VMA Hopefuls Get a Critical Beatdown

Rating: 3

"Dream On" plus "How You Remind Me" plus "If You Could Only See the Way She Loves Me" plus "Here I Go Again" equals the Rosetta stone of rock nostalgia, revised for the denizens of the alt-rock nation. And this time Green Day doesn't scare off Republicans. Robert Smith should get royalties any time heavy eyeliner is used to hide an old rocker's eye bags. -- Anthony Miccio

Rating: 3

Gwen Stefani ó "Hollaback Girl" (Interscope)

Total Score: 13

Gwen puts the smack on her booty-callers in cheerleader form -- replete with drum line and cheer straight from Pharrell's sugar-cane brain. This is exactly the video you'd hoped for: the platinum-blond songstress donning a majorette uniform, an eye-candy pep squad in a lowrider Impala rolling up on a marching band, and a group of cheerleaders doing a routine after storming the Kleenex aisle of a grocery store -- all as genius and banal as the song itself. -- Julianne Shepherd

Rating: 4

The only thirtysomething artist who could take over a high school and come off youthful, fly, and not out of place, Gwen and her bad-ass troupe of dancing Harajuku girls bring it on. Not since Toni Basil's "Mickey" have we seen such fine use of cheerleading in a video. -- Tamara Palmer

Rating: 4

This is the weirdest bunch of muted, brash nonsense to hit No. 1 since Prince's "Kiss." It's a crowning achievement for Gwen, pop music's greatest innovator of annoyance, perfectly cast here as a high school student. The single edit, with no "shit," piles on the delicious silence and, as part of the video, lets Gwen show off a like-buttah mani with her replacement shushing. Ingenious! -- Rich Juzwiak

Rating: 5

Our Winner: By the slimmest of margins, Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell, "Drop It Like It's Hot."

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