If 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.
It’s the long end of the Deep Obsession experience. Their remarkable run of three consecutive number one singles was a remnant of the late ’90s. Instead “Miracles” was a radio-only single and their lowest charting song at #34.
The video takes places in a hospital because, you know, miracles. The duo (Zara, with new-old member Charlie replacing Vanessa) and some dude with dreadlocks slowly, meaningfully walk along the cold blue corridor.
A young woman (whose long blonde hair makes her look like a Deep Obsession understudy) goes into a room where her grandfather is ill in a bed. She keeps a vigil over her poorly gramps, only for him to die while she’s taking a nap. A nurse come in to console the woman, and the story shifts to the nurse’s life.
The nurse, weak with compassion fatigue, comes home to find her slobby boyfriend lazing on the couch. She yells at him, he yells at her and they both end up feeling pretty crap.
Meanwhile, back in the hospital, new parents coo over their baby. The mother appears to be in the dead grandpa’s former room. But why was Gramps admitted to the maternity ward? Maybe that’s why he died.
The nurse looks on and the miracle of birth restores her faith in human nature, or some such. And then, just to make things even better, the granddaughter appears with a bunch of flowers. Oh, that’s nice. Again Deep Obsession and the dreadlocks guy slowly walk past, smiling benevolently.
“Miracles” is not the best death-bed video (that’s “Stay” by Shakespear’s Sister), it’s not the best hospital drama video (that’s “My Friend (So Long)” by DC Talk), and it’s not even the best video for a song called “Miracles” (flippin’ magnets – how do they work?). But it’s ok. It might be a bit cheesy, but it has a plot and a nice conclusion. And hey, the next time you’re visiting a loved one in hospital, if you see a fierce lookng woman wearing a leather bustier, don’t be afraid – it’s just one of Deep Obsession.
Best bit: that the loser boyfriend has already had three beers.
Another track from the elusive Brett Sawyer. His single “Supercool” has almost no digital traces, but there is a brief review by Graham Reid in the NZ Herald, where he accurately describes Sawyer’s album When It Happens as being “Not bad, but over the long haul not gripping.”
Joshna’s single “Anything” notably was written by New Zealand songwriter Pam Sheyne, best known for co-writing Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in a Bottle”. The song has a cool housey sound with undeniable pop chops.
Mary “Big Boy (Santa’s In Town)”
Mary contributed the gentle track “Big Boy (Santa’s In Town)” to Christmas on the Rocks a yuletide compilation of New Zealand indie artists. (It’s actually quite a good CD, by the way.)
Moana and the Tribe “Speak To Me”
Moana, having ditched the Moahunters and rebranded to Moana and the Tribe, has “Speak To Me” the first single off her third album “Rua”. It was, as Graham Reid noted in the Herald, a departure from the hip hop sounds of earlier albums and a move to the world music sound she’s known for today.
Suzanne Neumann “Lose Control”
Suzanne reports that the video for “Lose Control” was released and was played frequently on television. Unfortunately the video is not currently available online.
Before Friday “Now”
Before Friday were a duo of Dean Chandler and Ben Bell-Booth. They had a few singles – including “Now” – before deciding that it would be better if Dean went solo with Ben as his manager.
Carly Binding “We Kissed”
“We Kissed” was originally intended as the first single off TrueBliss’s second album, and indeed the funding was originally given as a TrueBliss single. But but eventually Carly Binding left the group, taking her pop with her. Carly’s first solo single was “Alright with Me (Taking it Easy)” had its video funded in 2002, leaving the funding for “We Kissed” on the books for later use.
Confucius was the work of Christchurch electronica musician Nava Thomas. Director Gaylene Barnes intriguingly describes the “Roll Call” video as “Confucius and MysteriousD become trapped in a drum and bass time warp, in this sepia toned music video which incorporates archive footage.” The video was also a finalist in the 2001 New Zealand Music Video Awards.
Sola Monday’s second and final funded video was “All For A Dance”, a sweet folky, jazzy number.
Splitter “Supermarket Girl”
August 2000 is proving to be not a particularly fruitful month for finding music videos online. Joining the missing persons line-up is Splitter with “Supermarket Girl”.
The Nomad “Life Forms”
There’s no sign of The Nomad’s second video, “Life Forms”.
DNE “The Cause”
DNE’s second and final video is for the upbeat dance-pop number “The Cause”. “We are bound to see this group do great things,” says the equally positive bio at Amplifier.
Goldfish Shopping Trolly (GST) “Hey You”
Goldfish Shopping Trolley (or GST for short) was the original name of Opshop. “Hey You” was their first single and has the classic Opshop anthemic sound. At the time, GST were threatening to release the alarmingly titled album “Homo-Electromagneticus”, which promised to capture “the turbulent etheric renderings and solid earthy rhythmic growl of the native New Zealand west coast”.
Breathe “She Said”
After a run of 10 videos, Breathe go out with “She Said”. They just seem like a band that – for whatever reason – never quite lived up to their potential.
