Eight “No Way to Decide”

2003-eight-no-way-to-decideThe “No Way to Decide” video seems like the path of least resistance. It’s black and white, very serious and goes nicely with the band’s earnest grunty rock sound. Their previous video “Moments Gone” had a goofy plot that was at odds with the song’s feel, but it’s a good match here.

We see the band performing in a black space, with shadowy light making them look all fierce and rock. This is the first time the band has appeared in a music video in a classic band performance pose. (The closest previously was performing on a roundabout in the non-NZOA-funded “Shift”.)

But the main part of the video involves a man with a blindfold. “All this time I’m running”, shouts the chorus. But the video’s hero isn’t running, he’s walking blindfolded. And he’s walking in very straight lines.

Now, I’ve seen the episode of Mythbusters where Adam and Jamie tested whether it were possible to walk straight while blindfolded. They concluded it’s impossible, and indeed YouTube is full of DIY experiments of people staggering all over football fields. So while this guy in the Eight video is cautiously but confidently walking straight along the middle of the road, this is not what an actual blindfolded person would experience.

Our hero crosses a busy road, runs through a forest (which seems an odd choice, given that he keeps crashing into trees), along city streets, stumbles over craggy rocks and finally finds himself standing at a cliff edge. So, is this the end of his journey, or will he take another step forward and plunge off the cliff? Well, if the Mythbusters’ experiment was anything to go by, he’ll just end up walking around in circles.

Best bit: the Frogger-style road crossing.

Next… a warm summer day indoors.

Deep Obsession featuring Kantuta “I Am”

2003-deep-obsession-i-amIf there’s one thing to remember about Deep Obsession it’s this: their first three singles went to number one, and they are one of three New Zealand artists to have three number-one singles (the other two being Mr Lee Grant and John Rowles in the 1960s and ’70s).

But their glory days were in the late ’90s. By the early 2000s the group was in a state of flux. This song sees only one of the Deep Obsession singers, Zara Clarke, and she’s teamed up with Latin-Pacific entertainers Kantuta.

“I Am” was the final Deep Obsession song to be funded. It didn’t chart. It’s a pretty average dance-pop song that sounds like it hadn’t dealt with the new millennium and is still living in the ’90s.

The video is set in a dark night club where Zara and Kantuta are performing on stage. It’s a dark and stormy night outside and a young couple take refuge in the bar. People dance to the song, the couple canoodles and that’s about it.

It’s all very… ordinary. I miss the madness of the earlier Deep Obsession videos. The ice princesses of “Cold”, the futuristic fishtanks in “One and Only”, the parallel party universe of “You Got the Feeling”, even the hospital drama of “Miracles”. Instead Deep Obsession go out with the very unremarkable world of “I Am”.

Best bit: the way the editing makes it look like everyone on stage is smiling benevolently at the canoodling couple.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… walking the line.

Dead End Beat “All My Riches”

2003-dead-end-beat-all-my-richesA limousine pulls up outside the Crystal Palace cinema in Mount Eden. Its passenger is a wealthy but frail old codger who’s come for a private screening.

The limo has the comedy licence plates “GWBUSH” which doesn’t really make sense in the context of the video. Or perhaps the oldster’s name is Gerald Wilbur Bush. They’ve have been better off swapping the plates for some regular ones. Another strange detail – the cinema has posters advertising the film “Kombi Nation”. Was the song on its soundtrack (google says no), or were the posters just there as part of the cinema’s regular line-up?

Anyway, the old millionaire is accompanied by two bodyguards who are terrible actors. The video is trying to be all noir and sexual but the bodyguards are like kids acting in a primary school play.

The codger settles down and watches a old porno, starring Shayla LaVeaux, a real American porn star (you might know her work in The Cougar Club 2, Lesbian Mentors 1: Older Women, Younger Girls, or When MILFs Attack). We also see shots of present-day Shayla in the back of a limo.

The screening is going well when suddenly a thug appears and menacing walks over the seat tops towards ol’ pops where – we assume – he murders him. It seems that Shayla and the codge are/were married, so we assume she’s taken out a hit on him. Well, it’s understandable – it would be a bit weird if your husband was obsessed with your older porn when you were still pretty young and fit.

Hey, where’s the band where all this is happening? They’re out playing the song in a dark alley. The players in the cinema story dominate the video, with the band left lurking in the shadows. But it’s a shadowy song and it works having the band lurking as minstrels in the background.

