Ngaire’s fourth (and possibly last NZ On Air-funded single) is a duet. She teams up with D, aka Dave Letoa, a member of her live band. It’s an unusual pairing. Ngaire is very glamorous in the video, but we don’t see her until 30 seconds into the song. Instead it kicks off with D, who isn’t much of a pop star.
For a start, he wears sunglasses throughout the entire music video. It has a weird effect, especially when Ngaire joins him and they look into each other’s eyes. Except she’s actually looking at herself reflected in his mirrored specs.
His voice isn’t anywhere near as expressive as Ngaire’s so it all comes across as a really odd pairing. How did this asymmetrical duet come about? Why does D seem to reluctant to be part of the video?
But the video itself is generally a very stylish number. It’s shot in black and white with a slight sepiatone tint. Ngaire and D are shot in close up with bright lighting, emphasising her glamour.
Also appearing in the video are a selection music video staples, including a male dancer doing the open shit/wind machine thing, a couple dancing in silhouette and fencer. But my favourite is the line-up of models, which seems to have been inspired by the Calvin Klein CK One ads.
It feels like the video wants to be really sexy and glam but D just can’t do it. It’s just not where he’s at. And that ends up being an anchor to reality. This is not New York. This is New Zealand.
Nothing At All! were a legendary punky garagey band from the North Shore. They came out with a crazy guitar sound years before that sound became popular in the early 2000s. “Busted” is two minutes of fun and energy with a video that perfectly captures this.
Directed by Andrew Moore, we see the band dressed in opshop finery, playing on a small stage, in front of a golden curtain. This is mixed with footage of the band being badasses out on the streets of Auckland.
There’s much marauding around the railway station, the tank farm, the waterfront – if there’s a cool location, the boys will find a way to run, drive or pose through it.
There’s a dramatic scene where a stolen car smashes into a stack of egg trays, but hey, if you leave a stack of egg trays in a narrow alleyway, you have to expect it’ll get knocked about.
But the video saves the best for last – there’s a helicopter, an actual real helicopter. Down by the waterfront, the lads board and take off into the skies over Auckland. For what is a low-budget music video, this is a brilliant touch, a bit of 1980s glam amid the ’90s garage.
Director Andrew Moore on the making of the video: “The band had seen some skating videos I’d made and contacted me about doing a video. We agreed to spend a day hanging out and filming some stuff as kind of a demo for the main shoot. It was the funniest day ever, we got bent and spent the video budget on beers, food and other incentives. I fucken laughed all day, these dudes were hilarious. Shot at their practise room at Frisbee studios in Symonds St”
Best bit: the sprint past a police car. Yeah, take that.
Miami Sound Machine became Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine, by the mid ’90s the Chills had rebranded as Martin Phillipps and the Chills. The cheerful “Home Come” was the first single off new album “Sun Burnt”, and it served as a clarion call to young expat New Zealanders.
The video introduces us to two such expats. In New York, a glamorous young woman wearing a giant winter hat drops a handful of coins in the cup of an elderly beggarman. She furrows her brow, as if she has realised deep down that it is not right for an elderly man who be out begging in the middle of winter. Come home! New Zealand does not have many beggars and the winters are mild, anyway!
Meanwhile in London, a young man wearing surfer gear works behind bar. His short hair is roughly braided. While he goes about his job, he is momentarily distracted, as if he is remembering the golden summers he spent surfing in Gisborne. He doesn’t see much sun in this dingy bar. Come home! You can work in a bar by the beach, and you don’t even have to bother with mixing drinks as it is the ’90s and RTDs are new on the scene!
Back in New Zealand, a group of children play hide and seek in a park. Sure, it’s not as exciting as London or New York, but, like, it’s green and there are trees. And children.
Throughout all this the Chills play on an isolated beach, complete with highly symbolic megaphones. I’m sure this video would have persuaded a few homesick Kiwis to return back to Aotearoa, but it’s only really going to be successful if you hate cities and love isolated outdoor areas.
