REVIEWS -- JULY 28, 2000

                         Mary J. Blige – Your Child
     (**)  This makes five videos from Mary, and Miss Blige shows no sign of letting up until every man, woman and child in America owns the album. (Okay, 250,000 down, 259,750,000 to go.) And, again, Mary shows her predilection for shitty, shitty luck. It’s an ex post facto my-man’s-cheatin’ kind of slow jam – Mary is visited by a woman who brings a baby with eyes just like her (i.e. Mary’s) boyfriend’s. (And, as we know from the patented Billie Jean Paternity Test, that’s all the evidence you need.) And Mary believes the woman because “she wasn’t disrespectful,” and you know Mary is distraught because she sings every line with that heart-broken headshake she perfected years ago in the “Not Gon’ Cry” video. “Your Child” is standard lip synch stuff, with flashbacks of Mary and her man in happier times, Mary following the mystery woman around town and Mary finally confronting him Springer-style. I’d take this all a lot more seriously if not for that Tina Turner bouffant Miss Blige is wearing. –Andrew Hicks

Aaron Carter – Aaron’s Party (Come Get It)
     (zero)  There’s not enough space on this hard drive for me to describe how disturbing this BOX-exclusive video is. I’m not usually much for scrutinizing clips starring 11-year-old brothers of the Backstreet Boys trying to credibly rap. However, when said 11-year-old is also seen in full fur-coated pimp gear, flanked by two honies while he’s riding a bicycle, I can’t resist. This is Aaron Carter, Nick’s little brother (he’s the cute one), and he’s throwing his own party to the barely disguised rip-off strains of Young MC’s “Bust a Move.” (“Here’s a little bit of old-school for ya,” Aaron announces, and you feel like reminding him that he was in fucking diapers when that song came out.) Aaron sends his parents off to visit Aunt Joan and, seconds later, the junior high girls start to spill in, carpooling in one mom-driven mini-van after another. The party’s going great – he even gets to talk to the girl he’s crushin’ on – until “some kid spills juice on my mom’s new cushion,” a burly black dud arrives to loot the place and the girls make off with every pair of BVDs in Nick’s unguarded underwear drawer. On top of it, little Aaron gets grounded. (“No mall tour for you, young man!”) It’s tough being a little Backstreet brother. –AH

Destiny’s Child – Jumpin’ Jumpin’
Destiny's Child - Jumpin' Jumpin'
     (**½)  The fourth (yes, fourth) single from The Writing’s on the Wall sounds, well, a lot like the last three. But, rest assured, “You’ve got the right to get your party on.” It’s in the Constitution, after all, and the Destiny girls cordially invite YOU out for a night of clubbing. (Yes, YOU, but only if YOU are a sister between the age of 19 and 26 and have a toned body. No sagging titties, girl!) Everywhere the girls go looks like it’s in the grip of a 7.1 Richter-scale earthquake. The video for “Jumpin’ Jumpin’” is more jittery than Michael J. Fox’s handwriting, although I do appreciate the energy and color scheme. No, really, I do. It gives the video a personality absent of the tackiness of the first three Destiny’s Child videos, but you can lay money on this not being nearly as bit a hit as “Say My Name” and “Bills, Bills, Bills.” And there’s more bad news – the party goes just fine until “some kid spills juice on my momma’s new weave.” It’s tough being a child of destiny. –AH
Destiny's Child - Jumpin' Jumpin'

Ben Harper – Steal My Kisses
     (***)  I don’t really know anything of Ben Harper, although I know he’s been around for a while and I should know a thing or two about him. So I can’t say whether he always includes those Michael Jackson self-percussive noises and feels the need to lip synch them at certain points in the video. I don’t know if he samples music or just writes rhythm-guitar riffs that sound dangerously close to the old disco hit “Mr. Big Stuff.” I don’t know if he always hams and cheeses it up in his videos, as he does with “Steal My Kisses,” which includes the Caribbean equivalent of David Lee Roth’s “California Girls” video – even down to the white suit, pimp cane and lined-up beach beauties. I don’t know if I’d like the rest of the album or not; I have my reservations, and it could go either way based on this song. But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, stacked as it is this week in the context of bullshit like Britney, Lil’ Bow Wow and Wheaties. Maybe I’ll learn more about Ben Harper and make my decision, but for now, I’m stabbing blind with the three-star rating. –AH

