Month: December 2014

Sand in the Vaseline: Rihanna, Jeezy – “Hard”

Rihanna Jeezy Hard

 

We start out with Rihanna at some military camp, at night, where she is trouncing around in front of some soldier types and apparently barking out orders in Swahili or some such. I suppose she might be informing them of the details on their stealth mission, but it’s really hard to pay attention because her outfit has shoulder pads shaped like the Sydney Opera House. There’s no telling what this means. Maybe she has a crush on Hugh Jackman?

Then we start flashing to some scenes where Rihanna, looking really overheated yet tired at the same time, prances around in her panties sporting bits and pieces of military gear. None of these pieces would actually protect her in any way on the battlefield, but she’s definitely aiming for some type of look. Enlisted Erotica? Curiously, she’s got strips of electrical tape over her nipples, even though she’s wearing a shirt and there’s no need to hide the little critters. What is this all about? Do her nipples sometimes fall off if she dances too hard?

Complicating the plot even further is that Rihanna appears to be doing the panty-dance in some trashy shed that houses some serious-looking industrial weapons. It’s a little hard to see what’s going on, because the lighting is really dim and spotty in an effort to make Rihanna look mysterious and naughty. I’m thinking the panties and the electrical tape already took care of that angle.

Now we start cutting back and forth from the soldier training camp, where Captain Rihanna is making the men perform aerobics of some kind, to the sex shed where Enlistee Rihanna is gyrating and jacking around with the helmet on her head. It seems that she might be having comfort issues with the headgear, because she keeps glancing all over the room while tugging on tufts of her hair sticking out of the helmet. Is she looking for her wardrobe assistant? Did no one explain to her that you don’t get to have one of those in the military?

Oh, look at that. Now we’ve got some new scenes, with Rihanna marching across some desert while unseen planes try dropping bombs on her. She’s wearing this mind-boggling outfit that appears to be made entirely of very long and very skinny pyramids, so that she looks like a porcupine on acid. This would explain the planes that are trying to kill her. If something like that came strutting toward me, I’d get someone to authorize a military airstrike as well. (“Hi, is this Colin Powell? Yeah, there’s a situation you need to know about…”)

It takes Rihanna a very long time to make it across the desert, not so much because she has to avoid the exploding shells all around her, but more because she stupidly keeps stopping to twirl around in her futuristic outfit and sparkly makeup, staring into the camera with pouty defiance. Girl, get your ass off that field or you’ll never make it to the Grammys on time.

Then we’re back to more scenes of the dancing cadets, where they have picked up some special moves while we were gone, most of them sexual in nature. And we revisit the slut shed where Rihanna is showing us that she picked up some moves as well, and most of them emphasize the fact that she has breasts. Other than that, nothing new is really going on here.

Whoops, I lied. Captain Rihanna suddenly pulls out a machine gun (where the hell was she storing that?) and she starts firing it into the night sky while the cadets stand completely still in perfect formation right behind her. (I wouldn’t move either, not when Grace Jones is anywhere near me and has a weapon.) Then we have more of the slut shed, where Rihanna has discovered that she also has lips and is showing those to us as well.

Okay, now we’re cutting between Porcupine Rihanna still not done crossing the desert, and a new personality that we’ll call Mud-Wrestling Rihanna. This new prototype spends some of her scenes thrusting her pelvis while standing on sandbags, surrounded by armed and muscled soldiers, and the rest of her screen time wallowing around in some pigsty that appears out of nowhere. (Do the army people have to breed their own food now? What’s up with that?)

Mud Girl spends a lot of time rubbing the oozing muck all over her barely-clad body, helping us understand that she has womanly curves, in case we hadn’t noticed before or didn’t get the Twitter post. Perhaps the pig-mud scenes are supposed to be symbolic of how war is dirty and messy, but I’m thinking it has more to do with both Rihanna and the video director misunderstanding a lot of things when they went on that fifth-grade field trip to a local farm.

As Slut Shed Rihanna is singing and showing us that she doesn’t care for small penises, we get shots of another personality where she’s playing cards in some tent with a lot of swarthy-looking men in t-shirts. I guess this version of Rihanna gets bored with the card game, because she suddenly kicks over the table and then makes the men arm-wrestle each other, with hints of homoerotic subtext, as she walks out the door with all their money. Is that how she got her record contract?

Now we have Minnie Mouse Rihanna. (Not making this up, I wouldn’t go there if I didn’t have to do so.) She’s still in panties, but she’s also wearing a Mouseketeer hat and standing on top of a tank that has been painted pink. Since she can’t just ignore the huge cannon sticking out of the front of the tank, she decides to hop on the gun and squeeze it with her legs while still managing to look sweaty and unsatisfied. (Um, did anybody clear this with the Disney people? Because those folks have lawyers, and they don’t play.)

