Saturday, April 18, 2009

Music videos have never been a bastion of creativity, but every once in a while they actually achieve the status of “art” and significantly add to the impact of the song beyond acting as a commercial for the album (think Michael Jackson in the ’80’s, pretty much anything directed by Spike Jones or David La Chappelle or Jay-Z’s “99 Problems”). However, sometimes artists make videos that are so bad and such an assault on the intelligence of their fans, they have to be called out.  The following are the three worst videos out right now.

Beyonce: “Halo”

The song is about being so in love with somebody that they appear to be angelic and in fact have a “Halo,” while a little dramatic, it’s not really that bad of a concept.  The video features Beyonce and her man doing “Couple” things like watching TV, getting a puppy and performing some kind of ballet while wearing high heels (don’t all people in long-term committed relationships do that in their houses?). But then the camera reveals who she is doing all of this with, (aka who is wearing the “Halo”) and it’s...Michael Ealy.  WTF! By the second verse of the song it feels like Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel are going to burst into the dance studio and, in the immortal words of M.O.P. “Gun Butt That Fool!” 

Beyonce has attained the rare level of fame where seeing her as anything but the chart-topping, Grammy-winning R&B diva she is in real life seems silly.  While her acting is often hated on it seems her fame is more to blame for audiences not believing her as a gospel singing single mother (The Fighting Temptations), a drug addicted Etta James (Cadillac Records) or a house wife done wrong (Obsession), more than any deficiency as an actress.  Similarly, her “Power Couple” status with Jay-Z makes seeing her canoodling with that black guy with blue eyes that women lose their minds over just weird. 

The Dream Featuring Mariah Carey: “My Love”

The Dream is a beast, he writes massive hits from a female perspective (“Umbrella” and “Single Ladies”) and his sexuality is never questioned, his solo songs are huge radio hits and his recently released “Love vs. Money” album is one of the best reviewed records of 2009 and a commercial hit. Mariah Carey is the biggest R&B/Pop star of her generation, sold more records than just about anyone else and has an unprecedented number of hit singles and she has accomplished all of this while being ape-sh*t crazy and universally hated on by about 85% of the general public.  While the the two stars collaborated on last year’s lackluster “Touch My Body” (a solid candidate for worst video of 2008) they really hit the ball out of the park with the overwhelming lameness of “My Love.”  The song is not terrible however, any fan of The Dream knows “My Love” is surely an edited title and the album version is probably called “My D*ck,” “My C*nt” or “My Suitcase Full of Dangerous and Barely Legal Sex Toys.” 

The treatment for the video entails The Dream and Carey starting off as hood-sweethearts and the The Dream rockets to fame and fortune (presumably by writing songs as a woman and singing stuff like “Shorty Is The Sh*t”) and leaves Mariah in the old neighborhood to take part in such “hood cliches” as braiding a young man’s hair, cooking bologna and eggs on a broken down stove and receiving a pitbull puppy (that will presumably grow up to do battle in Michael Vick’s backyard).  These images are ridiculous for the same reason as Beyonce looking longingly into that other joker’s eyes is ridiculous, it’s just so unbelievably removed from reality that anyone with any common sense feels like a fool for being subjected to this buffoonery.  Mariah Carey may have been a “hood chick” (more likely she was typical Long Island white trash, but that’s irrelevant to this argument), but she has been famous for 20 years.  The last time she made herself a sandwich, travelled without security or did somebody’s hair “Saved By The Bell” was filming new episodes, Sega Genesis had just come out and 2pac was dancing with Digital Underground.  

While a lot of music videos demand a total suspension of disbelief, ones like this ask the viewer to take a huge leap of faith by believing that international celebrities still hang out in the hood.  Another example of this stupidity is rappers that continue to claim to sell drugs in their rhymes after they have established themselves as entertainers and sold millions of records, sold out tours and launched successful side ventures like clothing lines and restaurant chains.  I find it hard to believe that after the success of his own career and the G-Unit brand (clothes, video games, movies, etc.) that 50 Cent still needs to be on the block pumping crack.  How much money can you possibly need? I know guys that got jobs at UPS for like $25 grand and stopped selling weed because they were straight, so to believe Fat Joe is still moving “Coka Baby” after 15 years in the industry is a little bit of a stretch.

Eminem: “We Made You”

I am a huge Eminem fan (see any number of previous postings), but this video is such a disappointment that it has to be addressed in list form as not to result in a 5 page diatribe about how bad it is.  

1. The showtunes-esque chorus is lame and annoying.

2. Rapping in a accent didn’t work on “A** Like That” and fails even more miserably here.

3. This is the FIFTH time he has made the same video!  Dressing up in costumes and mocking celebrities was awesome...10 years ago.

4. The people he choses to address are jokes to begin with and do not require any further commentary by Slim Shady or anyone else.  Brett Michaels, Kim Kardashian, Sarah Palin, Jessica Simpson and Amy Winehouse are already parodies of America’s tabloid culture and the dumbing-down or our society without being needlessly lampooned  

5. The timing of many of the references is terrible.  From a business perspective Interscope needed to introduce Eminem to the new demographic of Hip-Hop consumers (the 10-15 year olds that buy millions of Soulja Boy ringtones) and they do this by including references to “Rain Man” and “Alf” (both were popular before Hurricane Chris was born) and upcoming summer blockbusters “Transformers” and “Star Trek” that are not ingrained in our collective consciousness yet because the ad campaigns are just starting.  A white guy in his mid-30’s is not the typical Hip-Hop star, but this video does nothing to introduce him to younger fans and get the video on 106 & Park.

That being said, I’ll see you at Best Buy the day “Relapse” drops.

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