnel, emoting about karma and bitching at her insensitive ex-boyfriend or society in general. (I can’t really make the distinction at this point.) And you wouldn’t be far off in assuming that, when Kina emerges from the tunnel, it’s a very symbolic thing indeed. I scoff, but “Girl From the Gutter” is a pretty good song and will hopefully at least lead to a second video from Kina. –AH

*N Sync – It’s Gonna Be Me
     (*½)  Wayne Isham directed the latest Metallica video, “I Disappear.” He also directed this video from *N Sync, which may account for some of Lars & Co.’s recent pissiness. (WAYNE: You know, Lars, the catering on the set of “It’s Gonna Be Me” was much more elaborate, and everyone had hot teenage girls sitting on their laps, all of them going on and on about how cool Napster is.) Anyway, this video proves that the members of *N Sync account for five of the 50 million people who have seen Toy Story 2. It’s all about doll warfare in a toy store, with the *N Sync guys breaking out of their boxes and catching holy hell from some G.I. Joes. (SOLDIER: Boy, we sure gang-banged Gloria Estefan last night. I felt the music of that ass!  JUSTIN: Nuh-uh!) Predictably, there’s a hot-looking girl walking around the store, and the dolls have to play dead when she comes by. It’s pap, plain and simple, but I have to admit some of the effects aren’t half bad. And a psychologist could have a field day – first, in “Bye Bye Bye,” *N Sync was a bunch of puppets. Now they’re plastic-molded toys. I guess there are some control issues going on. –AH

Santana f/Everlast – Put Your Lights On
     (**½)  Okay, I know it’s all marketing, but why would Santana ever work with Everlast? It’s like Ernest Hemingway suddenly deciding he’d like to collaborate with that Jackie Collins chick he’s heard so much about. Santana at this point is mere window dressing – in “Smooth,” he was the barrio boy faded into the background, in “Maria Maria” he was faded in the background and decked out in slight hip-hop regalia, and here he’s trying for jean-jacket metal cheese. The only constants in all three videos are the brim hat and “I wish I weren’t here right now” sunglasses. But once you get past that, “Put Your Lights On” is an okay video. It takes place in a seedy nightclub where Everlast headlines (“Hey, Carlos, I learned a fourth chord today”) and personal drama ensues among a young, tattooed-to-death couple. And, as always, the Lenny Kravitz heroin models are sprinkled throughout the crowd. I think the only thing that kept Carlos going through the shoot was knowing that, by the time he went home that night, he would have sold another 60,000 copies of Supernatural. –AH

Classic Videos

NOTE: In honor of Kid Rock, American bad ass, these videos focus on the late-Bush-administration era.

Mary J. Blige – Real Love (1992)
Mary J. Blige - Real Love
     (***)  Up until last fall’s “All That I Can Say,” this was the only Mary J. Blige video I actually liked. It comes from the New Jack Swing era, and its thundering piano licks and strong program-drums are augmented by a simple but gritty visual approach. As gritty as an early-‘90s dance video can be, anyway. It takes place mostly on the streets, in stark shadows, as Mary’s dancers – all emblazoned in Malcolm X jerseys (it was 1992, after all) – dance. The video also cuts in shots of Mary, leaning against a brick wall, belting out the verses. The girl can sing; I’ll give her that. –AH
Mary J. Blige - Real Love

Kris Kross – Warm It Up (1992)
     (**)  I thought I might cement the late-Bush mini-theme by reviewing not just a Kris Kross video but a follow-up Kris Kross video. And I should mention that, at one time, I was totally into “Warm It Up” (I’m about to).  Hell, I still think it’s kind of cool, and I have that wicked record-scratch loop to blame. Damn you and your musical wiles, Jermaine Dupri. The “Warm It Up” (‘cause that’s what I was born to do) video itself is almost indistinguishable from “Jump,” save the distinct lack of, uh, jumping. It’s all backwards jeans and jerseys and ridiculous stomp dancing, and I think the thing that cracks me up most is that Dupri was really trying for street cred here. Well, that and the way one of the 12-year-old rappers grabs the nearest junior honey as he claims he’s “totally krossed out, catchin’ all the ladies.” Ri-I-I-I-ight. –AH

R.E.M. – Shiny, Happy People (1991)
     (zero)  I hate this song with all my heart and soul, yeah, but I don’t think I can even put into words how abhorrent this video is to me. It’s the kind of thing you make before you become a star and then try to live down the rest of your life, only R.E.M. made this as the direct follow-up to “Losing My Religion,” after they were already stars. It’s terribly gay, horribly gay, even Liberace gay. “Shiny, Happy People” opens with an old man pumping away on an exercise bike, providing motion for what turns out to be the child-painted background for the Michael Stipe & Co. soundstage. I could spend paragraphs on Stipe’s outfit alone, but for the sake of time I’ll just mention he has a peach ball cap tilted exactly 135 degrees behind him, and the outfit matches the cap. He’s flanked by the redhead from the B-52’s, who hasn’t been around a straight man for so long she’s starting to forget what it’s like. The other guys in R.E.M. spend the video trying to cope with their immediate surroundings, but forget it once the multi-ethnic chorus of beaming souls is brought in to dance their little hearts out. –AH


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