Video Killed The Radio Star:
Worst music videos of 2005…
Ever since the inception of mega-TV station MTV, artists have been clamoring to put out glossy new videos to accompany their newly released songs. Now, almost twenty-four years later, the novelty has almost but all worn off, and what we’re left is with hastily produced, derivative videos that act more as a vanity project for its artist than a 2D accompaniment to the track. Here is a list, by no means extensive or exhaustive, of some of the biggest offenders in music videos this year. ¤ C.Ho.
Ashlee Simpson, “L.O.V.E.”
Now that she’s back to her blonde roots, Ashlee just wants to have some fun. And what’s more fun than hanging out at a rather boring-looking party full of poseurs just like Ashlee? The video opens with our heroine checking her phone, chagrined to find a skinny, stringy-haired picture of a boy identified as the caller (hooray for picture IDs on phones, because otherwise we’d actually have to read something in our lifetime). Not to be deterred from her wild night out, Ashlee drops the phone into the toilet. And I must say: that was a waste of what normal people would call “hard-earned” money. Why doesn’t she just shut off her phone, or leave it at home? Better yet, block his ass. But it’s not my video, so let’s follow Ashlee as she rides to the party with her girls. This is where Ashlee lets loose, channeling the moves and posturing of that other blonde singer who’s been all over 2005, Gwen Stefani. I don’t know why her friends let her hang out of the sunroof in an uncomfortable display of “rocking out,” but perhaps they were hoping for an unfortunate accident. When Ashlee hits the party, her and her “girls” start dancing in unbelievable synch. This is the most Ashlee’s ever danced in one video, and now we can start to see why. No matter, because everyone at the party has nothing better to do than to sit around the periphery, staring at Ashlee, or vogueing behind her. Ashlee’s other dance moves consist of ripping off Charlie Chaplin, and the robot. I must admit, my robot is as mean as Ashlee’s, but I don’t think I’d be doing it on an internationally syndicated music video. After that embarrassing display, the director had the good mind to hire some people who actually had rhythm to fill out the rest of the video – again, while everyone looks on with some directed enthusiasm. There’s some dude with a tattoo on his chest that the camera keeps picking on. I hope that’s alcohol in the glass that he’s chugging, but it’s probably just Pepsi. The reason why I noticed this is because there would be no one in their right sober mind that would let Ashlee Simpson fraternize with them. At the end of the rambunctious video, Ashlee staggers home as we zoom in to her cell phone, still swimming at the bottom of the toilet, 21 stalker missed calls in all. Let’s hope that Ashlee remembers to tell her friends that she no longer has a cell phone. Also, that she left the cell phone in her toilet, or she’s going to have some unfortunate plumbing problems later on.
“Grillz” is your typical rap video, if the song were about gold and platinum caps. For this particular number, Nelly enlists in the help of Paul “The People’s Champ” Wall, who knows a thing or two about this particular fad. Yes, the song is terrible at best, and the subject matter worthy of an eye roll, but it all comes together fabulously in the video. It begins in what I can only surmise to be a grill shop, of the name “Derrby Grillz” is any indication, where people are lined up to cover up their teeth – which they probably spent a couple of thousand dollars straightening and whitening – with some bling. A little boy clad in a Superman costume runs out, invincible now that he’s got his front teeth capped. Oh, there’s Nelly! Hi Nelly! He’s being led down the hall by two slutty video dancers (because that’s the only type of employee this place will hire), and we’re treated to some extreme close-ups of his metal mouth. In fact, half of this video is filled with uncomfortably close shots of people’s mouths. People dance in hallways. Then Paul Wall joins the melee as he sits down on a plush leather recliner, and proceeds to take off his caps so he can replace them with another selection. It doesn’t get rawer than this and, frankly, reminds me of that horrible year I wore a retainer. I can only hope Paul has the good sense to clean those before putting them back in his mouth. Paul Walls’ grillz, by the way, spell out his name in diamonds. That’s just to avoid the embarrassing situation of being introduced at a party and not being able to recall his name. Paul does his rap thing as he shows us all the expensive jewelry that his career can now afford him. And then: Big Gipp. With a name like this, you can only imagine what kind of teeth such a person might have. I don’t like caps, but Gipp needs some…badly. And not only does “Derrby Grillz” offer a dentist’s worst nightmare, they also do manicures. Okay. It’s like those all-in-one convenience stores/Laundromats/cyber cafés. More dancing. More teeth. And then the video thankfully ends.
