Dei Hamo “We Gon’ Ride”

2003-dei-hamo-we-gon-rideWell, there’s a lot going on in this video. The video starts with a prologue – Dei Hamo and pals sitting in a car parked in the pedestrian area outside the Britomart Transport Centre. After declaring that there’s no “new sound”, the four discover that – hey – you can make cool noises with things inside a car. This suggests that none of them have ever been a bored kid waiting inside a car.

After a minute of that, the song proper kicks off. Most of the action takes place in and around Commerce Street in Downtown Auckland, right in front of the bookshop selling cute Asian stationery. There are cars galore, along with boys and girls who are just as much into cars as Dei Hamo is. He’s pestered by the media (with one reporter played by Jane Yee) but just as things seem about to get boring, they instead get weird.

There’s Dei Hamo and Chong Nee dressed as military generals standing in front of a big wall of shiny mag wheels, Dei Hamo in white-face as Paul Holmes having a dig as the notorious “cheekie darkie” comment, Dei Hamo relaxing with an underwear-clad model in an RV. And then there’s Matthew Ridge excitedly boogieing down with the boys.

At the time the video came out, it all seemed very exciting. As Duncan Greive says over at Audio Culture, this is what big flashy hip hop videos were like at the time. It takes a lot of effort to make a video like this (the video reportedly cost over $50,000), but Chris Graham and Dei Hamo pulled it off. And yet… as Greive also observes, “something about the cumulative impact feels a little overblown – like, this is New Zealand. We can’t possibly afford to live that life.”

It looks like a world created for a music video, rather than an actual depiction of a blinged-out good life. The song was number one for five weeks, in that remarkable time in 2003-2005 when eight New Zealand hip hop songs made it to number one before the trend flipped over to reality TV show winners. And now, 10 years later, the world of “We Gon’ Ride” seems like ancient history, that time when entertainers used to dress up and dance around cars.

Best bit: Dei Hamo holds up a fat wad of Rutherfords.

Director: Chris Graham
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

And with this blinged-out extravaganza, I’ll end the year. 5000 Ways will now take its annual break, back on Monday 20 January right in the midst of that particularly fruitful time for New Zealand music in the pop charts. As always, thanks to you, dear reader, and to everyone who’s commented and shared stories, and to all the people who’ve tracked down old videos and got them online. Merry Christmas, happy New Year and see you in 2003!

  • Robyn

Brooke Fraser “Better”

2003-brooke-fraser-betterOh, the sweet sound of Brooke Fraser, and in the golden age before she got her tongue pierced and started singing with a pronounced lisp. “Better” stars Temuera Morrison (pre teeth veneers – what’s up with entertainers messing with their mouths?) as Brooke’s troubled dad – like a lower-middle-class Jake the Muss who’s got most of his issues under control, but still has moods.

He comes home from work, heats up a really depressing looking dish of microwaved veggies, but he has no appetite and so goes upstairs for a lie-down. While he’s resting, daughter Brooke lets herself in and gets to work on a makeover of his living room. He wisely doesn’t come downstairs. If he did, she’d probably hand him a paintbrush and make him join in.

Brooke gives the place a good dusting (the place is filthy), paints over the dingy yellowing wallpaper with bright white paint, adds a few stylish throw cushions and a lamp, hangs a photos of a tropical island, arranges a colourful bunch of flowers on the table, and takes off, happy with her three-minute makeover.

There are actual TV shows exactly like this (the Living Channel is full of them). Troubled people get quickie makeovers to put a smile on their face and help brighten up their life. But does the fresh new look make Tem happy? As he sits down to finish his plate of microwaved veggies, he sees the flowers and has a little smile on his face. But really, Brooke goes to all the effort of making over the house, but she leaves him with the old plate of microwaved veggies? How hard would it have been to phone for pizza? Yeah.

The videos works really well with the themes of the song. There’s no attempt to dress it up as a boy-girl relationship song. Yeah, the makeover is a bit silly, but overall there’s sweetness.

Note: this video might not have actually had NZ On Air funding. It’s one of the “yeah nah” ones.

Best bit: Brooke’s careful arrangement of the throw cushions.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a fat wad of Rutherfords.

Blindspott “Blank”

2003-blindspott-blankBlindspott have a lot of serious, emotional rock songs in their repertoire, but this is one of the most serious and emotional songs. See, it’s about addiction, portrayed in the video as alcoholism – a stark contrast to the fun but sensible drinking of the WBC’s “Ease Ya Mind” video.

The video is set in a gloomy room. It might be a bedroom, or it might be a motel room, the last refuge of the troubled drinker. We see the drinker hanging around in the room, and each member of Blindspott is seen performing individually in the room.

The drinker, meanwhile, is drunk. There are close-ups of Scotch being sloppily poured into a tumbler – the cinematic shorthand that says “I’m so desperate for a drink that I will sloppily pour a glass, but I am not so desperate that I’d drink straight out of the bottle.”

The drunkard doesn’t do anything fun when he’s drink. He doesn’t even stagger about or drunk-dial an ex. He just lies down on the bad and grips the sheets. Because booze.

There’s also some symbolism in the video – a fading Polaroid photo, a blue liquid – ink? curacao? – trickling down a wall. Actually, if they really wanted to show alcoholism, they’d make the blue liquid spilt curacao and have the guy lick it off the wall, not wanting a drop to go to waste.

Is there a lesson to be learned? Well, it’s that all the success of being in a popular alternative metal band doesn’t mean much when your mate is an addict. Mmm.

Note: this video is taken from a music show broadcast and there’s an annoying scroll advertising a competition underneath the video most of the time. And the sweary lyrics are awkwardly silenced out.

Best bit: the elegant mid-century sideboard.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… two-minute home makeover.