David Kilgour “You Forget”

I like a video with a storyline, and David Kilgour’s vid for “You Forget” does this nicely. Dave starts out by driving his car to the beach, complete with a hoon across Grafton Bridge back when it had the ugly chainlink anti-suicide fences.

He gets to the beach, hangs out on the shore for a bit, then jumps in the harbour and swims over to Rangitoto. He keeps his sunglasses on in the water because he is cool. The song is about a soured relationship. Perhaps Dave is exiling himself from the devilwoman by running away to a barren island.

On the island, he climbs to the summit, then catches the ferry back to Auckland, while his Chucks change colour several times. This is quite sensible – if you’re going to be mucking around on scoria fields but wearing only a thin-soled pair of sneakers, you’d want to take a spare pair of two along.

This is what happens when you have a cult following – you get to make a simple music video and 20 years later it’s online with happy comments from gleeful fanboys.

Best bit: the camera respectfully panning away when Dave falls over on the scoria field.

Bonus!

In 1992, “You Forget” won the prestigious Most Use of Water in a Video award at the Yahoo Awards – presented by MC OJ and Rhythm Slave, along with show host Moana on the Saturday morning kids TV show Yahoo. Flying Nun label head Roger Shepherd accepted the award.

Director: Stuart Page
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a video that is just too obscure for we.

Tall Dwarfs “Fork Songs”

“Fork Songs” was a four-song EP, and the Tall Dwarfs got one funding grant to make videos for all four tracks. Four videos for the price of one? A total move of Knoxian brilliance.

“Wings” has an animated border, with the small centre square showing Chris and Alec mucking around in the Knox lounge room. Dancing with an umbrella and a wheel? Oh, why not?

“Lowlands” is animated, with the animations drawn on the phone book. Starting from the emergency pages at the start, each page moves the animation, with people’s faces morphing into one another. Each chorus is live action footage of a TV, and then it’s back to a replay of the phone book, but getting blacker and scratchier with each reprise.

“Oatmeal” takes the food theme to extremes, with stop-motion animated foodstuffs messing up the place. Dancing chickens, baked beans, bacon, and identifiable edibles. Just when it starts to look palatable, Chris puts a face on it and makes it look at me.

And finally “Two Humans” is a quickly cut montage of still images of many humans. It’s fun to randomly pause, and check out the snapshots of ordinary people in their best ’90s fashions.

The “Fork Songs” videos – each costing an average of $1250 – is evidence that pretty good videos are possible on a very low budget. Of course, it helps when your art already has a low-budget, DIY aesthetic anyway.

Best bit: Chris being caught fiddling with his home recording gear.



Director: Chris Knox
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Maree goes awol.

Jan Hellriegel “No Idea”

The first single released off Jan Hellriegel’s debut album “It’s My Sin” was the lush “The Way I Feel”, and yet the later release “No Idea” was the first to get video funding. I guess someone had second thoughts about which song would be best to launch Ms Helleiegel into pop hyperspace.

“No Idea” is a rock tune that deals with a person who has annoyed the singer. The video, though, is a little confused. It features Jan singing the song (ok), but is cut with extreme closeups of her band – so close that it’s not apparent that they’re actually playing musical instruments. So it’s like “Who are these random bogans and what are they doing in this video?”

It doesn’t help that one of the bogans suddenly drinks from a glass of wine, followed up with a later close up of a glass of wine. Why? A reference to West Auckland winemaking? What?

But aside from that, Jan in her peasant blouse, high-contrast makeup (including matt lipstick) and shoulder-length hair pretty much represents the aesthetic I was going for at that time. Only she did it so much better than 16-year-old me.

Best bit: with no context, a man climbs through a window.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Chris and Alec’s four-for-one deal.

Hinewehi Mohi “Kia U”

Years before Hinewehi Mohi teamed up with Jaz Coleman to form the world music power pop group Oceania, she released “Kia U”, a sweet te reo soul song. The production of the song is a little painful – clunky, cheesy synth and Santana-wannabe guitar, sounding like a backing track for a Cossie Club week night entertainer.

The video is simple but effective. Hinewehi is filmed in close-up, with the camera exploring her face. We also see other women, one holding a baby. This is cut with shots of native bush, and the occasional glimpse of the glamour of a modern city. The camera lingers on the ordinary – a logo, a fence, a skyscraper – seeing patterns that a passerby might not.

I’m missing out by not understanding the lyrics – they’re in te reo Maori. The occasional word jumps out at me, but I’m relying on other context, including the music video, for meaning.

It’s a nice video, but I’m so glad she got a better producer for the music.

Best bit: the slow pan over the gold dots of the old BNZ crest logo.



Director: Niki Caro
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a westie girl is launched into pop hyperspace.

Southside of Bombay “What’s The Time Mr Wolf?”

“What’s The Time Mr Wolf?” is another important milestone with NZ On Air funding. It’s the first reggae song, an important musical genre in this country.

Southside of Bombay’s political wake-up call features plenty of footage of news headlines and protest scenes of the Springbok Tour, anti-nuclear and Waitangi protests and other infamous moments in New Zealand’s history.

There’s also tribute made to Bob Marley, with a handwritten list of events 10 years prior, in 1981 – Springbok Tour, Bastion Point, Bob Marley. Fortunately 2001 and 2011 turned out to be really great years, right, guys?

