K’Lee “Lifetime Left to Wait”

2002-k-lee-lifetime-left-to-waitIn a way, K’Lee was the Lorde of the 2000s. A young female singer going by a single name, mentored by an older male songwriter/producer, singing songs about typical teenage experiences. Only Lorde is a lot more serious and is enjoying international successes, whereas K’Lee ended up marrying Coolio’s DJ and – as she recently revealed – they narrowly avoided death when their home was sprayed with gunfire in a drive-by shooting. I can feel you, K’Lee.

“Lifetime Left to Wait” is the final K’Lee single from the Matty J years, a heartbroken ballad to wrap up her brief yet successful spell as New Zealand’s teen pop queen.

The video sees her sitting against a tree, over looking the scenic Waitemata Harbour and Rangitoto island. She’s evidently come to be alone by the tree, to mourn the departure of her boyfriend.

We also see flashbacks of the couple in happier times. There’s K’Lee filming her fellow with a Super 8 camera as he plays his guitar, K’Lee helps him cheat on a crossword puzzle, and they a game of hacky sack. Then he leaves the house, with K’Lee seeing his forgotten gym bag and throwing it down to him. It’s ambiguous what happens to the guy. Is this him walking out on K’Lee? Or does he end up meeting a tragic ending? I like that the video leaves this open. After all, the song could just be a metaphor for the end of K’Lee’s initial pop career.

I was tipped off to a slight blooper in this video. At around 3:10 K’Lee is supposed to be staring meaningfully into the distance as she sings the emotional chorus, but her eyes dart off to the side, a nervous glance off camera. Just at that moment, there’s an 18-year-old girl sitting on a hill, trying to make a music video.

Best bit: the guy’s “1 + 1 + 1” sweatshirt. Clean out your locker.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a family dinner.

Elemeno P “Nirvana”

2002-elemeno-p-nirvanaI like a good low-budget video. Here’s Elemeno P slowly establishing themselves as a party punk group, with their ode to Nirvana and favourite their love of music.. Original bassist Jules was making his final appearance in the band, ready to be replaced by Lani from Foamy Ed.

The video puts the band in a room divided into four parts – red, blue, green and yellow, for each of the band remembers. They are identified by Scrabble tiles spelling out their names. I bet you’re wondering, so I’ve tallied up the scores: Gibbo (10) – two more points than “Dave”, Scotty (11), Jules (12) and Justyn (16). Justyn gets lucky with both the J (8) and Y (4) in his name. The band name, which spins around on a giant turntable in the centre of the room, is worth only 12 points.

The video is directed by Greg Page, which I had suspected by the rockin’ camera work. But then this little graphic kept popping up, a “Rock-o-meter” which indicates when the band is rocking really hard. It just seems like a Greg Page kind of thing.

With the group’s previous video, “Fast Times in Tahoe” putting them in a sedate country club, this is the video that’s a chance to show the band’s ability to really rock out. You know, they can play their instruments and all. Gibbo especially goes for it, putting on an energetic display in his monochrome Union Jack jumper, singing into one of four microphones.

But what impresses me most is that the lyric “Did I ever mention you’d look wicked in my video?” is not used as a cue to put a cute girl in the video. So in a way, the listener can imagine that she (or he) is the one who would look wicked in the video. With “Nirvana”, Elemeno P established themselves as highly entertaining music dorks.

Best bit: Justyn’s mighty rock poses.

Director: Greg Page

Next… crossword cheating never pays.

Carly Binding “Alright With Me”

2002-carly-binding-alright-with-meHaving done a Geri and escaped from her girl group, Carly Binding was ready to launch herself as a serious pop singer-songwriter. This video provides a stark contrast to the garish world of TrueBliss. The bright orange power bob is gone, replaced with soft natural curls, and the scfi Lycra has been switched for natural fibres (the surprisingly enough don’t look especially out of date a decade down the line). Carly’s sitting on the back of a truck, strumming her acoustic guitar and singing the song she wrote. She’s got a one-way ticket out of Reality Popville, headed straight for Credibility Street.

