Sunday, November 20, 2005

Sean Paul - We Be Burnin' (2005)

** (of four)

Wow, so this ragga-dancehall assclown gets another album, does he? For the curious, no, I won't be first in line to buy Dutty Rock II - in fact, I'll give twenty bucks to anyone who can distinguish this Sean Paul single from entries previous. It sounds the freakin' same. (One-trick pony, sir!) So if this dutty ditty seems at all different to you, go ahead and send a 3" x 5" postcard with your name and address on it to my nonexistent P.O. Box, and that twenty bucks is as good as yours. Hand to God.

The "We Be Burnin'" (you don't think he's talking about... *gasp* marijuana, do you?!) video puts Sean and three jockey-dressed girl dancers smack in in the middle of an anonymous Middle Eastern desert. While a jean jacket-wearing Sean lip synches and flails his arms, the trio of girls dances behind him, kicking sand up their glistening legs, rolling around on the ground and bringing a brand new form of camel toe to the Arab world. See, over there, "camel toe" usually actually refers to the toe of a camel, not lingerie-imprint vagina lips. But both are equally sexy to them.

Director Jessy Terrero also cuts to a sparse indoor set with Sean synching and flailing in front of four garbage trucks that are adorned with flashing multi-colored flourescent carnival lights. A pickup truck with six flamethrowers shows up at the desert shoot once the sun goes down, and the video still doesn't get cool.

Nah, things don't improve until the cast of the movie Jarhead arrives on the scene to blow the fuck out of Sean Paul and Co. as part of President George W. Bush's new Congress-unapproved freedom mission. That's Operation Ragga-Dancehall Assclown Get Rid-Of. For once, I don't even mind the waste of my tax dollars.

My Chemical Romance - Ghost of You (2005)

**1/2 (of four)

I've got a friend who loves these guys, but until this big-budget sellout video, My Chemical Romance did nothing for me. I'm still not overly impressed, but at least director Marc Webb knows how to fill a screen with a series of images that hold the viewer's attention.* And at least "Ghost of You" has a catchy chorus to it. And at least for once we get a chance to see MCR lose the raccoon-eyed pop-goth look for the length of a four-minute video.

The motif here - World War II. There's a lot of gritty, green-tinted video-game-looking footage of a beach invasion gun battle. (Lots of shots from the Saving Private Ryan playbook, to be sure, though it's completely PG-rated.) And, yeah, the trend lately in filmmaking is to use the setting of a past war to comment on the political foibles of the current ongoing war in Iraq.

But Webb and My Chemical Romance aren't too interested in political commentary. They're pushing a song about the dissolution of a romantic relationship with a video about the loss of lives to war. It's a little incongruent, but most lyrics about loss ("never coming home, never coming home, never coming home," etc.) are interchangable, particularly if you don't enunciate them too well.

The MCR guys play a USO show in clean-cut uniforms, entertaining the troops and their ladies. The ladies look longingly into their eyes, knowing they're headed off to battle and may get their arms, heads or johnsons blown off. The MCR geeky guitarist has the most devoted girlfriend, so naturally he's the one who ends up dying. The poor bastard gets his johnson blown off, and the medic bass player can't save him.

The video closes on the wide-open eyes of the lead singer about to face his own doom. Which comes in that chilling moment when the Pussycat Dolls scoot past My Chemical Romance for control of the #4 slot on last Thursday's TRL countdown. "Ghost of You" adds up to a decent, unexciting, B-minus good time, which still puts "Ghost of You" ahead of the current MTV curve. Pussycat Dolls, I'm talking to you.

* = Take for example this sweet transition shot: Open on a bird's eye overhead dance floor view of five couples slow dancing. A pair of troops marches into this scene on the left side of screen, flanked by a slow-moving wave washing across. The wave hits the five couples, two of whom dissolve into steel, X-shaped bracing statues - as more troops march in and the entire screen shot becomes the beach invasion.