There’s also a series of newspaper headline of significant political events in late 20th century New Zealand history. One NZ Herald headline proclaims “TRUXTUN HERE. Unhindered passage into port.” I had to google it – the USS Truxtun was one of the US nuclear-powered ships that visited New Zealand in 1984, eventually leading to the nuclear-free policy. It’s funny to think that the Truxtun was once famous enough to be named without context as the lead story in the biggest newspaper in New Zealand.

But despite all the political bits, at its heart, it’s a simple studio performance video. The band perform the song under golden lights, with the final shot revealing Mr Wolf watching the band. Ooh.

Best bit: An ominous still of a giant spider on the side of Parliament.



Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… A lesson in power dressing, sweetie-darling.

Ngaire “Attitude”

Ngaire had a number one hit with her cover of “To Sir With Love”. But subsequent singles languished in the charts, including “Attitude”. The song – only 2:45 long – sounds like a jam that was never really developed into a full song.

She sings the song up against a wall, surrounded by her band, as if they were protecting her from the bad-attituded subject of the lyrics. Her disses aren’t particularly harsh: “You walk so slowly, like an action reply”. Today, she’d join that anti-slow-walking Facebook group.

The most remarkable thing about the video is Ngaire’s wardrobe. She’s dressed like a young businesswoman, with the style that Eddie from “Absolutely Fabulous” favoured, or indeed the power suits that Christina Rankin would later be mocked for wearing. It’s an odd choice for the song. If Ngaire is playing a confident businesswoman, what was she doing with the lyrical deadbeat in the first place?

Throw yourself into your work, Ngaire! Your TPS reports won’t sass you like he does.

Best bit: The intense rock face of Ngaire’s drummer.

Director: Chris Mauger
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Money worries aren’t the only thing that’s getting me down.

JPS Experience “Precious”

The appearance of the JPS Experience marks the first Flying Nun band to get funding. The JPS Experience break out the green screen, which is fine, but they take things to the next level with silver foil. The band play the song in a series of rooms, each with a different special effect colour scheme. It’s all very psychedelic, with the crazy swirling outside, and resembles the cover of their 1993 album “Bleeding Star”.

This green screen malarky was newly affordable video technology, so it’s no surprise that it pops up all the time in music videos, but here it’s just overkill. It’s like they’re not quite confident enough in the song or their abilities on camera, so they’ve hidden behind an oil slick of green screen.

I’ve always thought of the JPS Experience as a manly band, but not blokey. Their songs weren’t just love songs, but seemed to be about the struggles of love and the modern male, and even floppy fringes and silver space suits work perfectly with that.

They’re all so young and beautiful, and the song is lovely. Unlike other bands in this funding round, there’s still plenty of love for the JPS Experience. A lot of fans consider them to be a band that should have been much more successful than they were, which adds a slightly bittersweet tang to the video.

Best bit: Dave’s floppy fringe.



Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a chronological question is asked.

James Gaylyn “Bodyfine”

Now, this is intriguing. James Gaylyn is American, and is an actor as well as a singer. In fact, he’s best known as providing the voice of the evil Zeltrax in “Power Rangers: Dino Thunder” and Colonel Truman in “Power Rangers: RPM”. Me neither.

But yet before the “Power Rangers” gig, he’d somehow got himself signed to Wildside Records and released the soul track “Bodyfine”.

The video has him perform the song in a room of white sheets, while various white women dance about in the ubiquitous ’90s music video lycra dress. Backing vocals are mimed by two women, one of which looks like a good-girl-gone-bad version of Petra Bagust.

The object of his affections is another white lady, a ginger with a corkscrew perm. There is no chemistry between them.

The whole video feels like the sort of thing that would have come out of Australia in the ’80s, only in that reality James Gaylyn would have been world famous in Australia and not ended up in the Power Rangers.

Although, it seems that the Power Rangers fandom is what got the clip uploaded to YouTube and is what keeps interest going. David Parker and Emulsifier take note.

Best bit: The slightly uncomfortable amount of booty action.

Director: Alistair Crombie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a precious Flying Nun band.

The Front Lawn “The Beautiful Things”

The Front Lawn wrote really good songs and made really good music videos, but they weren’t quite mainstream pop. If they (or a similar band) were around today, would they get NZ On Air funding? Don McGlashan still does, but he writes serious grown-up songs now.

“The Beautiful Things” is a slightly sinister song looking at the love of material possessions. It’s set in a manic 1960s television advertising world, where the grinning salesmen attempt to convince viewers to buy thing to make all their pain go away.

Actually, I say “1960s”, but it’s more that kind of retro ’60s style that was big in the ’90s. And there’s layer upon layer of green screen trickery and cheesy computer graphics. All this stuff must have seemed quite cool and cutting edge back then. Video editing software cheapest and accessible, so you didn’t need to be The Cars or Dire Straits to do rad computer animations in your video.

The Front Lawn made short films as well as their live performance work, and they’ve taken full advantage of the music video medium to make a video that doesn’t just promote the song, but adds another layer to its message.

It was a pleasure to rediscover this song and the video. It doesn’t quite sound like a song of its era, such was the magic of The Front Lawn.

Best bit: Harry snogs his mop wife.

Director: Fane Flaws
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… The promise of stormy weather.