REVIEWS -- AUGUST 25, 2000

                         Barenaked Ladies – Pinch Me
     (**)  The wait is over, boys and girls. The Barenaked Ladies have returned again to alleviate the drudgery of our everyday lives. And, since they last left us, the rhythm guitarist/co-lead singer has decided to change his name to Dave Grohl. So, in the demented malt shop in which the video is set, he plays several parts and – in one less-than-stellar moment – each of the alter-egos flashes the others a perky thumbs-up. It’s kind of sad, really, because the video starts so promisingly. The first five seconds or so, I mean, as the identical-model cars churn through the drive thru in time to the drum track. Then the Big Boy-esque mascot comes to life (played by the They Might Be Giants-looking other guy in the group) and all is lost. It’s the choreographed dancing of the patrons, all of whom are wearing green-and-white horizontal-striped Polos, that really kills it. Poor Barenaked Ladies – even though you could never take them seriously, they’re smack in the middle of Tal Bachman territory here and earnest as ever. –Andrew Hicks

Big Tymers -- #1 Stunna
     (*½)  This nondescript scruff-rap tune is from the soundtrack to The Original Kings of Comedy – the funniest movie of the year, BTW – and makes me think no one involved with the video actually saw the movie. Both Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer, who appear in the video along with fellow comic-kings D.L. Hughley and Bernie Mac, went off hard on gangsta rap on several occasions. And understandably so – the guys are 40, their language is ‘70s soul, not Ruff Ryders album rap. So you can tell their hearts aren’t in these unamusing cameos, and that’s only the beginning of the problem. What we have here – suitcases of money, flashy cars, gold chains and bitches. What we don’t have – anything of interest, including decent music production or a noteworthy lyrical flow. And, in this case, don’t make the mistake of judging a movie by its soundtrack. –AH

Boyz II Men – Pass You By
     (**)  I was in the reference section of the library today and came across a new edition of Billboard #1 Hits… well, new circa 1997. And it truly blew my mind how many times Boyz II Men raced to the top of the charts during the mid-’90s. Yeah, I used to like them some – I went to Christian school, you pretty much had to – but they really don’t have a place in modern pop. The Boyz aren’t cute enough for TRL and they’re not hard enough for the hip-hop crowd. They’re relics, and they had to resort to a promotional contest to even get on The Box. But here it is, the prophetically titled “Pass You By,” which features the all-white, Puffy-suited R+B singers atop a skyscraper so serene the wind is only blowing south-southeast at, what, 6 mph? And, below, traffic is stalled, all of the drivers thinking, Hey, those are the stars of the last pages of the 1997 edition of the Billboard #1 Hits book, edited by Joel Whitburn. They have so much to live for. The video would also have us believe the Boyz can teleport themselves cosmically into the cars below, lending drivers’ shoulders the comfort provided by their big hands and occasionally grabbing Tom Hanks by the crotch and healing their bladder infections. Nice try, guys, but the magic is gone. All gone. –AH

Moby -- Porcelain
     (***)  This may be the Pure Moods jam of the year, and I mean that in a nice way. The cut-in/cut-out synth is trippy, the piano notes dance almost and Moby’s attempt at singing is properly masked behind studio effect. All is well, even if the concept for “Porcelain” is right out of Sting’s “Desert Rose,” with Moby glancing out his tinted windows at odd, earthy sites as he’s being chauffeured across the plains and, eventually, well off the road entirely. Moby has a somber look on his face the entire time, as if he’s being driven through Cherynobel, but once you notice there’s absolutely no one driving the car (check out the inadvertent game of Chicken), you realize you’d probably throw out the same look. One of heavily tranquilized panic. I like this. –AH

Mya – Case of the Ex
Mya - Case Of The Ex
     (**)  Yeah, she’s fine as wine (and I don’t mean that shit that comes out of a box, though I never turn that down, either), but this clip is a wholesale recreation of Janet’s “You Want This” video. A bunch of cars gather in the desert, girls and guys get out, and the girls proceed to do a little choreographed dancing involving staffs (and I don’t mean that shit that comes out the front of a guy’s pants, though Mya never turns that down, either). The video, stolen or not, at least has a nice widescreen look, vivid photography and a downright hot performer. That’s worth two derivative stars, I think. –AH
Mya - Case Of The Ex

98 Degrees – Give Me One Night (Una Noche)
     (*½)  Man, the Latin-pop thing is so 1999, and even then, you actually had to be Latin to be viable at it. But that doesn’t stop this second-tier boy group – the Burnett’s vodka to *N Sync’s Skyy and Backstreet Boys’ Absolut – from trying, in a self-indulgent video that literally has the guys docking at the island like Robin of Locksley returning to his homeland. They trudge through some Aztec ruins before heading into town (“Dude, I heard the drinking age is, like, 18 here!”) for a parade and open-air night party. Boring, ineffectual and fake as these guy’s drinking IDs, but then, you knew that. –AH

Third Eye Blind – Deep Inside of You
Third Eye Blind - Deep Inside of You
     (*½)  It’s like George Michael’s “Freedom” in microcosm, the first minute of this video, as the lead singer’s obviously rented supermodel girlfriend rollerblades away from him, lip synching the lyrics. Oh, and there’s another one in a convertible, lip synching, along with a Lauryn Hill look-alike on a park bench. Good God, it’s an epidemic. Is this what these C.K. models do instead of eating? Don’t worry, Third Eye Blind fans, you’ll still get plenty of shots of your band members in action, including more than a couple unnecessary extreme close-ups. Just don’t expect anything resembling creativity or talent. Wait, this is a Third Eye Blind video we’re talking about – you didn’t expect nunna dat shit to begin with. –AH
Third Eye Blind - Deep Inside of You

Trina – Pull Over
     (**½)  It’s way too late in the season for this kind of video, but I don’t know, I kind of like it. “Da baddest bitch” arrives on a Jet ski as Baywatch-dressed male lifeguards come running, and the mood is set. This is old-school lusty fun on some kind of half-assed aqua hideaway probably adapted from the from the wave pool at some L.A. water park. (What’s more, during the “Waterfalls”-esque shots that are supposed to give off the illusion that Trina’s standing on the surface of the water, you can clearly see the below-surface Lucite box that’s supporting her.) But so what – the chicks are hot, Trina is playful and nasty, and some of the sight gags are pretty funny. (You really feel bad for that fat dude that spills ice cream all over his ample chest.) Still, this is definitely guilty-pleasure Box material. –AH

The Urge – Too Much Stereo
     (**)  It’s the Nelly principle – just because these guys are from St. Louis, everyone around here thinks they’re obligated to like The Urge. And I do. Their punk/rock/funk/ska/rock blend is one of the truly unique sounds in modern mainstream music. Of course, they went and abandoned it with their new album, so they may never break through after all. “Too Much Stereo” sounds more like an Everclear B-side than an Urge track, and its bargain-basement video won’t do shit on MTV. It’s set up like a bad infomercial (I’m aware of that redundancy), with a terminally perky audience and the band on display like Toad the Wet Sprocket in “Something’s Always Wrong.” Mostly, it’s just embarrassing. (I never thought I’d see lead singer Steve Ewing look so uncool.) But there are a couple amusing interludes, one of which has an old lady sitting up in bed and clapping two times, as Ewing flips on her desk lamp from a corner of the bedroom. Overall, though, a wasted opportunity. The music climate is ripe for The Urge right now, and it still will probably never happen. –AH

Gay Video of the Week

Billy Gilman – One Voice
     (zero)  They just shouldn’t do this to me. They shouldn’t make videos starring 8-year-old boys (“8-year-olds, dude”) singing somberly from inside a school bus about the world’s troubles and shit. For a little kid, he’s got a lot of Judeo-Christian baggage. Little Billy, in his plaintive, shrill voice, sings about the have and have-nots (hint: he resents some kid who has a brand-new bike), school violence and, yes, the menace of gum chewing in the classroom. All the while, Billy witnesses disturbing sights from with the bus, including – gasp – a junior wigger being arrested. “One Voice” is pseudo-country pop, the kind of song that’s bound to warm the hearts of a lot of families who have the Ten Commandments hanging on the walls of their trailer. And the most disturbing reality, aside from the Communist gum chewing conspiracy, is that someone decided to fund this little project. –AH

Leon's Ghetto-Ass Video of the Week

Avant – Separated
     (***)  This is your standard No Good Bitch video that have been clogging BET recently just as much as the No Good Niggas videos have been. Girl hates boy. Girl leaves him for some big ass Mandingo-lookin’ mofo. Boy finds out. Boy gets pissed and leaves the house. Standard nonsense, but what makes this video get two-and-a-half more stars than it deserves is its homage to A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Fight Club in which the girl actually BEATS HERSELF UP IN THE FACE, fucks up the house and then has the nerve to call the police and tell them that Avant did it. It’s the only thing that saves this video from the trash heap it belongs in. NOTE: The remix Avant does with the other girl in Destiny’s Child (the one with the short hair, not the oh-so-fine-can-I-please-jump-in-the-TV-and-jump-your-bones Beyonce) is better than this. Leon Bracey

Classic Videos

Billy Joel – Pressure (1981)
     (***)  Billy Joel™ and Rod Stewart both jumped on the MTV bandwagon before the dust even settled on Nina Blackwood’s peroxide bottle. While Stewart just cranked out scores of half-assed soundstage lip-synch clips, Joel™ actually came up with a few baby-steps concept videos, including this paranoia-ridden clip from The Nylon Curtain. Joel™ wakes up in a variety of nightmarish situations, which range from a flooded bedroom with crackling lightning to a failed game show appearance. (“‘I wanna rock.’ That’s your final answer?”) All through the video, fluids are seen overflowing their intended containers – looks like someone else took Intro to Film as an undergrad – and a childhood version of Joel reacts to many similar traumas. “Pressure” is also noteworthy for originating the now-cliché device of singers being forced to watch depressing news footage until they snap, and even though it hasn’t held up particularly well, it’s still always good for a laugh or six. –AH

Kris Kross – I’m Real (1993)
     (**½)  Speaking of a laugh or six, I recently unearthed a copy of this video from Kris Kross’ second album, Da Bomb. (The title definitely proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, sales-wise.) It comes only a year after the massive hits “Jump” and “Warm It Up,” but already the junior rappers have abandoned the backwards-clothes fad and are attempting to come hardcore. (“I wore my clothes backward when I was 12. Now I am 13. I am a man.”) And, surprise of surprises, it’s actually one of producer Jermaine Dupri’s tighter beats, and the video features workable black-and-white/blue-tint cinematography. The Krises rap from inside a warehouse as strobes pop and confused-looking second-unit Feds try to track them down. “I’m Real” is nothing overly elaborate or memorable, and it definitely didn’t convince anyone that these guys were indeed real, but it was a hell of an improvement over the group’s trio of 1992 novelty hits. And, dammit, I want to know where these guys are now. You’re slacking, VH1! –AH


Copyright 2000 Andrew Hicks