Deftones - Back to School
     (**½)  What’s with the proliferation of disgruntled classroom videos lately? First there was Good Charlotte’s “Little Things,” then the “Loser” video from 3 Doors Down (and don’t even get me started on “Teenage Dirtbag”), now the edgiest TRL rally-cry of them all, from Deftones. (Which, until recently, fell into the personal category of Bands I’d Seen On Stickers On A Shitload Of “Alternative” People’s Cars But Never Heard A Damn Song From.) Their Adam Goldberg-looking lead singer skateboards onto campus, rolls through the hallway and stands atop a row of desks, leading these teenage Israelites to the promised land. Meanwhile, they’re all looking up at him like, “Dude, you’re, like, 30. Get down.” But the video is worth watching, though, just to see the chaos all this cheerleader/jock/band camp action disintegrates into at the end. There’s some damn good camera work, too. -Andrew Hicks

DJ Hurricane f/ Xhibit, Big Gipp and Pharoahe Monch - Connect
     (***)  Any marginal fan of the Beastie Boys knows who DJ Hurricane is, but I had no idea the guy had a new album out. This isn’t the kind of shit you see on MTV very much. (Then again, I’m having incredibly poor luck even finding videos on MTV in the middle of the night right now. Is everyone else as frustrated with this as I am? Long live M2 and The Box.) And I’ve never heard of Big Gipp and Pharoahe Monch. Hell, I’m near-sighted, that might not even be their real names. Let me start over here… This DJ Hurricane video is in limited release, so to speak, but it’s worth a look or two if you like the at-times appealing mix of a hypnotic beat and several scruffy fucking rappers. “Connect” is a surprisingly involving rap video, with several elaborate sets in and around a mansion and a plot line involving burglary, retribution and mayhem. And that’s just the shit I saw before the videotape ran out of space and automatically started rewinding. I hope I come across this video again sometime. -AH

Fuel - Hemorrhage (In My Hands)
      (**)  Maybe it’s unfortunate timing, but this incarnation of Fuel is really reminding me of Matchbox 20 (excuse me, matchbox twenty) and Creed. I remember them being kinda cool; with “Hemorrhage,” they’re just another bastard child of Pearl Jam. And this video, from boy-band auteur and one-time hair-metal enthusiast Nigel Dick, isn’t doing much to change my mind. The band - whose frontman actually looks like a cross between Matchbox’s Rob Thomas and Owen Wilson - lip synchs from a shimmering aqua-blue set fenced in by a lot of glass while outside a drama of some sort unfolds. A disturbed surfer dude is haunted by the memory of his dead girlfriend, who was felled by food poisoning or a botched abortion or something. Who knows. Maybe I should start actually paying attention to the videos I review. -AH 

David Gray - Babylon
     (**½)  Yeah, I know all David Gray amounts to in the folk-pop scheme of things is This Year’s Shawn Mullins, but I kind of enjoy this song’s Muzacky goodness if I’m caught in the right mood. And the video, in the hands of indie wizard Mike Figgis (of Leaving Las Vegas and Timecode, both of which were probably made on less of a budget than that Britney Spears video below), has its compelling - albeit bargain-basement - elements. Gray, songsmith that he is, spends his time playing from a darkened soundstage and, not much of a stretch here, on a street corner, brandishing an acoustic guitar and pining for a nondescript blonde. There’s not much of a concept here, just time-sped cityscape photography and the occasional black-and-white shot of Gray performing for a concert audience. (“We have David Gray on, and it’s going to be a wonderful shue”) It’s not that elaborate, but hey, at least the screen isn’t divided into a real-time quadrant. -AH

