This is another song and video that I have a disproportionately high level of love for. Even the near daily use of the song in the sports store TV commercials haven’t killed it for me. So come with me into the world of Zed and the “Renegade Fighter” video.
The song starts off with a spooky music-box sound. It’s a dark and stormy night and we’re inside an empty house. Lightening flashes, the Venetian blinds flap and suddenly there’s guitarist Andy with that opening chord. Bassist Ben (who’s doing the vocals on the verses) appears and does an alarmingly sexual slide on his instrument. The chorus kicks in and there’s Nathan in the corridor giving a hearty lip-sync of the chorus. It’s like a curious mash-up of a classic boy band video and a cool but arty rock video.
Second verse has Ben sitting in a perfect boy band pose. The camera stays on him for a straight 25 seconds, even sticking around when the chorus starts with Ben just doing a teen idol stare at the camera.
The band rock out together for the next chorus (nice pacing), then we return to Ben in a room draped with fairy lights, cutting to Andy delivering a few licks on his guitar.
There’s some clever editing in this video, echoing the spooky strobe-like lightning effect. The video isn’t obsessed with making this a pretty pop video, and there are some delightfully weird touches. But then just in case we’d forgotten these were teen dudes, the video ends with Nathan giving Andy a playful punch.
“Renegade Fighter” was Zed’s highest charting single (reaching number four), and I like to think of it as Zed at their absolute peak as kings of teen pop-rock.
Best bit: the patterned wallpaper, looking a bit too authentically New Zealand to be a “Song 2” homage.
It wasn’t until 2002 when the Datsuns struck rock ‘n’ roll gold, but right from their early days, they were determined to be much more than just some band from Cambridge. “Super Gyration” was their first release, issued only on 7-inch vinyl. The accompanying video was directed by fellow Waikato pal Greg Page, who went with a grunty cars ‘n’ rock dudes theme.
The video kicks off with a tachometer that’s revving to the rhythm of the song. And then: “Come on! Rock ‘n’ roll!” Suddenly we meet the band, performing in a garage full of old hot rods courtesy of the Ooga Boys hot rod club – and there’s even an old Datsun in there. The band all have relatively short hair, having not reached the follicular splendour of later years.
Greg Page has always been good at capturing bands’ live energy and he does this well with the Datsuns. This doesn’t feel like a band who have been told to go crazy for the music video; it’s more like they’re just doing what they always do.
About halfway through the song quietens down a bit so the band go and have rest in the break room of the Onehunga panel beater where the video was shot. In there the camera slowly rotates around the room, and apart from a strategically placed record cover, it doesn’t look like much set dressing has gone on. It’s a really blokey room.
The “Super Gyration” video is a perfect introduction to the Datsuns, setting themselves up as a band of young dudes who just want to rock out and impress the ladies.
Best bit: shots of the individual band members posing next to the cars.
It’s a nice day in the suburbs and a young man prepares to go for a jog. He cues up some tunes on his Sony CD Walkman, straightens up his Dickies hoodie and starts the stopwatch on his Casio G-Shock. That’s three brands in 25 seconds. I don’t think I’ve seen this much product placement in a New Zealand music video before.
But anyway, the dude starts off running (in slow motion) and – whoa! – he’s on fire. As he jogs, fiery flames dance on his back. Down at the Westmere shops, bystanders gaze at this remarkable sight, and indeed he is rather the centre of attention wherever he goes.
“No Man” seems like a quiet moment in the massive run of videos from Tadpole’s hugely successful “Buddhafinger” album. The song is serious and dramatic and the video reflects this with its subdued colour palette and slow movement.
The camera freezes on some of the bystanders (young men and – oddly enough – one old lady), digitally zooming into their faces. The footage pixelates a little (and I keep expecting a crime drama “video expert” to shout “Enhance! Enhance!”).
The flaming jogger continues his exercise as Tadpole sing their cautionary tale of getting your priorities straight. At the video’s end, we revisit the zoomed-in shots of the bystanders, zooming out to reveal – gasp! – they’re also on fire! Let’s hope these folks are also rewarded with a G-Shock and a Discman for their troubles.