Then Rihanna is in another military outfit, this one involving netting of some kind over her head but still does not involve pants or even a nice skirt to cover up her business. The netting covering her face is also trailing behind her, making her look like a widow and a bride at the same time. (It’s slightly possible that Rihanna is making a political statement, but more likely that she just thought the look was cool and would probably trend on social media.)

Then here comes guest rapper (isn’t there always one of those these days in music videos?) Jeezy. He does his bit of the song while stacks of tires are smoldering nearby and extras are driving jeeps to stir up the dust and make everything look gritty and realistic. (I don’t know why we’re going for realism now, since that didn’t seem to be a factor in the video up until this point.) Then Jeezy jumps on a tank that is not pink and helps liberate a village or something, with extras running here and there and aiming guns at things we can’t see. Like those Iraqi WMDs that were never found.)

Toward the end of his guest-appearance segment, Jeezy, who has been chomping on a cigar to show that he’s all macho and stuff, throws that lit cigar butt on the ground and just walks away. Dude, do you not understand how dry this desert is? This whole place could go up in flames faster than a Republican politician can lie about his voting history. Besides, Rihanna is around here somewhere, probably still wearing all that dried-out netting. One spark and she might really have something to sing about.

Then we have more scenes jumping around to all the Rihanna personalities, so I guess she survived Jeezy’s irresponsible use of his butt. Just to keep things interesting and up the chances for this video to win an MTV award for costume design, there’s one final outfit for Rihanna to show us. This one is some kind of Mongrel Warrior versus Cher-on-the-aircraft-carrier getup, where only very thin strips of leather are keeping us from an FCC ruling. This version of Rihanna performs some type of flag-corps drill routine where it appears that the rest of her squad did not show up. Just guessing, but something tells me that Rihanna had never waved a flag in her life before she did this scene.

And that’s about it. We run through all the Rihanna incarnations one more time to make sure we’ve seen all her cute outfits, because somebody has to justify the budget to the Accounting Department. She’s still barking orders at cadets, trudging across the desert and dodging bombs, and straddling a gun turret with gusto and military precision. We end the show back at the slut shed, with Rihanna making more of the Swahili vocal noises to indicate that she is still unsatisfied and sure could use something hard so she can end her tour of duty.

Somewhere, in a lonely VFW post in a very small town, a veteran pushes pause on the video and wonders if he should be offended by all this mess. Then he hits the rewind button because that electrical-tape on the hoo-hoos business is worth another look, just to make sure he didn’t miss something patriotic…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 01/31/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

 

The Attack of the Vengeful Calligraphy: Train – “Hey, Soul Sister”

Train Hey Soul Sister

 

As the video starts rolling, the camera pans down from the sky and focuses on a little corner café, where the band members are just kicking off an impromptu jam session as they stand outside the café. Apparently this is one of the risks involved with dining at corner cafés in revitalized parts of town that were once abandoned warehouse districts. Rude musicians can suddenly break into song when all you want is your cobb salad with the dressing on the side.

There’s a handy street sign informing us that this hoedown is taking place at the corner of “Echo Park Av” and something else. That name rings a faint bell, so this is probably some really famous place that means a lot to people who live in California. For the rest of the country, there is no emotional attachment whatsoever. We just know that we shouldn’t eat at this place if we have a migraine or don’t care for musical accompaniment when we are busy sticking things in our mouths.

Before the song gets very far, we are completely distracted by the one band member who is playing what might be a ukulele. Or perhaps it’s just a guitar that somebody left in the dryer too long, not sure. This dude looks just like Howie Mandell, which is a somewhat discomforting thought if you let your mind dwell on it. Whoever he is, he’s very proud of his toy guitar, and he’s quite invested in ensuring that his Tiny Dancer makes everyone want to hold him closer.

Then, because music videos are not allowed to stay in one place for any length of time, we jump to an apartment of some kind, where all the furniture and accessories are completely white. Since this is not a realistic design choice, we know right away that something tragic is going to take place in this location. There’s a woman sitting in the midst of all this, looking a little confused, maybe because the white shapes are all blending together and she’s really not certain where the door might be. She’s probably very hungry and sad, not being able to figure out where the knocking is coming from when the delivery guy shows up with her Chinese food.

Then we zip over to another apartment, this one inhabited by some guy dressed in black. We can’t really see the furnishings in this dwelling just yet, because the camera person seems to have focus issues, so we don’t know if his belongings have a monochromatic theme as well. But we can see that there is a large, blank canvas on one wall. (I’m guessing that all the hip, young people who live near cafés with spontaneous live entertainment have blank canvases on their walls. It’s probably a requirement, with special sections that you have to initial when you sign your lease.)

Oh look, the next line of the song lyrics has miraculously appeared on the otherwise-purposeless canvas. That was very thoughtful on someone’s part. I don’t think I could have continued living if I didn’t know exactly what Pat Monahan was singing right at that moment. I am truly blessed. If I was a religious person, I would take this as a sign that I need to start tithing ten percent of my income to a mega-church that has placed profits before prophecy. But since I’m not, I’ll probably just buy some organic carrots and call it even. The results seem to be the same.

Hold up, we have a new development worthy of our attention. The next set of lyrics appears, and the words have now become animated, sliding off the canvas, along the wall of the apartment, out the window and across the trendily-restored building. This is certainly a bit surprising. Unless I missed an important memo, words shouldn’t really do that. I’m starting to get a little unsettled and we’re just thirty seconds into the show.

We zip back to the café for more shots of the band members, Howie included, as they jam along to the perky fake happiness of the song and do cute little dances. Pat Monahan deserves credit for perfecting the bed-head look that is still fashionable, but I think it’s fair to say that he will not be appearing on “Dancing with the Stars” anytime soon. (Here’s a helpful hint, Pat: Maybe if those jeans weren’t so tight, you might look a bit more fluid on the dance floor. Just trying to help.)

We suddenly realize that the slightly-creepy lyrics are now crawling around on all of the buildings and starting to leak on the sidewalks. I really don’t care for this. I know it’s supposed to be whimsical and fun, but it’s not coming across like that for me. It looks more like, I don’t know, the evil spread of the Dictionary Virus. I’m sure that if this video was playing in Hong Kong, the citizens would be running for those surgical masks that they relish so.

We roll into another montage of the band dancing and singing, just to remind us that this is a music video, after all. Pat has a really big chin, never noticed that before. Not a bad thing, merely an observation. (I’m just trying to give you all the details you might need, should you ever happen to appear on a game show where there’s a really important question about the facial features of lead singers.) Pat’s still having an issue with that dancing, jittering around like we might have an unreachable rash. (I’d blame the tight jeans for that as well.)

Uh oh, I hope someone tells the band that the crawling lyrics are now right above them, infesting the building where the café lives. I really don’t trust those words. They’re acting too much like Republicans, messing with things that are none of their business, intruding into the private lives of others, and running about mindlessly with no apparent purpose. This could get bad.

Uh oh, it’s too late. The lyrics are now appearing on some of the people sitting at the little bistro tables on the café sidewalk. Surprisingly, none of these trendy folk seem the least bit concerned that they have mutated into a Microsoft Word document. They just calmly continue with their lives, reading the newspaper or thinking about what hipster comment they can make in 140 characters or less on Twitter. I don’t think I would be this nonchalant if I was innocently munching on a bagel and the alphabet suddenly scrolled across my beer belly. But I’m not from California, so I probably just don’t get it.

Meanwhile, Pat and the gang are still playing and singing, completely unaware that mobile words have taken over the planet or that nobody is really listening to the band. (This is what happens in short-attention-span modern society. If you don’t take heed of your surroundings, then your surroundings might come to life in a manner that you didn’t expect. And if you wait three years before you put out another album, you basically have to start over with building your fan base, except for the stoners who have lost all concept of time.) The invading lyrics are soon joined by these vicious thick arrows that are pointing in all directions, adding perplexity and mayhem to the scene, at least for me. Everybody else is just waiting for the video to wrap so they can get a SAG credit.

Then, horror of horrors, the words and black arrows invade the pristine all-white apartment that we’ve almost forgotten about, appearing on the walls and vases and couches. Sad Girl ignores all of this and just pours herself a nice cup of coffee. Why is no one paying attention to what is happening around them? THIS is how criminals get elected to public office, nations go to war, and mind-numbingly uninteresting people become huge media sensations just because a pointless YouTube snippet of them making toast somehow went viral.

Okay, we’re back to Pat and the bouncing band. It seems Pat got a memo from the corporate office while we were gone, and he’s stopped trying to dance. Now he’s making hand gestures that look like something out of a really bad junior-high play where the director eventually went to jail due to unrelated criminal offenses. He’s all about the Big and the Dramatic, which is a bit much, especially since he’s currently singing about his “untrimmed chest”. Do those two words even belong together in a song? (Still, if he feels the need to whip off his shirt so I can better understand his artistic intentions, I’d be fine with that.)

We spend a while cutting back and forth between the band and the Sad Girl in her now zebra-themed apartment. She seems to be in a better mood, having had her coffee and all. But she’s still not taking heed of the letter invasion, instead choosing to read a large white book that doesn’t appear to have a title. (I guess the title decided to join the Noah’s Ark line of scampering letters as they frolic about town with mad abandon, sucking down beers and not properly tipping the overworked waitresses.)

Finally, Sad Girl notices the arrows vibrating all over her apartment, determines that they might actually be trying to get her attention, then rushes out the door, happily following the arrows. This would not happen in Texas. Here, people would pull out a shotgun and shoot the arrows, then ask questions later, if they even got around to that second part. Texans have a different viewpoint on life, with newborns being handed a gun license as soon as they squirt out of the womb.

Then we have a shot of the guy dressed in black jogging out of his monochromatic apartment, also following the arrows. We haven’t seen him in a while, so who knows what he was up to, but at least he’s not dancing or reading nameless books. (He’s definitely had time to use styling products on his hair and work out at the gym, skills that are much more valued in this baffling age, as opposed to obtaining a decent education or dedicating your life to helping others. Self-involvement is the new black.)

The next few scenes involve sad white girl and brooding black guy wandering along the city blocks, following the helpful arrows that are leading them to their destination. It doesn’t take much to surmise where this is going, and I would assume they will eventually meet cute and have mixed-letter children.

And the video ends with them doing exactly that, with their bipolar selves staggering toward each other in front of the very café where the Last Train to Rockville is finishing up their set. Pat finally quits dancing and making grand gestures, much to everyone’s relief, and the metropolis-dominating words are no longer in sight. You can see the diners in the café visibly relax as they realize that the alphabet is once again their friend. And the sun quietly sets on the corner of Echo Park Avenue and Sesame Street.

Today’s video was brought to you by the letters “B” and “W”….

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 01/26/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.

Floozy in the Sky with Diamonds: Iyaz – “Replay”

Iyaz Replay

 

In a hit-all-your-demographics move, there are multiple versions of this video out there for the various social classes to peruse. All of the videos basically involve the same thing: hot women wearing tea bags as bathing suits, Iyaz jumping around and grabbing his crotch as a form of communication, and a story short enough that you could write it on a toothpick. The two most popular versions seem to be the “street cred” video (Iyaz gets busy wearing bling and swagger) and the “Ivy League” video (Iyaz struts around in a preppy sweater-over-shirt ensemble, like he just flew in from the Hamptons, with caviar stains on his ascot.)

I decided to go the sweater route, because apparently that bulky outfit somehow restricts his arms a wee bit and he’s unable to juggle the rocks as much as he would like. Trust me, this restriction is a blessing. After 34 shots of that hand being where it shouldn’t be in the “street” video, you’re more than ready for anything else to happen, like dental surgery or a zombie invasion.

And here we go…

We start out with Iyaz slipping on some fancy headphones, then glancing up at us seductively as the music starts. (Of course it’s his song coming out of the speakers, because a true artist only listens to themselves, right?) Then we quickly jump to a beach, where Iyaz is facing away from us, fiddling with what looks like a giant touch-screen in the sky. He’s flipping through a bunch of photos and, naturally, every one of those pics involves beautiful women dripping with desire, on the verge of ripping off the last of their minimal clothing.

We jump-cut our way to the preppy part, with Iyaz in the high-end sweater, bouncing around in front of what looks like a giant flag of the Virgin Islands. Or at least I’m assuming it’s the Virgin Islands, since that’s where Iyaz grew up. Otherwise, who knows. Memorizing flag design is not something I take seriously. All I know is that the women appearing in this video shouldn’t be allowed in the Virgin Islands anymore, since they obviously lost that status a long time ago.

Then we’re back to another beach scene, with Iyaz wearing the headphones from the first scene (product placement!), sitting on the sand and bopping his head to his own tune. Wait a minute. We can clearly see the headphone jack dangling down, so we’re not talking wi-fi here. Where the hell does he have that plugged in? There’s nothing around him except sand and some pissed-off seagulls. (Why are those birds always so angry, with the screeching and the diving?) Obviously, the director didn’t really plan this shot very well. Then again, pop-music shorts haven’t involved realism since, well, Martha Quinn introduced her first video thirty years ago, with the peppy enthusiasm of a cheerleader who took a few too many Midol.

