The Narcs, now looking like a bunch of dads, have an enjoyable road trip. Starting off in Raglan, the two main Narcs jump in a vintage car and head north. Heading past the Meremere power station (back when it was a power station), they stop off for some petrol, taking the opportunity lark about on the forecourt. This seems appropriate behaviour for middle-aged men on a road trip.
But it’s not all recreation. As musicians, they have professional responsibilities. Passing a yellow mini (hello, pork pie!), the pair make it to Auckland where they meet the rest of the band for a gig down by the Viaduct. There’s a big Volvo logo behind the stage, which dates this to the 1997/98 Whitbred Around the World Race, newly sponsored by Volvo. Further evidence of extreme dadness.
There’s a quick stop at a radio station, then it’s time for some recreation. Everyone heads to the beach and enjoys a dip in the ocean. There’s a bit of messing about on the beach, including some ukulele playing, back when ukuleles were a tropical comedy instrument.
“Hopeless Friends” is a laidback, country tinged song, and it feels like the Narcs are just being themselves in this video. There’s no attempt to dress up their lives like they’re super cool rock stars. They’re just some guys in a band, playing gigs, doing promo and hanging out with their mates at the beach.
Best bit: the beach-appropriate shirtlessness, quite refreshing after all the urban shirtlessness of videos in the mid ’90s.
The second track of the Exponents’ final studio album, “Close” is an uplifting love song, but the video takes an interesting approach. The video has a dark, blue-grey palette, going for a gloomy look in a bleak warehouse setting. It’s a styley look, but it seems at odds with the lyrics.
Occasionally song lyrics are shown spelled out in colourful magnets letters on the side of a fridge. And the fridge shows up again, with individual band members shown inside the fridge, lit with a cold, blue tones. Are they meant to be corpses, rocking out from beyond the grave? Or are they just, you know, chillin’.
Clocking in at five minutes, the song is about a minute too long, losing momentum along the way. It feels like the band were going for the epic songs Oasis were doing on “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?”, but just ended up stretching out a shorter song.
Likewise, it feels like a video for a shorter song that’s been edited into a longer version. But then, maybe it’s a metaphor for life beyond the grave and/or love.
Best bit: Jordan’s sequinned top, a hint of glamour in a bleak world.
Four years after the last JPS Experience video, Dave Yetton returns with a new band, and curiously enough, the video for “Don’t Open Your Eyes” feels like an old JPS Experience vid.
Directed by Andrew Moore, the video follows a lone spaceman exploring a barren yellow-tinged environment (played by Bethells Beach). It’s very similar, in fact, to the look of David Kilgour’s “Beached” video from 1994. But while the “Beached” spaceman wanders about on the bleak, sinister planet, the Stereo Bus spaceman is having a bit more fun. For a start, he’s wearing gumboots.
The spaceman staggers about the alien world and eventually hits a golf ball, as that is what spacemen do. The golf ball takes us to Dave Yetton standing in front of a wall covered with silver foil, again very reminiscent of JPSE videos.
Dave seems to be in some sort of control room, with quickly cut glimpses of switches, lights. Combined with the bright colours and shots of Dave’s eyes, it feels like a homage to “2001: A Space Odyssey”. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot helpfully captioned “Illuminati. Secret US Government Installation Security Camera Film”.
Eventually the camera calms down and we can make sense of Dave’s new surroundings. His control room is full of crazy music electronics – reel-to-reel tape recorders, speakers and monitors. And next to that, Dave hangs an electric sign reading “The Stereo Bus”. It has arrived.
Best bit: Dave holds an object that looks like a giant tin foil donut.
Because it’s the 1997, Loves Ugly Children get cinematic in the form of a fake trailer for an exploitation flick also named “Voodoo Girl”. Directed by Peter Bannan, the video opens with a warning – “the film this trailer advertises contains adult concepts”. What, like getting a mortgage or caring foran aging parent? No, like a scantily-clad young woman suggestively playing with a model aeroplane.
We meet plane woman and a man who gaze at aeroplanes and end up together in a wood-panelled room. He slowly puts his hand on her bare stomach. They then retire to their individual rooms where there’s a bit of carry-on involving the model plane and some hand-down-pants action.
How about getting out of the bedroom? Ah yes, the man walks around meaningfully and plane girl runs through a post office box lobby and discovers a gun in her box. Well, I guess if it had a stamp on it, NZ Post would deliver it.
Gun in bag, plane girl goes to a diner and makes a glass move through telekensis. If she could do that, why would she need a gun? Couldn’t she just make bullets fly into people? Then it all gets a bit hectic. There’s blood, water, meaningful gazes and bullets galore.
As far as fake trailers go, this doesn’t quite make me want to see the fake film, but yet as a real music video from 1997, it’s moody and stylish enough to satisfy me.
