“Too many people come and they go”, sings Maree, and the video sets about showing this exact situation. “Strength To Love” is set in a motel, where we meet an variety of diverse guests.
In fact, the motel is doing pretty well, with 16 guests. There’s an attractive but very timid young couple, a very still Asian couple, loved-up newlyweds, a older married couple, a miserable tennis player, a crossdressing codger, a party girl and her friends, a aloha shirt wearing man and his glamorous ladyfriend, a businessman, a naked lady, a bad girl, a shaved/dreadlocked woman with a dog, a trio of leather-clad lesbians, three children, an elegant old lady, a revved-up gay couple, and three cleaning ladies. That’s 4.8 litres of milk – trim or regular.
But despite staying at this bustling motel, no one seems particularly happy. It doesn’t look like a particularly nice motel. It’s just a bit run down and under decorated. And who would spend their honeymoon at such a place? (Answer: a couple who is too busy rooting to notice the decor.)
The Strawpeople’s “Taller Than God” video used a similar concept, but it worked better. I’m guessing the Strawpeople had a bigger budget, and that video had some context for the motel and kept the number of guests much smaller. There was a sense that all the characters had a story.
Whereas with the Strength To Love Motor Inn, it’s just a big collection of people who seem to be deeply troubled by relationship problems. As a result it doesn’t serve the song well, overpowering Maree’s subdued vocals but never quite being interesting enough to work on its own. I’m guessing there’s a low budget here
Oh, there are some kitschy delights in this video. Maree gets four different looks in this video, not unlike a pop version of Teremoana’s very serious “Four Women” video. There’s a ’60s chick with a heavy fringe and a mini dress, a long-haired hippy chick from the ’70s, a staunch ’90s chick with hair in Bjork minibuns, and a fabulous poolside diva.
The song has echoes of Cheryl Lynn’s disco classic “Got to be Real”, so the video wisely plays to that fun dance side. But I’m not sure if it’s entirely sucessful. Maree has a soft, sultry voice that doesn’t quite work with the bold diva ideals of the song. The video just underscores this, making it seem like a slowed-down version of a disco classic.
The poolside scenes are the best, with Maree lounges fabulously while various young men hang out in speedos. These scenes work well because the lazier pace matches the song better than the faster studio bits, and it looks like a fun place to be.
Best bit: the pool cleaner, wandering back and forth, doing his job.
More business from Christchurch grunge unit Pumpkinhead. With a song called “Third Eye”, I would be extremely disappointed if the video didn’t include low-tech animated third eyes. Nga Taonga describes the video as “Pumpkinhead perform “Third Eye” in a yellow lunar setting and in a pub.”
Spurred on by popularity from the “Once Were Warriors” soundtrack, Southside of Bombay make a house record, with the highly danceable “Umbadada”. But Southside haven’t lost track of their reggae roots – the song has a message of unity and living forever.
In 1995 the Feelers won the prestigious South Island Battle of the Bands competition. Part of the prize included a single and music video released through Wildside. That song in question was “The Leaving”, with the music video directed by James and Matthew of the Feelers and camera by future Feelers music video director David Reid. The song obviously didn’t have the impact of later single “Pressure Man”, but it was included as a track on the band’s debut album.
Wonderkind have “Destiny Change”, an upbeat dance song about a teen prostitute. There was a lot of that in the ’90s – upbeat dance music about really depressing social issues. Here’s a very 1997 remix of the song.
Another track from Hamilton songstress Jacqui Keelan Davey, this time with “Watching Me Drown”.
Maree Sheehan “Might As Well Shout”
The Kiwi Hit Disc described “Might As Well Shout” as a “fast-paced, catchy dancefloor number”. It features backing vocals from expats Mark Williams and Australian Idol vocal coach Erana Clark.
Papa “For What It’s Worth”
This is pretty much impossible to Google (it’s not a unique song title). I don’t know who Papa was, but it might be related to the record label, Papa Pacific.
Meanwhile in the world of non-NZOA-funded videos we find “Manic (Is a State of Mind)”, the first music single from Jan Hellriegel’s second album. Filmed in Sydney, it takes place in a gloriously garishly painted art deco house (not a visual effect, the YouTube description notes!), and features a very sinister looking cafe fridge.