Faith Hill – The Way You Love Me
     (**)  Oh, deja fucking vu, it’s Faith Hill in (rock this) Shania Twain country with a glammed-out, no-doubt-remixed number that’s taking VH1 by storm. And proving true the Cher Principle, that if you really want a hit, all you have to do is blow the dust off your Vocoder voice box and let ‘er rip. Faith, though, is seemingly above the practice of filling her videos with younger, hotter, TRL-worthy models, so for four minutes, all we see is her in various fashion incarnations. Faith as diner waitress, Faith as Mya in the “Ghetto Superstar” video, Faith in her Ikea-smart kitchen, Faith as dueling leather dominatrixes, etc. None of this rings especially genuine or entertaining – it’s just more watered-down country-pop for the masses. –AH

Lil’ Bow Wow – Bounce With Me
     (*½)  Damn, Jermaine Dupri really knows how to pick ‘em young. First Kris Kross, the 12-year-old Atlanta rappers, now Lil’ Bow Wow, who by all appearances is even younger. He makes his entrance by morphing up from a dog (gee, haven’t seen that before) and sports a tied-off bandana from Gap For Lil’ G’s while JD pimps him to the camera. I’d be wary of that approach from the beginning if I were this kid – I mean, with JD at the helm, your career is likely to be over before that first pubic hair comes in. And especially, I’d say, if your debut single, a) is from the Big Momma’s House soundtrack, b) makes you share screentime with a pubescent girl rapper and, c) features yourself and others “bouncing” on bikes and scooters. Call me crazy, but there are probably more street-credible ways to introduce yourself to the BET viewing universe. –AH

Live – They Stood Up For Love
     (*½)  I guess these guys are done watching the dolphins cry. No, it’s time to go commercial, and that means sounding as much like Matchbox 20 as possible. I guess it’s also VH1 lowest-common-denominator time, time to shelve the angst and time to stock their videos with Lenny Kravitz heroin models. Yeah, this blue-green video quickly clutters up its soundboard/studio lip-synch motif with dancing models who haven’t had this much fun since someone passed around the nitrous bag at Gianni Versace’s wake. The whole video, with its murky camera shots and confusing, gimmicky editing, rings untrue, as does the song. As does the band. God, I remember when these guys were alternative, and how much I thought they sucked then… Little did I know. –AH

Brian Setzer Orchestra – Gettin’ in the Mood
     (**)  Yeah, I know, Brian Setzer Orchestra was around years before the swing fad caught on (and before the Gap killed it off), so I guess it’s appropriate that this band would still be around after the fad’s quick death. So here we go, with this last-gasp attempt at a summer party song for the VH1 crowd. It conjures up more creative artists from the past, not to mention more creative cars (lots and lots of jalopies here), and the meat of the video is a cabana party that lasts through the afternoon (and the half-rapped interlude from 400-pound MC Big King Fun) and well into the night. Like “Jump Jive ‘N Wail,” this video features more titillation and overall ass-shaking than you’d expect from a swing video, but this time around, it reads a lot more like someone’s going through the motions. –AH

