Thursday, May 11, 2006

Yellowcard - Rough Landing, Holly (2005)

*** (of four)

My first experience with a Yellowcard video yielded a short, rude review. The second time around, with "Rough Landing, Holly," director Marc Webb has given me a video that's held my attention. The Alan Cumming-lookalike lead singer spends four minutes stuck in an episode of "Quantum Leap" on crystal meth, except that he's only in the same place for like three seconds at a time, has no mission to accomplish and doesn't have the help of Al or Ziggy.

The Cumming doppelganger is first seen lying in bed, where he sets down the book he's reading and gets sucked into his bright red comforter. Travels through some sort of silk comforter vortex and ends up in the bed of a hot, slumbering brunette. Whose husband is standing at the dresser with a pissed-off look on his face. Cumming escapes out the bathroom window and reappears crawling out of a manhole and onto an empty street. Ten seconds later, he's in a Chinese nightclub. Twenty seconds after that, he's running down an empty school hallway.

One crack house, one briefcase of holy water, one underwater poker-game sequence, one hospital visit, one youth riot and one bizarre kissing game later, we're left with one of the more visually compelling videos on the MTV Hits channel's current playlist. Sure, it apes the far superior Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and sure, the song is indistinguishable pop-punk, but it adds up to a damn entertaining package.

Da Back Wudz featuring Caz Clay - I Don't Like the Look of It (2006)

*1/2 (of four)

"What do you get when you can't write a song? / Steal someone's work and you call it your own." Practically ensuring Chocolate Factory author Roald Dahl is spinning like a top in his grave, hip-hop act Da Back Wudz (never heard of 'em? me either...) builds an entire track around one line from the "Oompa Loompa" theme song. Just one more entry in the "Whistle While You Twurk" subgenre of dirty South rap songs built around kids' movie staples. Just wait till Lil' Jon gets ahold of "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo."

In the Fat Cats-directed video, a shorty brandishing a golden ticket is allowed entry into the Rowdy Candies factory, which more closely resembles a chop shop. Children wearing magenta Oompa Loompa wigs roll big-rimmed tires around and polish the chrome while the Back Wudz rappers do their thing (one of them's wearing Johnny Depp's white Wonka aviator glasses), and a handful of bored-looking hotties just barely dance. One of them paints a red car blue. It's outlandish shit, yeah, but it's not near as fun as it rightfully should be. I don't really like the look of it.

Tone Loc - Funky Cold Medina (1989)

**1/2 (of four)

The people at VH1 Classic are perverts tonight. First comes Stray Cats jailbait anthem "Sexy and 17," then two songs later, Tone Loc's ode to date-rape drugs, "Funky Cold Medina." Meet a hot girl out at the bar? Already bought her a couple drinks and nothing's happening? Slip her some Funky Cold Medina, and she'll be panting on you in no time. (Speaking of "panting," Tone Loc makes it clear in the first verse that Funky Cold Medina is effective on dogs, too. Makes them hump your leg and stuff. Just keep that in mind. I don't think that's something they mention on the label.)

This grainy-ass video just pretty much tells the story of the lyrics - hot girl succumbs to Loc's Medina in a bar, Loc's dog humps his leg, Loc unknowingly takes home a transvestite man and, my personal favorite, Loc ends up on "Love Connection" and has his date immediately chasing marriage. Other nice touches - the bubbling beakers of green Medina juice, the dialogue ballons ("Tone Who?!") and the guy walking down the club hall with a turntable-scratch setup hanging around his neck. Aged well? Why, no, it hasn't.

Stray Cats - Sexy and 17 (1983)

**1/2 (of four)

Years back, when I worked as a movie theater usher, one of the off-duty security cops would spend entire shifts telling us the age-of-consent laws for different states. Hawaii? Eighteen. Arizona? Sixteen. North Dakota? Four and a half.* It was from this perverted-ass cop that I learned my home state, Missouri, allows men of any age to stick it to seventeen year olds. So it's not at all creepy for me to call up the local '80s radio station and dedicate this Stray Cats song to "the entire eleventh grade girls' gym class at Parkway North." Not creepy in the slightest.

"Sexy and 17" comes from the infancy of MTV, and as such it's full of all the overdrawn sight gags and wooden choreography of Reagan Administration-era videos. The funniest shit, for reasons intended and unintended, is at the beginning, when the leather-jacket-and-undershirt-wearing Stray Cat rockabilly rebels pop up in a prep school class. Brian Setzer and the boys are sitting among a roomful of lookalike shirt-and-tie student automotons, as they (i.e. the Cats) taunt the old lady teacher, who keeps turning around just as they duck back behind the automotons. Poor, befuddled lady. She's just trying to teach a geometry lesson.

The rest of the "Sexy and 17" video shows the Stray Cats spreading mayhem around the stately old prep school, culminating in a locker-slamming brawl between the Cats and the Squares. There's also concert footage from inside a bar, and there's Setzer's love interest "Marie," who is first seen from behind, brushing her teeth and wearing nothing but one black stocking and some skimp-ass underwear. If you've got a TiVo, go ahead and freeze frame this stuff. I'll wait, don't worry. Not creepy in the slightest.

* = Yeah, keep your kids away from North Dakota. They do things different up there.