REVIEWS -- JULY 7, 2000

                          NOTE: I'd like to take this time to note that today, July 7, is my mom's birthday. Yeah, she's nine years younger than Ringo Starr. And without her across-the-board ban on MTV while I was growing up, I wouldn't have later rebelled in my own anal-retentive way and created this webpage. Remember that the next time you're tempted to take my mother for granted.

Bloodhound Gang – Mope
     (***)  Oh, hooray for boobies, they’re back with the ill-fated follow-up single. “Mope” has all the ‘80s auto-pilot laziness of “The Bad Touch,” but while the first single blended its own Depeche Mode backing track, “Mope” just cannibalizes Frankie’s “Relax” and Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus.” The song even cops Frankie’s original chorus vocals, so the affair at times just resembles an extended remix with new rap vocals that reference Journey, Pavarotti and Rerun from “What’s Happening.” The video, though, is damn clever, opening on two of the Bloodhound boys standing inert in the Dylan/INXS card-holding pose. This time, though, the lyric cards have a digital LED readout, so the words change on their own, and to the left, conveyor belt-style, the targets of the lyrics go by. So we see Rerun (of course), a “Golden Girls” look-alike and a driving instructor, among others. And the whole while, on a shady set with a rainbow backdrop, two butch Freddie Mercuries are dancing their own turbulent, disturbing ballet. And, shit, the video even has an interlude with a guy in a Pac-Man costume (“Hey, Pac-Man, what’s up?” “Me, you bitches!”) dancing to his own theme song. I called it about three years ago, and it’s finally here – the day when old video game themes are sampled on MTV. And who would have thought the Bloodhound Gang would be the innovators? Actually, are you surprised? –Andrew Hicks

Toni Braxton f/Dr. Dre – Just Be a Man About It
     (**)  I’m starting to wonder if every song on Toni’s new album is about her dead-beat, pussy-ass boyfriends. First came “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” and now “Just Be a Man About It.” Future singles include “A Real Man Would Leave the Seat Down” and “Why Can’t My Man Change My Oil For Me, Yo.” The only real surprise this time is that Dr. Dre is the deadbeat boyfriend. He calls her from a club at the beginning of the video (“Did what’s his name get at’cha yesterday?” “Who?” “Deez nuts!”) to tell her he needs some space. And, amusingly enough, he actually uses the phrase, “It’s not you, it’s me.” The two don’t interact in the video until the very end – she just mopes about her trendy apartment while he’s out chasing tail. Toni does shatter Dre’s picture at one point, fully realizing she could have any drug-addled gangsta rapper she wanted. She’s got all of the Wu-Tang Clan on speed dial, so it’s time to move on. “Just Be a Man” is a bland slow jam, and the video has too much singing into the phone for my tastes, but it’s amusing at times. Let’s just say Dre is cuckolded in the end, and he’s not havin’ it. –AH

Whitney Houston and Enrique Iglesias – Could I Have That Kiss Forever
     (**)  It’s like the Pokemon craze or, if you’re closer to my age, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles craze of 1989 or so – weathered divas are snatching up members of the emerging Latin-hunk crop as pets. It started with Madonna, who laid Ricky Martin down on the world’s largest tostada last spring, and now Whitney’s on the bandwagon, robbing the Iglesias cradle. Excuse me, la cuna Iglesias… From here, it’s going to be like picking teams in gym class. (MARIAH: Damn, I guess I’ll take that Marc Anthony guy.) Anyway, “Could I Have That Kiss Forever” is from the Whitney greatest-hits project that’s been promised since the mid-‘90s, and if it was held up so long because the record company was waiting for a top-notch new song to tack on, I call shenanigans. This sounds like every other Enrique Iglesias single to date, with the usual Whitney vocal posturings thrown in for good measure. It’s also the first Whitney video to feature the Lenny Kravitz heroin models – it takes place in one large bungalow during one of Enrique’s parties, and everyone seems to be getting lucky but Whitney. No, the closest she comes to hooking up is when a frat boy approaches her, whispers in her ear, “I believe the children are our future,” and spits beer in her face, laughing and slapping a hearty high-five with his brothers while a dejected Whitney disappears into the next room to snort a line of coke or six. What’s that? You haven’t seen that part of the video? You’re not looking hard enough. –AH