“Alright With Me” was her second solo single, a pleasant enough country pop song, with a better than average chorus that saw it reach number 10 in the charts. So it’s no wonder that the video plays it very safe, going for a sweet portrayal of Carly in the great outdoors. I get the feeling this is the sort of video treatment that someone like Anika Moa might have felt uncomfortable doing, but it’s a very Carly kind of vid.

As well as sitting on the back of a ute, we also find Jaime Ridge’s future stepmum standing in a green field with a picturesque power pylon behind her, by the muddy shores of the inner Manukau harbour and sitting in the stands at a provincial sports ground. It’s establishing Carly as an ordinary Kiwi chick, the kind who is more at home with her guitar in a pair of jeans than in the orange Lycra of the TrueBliss months.

It’s a really nicely shot video, especially with the lighting of Carly against the scenic backgrounds. Given that most recent Greg Page videos have been of a darker, rockier style, it’s refreshing to see him given the opportunity to make something a bit more vanilla. Though putting a power pylon in a music video is a welcome contrast to the touristy landcapes of similar videos.

Best bit: Carly’s relentless cheer as she bumps along the potholed dirt road.

Note: A second “Alright With Me” video was made for Australia. It’s not online, but you can see a bit of it in this video.

Director: Greg Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next: triple word score

Blindspott “S.U.I.T.”

2002-blindspott-suitI’m not entirely sure how it happened, but I used to really really like Blindspott, and I will offer three pieces of evidence:

Exhibit A: check out the heart.
Exhibit A: check out the heart.
  1. I bought their first two CD singles (“Nil By Mouth” and “Room to Breathe”) at a time when I had otherwise long given up buying actual physical singles.
  2. I went all the way out to a skate shop in Orewa, of all places, which was the only shop that stocked Blindspott merch. I bought an official Blindspott t-shirt.
  3. I won tickets to the extreme sport games X-Air, when it was held in Hamilton, and only went because Blindspott were playing. I got Damian’s autograph.

Things were going well, and then Blindspott released “S.U.I.T.”. There’d been talk in NZmusic.com of the new Blindspott single that was changing things up by having rapped verses and a sung chorus (rather than vice versa on the other singles). But along came this really really angry-dude song, with a chorus that seemed entirely unaware of its contradictory lyrics as it yelled “Fuck you and all your negativity!”

And the video is just as much an angry-dude work. It’s set in a shady bunker type space, where the band are playing in a cage, surrounded by dozens of angry looking dudes. There are tattoos, shaved heads, dreadlocks, eyebrow piercings and scowls a plenty.

The band are all performing in matching boilersuits, and there are some graphics that imply they’ve prisoners in a futuristic prison system or at least have just been arrested. Perhaps they’re performing as part of some sort of futuristic community arts periodic detention programme to assist youth offenders. If so, I’m not sure it’s working.

The video is a statement. The previous two videos were self-funded $800 jobs with the bigger budget and all the extras the band have made a bold statement about who are see themselves. But for me the biggest moment is the pre-chorus lyric “This is us and us is this”. The song and video is Blindspott laying down the law. This is who they are and if you don’t like it, you can get lost. Which is what I found myself doing. And I never wore that Blindspott t-shirt.

Best bit: the seething mass of dudes, barely contained by the fences.

Bonus: Here’s Shelton and Marcus from Blindspott giving high school music students a lesson in the structure of “S.U.I.T.” and make it seem like the world’s most boring song.

Director: Nic Finlayson

Next… Miss Bliss’ wild ride.

Betchadupa “Drop D”

2002-betchadupa-drop-dWhile Betchadupa is experimenting with alternate guitar tunings, their video is based around a night in the life of a Betchadupa fan. We meet her in the bathroom, getting ready to get out. She puts on a tiny bit of mascara, some lippy, and heads off, with the camera seemingly attached to her, like a stalker walking backwards.

After taxiing into town, she walks down the mainstreet, eating chips. Part of me thinks, oh, a nice young lady shouldn’t eat when walking down the street, but another part of me is thinking that actually it would be quite choice to have some street chips before going to see a band.

While she’s walking to the gig, we also see Betchadupa playing. They’re also shot in the same reverse POV style (there’s probably a technical term for it). It gives the performance a sense of urgency. Every little movement is amplified, making it clear they’re playing their instruments with their whole body (even though that sounds really weird and sexual).

Once the fan arrives at the gig, the song shifts down to a slower tempo. The whole video is shot in black and white, but the concert footage is shot in a very grainy style, looking like something that’s been found decaying in a basement. Lead singer Liam is a fuzzy blur; the fan is just a head in the crowd.

It’s a nice enough video, but it feels like Betchadupa have become very comfortable with their role as a young rock band. And maybe that is a bad thing.

Best bit: the chips, in all their chiptious glory.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Director: Greg Page

Next… angry dude fest ’02.

Anika Moa “Falling In Love Again”

2002-anika-moa-falling-in-love“Falling in Love Again” is Anika Moa’s highest-equal charting single, with both it and debut “Youthful” reaching number five. It’s not hard to see why. It’s a sweet romantic song about falling in love with an old boyfriend (or indeed a girlfriend)… after having previously been a bit of a ho. The song was cowritten with James Reid of the Feelers, and was included on the soundtrack of the John Cusack/Catherine Zeta Jones romantic comedy “America’s Sweethearts”.

The video sets Anika in a world populated with lots of cute boys. Everywhere she goes, even in remote coastal New Zealand, eventually there’s a model-like boy giving her the gladeye, and she him. There’s a taxi driver (as sharp-eyed reader Lisa points out, he’s played by Antony Starr), a fisherman, an outrigger canoeist, a cyclist, and a guy who just popped down to the shops for some milk.

And weirdly enough, this doesn’t seem too unrealistic. With the exception of the taxi driver, these occupations and pastimes are not uncommon in the lives of fit young dudes. In every case, there are slow glances and flirty smiles, with the milk boy also getting a kiss on the cheek.

While the taxi driver seems to be driving around a city street (and in a left-hand-drive car), most of the video takes place well away from urban areas, on a sun-drenched beach, a green river, a pleasingly damp rugby field and a small town. I feel like this is a trope in New Zealand music videos – the video as a travelogue, highlighting the parts of New Zealand that may appeal to tourists. But where, I wonder, would tourists find the part of New Zealand occupied by flirty girls and cute boys?

Note: In 2005 Anika talked about the making of this video in a C4 Homegrown profile. She says the American label was heavily involved and flew over a director to keep an eye on things, ensuring the video was full of the aforementioned hot guys. The American also demanded that Anika be filmed from angles to make her look as skinny as possible. Ugh. Watch it here, in part three. Cheers to to Vicky for finding this clip.

Best bit: the classic New Zealand dairy, complete with a wall of red post office boxes.

Director: Justin Pemberton
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… giz a chip.

Missing videos from 2002

February 2002

Tadpole “Now Today Forever”

The lone missing video for the February funding round is “Now Today Forever”, the second single from Tadpole’s second album, and a rather driving rock number.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

April 2002

Che Fu “Top Floor”

There’s also only one video missing from April, Che Fu’s uplifting number “Top Floor”. As it happens, I wrote a summary of this video in 2002. It sounds amazing:

Che Fu and his posse are hanging out on the front porch of a large wooden lodge. A young lady hands out pieces of chocolate cake and MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave pass out cups of instant coffee. With a very laid-back vibe, Che Fu spends most of the video sitting in a rocking chair, knitting. But just in case you think he’s turning into an old gran, in the middle of a song he turns into a robot and does a rap. But then it’s back to the porch. At the end of the song he’s finished knitting. He admires the, er, long red thing he’s made, tosses the ball of wool up in the air and it magically transforms into a snow ball and then Che’s snowboarding off into the sunset.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

June 2002

Fast Crew “Mr Radio”

Along came the Fast Crew, which included Kid Deft who later reverted to his maiden name, Dane Rumble. “Mr Radio” was their debut single, a rant about the difficulty of getting play-listed – something that would soon cease to be a problem for the Crew. The single reached #15 on the Independent NZ chart.