Britney Spears – Lucky
Britney Spears - Lucky
     (*)  No fucking shit you’re lucky, Britney. Your producers haven’t even located another setting on the Casio, and still you’re churning out TRL hit after hit, including this attempt at a concept video. The protagonist? Lucky, a bitchy Hollywood starlet who, upon hearing, “Cut! That’s a wrap!” complaints that it’s about time. “It took like 50 million tries,” she whines, little realizing the delay likely reflects more on her abilities than those of the director. The video is set up like the old “Patty Duke Show” (you know, that “identical cousins” shit), with Britney playing herself and Lucky. It’s a cautionary tale of sorts – as Lucky bitches and whines and traipses around her penthouse apartment (which, surprise surprise, turns out to be a movie set), Britney stands by with a concerned look on her lip-synching face, just wishing Lucky could learn how to love. (“If there’s nothing missing in my life,” Britney synchs, playing devil’s advocate, “then why do these tears come at night?”) The video never actually shows Britney/Lucky bawling her eyes out behind closed doors – I suspect that type of method acting is well out of her range – but in its mission to roundy dispatch and discredit undeserving junior-media icons, it’s an early forerunner for my 2000 Pot/Kettle/Black Award. Besides, as you might expect, it really sucks. –AH
Britney Spears - Lucky

Wheaties – Teenage Dirtbag
     (**)  I had to sit through Loser once – I’m not really too eager to endure these regurgitated clips presided over by a low-life frontman who’s decked out in Gilligan-hat-and-sunglasses, New Radicals-wear. The music, for some reason, is screaming out “Weezer,” only a couple of octaves higher, while the video splits its time between lip-synch footage, Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari walking down the halls of their high school and the requisite prom-night sequence that features Wheaties as the house band (how’s that for memories that’ll last a lifetime?) and an angelic Mena presenting Jason with “two tickets to Iron Maiden.” I guess there are worse ways to put together a soundtrack video, but I don’t anticipate much longevity here. –AH

Gay Video of the Week

Nicki French – Total Eclipse of the Heart (1995)
     (zero)  I know everyone my age remembers this bullshit no-name cannibalization of the 1983 Bonnie Tyler hit (which was pretty bullshit-ridden in the Jim Steinman fashion the first time around), and for the younger set, well, be glad you were spared. Mid-‘90s dance music doesn’t get much worse than this bland, go-nowhere video filmed, it seems, on one undecorated soundstage featuring a giant, circular “moon” that occasionally draws up to eclipse itself. To further visually complicate things – a smoke machine and two girl backup singers. From time to time, director Jonathan Gibbon cuts to a backing band, which is a futile effort considering how patently obvious it is that there are no real instruments involved in this cover. The world would never hear from French again, but that was little compensation for the fact that we had to hear from her the first time. –AH
Classic Videos

Digable Planets – Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) (1993)
     (***)  This underrated jazz-rap group had one chance at a breakthrough hit with this Buzz Clip single from Reachin… A New Refutation of Time and Space. Our fearless director takes advantage of the longish musical intro to introduce the three members of the group, who assemble one by one on the New York streets and head down a subway station to a club gig. The rest of the black-and-white video takes place inside the smoky club as the Planets each get a turn on the mic. The editing, particularly during the chorus breaks, is done in rapid-fire dissolves and fades, which helps offset the video’s obviously small budget. And, samples or not, the video would have us believe the Planets take a jazz combo with them wherever they go. The music is so sophisticated for early ‘90s hip-hop, and the audience so appreciative, that this video now only serves as an unfortunate reminder of what could have been for the group. –AH

Radiohead – Street Spirit (Fade Out) (1995)
     (****)  This closer from The Bends is Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke’s favorite composition, emotional and acoustically based but still elaborately produced, and it fuels a sublime yet glorious video. The setting? A trailer park, where time slows down and speeds up. Director Jonathan Glazer uses an ancient camera and confusing dissolve effects to distort reality and turn the black-and-white video trippy and dreamy. Yorke jumps backward from the top of a trailer and, as he hurtles toward earth, motion slows to a crawl. The same effect is used throughout, as motion in the rest of the frame proceeds normally or freezes entirely. The somber looks from everyone involved just make things more creepy and elusive. This is a video for the vaults. –AH


Copyright 2000 Apartment Y Productions