It feels like the video wants to be a lot sexier and darker than it manages to be. There are some terrifically noir and beautifully photographed shots, but it seems let down by the bumbling heavies, who should be played as smart aides, not comedic thugs.

Best bit: the theatre manager counts the fat wad of cash he’s made – way more lucrative than screening Kombi Nation.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the last obsession.

Damien Binder “Point & Shoot”

2003-damien-binder-point-and-shootMaybe I’ve been watching too much Masterchef, but I want to call this “pop video, four ways”. The screen is split into four, with each corner filled with footage of that particular part of the scene. So most of the time it just looks like a regular shot of Damien Binder in a room, only there’s a strange wobbly cross going through the middle of the image.

Garageland’s video for “Feel Alright” used a similar technique, only theirs was played up for its surreal humour. In contrast, “Point & Shoot” ends up being a bit sedate. At one point Damien is sitting at a table with a cup of coffee and I found myself wishing for some “Feel Alright”-style split-screen lolz. But no, it’s just Damien sitting at a table.

It’s not until the surprising unpredictability of Damien’s guitar strumming comes along that the split screens really get around to showing a bit of contrast. And as the song progresses, the video mixes up the four screens a bit.

It’s a bit uneventful. The song is like that too – a really chilled out acoustic guitar pop number – so the end result is a a bit dull. I think the song would be really good to see performed live in a small club setting. But on video, it’s just not very engaging. There’s absolutely nothing bad or wrong with this video, but there’s nothing about it that makes me want to watch it again.

Best bit: Damien pours wine into one glass, another glass remains empty *sadface*

Director: Jonathan King

Next… a pornstar.

Crumb “Stay Hard”

2003-crumb-stay-hardLike 3 The Hard Way’s video for “Nothing’s Changed”, Crumb’s video for “Stay Hard” is also set in an Asian restaurant with a karaoke machine. This time it’s a quiet night, with few customers and bored restaurant staff, played by other band members. This lack of audience doesn’t mean lead singer Carter Crumb is going to give a subdued performance. In a very un-New-Zealand manner, he rocks hard.

The karaoke video features the band’s drummer as a rugged outdoorsy bloke, getting back to nature as he slices up a log with a chainsaw, and later frolics with a dog. And that makes about as much sense as any karaoke video.

Back in the restaurant things get a little surreal, with a giant bank of televisions displaying more rock action. The song is a full-on rock song about the subject of rocking hard. The video kicks off with that rock energy and never relents.

As the video progresses, the performance seems less rooted in the reality of restaurant karaoke, and more like a surreal red room where Carter is alone with a microphone, free to rock out as mightily as he wants.

Now here’s the thing – when I think back to that 3 The Hard Way video, it’s not really a song that would work as a karaoke selection. Everyone would go off to get more drinks and/or use the toilet and you’d be left just singing to the one remaining person in your group, too polite to walk away. Whereas “Stay Hard” would actually be quite a fun song to do for karaoke, one of those early-evening numbers that gets everyone all revved up.

Best bit: The random cheerleaders – they appear, do a routine, and are never seen from again.

Note: The YouTube URL for this video contains “Porn” – Porn-QKrRLg, to be precise. This will probably see 5000 Ways get blacklisted by some overzealous corporate keyword blocker.

Director: Jonny Kofoed
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… sitting around.

Autozamm “Day to Day”

2003-autozamm-day-to-dayAutozamm were an unusual band in the history of NZ On Air funding. They received funding for 12 music videos, but none of their singles and only one of their albums charted. Consider the other acts who’ve received funding for 12 videos (Che Fu, Die! Die! Die!, Dimmer, Fur Patrol, Goodshirt, Headless Chickens and the Mutton Birds) –  they were all over the charts. But the charts aren’t the be-all, end-all over musical achievement (and it’s certainly not a criterial for NZOA funding). One bio says the band were “renowned for exhilarating live shows”, so perhaps they were taking a very mid-2010s approach – forget the charts (there’s no money there, anyway), live shows are where it’s at.

The “Day to Day” video is very simple and low budget. Filmed in a steep Wellington suburb, it’s a one-take video, following the band as they leave a house and run along the street. Well, when I say “street”, it’s one of those theoretical Wellington streets that’s too steep for cars to drive down or people to walk down, so it’s been turned into a zig-zagging walkway. The group end up in a park at the bottom of the hill, with a rope swing to muck around on until the song runs out.

It seems to be shot digitally, with the footage later stabilised, meaning there’s an ever-changing border floating around the image. It’s just as well – if it had been left as it was shot, it would be unwatchably shaky.

