December 2006: Falter, Hollie Smith, Kat McDowell, Midnight Youth, Miriam Clancy

A car explodes! An actual car explodes in a massive ball of flames! Also: Holly gets moody, Kat rocks Tokyo, Miriam goes skating and Midnight Youth fight the power.
Continue reading December 2006: Falter, Hollie Smith, Kat McDowell, Midnight Youth, Miriam Clancy

Tadpole “Nothing New”

2001-tadpole-nothing-newHow did Tadpole end up making such bleak videos? Their earlier ones were lively, cool works that showcased the band’s pop-rock talents. But it seems that in later years the band got very very serious, like a teenager dying their hair black.

Yet “Nothing New” is a very stylish video, with Renee dressed as an ice princess of sorts, queen of a winter wonderland, elaborately decorated with flamingos, a bird not usually found in cold climates.

The rest of the band is arranged behind her – guitarist to the left, bassist to the right, drummer directly behind her. And here’s the thing – they barely move. All the band members stand as still as possible, moving only for the slightly effort required to play their instrument or sing. The contrast is noticeable in the chorus where it’s clearly audible that the band are rocking real hard as, yet they’re only shown doing their little twitching movements.

It results in a tension. The song is about a relationship breakdown and the video does help portray that stress, so good on the video makers for achieving that.

But there’s another part of me that is annoyed with the video. “Nothing New” is a good single, but the video shuts down a lot of the energy the song has. The visuals manage to suppress the wilder rock side and make it feel like a ballad. And, ok, Renee looks fabulous dressed as the ice queen, but I remember when she used to jump around a lot. I want Tadpole to party like it’s 1999.

Best bit: the bass player’s flick of the head, the one concession to the lure of the rhythm.

Directors: Alex Sutherland, Michael Lonsdale
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… wet t-shirt time.

Lucid 3 “Shiver”

2000-lucid-3-shiverThe “Shiver” video begins with a stark scene. Film in high-contrast black and white, the action starts in a large, old warehouse, glistening with wetness. As the camera moved in to the centre of the warehouse, there’s a large platform where the band stand.

They’re not positioned like they would be at a gig. Victoria stands alone near the front, with the bass player behind her to the right and the drummer further behind to the left. It’s very artistic positioning and a pleasant change from the standard gig positions used in so many videos.

Like the previous single “Curious”, the song has acoustic guitar in the verses and crunchy rock guitar in the chorus. But unlike the “Curious” video, this vid reflects the song’s changes in feeling with more dramatic angles and editing.

It’s a simple, stylish video focusing on Lucid 3’s talent as a live band without resorting to the fake gig video technique. Instead we see the trio performing; no rock faces, just the song.

Best bit: the close-ups of Victoria’s awesome shiny steel guitar.

Director: Alex Sutherland, Michael Lonsdale
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… bed time.

Tadpole “Alright”

2000-tadpole-alright“There ain’t enough to go round in this world. It’s alright!” sings Renee. Is this an upbeat anthem in favour of inequality? Well, kind of. It’s not on a world scale. Instead it’s intended as the voice of wisdom for a younger woman worried that her boyfriend doesn’t love her as much as she loves him. That situation, it seems, is alright.

It’s an energetic tune that makes conscious use of a DJ, putting it bang on trend in the world of nu metal. The video goes with this energy, staging it as a live performance. It’s a slick but simple video, keeping things basic but making it look good. It reminds me of Stellar’s “Bastard” video but with an audience.

The video opens with a doorman sliding back a metal door where an audience moshes in slowmo. Then it all kicks off. The first band member we meet is the DJ, just to make sure we know that Tadpole have DJ. And he is scratching.

Eventually Renee appears, with exotic makeup that includes rectangular eyeshadow with little pearl beads glued to the corners. I blame Bjork for this alien chic look that invaded fashion at the turn of the millennium.

To help illustrate the song, we also see young couples at the venue who are having issues in their relationship which conveniently enough match the theme of the song.

We also see the rest of the band, each shot as individuals. This might actually be because they’re not playing on a full width stage. I mean, we never actually see the band together as a full group. Maybe it was a conceptual performance art piece where each member played his or her part individually. Or perhaps this also ties in with the theme of unequal relationships. Whoa.

Best bit: Renee’s eyeball acting, emphasised by her exotic makeup.

Director: Michael Lonsdale, Alex Sutherland
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the honeymoon is over.

Greg Johnson “Cut to the Chase”

2000-greg-johnson-cut-to-the-chase“Cut to the Chase” is a delightful pop song, Greg Johnson doing what he does best. I think it was used on a TV commercial, giving the chorus an extra familiar punch.

The video opens with the lights flickering on in some sort of high-ceilinged space. Greg leans towards the ring-flash-lit camera and his face is lit with the warm, even glow of the ’90s. And very slowly, he moves along the centre of the room, with the fluorescent tubes on the ceiling passing behind him.

But things get a little edgier in the video’s other setting. He’s sitting on a stool in front of screen with a back projected film of a dashboard view of a drive through pleasant greenery plays behind him. There’s no attempt to pretend he’s somehow in this setting. It’s purely decorative. It’s not unlike Madonna’s “Don”t Tell Me” video from much much later in 2000, or, indeed like One Direction’s “Kiss You” video. The background changes, also including scenes of a motorway and an aerial exploration of Auckland at night.

Greg is mostly on his own, but occasionally he is joined by a lyrically relevant prop – map, a table cloth, and a glass of orange juice with a cocktail umbrella. And we also see a few dark silhouettes passing in the background.

Then, at the end of the video, there’s an enjoyable twist of sorts. The camera pulls back and the fantasy of the music video ends. There’s the ceiling with the fluorescent lights, the screen and the dolly track used to make the video. And it’s no fancy television studio, but an ordinary community hall. In the background, a brass band strikes up, reminding the Greg Johnson party that they’ve got the hall booked next.

Best bit: the fruity drink, inelegantly missing a bendy straw.

Director: Bernadine Lim
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… everyone loves a wedding.

The Stereo Bus “Touchdown”

The “Touchdown” video is based on a continuous pan from left to right. Against a plain white background, various band members pop in and out of frame, along with a dog, a bottle, a chair, and other domestic items. It reminds me of a suburban version of the first 15 seconds of INXS’s “I Need You Tonight” video.

The video has a very minimal feel to it, so it’s the moments of liveliness that really stand out. Lead singer Dave Yetton gets most of the close-ups, having pretty much perfected the art of singing close-up camera-face emotion from his previous videos with the JPS Experience and the Stereo Bus.

The song feels melancholic and that combined with the minimalist video threatens to produce a cure for insomnia. Fortunately guitarist Jason Faafoi – who at the time was also Jason From What Now – has a mesmerising star quality that the other members don’t. Even when he’s doing something as ordinary as sitting at a table, he’s much more interesting than the other band members who happily play their part in the background.

Every time Jase comes on screen I’m like “Yay! It’s Jason!” Even though he’s still being a blank-faced Stereo Bus dude, he’s smizing, bringing some secret joy to the video.

After a six-year period dominated by the digital orgies of Supergroove and the twisted rock worlds of Shihad, the simple effects of “Touchdown” won Best Video at the 2001 New Zealand Music Awards.

Best bit: when Jason’s bottle misses the rubbish bin.

Directors: Michael Lunsdale, Alex Sutherland
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision