This is my test for a music video attempting a period setting: is the hair authentic? Costumes are easy; hair is hard. “NZ to the BK” is ostensibly set at a pool party in the 1980s but does it deliver hair with vintage ’80s boofiness? Yeah, pretty much. Not everyone has it, but there are a few key performers who have sufficiently giant hair.
The pool party setting seems to have been inspired by REM’s “Imitation of Life” video, which involves a poolside scene depicted with a few seconds of the same looped and reversed footage. But “NZ to the BK” isn’t as clever as “Imitation of Life”. It’s literally just a bunch of people hanging out by a pool.
There’s a vague plot involving a bit of thuggery and a man with a pistol. Going against the law of Chekhov’s Gun, the pistol is never fired, but someone does get pushed into the pool, which is close enough.
But despite all the ’80s party antics, it doesn’t actually feel like a fun party. It is more like a group of people who have been gathered together and told to look like they’re having fun at a pool party. Which is exactly what has happened.
Best bit: one of the pool chicks casually holds a confiscated pistol as she dances.
“Sweet Division” is a reflection upon younger years from the perspective of someone who isn’t even all that old to begin with. Vocals are by Dallas Tamaira (aka Joe Dukie) of Fat Freddy’s Drop, and it’s the first New Zealand I’ve come across that mentions the Defender video game (though the Beastie Boys had a reference in “Body Movin'”).
The video begins with time-lapse footage of downtown Auckland, which didn’t seem like a particularly promising start, but soon the action moves to a train and it becomes obvious – we’re going into town.
From then on we’re hanging out on Queen Street one night. The song’s lyrics are lip-synced by a number of people hanging out along the road, particularly in the block between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.
With the lyrics reminiscing about youthful antics, the video manages to capture that great pastime of teens – going into town and hanging out. Too young to get into bars without trying, there’s nothing much else to do but go into the McDonald’s or Wendy’s, then wander around, sit on a planter box, have a smoke, hoping you’ll meet someone cool.
The video is also a nice time capsule of Queen Street in 2004. Some things are the same, but there are definitely a lot fewer one-hour photo places than there were a decade ago. The “Sweet Division” video captures one night in Auckland, where hanging out with your friends on Queen Street is the best place in the world.
Best bit: the inner city resident taking photos of the night light out her window.