Baha Men – You All Dat
     (*)  You wondered how the Baha Men would ever live down the pressure of having to follow up “Who Let the Dogs Out.” Well, here’s your answer, another tepid party anthem. Only this one samples “The Lion Sleeps Tonite,” which is a simultaneous admission that, a) These guys are unoriginal, and, b) These guys are seriously uncool. I mean, I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that Jay-Z listens to showtunes in the privacy of his home and that Puffy no doubt still hums off-key versions of “Every Breath You Take” in the shower every day, but if there’s one played-out fucking cliché I can’t handle another version of it’s the song that introduced the word “uh-weema-wop” to the world. So, no, you guys aren’t all dat, and neither are the clueless souls who made Who Let the Dogs Out: The Album (the album!) platinum. The video? Who cares what the video’s like.* The point is, this shouldn’t be. –Andrew Hicks
     * = If you must know, it’s an outdoor night party in the woods with lots of rented models – most of them with all the dance-floor coordination of Strom Thurmond – gyrating on the sidelines.

Aaron Carter – Bounce
     (zero)  The little bastard is back, and “like a hot chili pepper, it’ll blow your mind!” Well, it does blow, but not my mind… If you’ve forgotten or simply are lucky enough to never have heard of Aaron Carter, he’s the adolescent brother of Nick The Cute One from the Backstreet Boys. And he thinks he’s quite the hip-hop impresario, dropping G-rated, sub-wiggerlicious rhymes and hanging with a posse that includes a couple 14-year-old girls and a pair of much-bigger brothas who look like they’re going to make little Aaron eat that Toronto jersey as soon as the red light on the camera flips off. So, yeah, this is bad beyond words, and the entire video follows Aaron and the posse walking down the street and eventually busting into choreographed dance. You know, when you’re made to sit through one Aaron Carter video, shame on The Box. When you’re made to sit through two of them, shame on you. –AH

Outsiderz 4 Life – Not Enough
     (*)  Why do I always happen upon shit like this right before I’m going to bed, when my only rational reaction is to wonder if the video in question – impossibly, hilariously lame in a made-up sounding, high-concept fashion – actually exists or is just a machination of my sleep-deprived mind? “I’m sick of you reviewing videos all damn night,” declares my mind, “and I’m going to toss some shit at you that will make you turn off the TV.” So, what the hell is this video I’m preemptively damning? Outsiderz 4 Life is a whiny R+B group that wears the latest in hip-hop fashions and pleads for the hot lovin’ of a rented model. But all five of them are lily white, Vanilla Ice-white. Painfully so. And the more they try to posture themselves as true G’s, the more ridiculous it gets. Visually, we see them lip synching together on a black-backdrop soundstage, while the video cuts to shots of individual members being straddled on silk-sheet beds by women in fancy lingerie. Who tousle their greasy hair, finger their tattoos and say, “Boy, you my favorite wigga!” –AH

Radiohead – Optimistic
     (*½)  Okay, I love Radiohead, and I think they were responsible for some of the best concept videos of the 1990s – “Street Spirit,” “Just,” “Karma Police,” “Fake Plastic Trees,” “Paranoid Android,” etc. – but this is one of those Pearl Jam-esque fuck-you’s to MTV and the record company. (And I’m all for fucking over MTV and the record company, but the dicking here also includes us, the fans, who are ready for some more of that mind-blowing stuff Radiohead has conditioned us to expect.) “Optimistic” is a non-video seemingly taped with several camcorders in a poorly lit club venue, and besides that, it’s only a half-hearted performance. I imagine Thom Yorke is more animated while brushing his teeth in the morning. You could always argue that, by stripping down the visuals and the production arrangements, Radiohead is being profound in an unexpected way. But then I’d argue that you were a goddamn moron. –AH

Rage Against the Machine – Renegades of Funk
     (***)  I’m aware that Rage is a like-it-or-hate-it prospect for music fans, and every time I give another of their videos a positive rating, I get a round of e-mail from people who think they’re a bunch of poseurs hiding behind a banner of anti-capitalist backlash. But, I don’t know, at this point in my life I can dig where they’re coming from, and even if their entire catalogue of songs sound frighteningly similar to each other, Rage always manages to make entertaining, damn-the-man videos. Even ones they’re not in, as “Renegades of Funk” proves. The flagship single from Renegades, their album of covers and the swan song of the Zach de la Rocha era, this Afrika Boombatta track is given new life with furious vocals and . And the video gives us a tour through the activist underground, from staples like Rosa Parks and Che Guevera to pioneering hip-hop acts like Boogie Down Productions and the Beastie Boys. The footage is exciting, informative and well-edited, and the tribute itself is a perfect way for Rage to bow out of their current incarnation. –AH