Best bit: where the camera appears to chase a boy, who turns and runs in fear.
In this Mark Tierney-directed video, Jan plays a catsuit-clad femme fatale, the star of a fake show called “Supervixens!”, which appears to have no relation to the legendary Russ Meyer film.
Jan and her supervixen posse – Buffy and St Marie (oh, I did what they did there) – receive a call to action: a secret formula has been stolen! The girls very stylishly hit the road, and meanwhile evil people do evil things with the secret formula.
The evil mastermind is played by Zane Lowe. At the time he was one of Urban Disturbance, whereas now he is all properly famous. Jan and los vixens make it to the criminal HQ and procede to fight the evil criminals, with Jan giving Zane a pash of death.
It’s a fun, playful video. It’s very much a work of the mid-’90s, packed full of strong ’70s pop culture references. It’s another video that was obviously inspired by the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage”, and there’s also a bit of Tarantino cool lurking around.
Dead Flowers get all “November Rain” with this epic-ish metal ballad. Shot in high-contrast black and white, the video takes place in rural New Zealand, where a tragedy has occurred.
Someone has died, which causes mothers and children to cry in close up. The young male suspect stands trial and appears to be found guilty, sentenced to hang. Yes, this is the part of New Zealand where hanging still happens. Probably somewhere in Southland.
But then the narrative gets a bit fuzzy. Suddenly we see Bryan Dead Flowers in the police cell. What’s he doing there? He is actually the murderer? He has switched places?
The previously strong narrative dissolves into a series of dramatic shots, as if someone gave up trying to give the video a conclusion and instead just strung together some prior footage.
Despite all that, this is a pretty decent looking video. But it’s let down by one really big thing: the cops have really bad fake moustaches. I don’t quite understand it. There’s obviously been a lot of effort put into the video, making it look really good, but yet the policemen have really bad $2 shop Moustache Party stick-on mo’s. And even worse – one of these cops is shown in close-up. Even the Beastie Boys had better looking fake moustaches in the deliberately cheesy “Sabotage” video.
Best bit: the serious judge with his serious pointing finger.
More business from Christchurch grunge unit Pumpkinhead. With a song called “Third Eye”, I would be extremely disappointed if the video didn’t include low-tech animated third eyes. Nga Taonga describes the video as “Pumpkinhead perform “Third Eye” in a yellow lunar setting and in a pub.”
Spurred on by popularity from the “Once Were Warriors” soundtrack, Southside of Bombay make a house record, with the highly danceable “Umbadada”. But Southside haven’t lost track of their reggae roots – the song has a message of unity and living forever.
In 1995 the Feelers won the prestigious South Island Battle of the Bands competition. Part of the prize included a single and music video released through Wildside. That song in question was “The Leaving”, with the music video directed by James and Matthew of the Feelers and camera by future Feelers music video director David Reid. The song obviously didn’t have the impact of later single “Pressure Man”, but it was included as a track on the band’s debut album.
Wonderkind have “Destiny Change”, an upbeat dance song about a teen prostitute. There was a lot of that in the ’90s – upbeat dance music about really depressing social issues. Here’s a very 1997 remix of the song.
Another track from Hamilton songstress Jacqui Keelan Davey, this time with “Watching Me Drown”.
Maree Sheehan “Might As Well Shout”
The Kiwi Hit Disc described “Might As Well Shout” as a “fast-paced, catchy dancefloor number”. It features backing vocals from expats Mark Williams and Australian Idol vocal coach Erana Clark.
Papa “For What It’s Worth”
This is pretty much impossible to Google (it’s not a unique song title). I don’t know who Papa was, but it might be related to the record label, Papa Pacific.
Meanwhile in the world of non-NZOA-funded videos we find “Manic (Is a State of Mind)”, the first music single from Jan Hellriegel’s second album. Filmed in Sydney, it takes place in a gloriously garishly painted art deco house (not a visual effect, the YouTube description notes!), and features a very sinister looking cafe fridge.