Jay-Z - I Just Want To Love You (Give It To Me)
     (**)  I swear, I’ve tried to give this guy a chance, based on the fact that some people seem to think he’s one of the best MC’s around, and I just can’t see any fucking merit in Jay-Z. I see a dozen more charismatic people every single day, people with more street cred who could probably put forth the same marginal rap skill. Nothing about Jay-Z to me indicates ability, personality or credibility. This is one man who shouldn’t be a star but is one, be it because of a fluke or a well-timed death threat to a high-powered executive. “I Just Want to Love You” is a light-hearted sex romp chock full of unintentional humor, if just because Jay-Z wanders through the video’s situations with the gravity-dropped chin of the “Popcorn shrimp, jumbo shrimp,” guy from Forrest Gump. Jay-Z is just so fucking unhip when he tries to dance and flirt with models and shit, and you can’t help but think, Man, do these fine brothers and sisters realize this guy sampled songs from the soundtracks of Oliver! and Annie without an ounce of the proper irony? That said, “I Just Want to Love You” is a marginally entertaining video, even though it’s almost a note-for-note rip-off of Mystikal’s “Shake Ya Ass,” with its share of booty-baring honies and the venerable comedian John Witherspoon, best known by the younger generation as Craig’s dad in the Friday movies. He pops up to do a little physical comedy and relieve Jay-Z of entertainment duties while our friend Jay is caught between a good baker’s dozen of fine models and looking incredibly flustered in the process. I think somebody, in addition to constantly subjecting his little sisters Velveeta and Amidala to worn VHS airings of Singin’ in the Rain, watched a few too many Benny Hill reruns on late-night television. We really should start a charitable fund to culturally educate Jay-Z. For the cost of less than a cup of coffee a day, you could be turning this man into a G. -AH

Moby f/Gwen Stefani - South Side
     (**½)  I don’t know what the deal was, but I just fell under the spell of this Fatboy Slim video last week and was asking myself all these uncomfortable questions about the pop side of techno, whether it was destined to become some kind of too-accessible, Pure Moods artform. And whether Fatboy Slim and Moby might let an artistic rivalry spurn them to outdo each other and achieve greatness. Now there’s “South Side,” the - what, fourth? - video from Play and easily the tackiest. That’s despite the fact that “South Side” is a tongue-in-cheek satire of MTV excess. Moby, as bald and depressed as ever, spends the duration of the video on a soundstage, moving from cliché set to set and brandishing feather boas and sequined g-strings. He and Gwen pretty much stay on opposite sides of the stage, save a few pseudo-erotic sequences on a blue-walled set that feature - among other things - Gwen running her tongue up the back of Moby’s scalp. This is entertaining, if just to watch director Joseph Kahn take on the near-impossible task of embracing and skewering his usual bottom-line visual tricks. How much of a satire can get you get from the man who directed the clip for “Thong Song” and the latest Britney video? --AH

P.O.D. - School of Hard Knocks
     (**)  The only group to appear both on the WOW 2001: That’s What I Call Christian Music compilation and the soundtrack to Little Nicky: That’s What I Call The Son of Satan is the sanctified Limp Bizkit, P.O.D. “School of Hard Knocks” is their third MTV outing, and it seems like they’ve finally dropped the vague, rapped references to Christ, in favor of generic assertions like, “Who wants to rock?” (Not Christ, apparently.) And the setting for this video? Hell, of course. The boys of P.O.D. perform their hip-hop metal from within a ring of fire while businessmen and politicians drop in from above. There are also plenty of Little Nicky clips, mostly of Adam Sandler being chased by admiring fans, along with shots of erect-walking dogs in business suits clashing with angelic house cats, also in suits. Theirs, though, are white. And keep an eye out for the row of wheelchair racers who collide with the side of a bus. It’s all enough to have a certain messiah rolling around in his tomb. -AH

Musiq Soulchild - Just Friends (Sunny)
     (**½)  I know almost nothing about this guy, except to say it’s my suspicion that “Musiq Soulchild” isn’t actually his given name. In this debut/breakthrough video, he conjures up the smooth soul of decades past while laying down the vocal percussion we so loved from Take 6 and Bobby McFerrin. Okay, maybe not Bobby McFerrin, but you know what I mean. The video - from director Marcus Raboy - is a simple street performance, as Musiq rides from place to place in his VW bus and brightens the lives of many. Particularly the love interest, who is in need of an 8-Minute Abs workout or six. He infiltrates her residence, then they retire to the V.W., where he breaks out the ultimate seduction tool… a DVD copy of Nutty Professor II: The Klumps. No shit. It’s the only reason this video doesn’t get three stars from me, although it’s funny as hell to watch dozens of party guests stream by the rocking V.W. bus. -AH

