Not one but two of MTV's video jockeys (Nina Blackwood and J. J. Jackson) have announced plans to jump ship for the usual rewards--career advances, movie projects, ultimate obscurity, etc.
It'll be hard to fill those shoes, but our choice for an ideal replacement as guide through the music video world is . . . Robin Leach. Not only could he introduce the videos, but the unctuous "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" host could even pop in and do voice-overs on some of the more homey clips, many of which feature the stars doing not much more than lounging around the old penthouse suite just like you and me.
Leach could drop by and use his interrogational skills on poor Julian Lennon, who--as seen in the recently reviewed "Stick Around"--can't keep a live-in girlfriend for more than a few minutes despite his fancy fixin's.
Or he could query George Michael about the interior decorating skills that make the living quarters seen in "A Different Corner" (reviewed below) the whitest, cleanest digs this side of the Pearly Gates.
Those of us on more fixed incomes, however, may better relate to what little is seen of the more modest home in the Replacements' first video--which heads up this crop of current clips, all rated on a scale of 0-100.
Vid clips picked to click:
The Replacements' "Bastards of Young." Directors: Randy Skinner, Bill Pope. It may not be the best rock video ever made, but it's certainly the \o7 ultimate\f7 rock video: The Replacements have finally done the inevitable and made a 3 1/2-minute film of a song blaring out of a stereo. That's right--no cuts, no camera crane moves, just a turntable and speakers, and occasionally the arm of a camera-level listener smoking a cigarette, as he listens to a hard 'n' fast ('n' loud) celebration of youthful alienation, vulnerability and bravado.
No, "Bastards of Young" isn't action-packed--although the stereo speaker's woofer pulsates very visibly, and some plaster is seen to fall from the ceiling at one point--but it's the representation such a classic rock anthem deserves.
The typical Replacements fan is such a die-hard music nut that he'll actually \o7 sit down\f7 to listen to a great record, with just a wall and a revolving rubber platter to look at, sans 250 edits. Video revolution or no video revolution, that's still the ultimate rock 'n' roll experience. 93
Bryan Ferry's "Is Your Love Strong Enough." Director: Tim Pope. Perhaps the most obnoxious sub-genre of pop music video is the movie promo clip, in which shots of some lip-syncing crooner are interspersed with excerpts from an upcoming film release, none of which usually bear any connection to one another.
Occasionally, though, one of these promo clips will turn out to be better than the movie it's promoting, which is very much the case with Ferry's moody theme song from "Legend."
With "Is Your Love Strong Enough," you get the best of the film's sumptuous imagery without having to sit through the silly remainders of the script, and save $6 or so to boot. And Ferry's brand of severe romanticism mixes well with the pretty pictures from the film's Gothic good-vs.-evil fantasy world. 58
Worth a look:
Belinda Carlisle's "Mad About You." Director: Leslie Libman. Carlisle's first video sans the Go-Go's is--predictably enough--a vanity affair, but rather likably so. Having recently gone through a fitness and dieting program, as well as having picked up some other beauty tips, she probably deserves a chance to let the camera relentlessly adore her new look--but just this once, OK, Belinda?
Also in the clip's favor is the occasional presence of Carlisle's new hubby, Morgan Mason, to stir up some chemistry. The interaction between the happy couple in those scenes seems surprisingly uncontrived, as if we were looking in on real home movies of a honeymoon. And here's Robin Leach to lead us to the bedroom. . . . 48
Heart's "Nothing at All." Director: Marty Callner. The first choice to make in conceptualizing a video is whether to emphasize a performer's "humanness" or to go for heavy-duty, hit-you-over-the-head, what-the-heck-does-it-mean symbolism. The latest--and best--effort from Heart is an uneasy compromise between those two poles.
On the down side, what \o7 is\f7 that panther doing prowling around downtown's Bradbury Building? On the plus side, the best scenes capture a real sense of sisterly familiarity between Ann and Nancy Wilson, as Ann lounges on a bed with a glass of wine and expresses approval or disapproval of Nancy's choice of evening wear. (Ann finally encourages Nancy to go for the outfit that shows off the most cleavage; Ann must have also helped Nancy pick her wardrobe for Heart's other videos.) 42
Cathode rays guaranteed to induce alpha waves:
Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All." Director: Peter Israelson. Applying the proper makeup and getting dressed in proper glitzy fashion for the big show, Houston thinks back on her childhood and sings about how learning to love herself was what got her where she is.