Maree is seated at a round booth at a nightclub. A man and woman sit down at the table across from her. Maree looks uncomfortable. She knows the woman. A waiter delivers a delicious fruit platter. And so the evening begins.
Other guests arrive. A woman who looks like a shave-headed Justin Bieber gives the camera a good stare, as if to preserve her Bieberesque likeness for future generations. Is Biebette there for the fruit platter? Maree simmers with the tension this situation is causing her.
A blonde-haired women appears at the table. Biebette gives Maree a goofy grin and lets Maree fondle her cigarette lighter. Suddenly a sleazy bro turns up, also smoking a cigarette. Another woman joins the table, bringing more seductive glances to drive Maree wild.
So many seductive glances! Such a tempting fruit platter!
Then finally it happens, following the rule of Chekhov’s Gun, the couple from the beginning feed each other delicious fresh fruit from the platter. For a video so packed full of bisexual desire, maybe Maree just wanted a good fresh melon.
Best bit: the highly symbolic fruit platter of desire.
Maree gathers her friends and family to an inner city park (Emily Place, I think) to have a singalong (over and over to the same song, with the requirement to look lively and happy all the time).
I really like the video’s setting. They haven’t taken the easy route and gone for a beachside park. They’ve plonked the action right in the middle of Auckland, surrounded on all sides by tall buildings. And it’s not out of the question that a group of family and friends would actually have a picnic here. Though Albert Park would perhaps be a more logical choice.
Everyone looks like they’re actually having a good time, and it suggests that even after the music video taping had concluded, they probably would have kept on dancing. I wish I’d been invited.
Best bit: the little girls who turn the “under the bramble bushes” claping game into “under the Bambi bushes”.
“Kia Tu Mahea” is positive, bilingual HI-NRG dance track, though it’s just hitting the end of this particular musical style’s life in the pop charts.
The video is great – bold, colourful and sometimes split into Mondrianesque segments. Maree is joined by kapa haka performers, children, an African man, dudes in fresh urban threads, and fly girls.
Maree Sheehan always comes across with great confidence in her videos. She’s never taken the traditional video babe route (no rolling around with/in silver spandex for her), but the early ’90s feels like a kinder, gentler time when no one with NZ On Air funding was doing the hard-sell sexy video. At least not yet.
Best bit: Maree and pals in casual shorts, doing casual dancing.
Maree Sheehan crouches in the grass in One Tree Hill and, in a low, quiet voice, she raps like Prince Be of PM Dawn in “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss”.
It’s an unusual mix. The video is full of kapahaka performers, and yet the songs is a slow jam that sounds more like a female Aotearoan LL Cool J. Later in the video, we see Maree standing outside an office building and driving across the harbour bridge, both times wearing the same clothes she’s wearing in the One Tree Hill scenes.
So here’s my theory – when we see her in the city and alone on the hill that’s real life. When we see the kapahaka dancers, that’s her fantasy; being in love is so awesome, it feels like being surrounded by a whole troupe of kapahaka performers doing their thing.
Best bit: the finest poi work in a NZ music video since the “Poi E” video.
The second time around, Maree Sheehan’s video is to be found online. “Dare to be Different”, a sultry dance track on the theme of acceptance, seems to take more than a few cues from Madonna.
There’s Maree in a mansuit, but because it’s the early ’90s she’s wearing it with a peasant blouse (ok, that’s a drink). This is also the first video to bust out some serious dance moves. Sure, Moana had a few in “A E I O U”, but in “Dare to be Different”, Maree is getting down too.
Also in a Madonna style, Maree is seated with two gal pals in a convertible, a la “True Blue”. This is cut with posh ladies at a dinner party and some bros huddled and/or dancing around a fire in a barrel. Homelessness: just because it’s different don’t mean it’s wrong (?)
While the video has a lot of big ideas behind it, there’s one that feels the most dated – the fly girls. As soon as the MC Hammer-style dancers start doing their thing, it feels like the video ought to be given to a ’90s culture exhibition at Te Papa. That is, until this stuff becomes fashionable again, which won’t be long.
Best bit: a woman with a towering beehive chowing down on a banana.