August 2005: Amber Claire, Anika Moa, Bic Runga, Breaks Co-Op, Chong Nee, Dave Yetton, Dukes

Naked Samoans go bowling, Bic’s all-star band, a dating disaster, tranquil gardens, net curtain twitching and a walk up a hill.
Continue reading August 2005: Amber Claire, Anika Moa, Bic Runga, Breaks Co-Op, Chong Nee, Dave Yetton, Dukes

Amber Claire “Here It Comes Again”

2004-amber-claire-here-it-comes-againSo, this is interesting: the video for “Here It Comes Again” was shot at exactly the same time and place as Amber Claire’s previous video, “At Seventeen”.

There’s Amber Claire wearing the same silky gown, her hair twisted up in the same style. She’s surrounded by the same backing band, including the Clayton Weatherston lookalike, and they’re all performing in front of velvet curtains with three chandeliers hanging down. A lot of the shots are the same and they’re edited very similarly, including close-ups of the bored looking band members playing their instruments. The main different between the two is that “At Seventeen” is shot in colour, while “Here It Comes Again” is in black and white.

This attempt at a two-for-one is rather disappointing because one thing I’ve learned is that even back then it was possible to make a decent looking music video for $5000. Even if they wanted to shoot both the videos at the same time, how hard would it have been to have a change of costume and redecorate the background a bit? If this were part of a live performance, you’d expect the different songs to have different lighting and staging. Why the cookie-cutter style for the videos?

Funnily enough, “Here It Comes Again” is a better suit to this performance and video style than “At Seventeen” was. The latter had a disconnect between the lyrics of a teen outsider and the very glam setting of the video. While “Here It Comes Again” is a lovely ode to love, which suits the elegant cabaret style.

But then look at the song title: “Here It Comes Again”. Maybe this is an elaborate performance art statement. Here the Amber Claire video comes again. There is no other.

Best bit: the bit that was like “At Seventeen”, only in black and white.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the fist of fear.

Amber Claire “At Seventeen”

2003-amber-claire-at-seventeenAmber Claire covers Janis Ian’s outsider anthem “At Seventeen”. The original reached #37 in 1975, while Amber Claire’s cover made it to #28. In case you’re wondering, Janis Ian was totally down with Amber Claire’s version, and even did an impromptu duet with Amber Claire on a visit to New Zealand in 2005.

But back to Amber Claire’s version. The video is very simple. It sees Amber Claire performing the song on a grand looking stage area, along with her band.

But there’s something a bit weird about the band – the accordionist looks like Clayton Weatherston. OMG. He has the same shaggy blonde hair, the same light beard, the same narrow glasses. Of course, the video was made four years before the murder, and I’m sure this musician no longer styles himself that way, but it’s uncanny watching the video now.

If you ignore that and party like it’s 2004, you’re left with a rather restrained music video. The song is long – four and a half minutes – and the video doesn’t do much in that time. Just lots of different angles of Amber Claire and her band. Oh look, there’s the guitarist plucking the guitar strings.

The song is an ode to high school outsiders who go on to blossom into kick-arse adults. The lyrics have a strong a tension between the dorky teenage self and the successful adult self. But we just see Amber Claire looking glam in a pretty gown. How’d she get there? What was high school like for her? The video doesn’t care.

Best bit: the accordionist’s ability to also play a keyboard while the accordion rests on his lap.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… rainy day woman.

Amber Claire “Love Remains”

2003-amber-claire-love-remainsAmber Claire is now known for being one-third of the Mermaids party group. But for a while in the mid-’00s she took a break from the “Loveshack” and “Groove is in the Heart” covers and had a go at a pop career.

“Love Remains” combines Amber Claire’s husky vocals with a driving electronic beat and sweet lyrics. The video also goes in this direction, with a sepia-tone Amber Claire singing with the happiest face I think I’ve seen in a music video.

She’s surrounded by romantic symbols – a carousel horse, a moon, a rocket, a butterfly – while the song lyrics spiral around, along with larger words like “DREAM” and “LOVE”. It’s like the Facebook page of that divorced lady you used to work with.

There’s also a young couple who run around in a park together, in love. It also looks like something you’d see on Facebook, the remnants of a happy wedding.

The video feels like an attempt at making a really romantic music video, but in doing so it’s using modern visual cliches of romance. I think the video would genuinely appeal to the Facebook ladies and people like YouTube commenter tonym650 who admires Amber Claire’s “soothing voice”.

Best bit: Amber sits in a rowboat called “Amber”.

Next… old, new, borrowed, Blue.