We jump between these locations for a while, and a new member of the cast makes her debut during the process. We have quick shots of her lounging on the beach in what appears to be a leopard-print muumuu of some type, all draped and heavy-looking. I’m sure that’s really comfortable in the hot sun. She’s fussing with her sunglasses like she has a massive headache. Poor thing. Hey, maybe if you take off the inappropriate Eartha Kitt outerwear you might feel a little bit better. She just has that “high-maintenance” look and we could never be friends.

We are treated to more jump shots involving Iyaz wearing the chastity-belt sweater, Iyaz sitting on the beach listening to music that can’t be coming from the prop headphones, and Iyaz fiddling with the trampy digital women on the giant porno screen in the sky. (Eartha is in this montage as well, although her acting assignment consists mainly of sprawling on a towel in a comatose manner.) Oh, and they throw in some palm trees here and there to remind us that Iyaz is from the Virgin Islands. Or that your life really sucks because you don’t live on a beach. Or something. It’s not clear. The trees just keep popping up, just like the breasts of various unidentified women.

Then Iyaz magically changes outfits and wanders down the beach with some buddies. (The buddies don’t seem to have a purpose other than to mingle near Iyaz and make him seem interesting. You know the type. They show up at a party without bringing anything, not even some off-brand chips and dip, and they suck down other people’s booze and leave the toilet seat up.) Iyaz, led by fate and the paper-thin script, comes across the leopard-print woman wallering around in the sand and trying to breath under the weight of her costume, and they instantly fall in love. She basically spends the rest of the video clinging to him like a snapping turtle.

Side Note: Despite Iyaz and Eartha Kitt-Leopard leaping from “first glance” to “sworn betrothal” in about three seconds, with Iyaz singing lyrics about “making her my girl” and pointing at the finger where his diamond-encrusted wedding ring will soon reside, the two of them have very differing views of the impending nuptials. Eartha spends her time arranging herself prettily in glamour-shot tableaus, many of them involving her thrusting her favorite body parts against her crooning suitor. Iyaz throws up red flags by continuing to review that slideshow-in-the-sky of scantily-clad vixens who are not Eartha. Perhaps there’s been a misunderstanding about the parameters of commitment somewhere along the line.

In one of those whimsically abrupt music-video transitions, we’re suddenly on the beach, either later that day or whenever the production schedule allowed for a night-shoot. There’s some type of party going on, and we know this because everybody has their hands in the air as they shimmy around on the sand and smile happily at each other. (With “happily” meaning “I’ve been doing tequila shots since Tuesday and I think I missed my plane but it is so much fun to dance barefoot in the sand”.) To ensure that we grasp the intended theme of this segment, we have close-up shots of tropical fruit, bonfires, lit torches, and those watery, neon-hued beverages that no serious-drinker ever touches because the syrupy sugar-content is going to counter-balance the alcohol and we can’t have that.

The camera attempts to focus on the Snapping Turtle Bride-to-Be, but this is not a completely rewarding experience. She’s pretty and all, but she clearly wasn’t hired for any other skill set. She certainly can’t dance, moving around stiffly like somebody lost a bowling pin and she just found it lodged in an unexpected place. She can’t remember where the camera is and she keeps looking in the wrong direction. (Did she not read her contract? Gaze adoringly at Iyaz as if multiple orgasms are zinging through your body. That’s it. Don’t do this improvisation mess where you are minimally-emoting in the direction of non-union beach chairs that are not actual actors.)

As for Eartha’s mouth? Oh my, there’s some mess going on right there. She’s fine when it’s closed and she just looks lost and confused, haphazardly dancing in a manner that might require medical attention. But when she opens that mouth to yell “Hey!” along with the song? I don’t know that we’ve ever seen an orifice that big. A crop-dusting plane could fly in and turn around without ever touching either cheek.

And that’s about it. We spend the rest of the video jumping around these four scenes, although we spend the majority of time at the night-party on the beach, with everybody dancing like Iyaz is singing the most fantastic song they’ve ever heard and they can’t help but move. Sadly, these people also weren’t hired for anything other than the ability to smile on cue. They only know two basic dance steps, which they perform repeatedly until it looks like an aerobics class gone terribly wrong, and there are probably going to be casualties.

We end the video with Iyaz and Snapping Turtle alone on the beach, with a nice little bonfire in the background. The flames of the fire leap and spark, signifying that their lust is forever and there will never be a pre-nup in this relationship. As the song fades, they lean in for a kiss.

I hope Iyaz has dental insurance. Because when that crop-duster flies back out of Eartha’s mouth, he’s in for a big surprise…

 

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

Originally published on 01/15/10, revised and updated with extra flair for this post.