Wednesday: VH1's Top Twenty Video Countdown
NOTE: The following refers to a tape of Tuesday's Top Twenty Countdown. Please do not use this information as the basis of any bar bets.
In the role of Josh: Bradford How
Fashion statements: sideburns; lime green transparent short sleeved shirt with epaulets.
Other Than That: Competent, in a nondescript way. Didn't try to get cute.
Me: I'm barely competent in pop music, because I've been avoiding the radio since 1973, and because I figure most of it is going to forcibly inject itself into my consciousness at some point. My ears aren't closed. I do search around for the new and exciting, and by ignoring the charts I'm able to overcome any concerns about what constitutes commercial pandering. If I like a song, I like it.
No way I was watching all two hours of this thing, so our tape begins with:
11 Foo Fighters, "Best of You"
This is fine. I mean, sick. These guys tap what's exciting about rock and roll, something which seems to come more often from trends than actual bands these days. They don't send me, exactly, and I don't own any of their stuff, but I might buy this one. Pretty straightforward performance video lets the song stand out. Radical concept.
10 Shakira f/ Alejandro Sanz, "La Tortura"
Seen this one? She's, like, smeared with used motor oil and doing some weird chest bumps. This does not make me want to possess her. It makes me want to get her off the carpet before she drips. Her voice is forgettable, assuming that is her voice in there. But anything over Latin polyrhythms at least wouldn't drive you crazy in an elevator unless both it and the tape got stuck. One note: do not seat yourself on a cutting board in semi-lotus position while chopping onions with a large knife.
9 Backstreet Boys, "Incomplete"
They played only about fifteen seconds of this going into commercial, unless it really is incomplete. Worrying one way or another about boy bands is like getting into an argument over which Star Trek series was the best.
8 Green Day, "Holiday"
In the history of rock and roll, only Indiana's own Johnny Cougar and Green Day have made the transition from totally dismissible to must be regarded. These guys started out as tenth-rate poseurs being sold to people who might have read about punk in a magazine, but evidently hadn't heard any of the stuff they were ripping off. Now they're damned good, and the video's a kind of funny throwback thing. Plus you always get extra points in my book for working in the obligatory video sluts in a reasonably humorous way.
7 Rob Thomas, "Lonely No More"
Another one they cut short for commercial. And don't think I didn't appreciate it. Why is there a Rob Thomas anyway?
6 Coldplay, "Speed of Sound"
Eh. Pass the Radiohead. I've got nothing in particular against these guys, except a little musical frisson might be nice once in a while. If I listened to an entire album I'd either want to seek them out and kill them, or accept them as background music. I'm just not curious to find out which. Incredible lighting rig in the video, though. I'm gonna save the tape for mushroom season.
5 Will Smith, "Switch"
Y'know, there are several good reasons to hate Will Smith, but I can't. He occupies musical territory which would best be left vacant, and he doesn't even seem to be trying here. Still, it's kind of touching that he's still willing to turn out stuff that's so out of it.
4 Gwen Stefani, "Hollaback Girl"
What I like about Gwen Stefani: she was never a Mousketeer. What I don't like about Gwen Stefani: if you didn't know that already, you'd never believe it.
3 Kelly Clarkson, "Behind These Hazel Eyes"
Okay, if Kelly Clarkson joins Mellencamp and Green Day on that list I'll buy every one of her CDs. And eat them. Is the interest here supposed to be seeing how they'll package her next? Because for part of this video she's dressed as some sort of bondage pirate. And not a real bondage pirate. A Sears bondage pirate. That has to tell you all you need to know.
Her pipes aren't bad; she can actually handle the transition from syrupy schlock to competent, anonymous rock, if we need that. So, okay, her handlers are willing to take chances. That doesn't make me want to dance. It might make me want to invest. And if they're really savvy, they'll make sure every copy of this video is burned before people get a chance to see that outfit eight years from now.
2 Mariah Carey, "We Belong Together"
The fact that this freakshow caravan is still on the road has got to be one of the Signs of the Apocalypse. Really, she must cause lexicographers to revise the definition of "overwrought" every time they release a new dictionary. She manages to keep the melismata under a couple dozen on this one (I'm guessing this is a record for her, and also that it's the result of a conscious "artistic" decision, as in, "Honey, why don't you try singing this one with only three notes per syllable?") Still, there's a couple of obligatory shrieks designed to remind you of her six-octive range, in case you'd forgotten. And if she's forced to sing below a belt she goes all breathy. Eric Clapton is reported to have said of Eddie Van Halen, "That's not guitar playing, that's gymnastics." As for the video, she shows a lot of cleavage in this one.
1 Black Eyed Peas, "Don't Phunk With My Heart"
One simple rule: if you're going to steal, do not steal from a genius unless you're another genius. "Hey Ya" is genius. "Hey Ya" recast as "The Price Is Right" is not.
Granted, you're #1 and I'm a middle-aged schlub. As things stand now, your decision to become a backup band looks like a good one. Just get the woman to try some shampoo, willya?