Loniz “Child Street Blues”
Loniz were a Tauranga-based trio who later became Pacific Realm. “Child Street Blues” was their first single, which the Kiwi Hit Disc says was playlisted on iwi and b.Net radio stations.
Weta were one of those bands who seemed hovering on the verge of greatness, but for whatever reason, things didn’t happen. (But things are very much happening for Aaron Tokona’s new band, the psychedelic AhoriBuzz). This is Weta at their best, getting series amongst shipping containers.
With the previous two Deep Obsession videos both being set in a strange sci-fi/fantasy world, it’s refreshing to discover this video is set in the real world. Well, kind of.
“You Got The Feeling” is based in the comfortingly ordinary environment in a motel. YouTube uploader NZLutz notes it was “the then already closed Blue Dolphin Motel in Parnell, Auckland”. In a room, a shaggy-haired cleaner vacuums the room. He spies a hand-held film camera on a bed and takes a look through the viewfinder. Whoa! When he looks through the camera, he sees a party taking place in that very room. See, they couldn’t just make a video set in the real world.
This cool toy is way more interesting than vacuuming a boring floor! Work duties aborted, the cleaner spends his time looking at the Deep Obsession party taking place via the camera. It’s not just Zara and Vanessa larging it; they’re joined by dozens of really good looking people.
The cleaner follows the party out to the patio where some formation dancing happens. It’s reminiscent of the dancing in Britney Spears “… Baby One More Time” video crossed with a Les Mills class, all halterneck belly tops and bootleg trousers.
The party movies to the pool and another motel staffer discovers the cleaner pervily lurking around the pool. What would happen if he took the camera with him to other places, like the supermarket? Would he discover a disco in the cat food aisle, or a lone hot person trying to figure out which is the right rice for risotto.
The motel boss has noticed that the cleaner has been neglecting his work and yells at him, which is totally understandable. But the cleaner has seen the good life. He wants more. Thinking outside the square, the cleaner turns the camera on himself and finds himself inside the party. Woo!
But what’s going to happen when the party ends? Who’ll clean up the mess?
Best bit: the random partygoing dude wearing a sheer shirt that reveals his man-nipples.
There’s something entertainingly mad about Deep Obsession videos. The formula seems to be create an eye-catching set, plonk Deep Obsession in it and have them seductively slide along the walls.
We meet the two Obsessettes in a futuristic corridor. It’s a cool blue-grey colour with tall strips of light at regular intervals making it feel a bit like the set of a sci-fi drama. The floor is covered with rocks, so, er, perhaps it’s a mining ship.
Like Deep Obsession’s earlier “Cold” video, little is done to distinguish between Vanessa and Zara. They’re not given much screen time together and there’s little interaction when they are together, which makes it seem like there’s an off-camera feud between them. Or perhaps they’re feuding over the “one and only” of the song.
We meet the object of their affection/s, a young man who is lost in the futuristic corridors. The video uses techniques last seen in 1980s-era Doctor Who to make the one corridor set seem like a never-ending labyrinth. Actually, this video would be vastly improved by a few Daleks.
Wait. Maybe the video can manage some next-level crazy on its own. What it needs is Zara and Vanessa sitting in a room full of goldfish bowls, each bowl with a mysterious cable going in and a light dangling above it. Oh, there it is. Being the late ’90s, I wouldn’t be surprised if this had been done as a super feng shui technique, bringing great wealth and abundant harmony.
The lost guy never finds the girls and nothing happens with the fish. In the end, we leave Deep Obsession wandering the futuristic corridors. And it is said that on a very quiet night, you can still hear them wandering to this very day.
Now it really feels like the late ’90s. Deep Obsession were a dance-pop duo, but the video is careful to feature producer/co-songwriter Christopher Banks along with singers Vanessa Kelly and Zara Clarke. Together they produced very successful, inoffensive pop, with a slightly dated housey sound.
The video takes its inspiration from the title – there’s a lot of blue, snow and fur. Brrrr. But for a group that always seemed very commercial in its nature, the video has a couple of uncommercial moves.
Even though Deep Obsession are a duo, we don’t see the two of them together until near the end of the song. So I’m watching them shot in black and white, sometimes with hats, sometimes with crazy makeup, and I can’t figure out who I’m looking at. It’s like the cold has made them forget one of their unique selling points.
Just to add to the weird, one (or both?) of them is bound like a chrysalis in Gladwrap, hangs upside down (well, the camera is upside down) and she looks really annoyed. Oh my. I’m actually starting to script my own version of a video for this song.
Were they actually taking the piss? The video ends with the three of them huddled together singing “Please hold me close”, like a DIY YouTube parody of an Abba video.
Well, whatever I can critique about this video, it doesn’t really matter. The song was the second of a run of three number one singles that Deep Obsession enjoyed in 1998/’99.
Best bit: the ice queen chrysalis – you don’t want to see it when it thaws.