Mo’Reece “No Reason Why”

2004-mo-reece-no-reason-whyMo’Reece was a R&B pop duo comprised of singer Maurice Banse and everything-else-man Jonas Widjaya. According to their bio on Amplifier, their album was called The Shining (!) and their second single was “promoted on Xtra’s home page”.

“No Reason Why” starts with a period film being shot on the very modern platform at Britomart, with Maurice playing the leading man. All the acting isn’t going well, so the director calls cut and yells at “Morrissey, or whatever your bloody name is”. And – whoa! – the director is played by Anthony Starr, post Shortland Street and Mercy Peak, but pre Outrageous Fortune and almost a decade away from Banshee. Being a charismatic and handsome young actor, he basically steals every scene, making Mo’Reece seem like minor players in their own music video.

While all that’s going on, the station’s security team (including Jonas) view the drama on the CCTV monitors. It turns out this is unauthorised filming. Jonas goes running after rogue actor Maurice, and finds his prop suitcase which contains, er, a Matrix-style trenchcoat and dark glasses. So, ok, let’s throw in a Matrix parody while we’re at it. And then let’s end with everyone dancing together.

There’s a lot going on in this video, with many subtitled conversations that demand the attention of the viewer. So the song ends up seeming like the soundtrack to someone’s 48Hours film. Both are fun on their own, but together there’s a battle to come out on top.

Best bit: the IRL crew member laughing at Anthony Starr’s angry director rant.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… fluff and fold.

Marvey King “Perfect Lullaby”

2004-marvey-king-perfect-lullaby“Perfect Lullaby” was the second and final funded video for a Marvey King song, after “Rosary” from 2000. The video was shot in Sydney and made by the Australian director and animator Simon Rippingdale.

The video is shot as a serious of still images, all animated together. So there’s a jerkiness to the video, but it also means being able to include cool timelapse effects that a video camera wouldn’t be able to capture.

There’s a bit of fun had with the stop-motion. At one point Marvey is sitting on a chair, she gets up, takes a few steps and the chair is suddenly ablaze. She’s also shot standing in the middle of a metro station concourse while a blur of commuters rushes either side of her.

But the video spends most of its time in a windowless room, which contains some fancy furniture, a rocking horse and two cabaret girls. While Marvey is in this room, most of the time her hair is crawling all over her face, which makes me wants to comb her hair back in a ponytail until it can learn to keep still.

Because of the stop-motion production, there’s no lip synching, so Marvey feels a bit distant. This is compounded by the video being set in Sydney. It’s like instead of Marvey being the singer, the song is being sung about her.

Best bit: the clock on the wall in the windowless room – time passes!

Director: Simon Rippingale
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… underground, overacting.

Lucid 3 “West”

2004-lucid-3-westLucid 3 like a bit of dress-up and this video takes inspiration from its title and puts the trio in the wild west, which looks to be played by somewhere in Otago. Victoria is kitted out as a cowgirl, but spends most of her time sitting outside a stone building, playing her guitar.

The other two band members are the villains. They’re a-comin’, with their cowboy hats and swagger. “I’m being hunted down. I’m not ready to surrender,” Victoria sings. It looks like there’s going to be a showdown!

After a tense standout, involving some top-level Eastwood-style eyebrow twitching, the three draw their guns. Only the guns are invisible, which is the cue for an invisible gunfight. It’s nowhere near as epic or as much fun as the legendary invisible gunfight on Spaced, but it serves as a somewhat arty conclusion to the tension.

With her two foes felled, Victoria heads back to her hut with the swagger of someone who can keep things under control and who looks good in a poncho.

The song is a typically smooth Lucid 3 track, which doesn’t obviously suggest the wild west. But in this situation, it seems to set the tone for a chilled out world where anyone who tries to bring aggro will find himself dealt to with invisible bullets.

Best bit: the flourish with which Victoria throws on her poncho.

Director: Richard Bell
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… eyeliner acting.

Flow on Show “Move to the Flow”

2004-flow-on-show-move-to-the-flowTauranga hip hop group Flow on Show released “Move to the Flow” as a double A-side along with a track called “Ease Your Mind”. While “Move to the Flow” is the group’s self-described B-boy anthem, “Ease Your Mind” is an ode to hanging out at the beach at Mount Maunganui.

In the world of “Move to the Flow”, everything is cool. It’s set in an old warehouse, helped out by a generous cast of extras. There’s an attempt at some “Beat It” style dancing between rival groups, but both groups seem aware of their lack of dance menace. Slightly more successful is some formation dancing, with the less skilled dancers hidden down the back and sympathetic camera angles not revealing too much.