Ice Cube f/NWA (Dr. Dre and M.C. Ren) – Hello
     (***)  The return of Dr. Dre has had an interesting side effect – Ice Cube is a badass again. After downright crap like “We Be Clubbin’,” we can finally get to some old-fashioned gangsta shit like “Hello,” which I should note does not sample the Lionel Richie song of the same name. “Hello” has a newer Dre production sound to it, forsaking the P-Funk rips for spooky keyboard effects. Most of NWA is here, minus the late Eazy E and Yella, who couldn’t get the afternoon off from the car wash. As the video opens, Cube and the boys are in ski masks, with a cop car chasing them. (“Yo, these CDs will keep us in samples for years!”) After that, the plot gets murky. There are some sexy girl cops on the prowl, the half-NWA lies low in a chop shop, and at the end they drive a cop car out of the place. Whatever – it’s directed by usual Dre collaborator Phillip Atwell, so the lighting and ample camera movements are badass, even if Dre is in his usual self-defense mode. Okay, we know you haven’t gone soft, we know you can still sell records, and we know you have “a mansion, six cars and a pay phone.” Enough. –AH

Janet Jackson – It Doesn’t Really Matter
Janet Jackson - It Doesn't Really Matter
     (**½)  I guess “It Doesn’t Really Matter” is Janet’s new approach to her career. Jailbait chicks with diamond-certified albums getting you down? Doesn’t really matter. Brother got more reconstructive facial surgery? Doesn’t really matter. Only movie offer after a seven-year absence from the big screen is to get farted on by Eddie Murphy in six different costumes? Doesn’t really matter, as long as you get the token soundtrack video. So here it is, the flagship song on the Nutty Professor 2 soundtrack, and won’t Aaliyah be pissed? Like Janet’s “Girlfriend/Boyfriend” turn with Blackstreet last year, “It Doesn’t Really Matter” is bogged down with special effects, relentless and expensive as hell with nothing to back them up. The video is filmed in that perfect-square vertical letterboxing, and it has elaborate computer animation for tasks so simple as Janet opening her refrigerator to inspect its contents. She also has a toy robot dog for a pet, but I’m not going to go into that. That’s the best Janet’s day gets before her fly girls come to pick her up so they can spend the afternoon dancing atop a gravity-suspended disc that tilts forward and backward on occasion. Now that’s an interesting effect, but it’s swallowed up in a video so full of them. I mean, who decided we needed to take a Fight Club-inspired visual journey through the engine bloc of Janet’s car? –AH
Janet Jackson - It Doesn't Really Matter

Wyclef Jean f/The Rock and Melky Sedeck – It Doesn’t Matter
     (*)  This is our second declaration this week that an established artist realizes the quality of his/her music is irrelevant in the face of well-marketed, TRL-friendly pop music. So Wyclef, who helped put together two of the great hip-hop albums in The Carnival and Fugees’ The Score, goes on Will Smith ego auto-pilot in a video that sees him clothed from head to toe in fur, referencing “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and getting guest help from The Rock. No, that’s not some new rap artist, it’s the fucking “jabroni” guy from the WWF. I mean, Lauryn Hill would let her kids starve before she’d allow one of her videos to be honky-infested in so blatant and commercial a manner. I’ll admit, “It Doesn’t Matter” is a better single than Wyclef’s last two projects, “Thug Angel” and the Bono abortion “New Day.” That’s not saying much, though, and it’s some sampled horns and Melky Sedeck that save this sound-alike Caribbean pop. Melky is the beautiful and feisty Jamaican chick who forsakes Wyclef for a burlier man in the club. Burly proceeds to kick the stuffing out of Wyclef until The Rock comes to his rescue. That’s about as interesting as this video gets – it’s a white-letterboxed club set that cuts occasionally to ‘Clef and Rock on an empty soundstage, with the wrestler shouting phrases like, “It doesn’t matter if you just bought a fresh Bentley!” and “It doesn’t matter how many records you sold!” When a man’s right, he’s right. Can you smell what Wyclef is cooking? And don’t it stink? –AH

B.B. King and Eric Clapton – Riding With the King
     (**½)  “You in good hands now – you’re riding with me.” Man, why can’t all rock legends age as cool as B.B. King has? You’ll never catch this guy doing a pussy-ass soundtrack song for a Richard Gere/Julia Roberts movie. And I’m almost willing to forgive Eric Clapton that particular transgression for re-teaming with King to do a whole album in the tradition of their duet on 1998’s Deuces Wild. They spend most of the video cruising around town in their convertible, with Eric driving and B.B. chilling in the back seat with his guitar, which he says he’ll play “until the day I die.” (And he keeps referring to Clapton as “Hoke” for some reason.) Meanwhile, we see the 10-year-old B.B. in a sharp suit and hat, taking up the guitar for the first time in a dirty bathroom. Never mind that. “Riding With the King” isn’t quite a blockbuster video, but it’s unassuming and a hell of a lot of fun. –AH

