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Grading the music videos

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Grading the music videos

”Midnight in Chelsea” Jon Bon Jovi. In videos, as in real estate, location is all. While Jon Bon Jovi wrote this song about London’s Chelsea district, director Mark Pellington sets the clip in Manhattan’s same-named neighborhood, which gets him in all sorts of trouble. First, would you buy Jon Bon Jovi as a resident of the Chelsea Hotel, historic home to Sid Vicious, Nico, and William Burroughs? Also, because the area ranks as a gay mecca, the meaning of the lyrics changes — like when Jon yells from the rooftops that in Chelsea ”I’m the man I want to be.” Is this really what he wants to say? C

”Place Your Hands” Reef. Few Americans have heard of Reef. But that didn’t stop MTV from picking out the first clip from this neoclassic British rock act for its coveted Buzz Bin. And no wonder. It’s the giddiest video of the moment. Using a Rube Goldberg-like series of pulleys and wires, director David Mould sends the band whipping through space, performing calisthenic feats wild enough to make Kerri Strug look like a spaz. With all the jumping and twirling, Mould creates an original piece of choreography, etched in midair. A

”Whatever” En Vogue. Maybe it’s inevitable that R&B’s most fetching beauty queens would set a clip in a plastic surgeon’s office. Director Matthew Rolston meant to represent a sci-fi version of such a place, but he wouldn’t dare risk making the gals look genuinely freaky. So he uses the surrealism of the scene to make the opposite point: Even with blue lips and eyeliner, En Vogue still look smashing. B

”Paranoid Android” Radiohead. If you want to make your edgiest visions playable on TV, hire an animator. Radiohead took that rule to the max with this six-minute-plus cartoon phantasm. Animator Magnus Carlsson depicts mice having sex, leather men making out, fish with human breasts, people sliced up like ham steaks, all told with a deadpan wit worthy of prime David Lynch. There’s a stoned freedom to his style, filled with non sequiturs and temporal screwups worth savoring. A

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