I have long wanted some good, show-stopping dancing in a New Zealand music video, so I have no complaints when a group actually puts effort into bringing dance to their video. There’s also some highly skilled breakdancing that steals the show.

But then I keep thinking back to the “Ease Your Mind” video. As cool and urban as Flow on Show try to be in the “Move to the Flow” video, the truth is out there – they are actually dudes who really like hanging out at Mount Maunganui on a hot summer’s day and give a shout out to the suburban streets of their neighbourhood. And that all seems a lot more fun than the self-conscious world of the “Move to the Flow” warehouse.

Best bit: the breakdancer’s headspin – always good.

Note: This video was on Facebook, but is now unavailable.

Next… showdown at high noon.

Evermore “Come to Nothing”

2004-evermore-come-to-nothing“Come to Nothing” is a slow, emotional tale of a lost love. The video is heavy-handed with symbolism, putting Jon and his bros into a derelict, fire-gutted house. We also see a young woman wandering the same house, but staying well away from Evermore. Just as well. It seems they have some issues.

As Jon sings, the woman wanders the house. She stands in the blackened kitchen, perhaps thinking back to happier times and that really amazing spaghetti bolognese they had that one time.

The video is shot in desaturated colours, creating a gloomy world where a relationship break-up feels like the least awful thing that could happen in an average day. And maybe a split would add a bit of excitement to the bleak and burnt existence.

There’s a bit in the song where Jon keeps repeating the line “It’s come to nothing!”, but he pronounces “come” like “cyum”. The first few times it sounds strange, then it’s the most hilarious thing ever, but by the end of the song it just sounds normal and I legitimately fear that I’m going to start saying “cyum”.

At the end of the video Jon and the woman wander into the same room, but it’s all over between them. They make an odd couple and the split seems to be like a 15-year-old guy being dumped by his more emotionally mature girlfriend. Yeah, it’s over, but it doesn’t seem like the end of the world for either of them. All that’s left is for Jon to wander off with his brothers. Oh look – a burnt out car. How symbolic.

Best bit: the woman pieces together a broken plate, and we know how that turned out in Breaking Bad.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… another place to lay down the vinyl.

Bleeders “So Lonely”

2004-the-bleeders-so-lonelyI’ve just realised something. As I moved into videos from 2004, suddenly the quality of the files on YouTube was reduced, with 240p being pretty standard. Why? Because unlike earlier videos, these ones weren’t uploaded, say, a couple of years ago. A lot of videos from 2004 were uploaded in 2006 when YouTube was only about a year old and only had one quality level – 320 x 240 pixels. So we have now entered the era of native YouTube uploads and with it comes blocky, pixelly video quality.

So, we find the Bleeders in 240p glory playing their song in a black studio, with band members sparingly lit. It’s all very shadowy. The band are mostly dressed in black, along with their uniform black hair, though the guitarist is really letting everyone down with his bright red guitar.

And that’s basically it: the Bleeders dressed in black, playing “So Lonely” in a black room. It’s not the first time this style has been used (Stella used a less dramatic black setting for their “Star” video), and it’s always struck me an effective way to do a low-budget video that doesn’t look cheap.

I imagine a video like this playing on C4 and all the Bleeders fans being really into it. It’s not an amazing video that’s about to go viral, but far as being a Bleeders video goes, it’s doing a good job.

Best bit: the brief moment of stillness when the band pose together against a wall.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… poor indoor-outdoor flow.

Baitercell & Schumacher “Lock & Load”

2004-baitercell-and-schumacher-lock-and-loadThe “Lock & Load” video takes inspiration from the song title and sets it in a world of guns, though of the video game variety. It’s set in an uncanny city intersection, with crude computer animation – just the sort of thing that would feature in a video game of the era.

Vocalist Bex plays the protagonist of the game and it’s a pretty simple game. Just her shooting people. There are lots of sound effects, mostly gunfire, and they threaten to dominate the video at the expense of the song. But then, as the song is a chaotic drum ‘n’ bass extravaganza, the gunfire does at least fit the mood.

Like the recent video for Tourist’s song “Do You Feel the Cold?”, this video was also the recipient of a $1500 grant from Positively Wellington Business to make the video in Wellington. So what do you do when the video is set in a fictitious, computer-generated world?

