The Front Lawn was a film/theatrical duo (or trio). They wrote really good pop songs and made really good music videos, but they weren’t quite mainstream. If they (or a similar band) were around today, would they get NZ On Air funding? Don McGlashan still does, but he writes serious grown-up songs now.
“The Beautiful Things” is a slightly sinister song, looking at the love of material possessions. It’s set in a manic 1960s television advertising world, where the grinning salesmen attempt to convince viewers to buy things to make all their pain go away.
I say “1960s”, but it’s more that kind of retro ’60s style that was big in the ’90s. And there’s layer upon layer of green screen trickery and cheesy computer graphics. All this stuff must have seemed quite cool and cutting-edge back then. Video editing software was cheaper and more accessible, so you didn’t need to be The Cars or Dire Straits to do rad computer animations in your video.
The Front Lawn made short films as well as their live performance work, and they’ve taken full advantage of the music video medium to make an entertaining video that doesn’t just promote the song, but adds another layer to its message.
It was a pleasure to rediscover this song and the video. It doesn’t quite sound like a song of its era, such was the magic of The Front Lawn.
Best bit: Harry snogs his mop wife.
Director: Fane Flaws
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… The promise of stormy weather.