KoRn – Somebody, Someone
     (*½)  Okay, KoRn has officially run out of concepts for its videos. Instead of following the path of a single bullet, “Somebody Someone” follows a single housefly, which is roused from its comfy position on the cement wall by the thundering guitars and hysterical-teenage-girl vocals of KoRn. The band is down in, I don’t know, some subway tunnel or something. It’s a mood set, anyway, and as the fly buzzes around, we see the inevitable shots from its point of view. And it’s not the usual kaleidoscope perspective, either. No, the fly sees things murky and double, which I guess means it’s been trapped in a whiskey bottle or something like a Disney cartoon character of old. To make matters even more pseudo-clever, there’s a disclaimer at the end stating that, “No insects were harmed in the making of this video.” No wonder the director took his name off the project. –AH

P.O.D. – Rock the Party
     (**)  You try to tell me these guys aren’t Christian. One of them’s wearing a shirt that says “Ezekiel” on it. Proving Jesus hung out with degenerates, the P.O.D. tour bus scours the wet night streets of the city, inviting all pockets of junkies and B-boys to join them. The message is one of inclusion – all can be united under the music of this Limp Bizkit/311 clone act. We spend the first half of the video inside the band’s bus, a silvery affair that has its own runway. Everything is impossibly clean and happy, and the lyrics are all along the lines of “Hey DJ, won’t you play that song / And we’ll keep dancing all night long.” Then the bus arrives at its destination and spews forth its contents. From there, your standard concert video, only the backdrop features an artist’s rendering of a dreadlocked Jesus with a very confused look on his face. “Lord help me, this music is derivative,” muses the Messiah. –AH

Gay Video of the Week

NOTE: I should point out at this early stage in the game, that the “Gay Video” feature can apply to clips old and new. It just represents the hands-down gayest video I’ve come across in a particular week. Sometimes I have to go looking; other times they seek me out, as the video did this week.

Uncle Kracker – Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
     (*)  Thanks a fucking lot, Kid Rock. You’ve opened the door for a White Trash and Proud movement in music. Meet Uncle Kracker, whose album is called – no shit – Double Wide. He looks like a cross between Everlast and the guy from Smash Mouth, and it dismays me greatly that he is indeed getting laid. When I heard the backing track from “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” during a montage scene in Shanghai Noon, I thought it was Kid Rock’s “Cowboy.” But apparently this song is a separate entity, and apparently it’s Kid Rock-approved. The video takes place in a saloon, where Uncle Kracker raps or sings or whatever and Kid Rock stands behind him, bobbing his head and thinking, “Damn, this sounds familiar.” Meantime, Owen Wilson is in character, and he starts a drunken brawl. Jackie Chan faces off briefly with Uncle Kracker (which is, admittedly, a good name for a villain in a Chan movie), but Kid Rock up and snatches Chan’s cowboy hat. Go on, Jackie, kick the shit out of both dem rednecks. I beg you. –AH

Classic Videos

Aaliyah – If Your Girl Only Knew (1997)
Aaliyah - If Your Girl Only Knew
     (***)  Anyone under 20 is lucky to have missed the first incarnation of Aaliyah, back when she was R. Kelly’s 15-year-old protégé-slash-sperm receptacle. (Did I say that?) She was doing much better in 1997, when she’d hooked up with producer Timbaland and started the 80-Minute Abs routine. “If Your Girl Only Knew,” for starters, has spirited production – funky synthesizers and organs, an interesting assortment of vocals and a cool breakdown. And the video, which takes place entirely in her iKea crib, may not have a concept, but it’s varied, elaborate and stylish enough to work. (Okay, forget the sequences where Aaliyah is in color and her posse is in black-and-white. That’s some transparent shit.) And it doesn’t hurt that, like I said, Aaliyah by that point also had a six-pack to die for. I’m a midriff guy. What can I say? –AH
Aaliyah - If Your Girl Only Knew

“Weird Al” Yankovic – I Lost on Jeopardy (1984)
     (***)  I promised a longtime reader I’d end my Weird Al dry spell with last week’s reviews, but I broke the promise. There were no reviews last week because my BET Old-School theme week spilled over to last Monday and I just took the rest of the week off like the trooper I am. But I’m back now, I’ve tracked down my VHS copy of Weird Al’s greatest hits, and I’ve picked “I Lost on Jeopardy.” It’s one of the only Weird Al songs I can still listen to and find amusing. Hell, when I hear the original (Greg Kihn’s “Jeopardy”), I fill in the Don Pardo, “That’s right, Al, you lost!” speech. Hey, once a geek, always a geek. This video is, as you’d expect, a mere recreation of the song itself, acted out on the old-style “Jeopardy” set. (Ironically enough, the Alex Trebek incarnation of “Jeopardy” would come along the very next year, rendering this set completely obsolete.) Alfred Yankovic is one contestant, and he’s joined by an architect and plumber, “both with a PhD.” Both are smarmy as hell, and I love the fake answers. (“This German baroness could suck the chrome off a fender.”) Watch quick at the end for the Greg Kihn cameo – he winks, like the ham one-hit wonder he is. –AH


Copyright 2000 Apartment Y Productions