REVIEWS -- JULY 9, 2001

                ANTI-VIDEO OF THE WEEK

Aerosmith – Fly Away From Here
     (*)  In “Fly Away From Here,” Aerosmith offers us a glimpse into our nation’s future – there are all sorts of flying Jetson cars, streamlined buildings ascend into the skyline, and Aerosmith is still denying the passage of time, wearing feather boas, dyeing the gray out of their hair and going on tour. It’s fucking 2044, and we still have to watch these guys prance around the stage. I think I suddenly relish the thought of dying young.
     No, really, I thought “Jaded” was a step in the right direction, the kind of strings-free rock that’s more fun than forced. This follow-up single is purely out of the bottle, though, a little sound-alike something Diane Warren would be proud to have penned. (Well, she doesn’t so much pen as clone…) Not a good song at all, but it doesn’t deserve the bargain-basement, horrendous epic treatment it gets from Joseph Kahn.
     This is some Jerry Bruckheimer shit, a confused mess of a video that includes such random images as Stephen Tyler sporting a fully blinking third eye on the palm of his hand, Joe Perry made over as a woman and a silver-painted, cowboy hat-wearing Tyler doing an intricate mating dance with another silverian.
     “Fly Away From Here” is supposed to be built from the same high-class sci-fi mold as Titan A.E. (only this time I guess it would be called Titan A.E.R.O.S.M.I.T.H.) with homage-happy toss-offs to The Iron Giant, the Beastie Boys’ “Intergalactic” and TLC’s “No Scrubs.” You should see the leather bondage get-up Tyler wears at one point, with an unholy mohawk protruding from between his party mask. Christ.
      Let’s not even get into the several times Tyler’s face morphs into that of a twelve-year-old girl with freckles and braces. I realize it’s a big country and someone somewhere will be impossibly turned on by this image, but… no… Director Joseph Kahn has been responsible for some overblown shit in his time, but this expensive mess doesn’t make a lick of sense and causes more head scratching than fucking lice.
      Before I move on, I want to make parting mention of the fact that the actual sex-symbol girl in this video is probably eighteen or nineteen and absolutely gorgeous. Yet she only lowers the average age of the rest of the video’s participants by about five years to a solid 48.5. To paraphrase a familiar line in Dazed and Confused, the guys in Aerosmith get older, but the girls in the videos, they just stay the same age. Andrew Hicks


Blu Cantrell – Hit ’em Up Style (Oops)
Blu Cantrell
     (**½)  I’m not sure I understand the premise of this song. Blu Cantrell’s man cheats on her? So she goes on a shopping spree at Neiman Marcus? And says things like, “Oops, there goes the house we made a home”?
     Actually, now that I think about it, it’s pretty damn straightforward. And, despite the dressed-up Destiny’s Child approach to modern relationships, I can’t resist this tune, “Hit ’em Up Style.” Especially the beginning, when Blu busts out those classy, old-old-school jazz vocals. It almost doesn’t prepare you for some of the too familiar R+B / pop elements, like that pre-packaged Mary J. Blige bridge.
     The video springs forth from the directorial loins of Wayne Isham, a man much maligned on this website for the twelve million bad videos he’s made for everyone from Bon Jovi to Motley Crue to *N Sync. But for once, I don’t mind his hamhanded antics – they’re perfectly suited to this jaunty revenge song.
     I mean, yeah, it’s not that creative to simply show the singer walking into Neiman Marcus and ringing up a bunch of dresses when that’s what she’s singing about already, but to me the video is well worth watching just for the sequence where movers and scavengers buy every one of Blu’s man’s possessions from her at a garage sale. The looks on her face are priceless, and the choreography beats any of Isham’s boy band efforts for class and precision.
     The only problem? Isham gives up about a minute from the end. That whole last segment looks just like Jennifer Lopez’s “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” video, minus the Victoria’s Secret lingerie. How you gonna rip off everything in a video except the titillation? That’s bad for business. –AH
Blu Cantrell