Mariah Carey, “We Belong Together”
I loved Mariah in 2005, but even her videos can get a little silly and uninspired. “It’s Like That” was basically about her getting ready for a party, and being the belle of the ball even though her back-up dancers were more comely. Then Eric Roberts stared at her from atop a balcony, probably very sad that no one asked the old guy to join them. The continuation of this compelling saga was unleashed upon us in “We Belong Together,” where, yet once again, Mariah basically tells Eric to screw off. Will the old guy never learn? So Mariah is getting married, and even though this should be the happiest day of her life, she can’t bring herself to muster up a smile. Even as she’s writhing on some bed, singing about love lost, we can feel Mariah’s predicament. Except, not really. Is she marrying Eric for what we can only presume is his fortune? Is Mariah Eric’s answer to an unstable, boozy trophy wife? Why did they cast Wentworth Miller, only to diminish his on-screen charisma? These questions may never be answered, but what we do know is that as Mariah sits in her dressing room, clad in a big white wedding dress, is that the make-up person on hand for the video shoot is either exacting revenge for Mariah’s prima donna ways, or is simply legally blind. One minute Mariah looks gorgeous, the next…not so much. Her writhing in bed is inter-cut with scenes of her wedding, where Eric stands expectantly at the end of the aisle. Wentworth Miller is also in attendance, although he’s spying atop a set of stairs. He’s not really doing a good job of being incognito, but no one cares. As Mariah walks down the aisle, you can see the apprehension on her face. Then she has a mini-meltdown wearing nothing but a men’s shirt. Now that’s passion, or maybe what she was doing off-camera last week. We’re treated to a quick black and white flashback of Wentworth in “It’s Like That,” where he’s wearing a masquerade mask and throwing a flower at Mariah’s head. Now it all makes sense – he’s way hotter than Eric, even with half his face covered up, so the obvious choice is to skip out on the wedding and into the arms of Wentworth. As they drive away, Mariah’s long trail is hanging out of the convertible. She’s going to have a huge dry-cleaning bill after that.
50 Cent, “Window Shopper”
50 Cent and the illustrious Ma$e are in a fancy shoe store, where some sycophant is trying to sell them the finest in shoes. The premise isn’t what gets me in this scene – it’s the presence of Ma$e in a 50 Cent video that kind of boggles my mind. Ma$e is like one of those kids in high school who’s not really popular but hangs out with the popular kids so that he appears to be in the know, even though he’s trying so hard that you can smell it a mile away. So the whole concept of “Window Shopper” is that 50 Cent and his entourage can now afford the finest things in life, while all of us normal people who toil away in obscurity to make ends meet can only dream of affording the luxuries that come so easily to 50 Cent. Not that he’s rubbing it in or anything. A caption at the bottom of the screen tells us that they’re in Monaco, lest we confuse the location with New Jersey. 50 Cent and Ma$e ride around in an expensive car (Maserati: $1.5 million). They shop in a store, closed off to the public, where we are treated to shots of ordinary-looking shoes costing $7,000. They buy a cigar from a man. Price: $300. They buy a diamond ring from a woman. Price: $1 million dollars. This is all in closed caption so we can appreciate the stacks of money they carry around with them at all times, and the fact that they can buy anything straight from a stranger instead of taking their asses to a store like normal people. They hook up with friends, who are the refined type that throw French fries at women walking by. They buy a giant milkshake. Price: $75. Burger: $400. They laugh at a man wearing a $12 chain that can’t get a woman to look at him. Settling down for some fine dining, they steal a man’s girlfriend and tell him to get lost. And then they don’t like the Cristal they’ve just been served, so they proceed to spit it out and throw it at the waiter – proving yet once again that having money doesn’t always equal having class. The crew then heads over to the marina to buy a yacht. Price: $16 million. Meanwhile, the sucker who bought the dinghy for $300 is having a hard time pouring the water out of it while his high maintenance girlfriend berates him instead of helping him. Oh, the juxtaposition, it slays me. But what slays me the most is that throughout the whole video, 50 Cent has a hard time closing his mouth.