Snoop Dogg – Snoop Dogg
     (**½)  Snoop’s reign of No Limit terror continues, with this self-titled opus that attempts to resurrect the rapper’s Bush-era penchant for adding the phrase “izz” to every word (“off the hizzook,” “get a 40 izzounce,” et cizzetera). In the intro, Snoop plays three characters – himself, a scrub with pimp glasses and horrible teeth (a la Martin Lawrence delivering the pizza in Blue Streak) and a bandana-wearing gangsta. And all of them abizzuse the slizzang, while the video provides English subtitles of what they’re supposed to be saying. It’s not nearly as amusing as they think it is, but the Timbaland beat itself, in the No Limit echelon, is second only to Dre’s work on “Bitch Please.” The rest of “Snoop Dogg” is typical party-rap stuff, with booty bitches, expensive cars, washed-out colors and a get-together that takes place in an enormous shoe. I’d recite my poem about the Old Snoop Who Lived In A Shoe, but I’m sure you guys aren’t interested. –AH

Stone Temple Pilots – No Way Out
     (**)  This song was written around Day 35 of Scott Weiland’s latest rehab stint, when he had reduced himself to downing capfuls of bleach while on men’s-room detail. But I shouldn’t poke fun – Weiland is clean and sober now, painfully so, as evidenced by this video’s intro, where he looks at his mohawk and raccoon-eye makeup and pronounces it “great.” The clip for “No Way Out,” in keeping with the Bon Jovi, “Bad Medicine” tradition, was filmed mostly by the fans. Hundreds of people were given cameras and told not just to film the show but the events leading up to it. So we get to see Raccoon Mohawk prancing about onstage and a bunch of anonymous people on the street, in cars and waving signs that proclaim “STP Or Bust!” God… In the end, though, this is simply too bland to be embarrassing, and instead of calling to mind the ghost of early-Clinton alternative, it merely sinks into the slop of contemporary Orgy and Creed. –AH

Xzhibit f/Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg – X
     (***)  Xzhibit came out of nowhere last year on Snoop’s “Bitch Please” and several tracks from Dr. Dre 2001, tossing off rough-edged vocals and non-sequiturs that served as effective contrast to the laid-back, weed-heavy rhymes of the aforementioned gangsta rap giants. Now Dre and Snoop are returning the favor on Xzhibit’s new single, “X,” one of those self-promotional, “Remember my name, goddammit!” clips with a killer Dr. Dre beat and an engaging visual atmosphere. It includes rows of bright lights, a stadium full of devotees and Snoop rapping from the cheap seats, tossing out half-eaten boxes of Cracker Jacks. It’s all blue and green tints, scowls and letterboxed style, and Dre and Snoop step back and let Xzhibit take the spotlight. It’s a solid debut, and I call it a “debut” full knowing X has already put out a couple albums no one bought (so don’t write me any self-righteous letters telling me he’s been around for five years). –AH

Gay Video of the Week

Michael Jackson – You Are Not Alone (1995)
Michael Jackson - You Are Not Alone
Michael Jackson - You Are Not Alone
     (zero)  One of the most disturbingly gay videos ever to grace the MTV airwaves comes from the Nadir of Nosejobs, Michael Jackson, who brings one particular loincloth more personal pain than any inanimate object of clothing should ever experience. Mike lounges in an understandably empty theater, on some kind of Egyptian palace set, while baring his pale chest and trying to look as sprightly as possible. Meanwhile, then-wife Lisa-Marie Presley is topless, barely suppressing a smile that reads, “One more year, and I can divorce his freak ass.” Other disturbing images include a shirtless Jackson atop a fake-looking mountain, reaching a triumphant hand skyward and R. Kelly, the song’s composer, feeding Michael grapes in an erotic fashion. Okay, not really, but it would have livened things up a bit. You know, Wayne Isham has presided over his share of four-minute turkeys, from Motley Crue to Britney to Bon Jovi to a recent batch of *N Sync videos, but I’ll bet this is the one he most fears will pop up during the lifetime achievement award ceremony. –AH
Michael Jackson - You Are Not Alone