Best bit: The sign advertising fresh boiled beef, on sale at the Westmere butcher.
So where has this delightful video been all my life? Smoothy were an Auckland three-piece rock band and “Stoners” is a nice guitar-pop tune about, well, stoners. But the video takes things to a whole nother level.
It’s set at a Christmas party at a cool Auckland flat and things are humming along nicely. Fairy lights are aglow, couples are snogging and people are smoking pot. A young man sits next to the Christmas tree, alienated by all the pashing. He seeks comfort in a spliff and is soon visited by a fairy who notices he has his eye on a girl in a crimson jacket.
Buoyed by the power of beer, marijuana and a magical fairy, the dude has an energetic dance around the house, laughing at a guy in a Santa costume flirting with a girl in an elf costume.
He stumbles into a smoky room where some partygoers are watching Smoothy perform on TV. But the paranoia sets in and his melancholy returns as he stumbles around the backyard, seeing everyone but him enjoying funtimes and/or sex.
The fairy reappears and tells him to make his move on the girl in the crimson jacket, but his fresh dance moves don’t work on her. To his dismay, the girl in the crimson jacket instead pashes a Santa. Oh no!
Annoyed at the fairy, the dude takes his anger out on the Christmas tree, leading to him getting a tooth knocked out and running from the police. Worst party ever. Alone with his loose tooth, the fairy reappears and magics his tooth into a shiny new 50 cent coin (which is an old one, so it looks huge). Yay!
There’s a lot packed into this video, but it works. It looks like a low-budget labour of love shoot but it’s made with talent and skill.
Best bit: The “Topless Women Talk About Their Lives” poster.
Lucid 3 comes along as a break in the rock-dominated world of early 2000s music videos. A bit of jazz, some trip-hop, some pop and a bit of folk mean they stand out amongst the sneering dude-rock bands of the era.
“Curious” starts with the beater of a kick drum doing the very same giant-marshmallow trick we recently saw in a Dimmer video. And indeed, some serious beats and slinky bass introduces the very lovely trio of Victoria, Marcus and Derek.
The band are performing in an empty room. Victoria is in the middle, with the other two on either side. It’s quite an artistic setting, with no attempt at pretending the band is gigging. Victoria is good at delivering down-the-barrel pop visuals, and the different shots of the band are layered to give a moody, lazy feel.
It’s all going really smoothly, but suddenly the chorus kicks in with some electric guitar. That’s fine (and it sounds great) but the video doesn’t acknowledge this. It keeps on with the same style as the earlier smooth stuff. This and the stationary camera shots gives the impression that we’re watching different feeds of CCTV cameras, not a music video.
There’s an attempt to liven things up with a hearty headbang from Victoria (and she has the hair for it), as well as a few rock poses, but it feels a little awkward in the otherwise restrained setting of the video. It’s like, if the band aren’t really feeling the chorus, why should I?
Best bit: bass player Marcus’s biceps. He has bought us tickets to the gun show.
There are two versions of the “Second Migration” video. I’m not sure if the second video had NZ On Air funding, so I’ll look at both of them.
The first version is basic as. King Kapisi, Tha Feelstyle and DJ Raw stand behind a desk with turntables and a mixer on it. The entire Overstayer Crew is in full effect – DJ Raw DJs, King Kapisi and The Feelstyle rap. It looks like it was filmed in someone’s garage, with some ye olde film scratches digitally added to give the video a bit of texture.
The trio are all wearing t-shirts from King Kapisi’s Overstayer range of streetwear. Their uniform look is rounded out by bright white hats. Occasionally there’s a postcard-like photo of a Pacific Island (matching the lyrical themes), but most of the video is just three men in a room. Ok.
The alternate version kicks things up a notch. It’s like when a TV show comes back for a new series with bigger, bolder opening titles. The original footage of the trio is used, but slotted into a bold computer animated world.
The video begins with scenes of tropical islands, and later switches to city scenes. The two locations both look appealing and sinister, which nicely works as a metaphor for the experience of migration.
