NOTE: Peace on Earth, good will toward men, and all that mess. I took the week off last time around, which means I’m pulling video-review duty on that most sacred of holidays. I’ll wolf down ham and mashed potatoes in an hour or so, follow that up with pumpkin pie and get back to the grind. Next week, the year’s ten best and worst videos, but first, this lackluster batch of cast-offs from MTV and The Box. It doesn’t seem like much of anything has come out lately (all I can find on VH1 is That Thing You Do, 24-7), but I’m beyond overjoyed by the fact that The Box will apparently become ‘The New’ M2 in a few days. Maybe I’ll actually become witness to a little variety. Anyway, here’s your week’s worth of videos, most of which resembles turd-size lumps of coal in the proverbial stocking. As Norm MacDonald once said, “Happy Birthday, Jesus – hope you like crap.”

BBMak – Still on Your Side
     (*)  I’ve been subjected to near-hourly airings of BBMak’s first single, “Back Here,” for the past four months on the Muzak at work. I don’t think I can handle the addition of a second song, the Take That-sounding “Still on Your Side,” to the roster. If you don’t know, this is the boy band that plays its own instruments (no, really) and perhaps even writes its own three-chord ditties. They’re just as syrupy as anything from the Backstreet/*N Sync camp, and their videos are just as charming. Witness the old-school British car chase in “Still on Your Side,” mixed with the usual emotive lip-synch shots of individual band members pledging undying love and proving they can pluck out a few rhythm chords if need be. And check out the way all three cars, each containing a BBMak, converge on one hot girl at the end of the video. You know what they say, the band that date rapes together… –Andrew Hicks

Coldplay – Yellow
     (***)  I think everyone knows at least one person who prides him- or herself on his/her ability to track down good, new music from artists who don’t have a chance in hell of cracking into the mainstream. I have a couple of these friends, and both of them have been talking up Coldplay for a few months now. Lo and behold, the guys are actually on MTV and The Box, and “Yellow” is actually a decent song. It sounds to me like a cross between Dave Matthews and The Bends-era Radiohead, but then I’m one of those guys who’s in the habit of labeling everything a cross between something and something else. The video is engaging in its own right, particularly during a crap-filled week like this, even though it’s a one-take, bare-bones Geek Walking Down a Beach clip. The singer, wearing a slicked-up rain poncho, trudges down the sand on a blue/gray-tinted cloudy day, and he’s so casual about it that the whole package works. –AH

Crazy Town – Butterfly
     (**½)  The most audacious poseurs of the week are Crazy Town, a pop-rap band of white boys less concerned with breaking stuff than seducing the delicate, rented models from their video. And, yes, the rented models are worth seducing, although it remains to be seen whether the front man – tattooed from head to toe – could pick up a spare while bowling, much less a costumed music video nymph. I’m incredulous, yeah, but that’s my natural defense mechanism when dealing with this Hot 5 at Nine shit, especially the stuff I just have to admit is kind of catchy. The guys of Crazy Town hang out in the forest, which is populated with flowers from across the rainbow (and the aforementioned costumed nymphs), and they cop MC poses while appearing either, a) shirtless, or, b) in DARE t-shirts. None too sophisticated, no, but under the circumstances, it’s not half-bad. –AH

Insane Clown Posse f/Perpetual Hype Engine – Let’s Go All the Way
     (**)  I think everyone knows at least one person who’s into Insane Clown Posse. The only person I can think of from my immediate life, though, is my friend James’ younger brother, a 15-year-old who went through a phase that had him snatching up every available album by this no-talent honky-shock-rap act. I’ve heard just enough of a sampling to know I don’t respect a damn thing about these guys, and the occasional video that’s popped up on The Box only serves to back me up. Two goofy-ass white boys in black-and-white clown makeup, mugging for the camera and attempting a badass sneer from time to time. Of course, it doesn’t help that the band’s chubby frontman, with his close-cropped sandy blond hair, looks just like the singer of Smash Mouth if he went incognito for a drug-addled side project. All that said, “Let’s Go All the Way” is the first video I’ve seen from ICP with any kind of crossover appeal, and it’s the first time I’ve seen anything from them on MTV. The narrative starts on a neatly kept suburban street, where nuclear families look aghast at the little kids in clown makeup who are tossing out flyers. The ICP parade follows closely behind and seems to involve every demographic known to man. There’s an evil tour bus and a vehicle designed from the band’s cartoon logo, and some of the imagery isn’t half bad. Anything involving a demented milkman is worth at least two stars in my book. –AH

K-Ci & Jo-Jo – Crazy
     (*½)  I have to admit, I burst out laughing when I found out that one of the guys from this group whipped out his dick during a recent performance at the Nickelodeon Teen Image Awards, or some bullshit like that. Somewhere in between the Samantha Mumba and 98° sets, dozens of tweens and their parents in the first few rows were treated to the sight of turgid R+B member. It’s just a shame the video for “Crazy” doesn’t have even a hint of that kind of comic shock value – this is just another ballad video with that requisite pair of Star-Crossed Lovers Who Must Overcome Obstacles To Their Love. The video is from the soundtrack to Save the Last Dance, the interracial teen-love opus starring Julia Stiles and a brother who, no doubt, thought her work in Ten Things I Hate About You was off da hook. “Crazy” gives off this wounded watercolor vibe the entire time, and it has a lot of shots of people walking backwards (how painfully metaphorical is that?) and looking longingly out of car windows. All the while, you can tell K-Ci (or is it Jo-Jo?) is just itching to unzip his fly and haul out Little Mr. Jodepi. –AH

Linkin Park – One Step Closer
     (**)  I’ve been seeing these guys’ video on The Box for a couple months now and have always found some reason not to review it. For one, these kind of teen-angst alterna-videos with band members trudging and moping in time with the beat are a dime a dozen right now, and this one does little to distinguish itself from the pack. Then I read an interview with the guys of Linkin Park, and the frontman (frontkid?) was a surprisingly well-mannered guy who was abused as a child and swears never to use profanity in a song because he thinks it’s a crutch of people who don’t know how to express themselves properly. Fuck, check out this gem of Linkin Park syntax and tell me this guy’s a king of self-expression: “Everything you say to me takes me one step closer to the edge, and I’m about to break.” So, anyway, it’s not quite genuine hardcore music, and not quite worth watching. Lots of flame imagery, green smoke and, oh yeah, a little taebo. –AH

Jennifer Lopez – Love Don’t Cost a Thing
Jennifer Lopez - Love Don't Cost A Thing
     (**)  In addition to starring in like three upcoming movies, it would appear Jennifer Lopez is also subjecting us to another album of tepid Latin-lite dance tracks. (But, hey, at least she didn’t get ambitious and release a three-disc set called On the 7 Through 9.) “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” the first single, has a melody right out of Toni Braxton’s “He Wasn’t Man Enough,” and features Lopez as a spurned lover. He can’t be with her, again, but he’s sent an expensive bracelet instead. She don’t need no damn bracelets, though, she just needs to drive her lavish convertible down the street and writhe on the beach, showing off that million-dollar, Lloyd’s-of-London ass. Oh, and brace yourself for the trademark Dance Interlude That Has Nothing To Do With The Plot, which takes place on a phony-looking beach soundstage and is noteworthy only because it’s the first time Lopez shows off those Hollywood-toned abs. I can’t argue with the titillation here, but otherwise, this is some boring, mediocre shit. –AH
Jennifer Lopez - Love Don't Cost A Thing

O Town – Liquid Dreams
     (*)  Now that it’s clear the Backstreet Boys aren’t interested in being well-scrubbed teen boys anymore (since they’re all, like, 27), now that it’s clear that LFO is officially over, it’s time for O Town to step in and fill the void. They can be clean-cut and coy, all at once, tossing off component references to what they consider the perfect girl. Part Destiny’s Child and part Janet Jackson with “a body like Jennifer,” although they don’t clarify whether they’re referring to Lopez or Love Hewitt. (If it was up to me, I’d take the lower half of the former and the upper half of the latter.) “Liquid Dreams” is insipid, as you’d expect, with a silvery, computer-manipulated video courtesy of director David Meyers. The boys – the blonde, the brunette, the Latino, the other brunette and the other brunette – are all dressed in black leather and are occasionally seen feeling up their dream girls. Meanwhile, liquid-composed chicks are dancing in the background. It’s a waste of a lot of money on another sound-alike dance-pop song, and the only real distinction is that one of the white kids seems to be imitating Michael Jackson toward the end, with amusing results. (“Dah! You got it! Dah! Just like Destiny’s Child! OOOOOO-HOOOOOO!!!”) –AH

Pink – You Make Me Sick
Pink - You Make Me Sick
     (*½)  And she gets a third video? Is anyone buying into this whole white-girl R+B thing? “You Make Me Sick,” again, sounds like the last two Pink songs, which sounded like the last four Destiny’s Child songs, which sounded like “No Scrubs.” Pink, as smug and wigger-Lil’ Kim as ever, is seen lying nude in a bed of roses, a la American Beauty, in a car that’s spinning upside-down after an accident, and engaging in a throwing-shit battle with her boyfriend. He makes up with her, though, when he realizes the flaming log he threw at her actually burned her fingers when she tried to pick it up. No kidding. This video operates on just that high an intellectual plane. It’s worth noting, though, that in a holiday season in which the only remotely Christmas-like clip I can find is Faith Hill’s fucking Grinch video, “You Make Me Sick” has an interlude with a department-store Santa. That’s how you know the director was well aware of what this video’s shelf life would be. –AH
Pink - You Make Me Sick

Leon's Ghetto-Ass Video of the Week

3LW – No More (Baby I’ma Do Right)
3LW - No More
     (**)  3LW (3 Little Women) is Destiny’s Child, Jr. I have cousins who remind me of this trio. You know the type, the middle-school girls who “thank they so [snap your fingers three times, and roll your head and eyes around for that “sistagirl” effect] grown, but ain’t got a pot to piss in.” (Credit my mom for that saying.) The video is your standard affair – you know, 13-year-old girls driving around in cars and fawning over muscle-bound men five years older than they are. If I was their dad, I’d get the police and a shotgun. The 3LW girls also do the standard choreographed dance steps inside a warehouse ...then, one of the muscle-bound pedophiles spray paints a picture of 3LW on the street, and voila! They pop up out the street and turn into real life, and do a dance for him. Am I the only one who thinks that is seriously fucking creepy? “No More” has an annoying, repetitive tune, with Vocoder effects used heavily. There is even a trite rap in the middle of the song where the rapper of the group muses, “You promised me Kate Spade / But that was last year, boy, in the eighth grade.” What the hell? Go back to school and learn some goddamn geometry. Leon Bracey
3LW - No More

Classic Videos

The Beatles – Get Back (The Last Beatles Performance On The Roof At Apple Records) (1970)
     (***)  This is the one pleasant surprise of the week for me, the Apple Records rooftop performance of “Get Back” presented on MTV as a Spankin’ New video. It is, of course, a mere promotional bauble for the Beatles 1 collection everyone but me seems to own now (for all the eternal love I have for Abbey Road and Sgt. Pepper, I really don’t need to be reminded of the Fab Four at their chart-poppiest), but it’s the kind of cultural artifact the superficially hip people at MTV have all but abandoned. The clip, which comes from the obscure documentary Let it Be, captures the last days of the Beatles. They’re all onstage there, freezing their asses off in heavy cold and distanced at least six feet apart from each other, but they can still rock cohesively and still cause uptight British passersby on the street below to stare up in confusion and wonder what in bloody hell all that racket is. As the parenthetical tidbit declares in the video’s title, this is taken from the last public Beatles performance, but it’s actually the opening number from their brief rooftop concert. The closing number, a reprise of “Get Back,” features the more dramatic footage of the cops forcing the Beatles to end their performance. (As well as featuring Paul McCartney’s hilarious ad-libbed lyrics, “You’ve been playing on the rooftops again / They’re going to arrest you!”) –AH

Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis (1985)
     (***½)  God bless them, BET is the only network on Christmas that’s showing anything resembling holiday videos. It’s kind of a restrictive selection, though, as this is the second time in the last two hours that I’ve seen “Christmas in Hollis” pop up. It’s the most deserving Christmas video in the BET ouevre, though, a playful and light-hearted track that also manages to be knowing and legit. And this despite the fact that the backing track sounds almost exactly like the music DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith used for the theme song to “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The video opens on an evil elf labeling random people “naughty” via satellite, until he lands on the guys of Run DMC and decides to access their file. Good decision – he and the rest of the audience are treated to the story of finding Santa’s wallet in the park and returning the million dollars inside it. (Oh, sure, that’s just what I’d do. I wouldn’t go on a shopping spree or try to blackmail Santa or anything. No-o-o-o-o-o…) This is a sweet-ass, timeless little video that has survived 16 Christmases and will probably still be around when our kids are opening their presents. –AH


Copyright 2000 Andrew Hicks