Leon's Ghetto-Ass Video of the Week

R. Kelly f/Ron Isley – Down Low (1996)
R. Kelly featuring Ronald Isley -- Down Low
     (***½)  Due to limited time for watching videos at leisure, I decided to find a “Ghetto Classic,” and a personal favorite. After playing up the raunch factor with “Bump N’ Grind,” and before R. believed he could fly and started doing sappy duets with Celine Dion, he gave us this epic video, one of the best mini-movies since “Thriller.” R. was supposed to be a bodyguard to the wife of “Mr. Big,” played by a somewhat sinister Isley. “Don’t touch her,” warns Mr. Big before leaving town. Well, R. Kelly is tempted by the oh-so-fine Garcelle Beauvais, and later on, they do the squeaky-freaky. Of course, as they lay in bed, Mr. Big and his cronies break the door down, and a fight ensues. Kelly is thrown out into the middle of nowhere (“Look at me! I DID THIS TO YOU!” Mr. Big snaps), and he screams out help. Who in the hell is out there to hear you, Robert? …Well, he winds up in the hospital and finds his woman on a bed, struggling for life. I remember seeing this video at school – your tax dollars at work! – and watching some people laugh at the end because, as soon as she saw him, she croaked. What a bunch of sick fucks. But this video was one of the best, if not the best that R. Kelly has done, and the song itself has a laid back, old-school flow to it. His shrill tenor, which usually works my nerves, doesn’t annoy me as bad in this song. And there is a tight remix out there as well. Leon Bracey
R. Kelly featuring Ronald Isley -- Down Low

Classic Videos

Duran Duran – Union of the Snake (1983)
     (***)  This is the Duran Duran I like, the guys who gave us creepy, ambiguous new wave like “Rio” and “Planet Earth” and some of the finest early concept videos, including this Reagan-era doozy. The Durans break down in the middle of the desert (So? Just catch a ride from the Men at Work guys.) and are forced to camp the night there. All goes well until Simon LeBon is summoned from the truck by a bellhop-looking woman with too much face makeup, who leads him down an elevator to an alternate world of juggling children, parrots, savages and possessed-looking backup dancers. (“Isn’t this the audition for ‘Thriller’?” “No, next soundstage over.”) Finally, he’s back on the surface, and some kind of cloudy, red-tinted image makes him faint from shock. (“Isn’t this the audition for ‘Little Red Corvette’?” “No, two soundstages over.”) It’s not exactly something you can take seriously, but it’s still kinda cool to watch. –AH

Gin Blossoms – ‘Til I Hear It From You (1995)
     (**½)  Okay, if Wilson Phillips can have a greatest hits album, these guys might as well be granted their shot at compilation glory. I don’t know when it was released exactly, but there is a Gin Blossoms best-of out there, and it makes the term “best-of” seem more relative than ever. I kid, of course, but I was one of the millions of brainwashed VH1 followers who snatched up New Miserable Experience in tenth grade, and it’s been gathering dust ever since. Nonetheless, I still kind of like TIHIFY, the flagship single from the Empire Records soundtrack and one of those songs I heard on the dining hall muzak breakfast, lunch and dinner of my freshman year in college. The video is full of self-contained, letterboxed images, scrolling from left to right, mostly of individual band members feigning performance from a white-backdrop soundstage. Clips from Empire Records and the luscious, where-the-fuck-did-she-disappear-to Liv Tyler are sprinkled in, along with soundstage footage of models trying their best to look simultaneously nonchalant and trendy. The Blossoms might be able to pull off nonchalant on a rainy day, but trendy? Never. –AH

     NOTE: And before I release you to the boundless world of cyberspace, I want to pass along a hilarious dream Leon e-mailed me about. “It was the Madonna ‘Music’ video on,” he wrote, “but it was Michael Jackson, in the same pimp gear. And Elizabeth Taylor was on one side, and Diana Ross on the other. And, when MJ went into the strip club, he got a lap dance, and was spanking the strippers ass. I woke up in hysterics.” Hell, just hearing Michael use the word “bourgeoisie” would have me in hysterics.


Copyright 2000 Andrew Hicks