The song is an angry rant – “I am not happy from day to day,” Mikee snarls. The video doesn’t convey that anger. It’s more like a fun adventure the Monkees might have, messing around with wacky video tricks. If this is a band known for their live shows, I’d like to see that captured in a video.

Best bit: the council worker tending to the garden with a weed trimmer.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… glorified karaoke.

Adeaze “A Life with You”

2003-adeaze-a-life-with-youAlong come brothers Nainz and Viiz, who make up the R&B duo Adeaze, following in the footstepz of Split Enz, Nine Livez and Rockquest winnerz Dancing Azians.

“A Life with You” is a smooth jam, a heartfelt apology to a mistreated lover. So with a song like that, the video needs something with a bit of a story involving the sad-faced lover.

Nainz and Viiz are left to sing the song in a recording studio, but it’s the studio producer who becomes a player in the story of love and deception. After a busy day in sliding knobs in the studio, the producer returns home and sees a photo of his girlfriend. He thinks back and thinks back to his marriage proposal (with his girlfriend kneeling before him, in tears).

This doesn’t make him happy, and he writes a note, packs a bag and leaves. The girlfriend comes home, reads and letter and shrugs. Oh, snap! Despite the male voice of the song, it turns out she’s the cheating cheater and he’s the the one getting out of the crappy relationship.

Back at the studio, Adeaze invite him out for some sort of post-recording celebrations, but he declines. He’s probably going to spend the night sleeping on the control room floor.

That’s not quite an M Night Shyamalan level of twist, but it’s still highly entertaining. It works with the laidback groove of the song. And it’s a good introduction to the smooth world of Adeaze.

Best bit: in the studio, the producer mouths “wow” at Adeaze.

Director: Sophie Findlay
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… running down a hill.

48May “Come Back Down”

2003-48-may-come-back-downThis video starts with something I haven’t seen since the ’90s – a customised NZ On Air logo. This time it’s the standard graffiti style logo, but some aerosol paint can sound effects have been added.

The video takes place in a wooden frame of a building. It doesn’t quite look like an active building site, maybe more like the construction was halted halfway through. Well, whatever happened it has provided an officially interesting setting for a punk-pop music video shoot.

And that’s about all that happens. There’s 48May performing in front of a bunch of unlined rooms.

I’m intrigued by this building. It’s by the sea, it appears to have a rooftop deck (the drummer is found up there, surrounded by a “CAUTION” tape fence) and one room has a (hole for a) large picture window overlooking the beach. I like to think of this as being a Bond villain’s lair under construction.

At the end of the video, the group get out of the house and play closer to the beach. But this isn’t anywhere near as interesting as performing inside a strange half-built house.

Update: Stu says, “If memory serves, [lead singer] Jon’s family were building that house out at Raglan.”

Best bit: the lone curtain, tacked up on a window hole.

Note: It looks like the only way to view this video is via Apple Music (subscription needed). But you can watch the first 30 seconds for free.

Director: Ivan Slavov

3 The Hard Way “Nothing’s Changed”

2003-3-the-hard-way-nothings-changedIn “Nothing’s Changed”, 3 The Hard Way look back at their youth, the golden days of “Hip Hop Holiday” when they were running wild and free. It was only 10 years prior, which shows how young they still were. (I bet now they look back at the golden days of 2003, etc.)

So, what goes with reminiscing? Why, Mongolian barbecue. The video is set in that Mongolian barbecue restaurant and karaoke venue at the top of Queen Street. It’s packed with young Asian diners – a change from the “crazy Asian fans” trope seen in other music videos.

The restaurant patrons take turns at singing the song’s chorus. The screen that would normally display the karaoke lyrics instead shows the “Hip Hop Holiday” music video, which seems custom-made to evoke nostalgic feelings of youthful extravagances.

There’s slow-motion footage of goings-on in the restaurant, including the delivery of a giant platter of noodles. (OMG, I would actually watch a music video that was just people eating a giant bowl of noodles.) We also see chefs in the kitchen literally playing with fire, setting alight a meat skewer via fire breathing.

But about halfway through the video loses steam. There’s no more rapping, so the video is left with clips of the “Hip Hop Holiday” video and karaoke kids. It’s partly due to the song also running out of energy, with the end result being like a tired old man who’d rather be at home watching Coronation Street than bothering with all this hip hop malarky.

Best bit: the giant plate of noodles.

Director: Michael Reihana
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… under construction.