David Gray – Please Forgive Me
     (**½)  David Gray’s fate, it seems, is to be in his videos and not of them. He spent most of his time in “Babylon” performing from that dark, empty warehouse while pining for a hottie who was roaming free, and in “Please Forgive Me” Gray hovers above the city. Piano, stool and all, he floats above a fast-moving metropolis and performs this upbeat, catchy-as-a-mofo adult-contemporary tune.
     So, yeah, I like the song, and I like the idea of keeping Gray (who has an almost Rod Stewart-esque case of Goofy Face going on) above the fray, but this David Kellogg effort reminds me too damn much of “Beautiful Day” from U2. “Please Forgive Me” has the same sped-up visuals and blue-gray color scheme, then it goes one step further and calls to mind U2’s follow-up, “Walk On,” by relying too heavily on rented models who are younger and more attractive-looking than poor David Gray.
     I don’t mean to be some kind of superficial ass, but even though Gray is a cool, sensitive dude, he’s plain goofy-looking. David Gray looks like the lead singer from Fastball, the bass player from REO Speedwagon and the Mongoloid-looking frontman from the Fine Young Cannibals. Imagine the supergroup these artists with inordinately goofy and asymmetrically shaped faces could form. It boggles the mind. I mean, let go of your heart, let go of your head… y’know? –AH

Green Day – Waiting
     (**)  I know you, like me, have been waiting and waiting for the third video from Warning. We’ve been waiting so long we consider the very title of the song a slap in the face. Or something like that. Honestly, though, I wasn’t even expecting another video from Green Day until the next time they make an album or someone puts out a Godzilla sequel.
     But here it is, and I think it’s set in the same house as “Redundant.” That’s what it reminds me of, anyway. The house is empty at the video’s open, but five or ten seconds later, in bursts the party, dozens of attractive kids a decade or more younger than Billie Joe Armstrong and the boys. Billie Joe at least attempts to be relevant once the kids get there, though – he puts on a jean jacket and musses his hair a bit. Oh, and he shows them the tattoo of Mark Hoppus he’s had inked onto his left butt cheek. That’s always a winner at Green Day’s parties.
     “Waiting” is the most forgettable Green Day single since… oh, what’s the fucking name of that one? That uptempo tune where Billie Joe tries to sing in a Cockney accent. I can never remember the name of that one… No, “Waiting” isn’t too terrific, but what can you say about a tune that steals part of its melody from Petula Clark’s “Downtown”? –AH

Jagged Edge f/Nelly – Where’s the Party At
Jagged Edge f/Nelly - Where's the Party At
     (*½)  Jermaine Dupri’s been laying kinda low lately. There hasn’t even been a new Lil’ Bow Wow single in awhile, and I think Da Brat has gone back to work at the car wash. Leave it to third-tier R+B boy band Jagged Edge to change things and provide the most obnoxious chorus since “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Though, I mean, it’s not nearly that obnoxious – you really have to try hard to piss people off the way “Who Let the Dogs Out?” does.
     It’s not Jagged Edge that provides the chorus so much as my hometown hero, Cornell “Nelly” Haynes. Who, in lieu of anything original to contribute to the class, has decided to merely bellow “Uh-ohhhhhhhhh! Uh-ohhhhhhhh!” until the bloody Missour-uh cows come home. As if the guys asking “Where the party at?” several dozen times wasn’t fucking annoying enough. I don’t know where the party at, mo, or who throwin’ it or if they be a keg thure or what.
     The video looks like an ad for a Caribbean resort – lots of blue water, tropical liqueurs and stately lounge lizards. Everyone just sort of sits around and looks at everyone else or, if you’re like that girl in the black baby tee, waits for Kyle (or is it Brandon?) from Jagged Edge to sensually run an ice cube down your sternum.
     You know, thanks but no thanks. I be getting the holy fuck out the party now. –AH
Jagged Edge f/Nelly - Where's the Party At

Alicia Keys – Fallin’
Alicia Keys
     (***)  Lord have mercy, Alicia Keys is beautiful. Almost unreasonably so. Thanks to those teenage boy adrenal glands I’m always chewing, there was no way I could turn this video off, and now that I’ve got it on tape, I can’t stop rewinding and rewatching it. I started in around 10:00, and now the sun’s coming up. Alicia Keys, is there some kind of twelve-step program that can get me over your funky little ass?
     I exaggerate to transparently deplorable comic effect and all, but I definitely do like what I’ve seen from Alicia so far. Still, it wouldn’t matter if she was beautiful or had the face of Liberace on her, “Fallin’” is a strong, tight little tune. (MTV wouldn’t have deemed it Buzzworthy if it weren’t, you understand.) Equal parts pop, soul and gospel, it’s a compelling midtempo ballad with a nicely filmed video to match.
     The plot is simple – Alicia is gorgeous, reallyreallyreally gorgeous, and she writes and sings songs in her house, except on those days when she has to get on the bus and head up to the penitentiary for visiting hours. And on these days, she spends the trip up lip synching and pouting and almost shedding a tear when she rides by the female inmate labor line and hears them pop in with the chorus to “Fallin’,” gospel choir-style.
     The sequence with the orange-jumpsuited women leaning on their shovels and singing almost makes the video’s conclusion anticlimactic. It’s just Alicia visiting her boyfriend – the way she carried on, you’d think her whole frickin’ family was under lockdown. But, hey, Miss Keys, if you ever find yourself incarcerated and looking for a cellmate to wile away the time with, I’ll go on a crime spree wearing a wig and dress and find my way into your arms. The adrenal glands say it is decidedly so. –AH
Womens Inmate Choir

Sum 41 – Pain For Pleasure
     (***)  Sum 41’s otherwise forgettable conformist anti-conformist video for “Fat Lip” has been re-released, and now it ends with a minute and a half of the song “Pain For Pleasure.” In which the spoiled wigger brats from Sum 41 spin a delicious hair metal intro with singing Quiet Riot guitars. They’re all decked out in full glam regalia, circa 1984, with fright wigs Dee Snyder (and his unholy goddaughter, Christina Aguilera) could only dream of. The guys play off the dueling guitar shit perfectly, and even though it’s not art or even Dokken, it almost redeems the video as a whole. Check it out. –AH

Sting – After the Rain Has Fallen
     (**½)  One of the funniest things I’ve ever seen at Best Buy (I know, it’s difficult single out even a touch of all that discount-warehouse hilarity) was an elderly couple buying a new DVD player and having the salesman tell them, “Don’t forget your free DVD, Sting’s Brand New Day tour live!” The silver-haired old lady took the disc from the salesman’s hand, looked it over and asked her husband, “What the hell are we going to do with this?” It’s the reaction most people seem to have when Sting puts out something new.
     You’ve got to admit, though, Sting has taken his current incarnation and run with it. He’s no longer the brooding solo artist who can fuck for ten hours straight inside his soul cage or whatever. Now he’s an adult-contemporary hit machine, not afraid to forsake his own sound for the sake of cookie-cutter pop. That’s why he let that guy Cho Mama sing with him on “Desert Rose,” and that’s why he told director Diane Martel to give him a shot-for-shot remake of the last Evan and Jaron video.
     Yep, there’s Sting up on stage, wearing a Police t-shirt that reads “I used to be kind of cool once” on the back. He’s performing at some roadhouse somewhere, and the entire crowd is composed of hot, rented models. They’re in there, grinding with each other and playing pinball, what have you, while dozens of men plead with the bouncers outside to let them in. (“Come on, man, Sting and several hundred girls? That doesn’t even begin to approximate fair. Don’t turn me into an atheist, you fat-necked ass.” Yeah, that’s what I read from their lips.)
     It’s not fair, no, but Sting looks like he’s having the time of his life and… let’s see… 300 girls divided by ten hours of tantric sex. That means he can have his turn with each of them for two minutes apiece. –AH

Mariah Carey -- Loverboy
     (1/2)  Like most hot-blooded American teenage males in the early to mid nineties, I had a major crush on Mariah Carey. But now, I just can't stand the heifer. She's made some godawful videos before, but "Loverboy" takes the muthafuckin' cake. Watch for a load of cameos from DaBrat, Ludacris, Pookie, Shay-Shay, Ray-Ray and dem.
     Basically, the video features above rappers drag racing on some desolate desert street and Mariah sashaying around in pink hot pants all in the crack of her ass. Even worse, it samples Cameo's "Candy" (who also have cameos {no pun intended} here -- hey, anything to get off a shift at the Car Wash), a late '80s song that has slowly gotten on my nerves every day since then.
     This trashy video is just an excuse for Mariah to skankify herself even more. It's getting almost pathetic to watch her in this state, trying to compete with younger, more nubile pop tarts, some nearly half her age, instead of trying to age gracefully (thirty is like ancient, man). --Leon Bracey

Beck – Deadweight (1997)
     (***½)  I’m a fairly big Beck fan and all, but I’ve completely missed out on this song and video both. Then again, I’m one of the [insert number of current American population minus, oh, 30,000 or so] people in my homeland that didn’t buy the soundtrack to A Life Less Ordinary. Hell, I never even saw the movie, but I can’t imagine it was half as original and inspired as this video itself.
     Yeah, there are the requisite clips from the movie, but they’re pretty well worked in. (Unobtrusive. They do not obtruse.) I mean to say, you won’t even notice the visages of Cameron Diaz and Ewan McGregor in a video that also includes images like the following:
     --A man walking down the street with a car perched on his shoulder
     --A shadow walking down the adjacent sidewalk with Beck being dragged along the ground as its shadow
     --Beck wading around barefoot in a psychedelic office carpet and watching a creature made entirely of drums wander the office
     --Beck doing his office work from a beach, desk and all
     There’s a lot of cubicular imagery in “Deadweight,” which suddenly makes me realize – Beck looks a hell of a lot like Michael Bolton from Office Space. You’d think I would have picked that up the first thirty times I watched the movie, but hey, everything I’ve ever needed to know, I learned on MTV2. If only the station could confer bachelor’s degrees and the like. –AH

Public Enemy – He Got Game (1998)
     (**½)  How about another soundtrack video from a few years ago? Too bad, you don’t have a choice. Here’s Public Enemy entering the P. Diddy Audacious Sample Hall of Fame™ with their take on Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” The entire song’s beat is built around the resonant, two-note guitar line from that folk-rock protest classic, and you either accept that at face value or you don’t. I know plenty of people who can’t stomach “He Got Game,” but I dig it, always have.
     I like the almost Shakurian level of philosophical angst (“my wandering got my ass wondering where Christ is in all this crisis”), I like the chant in the chorus, and I like the gospel choir at the end. About the only thing I don’t like in the song is Stephen Stills’ cash-happy cameo, where he rasps out the original opening to “For What It’s Worth” while Flavor Flav taunts him: “Yo, Stevie, I don’t think they heard you; kick it to ’em one more time!”
     But that’s not in the video version of “He Got Game,” and neither is the choir itself. Which, to me, is a crime. Instead, we get an extra Chuck D. verse and lots of clips from the Spike Lee movie we all know and love. Oh, and Public Enemy rapping from a gymnasium set that has their gun-sight logo etched into center court. And sitting around a diner, showing off all the fashion sense of a Superfly sequel.
     From watching "He Got Game," you might well be enticed to think Flavor Flav got himself an endorsement deal from Pier One or something, because the clocks around his neck look a lot more functional and breezy than usual. He’s finally learned how to accessorize, the little bugger. –AH


Copyright 2001 Andrew Hicks