Gwen Stefani, “Luxurious”
Nothing says titillating like watching someone get her nails done, and this is precisely what we do when “Luxurious” first starts. Gwen likes her nails long and red and completely tacky. Next, we’re over at Gwen’s pad, where she has about ten people hanging out in her room as she blow-dries her completely fried hair. Easy on the hairspray! Instead of Harajuku girls, Gwen’s decided to tap into the Latin American market by hiring a bunch of extras to fit her stupid stereotypes (probably at the same company where she picked up her Harajuku dancers – I hope they give refunds). Much camaraderie with the extras ensues. This is just to show us how Gwen is, in real life, and that she still sticks close to her previously unbeknown Latina roots, because her Japanese ones were giving her a headache. In other words, Gwen is one to keep it real. Then Slim Thug shows up, and I don’t know why he’s there. But you know, his part is small so I’ll pretend like he’s not around, including those uneasy moments when Gwen pretends to get down with him, and especially when he decides to play a rousing game of peek-a-boo with her. Gwen goes to the park, where she continues to keep it real with the locals, who all seem to adore her. Honestly, why is it that whenever the singer in the music video shows up anywhere, they seem to be the most popular person there? For once, I’d like to see some awkward small talk with people you just met, because that would be keeping it real. After a park party montage, there’s a weird interlude where she suddenly dresses up as the Chiquita Banana lady (Miss Chiquita is her official name) and starts hitting some piñatas. This totally blew my mind because I just don’t get it. What does it have to do with the song? Why is she dressed for a boat cruise? Why do all the piñatas look creepy and weird? Gwen’s not giving away any secrets to her madness, but I think her outfits say it all.
Backstreet Boys, “Incomplete”
This video is abhorrent simply because the boys have reunited, and they haven’t learned a thing during their hiatus. The song is a sappy, formulaic ballad, but the video is even worse. Each Backstreet Boy has subscribed to the School of Overracting, and as the song swells, so do their arm movements and facial expressions. Hamming it up has found new meaning here. There isn’t much of a story to this video, but the boys each get their own little vignette in which to show us just how much they’ve become incomplete – with an intensity so scary that you’d figure the very fires of hell were going to engulf them at any given moment. The concept is simple: each member gets his own element in which to cry, whine, and throw tantrums in. The Backstreet Boy named Brian gets water; the one named A. J. gets desert; Howie, the irrelevant one, also gets a desert, but they’ve mixed it up by giving him some clotheslines to grapple amidst his throes of passion (and some rain later on); Kevin, the old one, gets a piano and some fake snow; and Nick, who has found his way back to the group after a disastrous solo career and a dumping from Paris Hilton, gets fire. Unfortunately, Nick isn’t set aflame like some of us might hope. Instead, his car is lit on fire. But he’s so enraptured by his lost love that he doesn’t care about the insurance. Plus, it makes for a cool backdrop. A. J. still thinks that when he sings “face,” he should also caress his at the exact same moment so that we understand. Howie still thinks that kicking dirt and falling to his knees will earn him more camera time. Nick still loves his outreached arm movements, like he’s trying to stretch through our TV screens to steal change from between our couch cushions. Kevin…doesn’t do a whole lot, as per usual. And poor Brian has to wade out into the treacherous waves of the ocean although he’s the shortest one there, and will probably drown sooner than anyone else. The video ends with the boys reunited for one last frame as debris and dirt swirl around them, and all of a sudden they’re walking down a deserted road. Which makes sense, considering that their only means of transportation was set ablaze in the name of love.