Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Reliant K - Who I Am Hates Who I've Been

** (of four)

I don't like these guys too much. They don't really stand out in the pop-punk scene. Reliant K sounds like Blink 182 - their singer even kind of looks Mlike Blink 182's singer. The Reliant K frontman has two sounds - when he's singing to a slower, gentler song, his voice somewhat resembles that of Christian rock staple Michael W. Smith. (Turns out Reliant K is Christian and is signed to DC Talk's Gotee Records label.) When it's power-punk time, he adopts a phony British accent and just sounds whiny. The lyrics, fueled with despair and regret, are doubly whiny.

Half of this video sticks with shots of the band performing from a rooftop, with lots of closeups of the Blink-doppelganger frontman. The other half follows a cute little alternagirl as she walks down the street and slowly figures out that she has the ability to control time. When she walks forward, time moves normally. When she stops walking, time stops - some lady's library books freeze in mid-drop, the kid on the skateboard is stuck halfway through a trick, etc. And when she backs up a few steps, time reverses.

There's not much plot to the time-stopping thing, though - the produce-selling street vendor tosses the punk girl a magic pear or something, and the time thing begins. She's amused with it for a little while then realizes it's up to her to save the life of the nice Japanese boy who's going to get hit by a car as he crosses the street. When punk girl sees the carnage on the way, of course she backs up. Eventually backs all the way up to the fruit vendor and dodges the magic pear when it comes her way.

Kind of interesting and, shit, I've been fantasizing about having the ability to stop time since I first saw the '80s sitcom "Out of This World." I about broke my index fingers trying to jam them together in just the right way and stop time like that alien girl Evie. But, for all the narrative possibility of halting time at will, the best Hollywood has given us so far is the movie Clockstoppers and this ultimately forgettable video from Christian punk-pop band Reliant K.

Black Eyed Peas - My Humps

*1/2 (of four)

I already wrote a review for BEP's "Don't Lie" video that began, "It's been fascinating to watch the Black Eyed Peas complete every step of the selling-out process." I stand corrected - these guys didn't sell out all the way until their most recent video, "My Humps." This is their first single that features vocals almost exclusively from Fergie, the ex-child star who joined up with the Peas two albums ago and poised them to become TRL stars.

When I first got to like Black Eyed Peas, it was a hip-hop act with three distinct male rappers. Now the three guys are standing in the background wearing shiny suits and identical smug grins while Fergie The Child Star delivers her version of "My Neck, My Back." Or "Milkshake." Or "Hollaback Girl." Or "Gossip Folks." They're all damn near the same song, girl-empowerment sex anthems with nursery rhyme singalong choruses.

This one goes, "My hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my hump, my lovely lady lumps, my lovely lady lumps, my lovely lady lumps, my lovely lady lumps, my lovely lady lumps, my lovely lady lumps, my lovely lady lumps, from the back to the front." Her hump is her ass, the lovely lady lumps are her ass cheeks, and they drive the men wild. Make them spend all their money and time on someone who eerily looks like a young, slightly more ethnic Kirstie Alley.

The entire video takes place on a gray-backdrop soundstage, where Fergie rubs her ass and dances with a quartet of booty girls. (The fairly elaborate choreography - for a BEP video anyway - comes courtesy of co-director Fatima Robinson.) There are Dolce Gabana bags and closeups of jewel-encrusted bracelets and fancy fucking cars. And a couple male extras in wife beaters and boxers, standing around basically.

Tacky, stupid shit this is, on the sixth-grade level and actually far more dirty than you might think. Fergie uses the word "ass" several times, and one of the male rappers asks her, "Whatchu gonna do with all that breast? All that breast inside your shirt?" There's a bit about mixing the guy's milk with the girl's "cocoa puff," too. We're just teaching our young girls more and more to be whores and whores - giving away their bodies so guys will buy them shit and pay attention to them - in our increasingly insane culture. I'm only half-complaining about this.

Head to the Talkin' Videos site for more hilarious, biased commentary on the video for "My Humps."

Jet - Are You Gonna Be My Girl

*** (of four)

Jet was a nice, derivative distraction for awhile, weren't they? They directly ripped off Iggy Pop with this track - which is fine by me since I'm still musically ignorant enough that I don't know any Iggy Pop - while somewhat resembling a VH1-friendly AC/DC. And their two hits, "Are You Gonna Be My Girl" and "Cold Hard Bitch," sound practically identical. But, fuck, I don't care. I like these guys from Melbourne and their straightforward, energetic '70s rock sound and "throat-shredding" vocals. And I like their soundalike pair of hits.

The black-and-white video for "Girl" starts off looking deceptively simple. Director Robert Hales puts the band on a white soundstage in dark clothing, positioning them and their instruments in diamond-shaped formation. And they lip synch the song, while hand-animated and computer-animated effects slowly pile up around them. One of the speakers starts leaking blood, then blood tracers ooze up from the guitar cords and before long we're stuck in a leisurly acid trip. A shadow woman starts writhing around, appearing and disappearing at will. Animated skull people and wings eventually crop up, along with flowers and random geometric patterns.

Sounds pretty queer on paper, but if you ever see this one pop up on the MTV Hits channel or wherever, you should leave it on. And start thinking about Jet's second album, which the band says will sound nothing like the first. "We're just taking our time and making sure it's five times better than the first one," claims guitarist Nik Cester. Let's hope Iggy Pop has some genius-ass shit they can steal this time.

Juice Newton - Queen of Hearts

* (of four)

Juice Newton is some kinda scamp, I'll tell ya whut. In the 1981 video for "Queen of Hearts," which is set in like 1881, Juice hitches a ride on a coal-powered locomotive while dressed as a streetwalker. The locomotive is actually like four-feet high and looks like one of the more unexciting rides at a frontier-themed amusement park. But Juice mugs it up to the camera anyway, turning back and waving with a big smile on her face as she rides off sitting next to the well-dressed, bearded conductor.

This is just the beginning of Juice Newton's escapade. When she arrives in town, she pushes the same well-dressed, bearded gentleman on a rope swing suspended from a tree branch. Pushes him too hard, in fact, causing him to fall off and Juice to mug for the camera like, Ooops, didn't mean to do that. Cut to Juice stepping into a prison cell while a row of bars swings shut behind her. Juice mugs for the camera again like, Ooops, shit happens.

By the next verse, Juice has made bail and she's robbing a stagecoach driven by the same well-dressed, bearded gentleman. Cut to the same row of prison bars shutting behind her, with Juice mugging for the camera big-time like, Ooops, back in jail again, for armed robbery this time. I'm such a naughty, naughty girl. Then, after berating the bearded man for hopping into bed with too many different girls while he's in a relationship, Juice hops in bed with him. And lands her nightgown-clad ass right back in jail. Cue identical Ooops mug.

I'm not sure if this is officially considered plot so much as just a series of disconnected All's fair in love and war sequences. They're all too short to officially make sense, and the video spends way too much time cutting from Juice and her bearded guy in the Old West to Juice and the same bearded guy performing "Queen of Hearts" on a soundstage in present-era 1981. And don't forget the liberally dispensed shots of a pair of hands dealing cards. One guess which card keeps popping up. What a mess, and here I am writing 350 words about it at 6:38 a.m. on a Wednesday, 24 years after this trivial little pop song and piss-poor video was released.