Jan Hellriegel “Melusine”

“Melusine” is a lush ’60s-influenced pop song about merman love. (The Melusine is a freshwater mermaid, also the star of the Starbucks logo). The video goes in a slightly different direction, exploring Jan’s relationship with gender identity (and that makes it seem pretty serious, but it’s really quite fun).

The video starts with a waiting room filling up with handsome fellows but we soon realise that the guy in the middle is Jan in drag. She makes a pretty decent bloke, but as soon as she starts singing, we’re instantly reminded that she’s a lady.

Man Jan enters a room labelled “nga wahine anake” (women only) and begins to strip off, revealing the female form. There’s a lot of nudity in this part, but it’s shot very tastefully and cleverly. It’s not done to titillate, and director Tracey Tawhiao hasn’t needed to use any comedy prop placements to hide rude bits.

From the naked state, Jan transforms into a glamourpuss, with bold make-up and a fabulous gold lurex gown. It actually reminds me of the videos Madonna makes that mess around with gender – the feminine is a bit masculine, the masculine is a bit feminine.

NB: Jan Hellriegel has written a really good piece called the Emancipation of Melusine, where she writes about the making of the song and the ideas behind the video.

Best bit: the te reo sign, a welcome piece of New Zealand.

Director: Tracey Tawhiao
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a tropical break.

Dam Native “The Horrified One”

1995-dam-native-the-horrified-oneSuddenly Dam Native came along and insisted that the rules be rewritten, promising “none of that stuff that sounds American or the cliche of the typical Maori rock band.” Except there was a little bit of both, but not in a bad way.

The video for “The Horrified One” (or “Horified”, as it is sometimes punfully spelt) The video travels across Auckland, showing cityscapes, railway lines, a cruise down Queen Street at night, graffiti-covered walls, and cool inner city digs. There is a bit of cherry-picking going on – going to the parts of Auckland that look cool and urban – but it is undeniably Auckland.

Teremoana shows up to sing on the chorus, and her appearance in the video firmly dates it in the mid ’90s – dressed in tough-girl streetwear, with hair is styled in multiple Bjork mini buns. And that’s the influence of a 1993 music video on one from 1995. I now expect to see a video filmed on the back of a truck.

It’s a low-budget video, but one with a strong idea behind it. Dam Native give really good performances, looking like, yeah, they often rap in the car, by the railway lines, around the house.

Best bit: the F-word hiding in some background graffiti

Directors: Rongotai Lomas, Tracey Tawhiao
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a comeback special