The basic footage from the first version also finds itself playing on huge screens in the bustling metropolis. It’s like these guys have come to this bold new country and promptly managed to take it over. Which is kind of what King Kapisi had done musically.
Hey, so maybe the first version of the video represents the newly arrived migrants, operating with basics, while the second version is the migrants having fully embraced their new home, taking full advantage of all it has to offer.
Best bit: DJ Raw getting really meta by scratching with King Kapisi’s “Reverse Resistence” LP.
Fuce were a Christchurch rock band and “Peacekeeper” is a tense, ambient piece with great percussion. The video is simple, with shots of the band and their freaky friends hanging out in a white studio. A guy eats a banana, two girls flip off the camera, a hairy guy rants, a kid writes on glass and a dreadlocked chick holds a sparkler to the relaxing music of Fuce.
“Peacekeeper” could just be another pleasant video from 2000, but the passing of time has given an eerie edge to the video. One of the freaky friends holds up a mock front page for The Press, Christchurch’s morning paper. The headline reads “EARTHQUAKES FLOODS”. Oh crap. Back then, those were things that didn’t happen to Christchurch so the headline could be used for dramatic exaggeration. But in these post-earthquake days, it gives the video a strange tension.
At this point I was feeling a little bummed out. Fortunately the video got a little goth, with the band dressed in black suits playing the song in a black studio, so in 2013 it was an opportunity to feel a little mopey mournful about Christchurch. But it wasn’t all retrospective natural disaster grief. I keep thinking back to the scene of a punk couple and a dreadlocked guy gleefully dancing. And hey, if they can have a good time, so can I.
Best bit: the awesome millennium hair of the two girls giving the finger.
This is Dark Tower at their flyest. The video starts with the duo experiencing inner city pressure. While hanging out in front of a large graffiti wall, they find themselves bothered by another couple of rival homies, one played by Jon from “Ice TV”. Homeboy Jon consults his “Hip-Hop Rulebook”, confused at this pair who rap in New Zealand accents and wear a lavalava.
Dark Tower leave the oppressive city and head for a farm, where they will be free to be themselves. Wandering the pastures, they unleash some brilliant rural lyrics, raping about how it’s “a hard task chewing grass down through Lewis Pass/I saw 10 dags dangling off a dead nag’s arse.” You definitely wouldn’t find that in the Hip-Hop Rulebook.
Their mates Rubicon come to the farm to join them, playing on the back of a ute and in a woolshed (where else?). Jody DJ with a potato sitting near his turntables, and we also see a baby sitting in a vegetable garden because that’s what happens on farms.
“You Beauty” is a fun, lively video that shows Dark Tower doing what they did best – throwing the hip hop rulebook out the window and rapping about what they know.
Best bit: Paul from Rubicon’s trademark joy-mouth drumming.
I don’t think this video actually had NZ On Air funding, but it was on the list at one stage. There are no NZOA logos on the video and it looks cheap as, so I’d guess the funding didn’t end up happening. But I’m going to include it because it’s a good example of life outside the world of funded videos.
So yeah, it looks cheap, probably shot on a home video camera. The video opens with one of two impressive shots in the video. It’s a panorama of gloriously bland suburban Wellington, but things get wobbly after that. The camera zooms in on a new house (probably of the leaky-home vintage), and we cut to the interior of what is obviously a much older house.
In this old villa, we see the band getting out of bed, getting ready for the day. Or the night, given the song title. Outside the lawn is tidied up, with a nice daisy decapitated with some weed eater action.
All the shots have weird cropping, with missing heads and unusual close-ups. But I’m willing to consider that this might have been something that happened while getting the video online. On the other hand, it does fit the general aesthetic of the video.
We also see the band performing inside the nice living room of the house. And they’re smoking indoors, which is just gross. The thing is, it’s a really good song, a sneery rock number. It should have had a much better video.
The video ends with the second good shot – a bicycle-riding band member stands in front of the Greek Orthodox Church on Hania Street and stares at it as ominous black clouds roll behind it. Let’s pretend it’s all highly symbolic.
Best bit: the two dudes on the deck, chuckling at the senseless daisy slaughter.