Best bit: the visual power of the bright red post office box lobby.
The Headless Chickens returned with another single off their final album, “Greedy”. “Second Time Virgin” is a filthy, dark song, far removed from the sweet edges of Fiona-era Chickens.
The formerly sprawling band is now a tight three-piece, and they play the song whole surrounded by racks of mysterious colourful chemical substances. The world of colour goes underwater, with Chris donning some swimming google and going underwater with some colourful balloons.
A rubber ducky bobs sinisterly in the water, reminiscent of the ducky on the cover of “Greedy”. But I wonder if it just seems a bit evil because of the dark world of the Chooks. And speaking of fine feathered fiends, an actual chicken makes an appearance in the video.
I’m going through a similar experience to what I felt watching “Magnet”. I like the Headless Chickens and I really like this song, but this video just seems a little lacking. “Go! Go! Second time virgin! You want to!” No, it doesn’t convince me to give up my second-time-virginity.
Best bit: Chris’ head appears in one of the mysterious jars.
Outside a Masonic lodge, a man stands with his arms around a power pole. He looks downcast, as if the old wooden pole is the one remaining thing in the world he can turn to. Meanwhile, inside the lodge, Greg Johnson and band play the song in a large empty, carpeted room, as if offering commentary on the fellow outside.
The video is directed by Paul Casserly and has lashings of his wit and style. There’s a seperation between the two worlds. The pole-hugger is shot in black and white, while Greg indoors lives in a cool blue world.
Many passersby try to help the pole-hugger (played by Ian Hughes), which is slightly reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Just” video. A bosomy woman, a man with an important book, a bewigged lady, and a mysterious masked woman all try to shout, rant, pout and rage him out of his state of pole love.
But it doesn’t work. Just as Greg Johnson sings of one man’s troubled love for a woman, the pole-hugger only has eyes for the pole. Just try to tear them apart.
Che Fu teams up with Dam Native and they all look good in sharp menswear. The song combines Dam Native’s beats and rhymes with Che’s smooth vocals, and the video directed by Steve Morrison picks up on this.
But there’s another aspect to the video – it’s proudly Maori. Che and the longer-haired Dam Native guys have their haired pulled back in a traditional topknot, adorned with feathers.
It’s a more modern version of the similar style used in the group’s earlier video for “Behold My Kool Style”. Both take their inspiration from the cover art of Dam Native’s debut album, “Kaupapa Driven Rhymes Uplifted”, which sees the group positng with a tokotoko. Originally a walking stick, the tokotoko is now more commonly used as an oratory prop, and it’s this use that fits perfectly into Dam Native’s world of hip hop.
It’s a really handsome video. Every frame is perfectly framed, with a very photographic feel. The video is lit in rich reds and browns, with works perfectly with the uplifting lyrics of the song – the son will always shine.
The star of the “Dome” video is “Miyata Jiro”, a performance art robotic businessman – a “corporation solider” – that crawls along the ground in his nice suit. It’s the work of New York-based Japanese performance artist Momoyo Torimitsu, who also appears in the video as the businessman’s nurse/technician.
Momoyo created the work as a commentary on the Japanese salaryman, but its new context outside the New York Stock Exchange works just as well, if not better. And 15 years later, it has even more layers of meaning, worthy of a heaving sigh at the shitness of the modern world of finance.
As Jiro-san crawls along Wall Street, the Marc Swadel-directed video cuts this with footage of Bailterspace performing, New York city life, black and white scenes from the subway, and a visit to Battery Park, previously seen in Madonna’s “Into the Groove” video.
Finally, the corportation soldier is carted off on a stretcher. Evidently the nurse’s fix-up job on his bottom was not enough to fully repair his system error.
Best bit: the nurse’s repair job on the businessman’s bottom.
“Tears Were Blue” explores similar territory to Britney Spears’ “Lucky”, albeit with a more sinister and less symapathetic tone. The song is the words of a man who realises that his attempts to make a young woman a star may have been a little too heavy-handed as – oops – she appears to have gone and tragically died.
Bike perform the song on stage in an empty theatre, lit with dry blue tones. This is cut with black and white flashes of Baby Blue, sometimes looking beautiful, other times looking messed up. This makes it clear that Miss Baby Blue is not part of Bike’s world any more.
But was she ever? We only see parts of Baby Blue, never the whole person. Is the song actually sung from the perspective of a fan, someone who never had a personal relationship with his idol, but felt like he did. Ugh, this whole mess could have been avoided if only Tumblr had been around in 1997.
Note: this video is geoblocked for New Zealand and Germany, but it should be watchable in any other region. Why don’t Warner NZ just let it play for its biggest audience?
Best bit: Baby Blue’s make-up – Audrey Hepburn delicacy with heavy ’90s makeup.