Britney Spears - Stronger
     (*½)  She is Britney, and she’s a star, but she cries, cries, cries when her midriff is covered. The solution? All-midriff, all the time. Look out Christina, you fucking bitch, Britney’s on the warpath, and she’s wearing less in this video than you are. Quick, strip! (That’s one way to make this Britney-Christina rivalry work out in our favor - watch them both try to outdo each other until they’re both butt-naked in their videos. Who’s ready for a Britney bukkake?) “Stronger” begins with a flashy, Hype Williams-esque title card, then cuts to Britney at a party at a revolving restaurant. There, she sees her man with another chick and scowls. “Whatever.” And she goes off to apply more eye makeup. Then she spends most of the video on a black soundstage, dancing with a chair. Director Joseph “Thong Sahn” Kahn also cuts to Britney cuckolding her man at the restaurant and driving through a horrible storm. The only moments of creativity come - ironically enough - courtesy of the chair, which begins to twirl and take on a life of its own about halfway through Britney’s dirty dance. Tripe, as always, but it’s the best Oops… I Did It Again video to date. Some distinction. -AH

Gay Video of the Week

C+C Music Factory f/Freedom Williams and Martha Wash (as visualized by Zelma Davis) - Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) (1991)
     (*½)  There was a time - yes, I admit it - when I thought C+C Music Factory was some cool shit. Most people my age did, or at least the ones who went to Christian school. (Not the youthful demographic with the best music taste, I don’t think.) And I guess we didn’t stop and think about how every damn one of their singles was built around that same simple-ass guitar riff. Or about the amusing controversy that resulted when skinny Zelma Davis lip synched to the voice of the voluminous ex-Weather Girl Martha Wash. Which Martha didn’t like. (“It’s rainin’ lawsuits now, motherfucker!”) Anyway, we have this gay, gay video to remember all that by. “Gonna Make You Sweat” is simplistic in the extreme, filmed entirely on a white-backdrop soundstage where five-foot rapper Freedom Williams alternates between trying to look sophisticated in a suit and Woody Allen glasses and trying to bust a move and show off his well-oiled mini-pecs. Meanwhile, Davis is wearing hoop earrings so big they may well pass for XXL cockrings in the Adam and Eve catalogue. Countless extras dance and try to look cool as tacky visuals flash across the screen and the producers (Clivilles and Cole) are trotted out for cameos. Amusing, yes, but a damn hard four minutes to get through. -AH

Leon's Ghetto-Ass Video of the Week
Outkast -- B.O.B. (Bombs over Bagdad)
     (****)  I am actually going to do something I don't normally do in my "Ghetto Video" reviews -- rate a positive one. I have always loved Outkast, a group that's was doing southern hip-hop WAY before No Limit and Cash Money made it cool. Unlike those two labels, who put out obnoxious (yet mysteriously catchy) music, Outkast always knows how to experiment and make things listenable. This video, inspired by Run Lola Run absolutely kicks ass. People running on green streets, purple grassy knolls, dancing hoochies, a happy baboon and a full gospel choir. In the hands of lesser artists, this probably would have failed, but Dre and Big Boi always know how to do something that will keep the masses entertained. The whole video screams chaos and disorder, but this is by far one of the best videos I have seen this year. The album Stankonia will be on my list. --Leon Bracey

Classic Videos

Eagle Eye Cherry - Save Tonight
     (**)  Okay, this isn’t exactly a classic - and labeling it so would only make me feel older than I already do of late - but VH1 has been playing the hell out of this the past couple weeks. Every time I tape Insomniac Music Theater or CardioVideo (la-a-a-a-a-a-ame), this pops up between Faith Hill and Creed. And it’s eerie to see it circulate again, even in so limited a form as VH1 rotation, only two years after its first go-round. It seems like just yesterday that I heard this lameass song for the first time, so I’m caught between wretched annoyance and fuzzy nostalgia. That doesn’t mean I like this video, this black-and-white mini-opus that was made to look as if it were constructed in one take, but I can sit through it with a little less sense of the ticked-off saturation airplay of Lenny Kravitz, “Fly Away” proportions. I’m way too pretentious this week. “Save Tonight” is a seeming one-take affair, camera roaming the city and occasionally settling on yet another dress-up persona from the racially ambiguous Eagle-Eye Cherry. What did I say the first time around? Oh, yeah: “You know how fraternities always let that one black guy in so they can claim politically correctness? Eagle-Eye Cherry was one of those. I mean, how much soul can you have when your sister is Neneh “Buffalo Stance” Cherry?” My original assessment stands, renewed VH1 rotation or not. -AH


Copyright 2000 Andrew Hicks