Well, all the building look Wellington-ish, the sort of Victorian style you see down the Courtenay Place end of town. And the buildings are decked out with the brands of local businesses – as well as obvious brands like Hell pizza, Red Bull and urban clothing retailer Spacesuit, there’s also the vegetarian cafe Pranah. Well, video game assassins can’t survive just on pizza and energy drinks.

The video feels a little bit messy, like they’ve created this video game world, but all there is to do with it is shoot the bad guys. Whereas real video games, well, they tend to be bit more sophisticated.

Best bit: the assassin shoots up a video shop. Not seen – the owner takes the insurance payout and retires before the home video market crashes.

Director: Ed Davis

Next… a cure for loneliness.

Aerial “Come Around Again”

2004-aerial-come-around-againWe last saw Aerial in the mundane setting of the Huapai takeaway shop, but things get more glam with “Come Around Again”. The video is like a scrapbook of travel mementos from the mid-20th century, back when air travel was fancy and exciting.

To ground things in reality, the video is bookended live action scenes of the duo singing in a recording studio. It’s deep in the mixing desk that the travel adventure begins, with the cables and plugs echoing images of power lines and a manual telephone exchange.

The rest of the video is animated, but not in a cartoony way. There are lots of still shots and layers of travel icons and other symbols of the era – maps, air mail letters, rotary phones and telegrams. And as the NZ On Screen description notes, it is a very rewarding video, with layers of delight to uncover.

The issue for me is that the song itself isn’t especially remarkable, a pretty forgettable MOR love song. The video ends up being way more interesting than the song. I’d rather print out screenshots and enjoy the visuals as a series of postcards than in music video form.

Director: Guy Tichborne
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… achievement unlocked.

4Eulogi “Over You”

2004-4eulogi-over-youSomehow Josh, the lead singer in this video, seemed oddly familiar and then I realised where I’d seen him before. He appeared in the first day of the NZ X Factor bootcamp, but didn’t make it any further. (Yes, this is very specific X Factor nerd knowledge. Shut up.)

Despite the band’s name sounding like a electro-goth band, 4Eulogi are a pretty ordinary MOR pop band. They seem to have come out of the Bay of Plenty and gigged a bit, managed some TV appearances, and a received funding for a couple of videos before breaking up in 2005.

The “Over You” video focuses solely on Josh – the rest of the band are missing. He starts off strolling along Fort Lane, literally the only grimy looking lane in Auckland, though now it’s all fancyed-up and less suitable for music videos.

He wanders about Auckland, as does a young woman. Things are a bit weird – rocks are falling up, tides are flowing backwards. They seem to exist in parallel universes, walking in the same place but never finding the other. Or maybe they are literally just missing each other, like Kylie and Jason in the “Especially For You” video.

Ugh. This is the thing. Now I’m at the point where I’m more excited about watching a 25-year-old Kylie and Jason video instead of this 4Eulogi vid. “Over You” is just really unremarkable. But then, it was nominated for Breakthrough Video at the Juice TV awards in 2005. Someone out there must have liked it.

Best bit: the rocks falling up, a bit of excitement.

Note: There was a nice version of this video over at Fish and Clips, but the associated Vimeo account has been closed. I can’t find the video anywhere else.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… postcards from the middle.

48May “Home By 2”

2004-48may-home-by-2Possibly inspired by the psychiatric-themed cover art of their debut album The Mad Love, the “Home By 2” video puts 48May in a padded cell (room 48, of course). Except rather than looking like a secure psychiatric facility, it looks more like someone has bought some green duvets from Spotlight and stapled them to sheets of plywood. When the band members hurl themselves at the walls, the walls move. Classic era Doctor Who sets had more structural integrity.

The sight of the band leaping around the padded cell is pretty ordinary. It’s not until the second verse that things get interesting. Lead singer Jon is on the floor, sensually writhing about like Miley Cyrus in her “Adore You” video. He’s biting his lip and giving the camera the glad eye and at one point he kind of humps the padded floor. I can’t help but wonder what fate would have awaited 48May if they’d been around in the era of Tumblr. They would have been gif’d good and proper. Yeah, like that.

Disappointingly, the rest of the video goes back to the band leaping around the mock padded cell. “Do you think I’ll be fine,” the lyrics enquire. Well, given that the band has been allowed their musical instruments inside the padded cell, I’d say they’re not really at risk of self-harm. Go on, give us another song.

Best bit: Jon’s boyband-style air-grab move.

Director: Greg Page
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a lonely stroll.