Director: Greg Riwai
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Fuce “Restless”

Christchurch band Fuce have their final NZOA-funded video “Restless”. The group had plans to relocate to Auckland in 2003, but I don’t know what (if anything) happened next.

In 2002 I wrote this about the “Restless” video: This video uses two visual clichés, one old, one getting old. The first is where the camera jerks about as if it’s trying to find something to focus on. The second is when the camera moves as if the power of the music is making the camera shake. Yeah, it’s a low-budget NzonAir video, but it’s looking ok. It just could have looked better if it had just shown the band playing the song, instead of all the dumb camera tricks.

Director: Aaron Hogg
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Splitter “You’re Right To Rock”

Splitter got in on the rock ‘n’ roll revival with “You’re Right To Rock” an ode to you-know-what. Sample lyrics: “Power chords are ringing like a bell!”. Aw yeah.

Subware “Into”

Subware’s final funded video was the lush “Into”, with vocals from Sandy Mills.

Theo Va’a “Little Angel”

Theo Va’a was an 10-year-old singer (dancer, entertainer, songwriter and professional model) from Palmerston North who later wowed the 2003 Christmas in the Park crowd. “Little Angel” featured Atilla Va’a, who I assume grew up to be the 130kg rugby prop asserting himself here.

August 2002

Mace & The Woodcut Crew “Shake ‘m”

“Shake ‘m” is a collaboration between rapper Mace and Auckland producers the Woodcut Crew producers. I’m going to assume it’s an instructional song about making protein shakes.

Pluto “Perfectly Evil”

Pluto have the dark and synthy “Perfectly Evil”. It’s been entertainingly used as the soundtrack for an almost wordless short film made by some year 13 students for their media studies assignment.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

October 2002

Lavina Williams featuring Emily Williams “Higher Lovin'”

Ex-Ma-V-Elle singer Lavina Williams teams up with her younger sister (and future Australian Idol star) Emily for the soul jam “Higher Lovin'”. Their sisterly harmonies sound fabulous.

December 2002

Crystal Fitisemanu “Sunny Summer’s Day”

I’m not sure if the video for Crystal Fitisemanu’s song “Sunny Summer’s Day” was made. There’s no mention of it online, but there is a brief mention of a $3000 grant in 2001 from Creative New Zealand for Crystal to record five songs.

P-Money featuring 4 Corners “The Xpedition”

“The Xpedition” is another track from P-Money’s debut album, this time featuring 4 Corners on vocals.

Rhombus “Tour Of Outer Space”

Well, Rhombus go on a “Tour of Outer Space”.

Director: Wade Shotter
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Tadpole “Always Be Mine”

“Always Be Mine” was the penultimate single released off Tadpole’s second album.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Instead…

This month’s consolation video is “Verbally Decapitating” by DJ Logikal. It was the winner of a competition that TVNZ’s after-hours music show M2 held, with the prize being a $10,000 fancy music video made for the winning track. This is a throw-back to how things were in the days before NZOA, where TVNZ (and its predecessors) made music videos for bands. Though in this case, it was a heavily promoted contest with an alcohol sponsor. The video – which is a really is a proper fancy video – sees DJ Logikal infecting downtown Auckland with his scratched-up beats, and it features pre-development Britomart for some gritty urban decay. It visually name-checks P-Money, and incorporates the song’s samples by having people on the street lip-syncing the words. The video rightly won Best Editor for James Anderson at the 2003 Kodak Music Clip Awards.

Director: James Anderson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision