Mary “Helpless”

2001-mary-helplessSo what happens? I lament the lack of dancing in videos and suddenly it’s everywhere. In the final of Mary’s NZ On Air funded videos they’re going out with some line dancing.

Mary are performing in a line-dancing venue, and are decked on in their finest cowgirl threads, all check shirts, boots and hats. With echoes of “The Blues Brothers” (and predating 3 The Hard Way’s “It’s On” video), there’s a short chicken wire fence in front of the stage, no doubt to protect Mary from any bottles thrown at their legs and feet by angry line dancers. It happens.

For a song about relationship misery, it’s a sweet, lighthearted video. The group even join in the fun, getting down for some boot scootin’ on the dancefloor – though one of the Marys seems to be going for a woman-in-black look, lurking in the shadows behind dark glasses.

Mary had nine music videos funded, which puts them on par with artists such as Supergroove, Annie Crummer and Goldenhorse, but they didn’t come anywhere close to enjoying the same sort of success as those artists. But that’s ok.

I once read an arguement from a guy who reckoned that NZ On Air should only fund songs that would go on to be timeless classics. (And just imagine if there was a person who could magicaly pick which songs would still be around decades later. I suspect they’d be off making millions doing A&R for a major label, rather than slogging away at a government agency.) But I think there’s still a place for songs and artists that belong to a specific time and a specific place. A one-hit wonder isn’t a sign of failure, and neither is a band who has a burst of life then fades away.

I’m sure that NZ On Air were taking a punt on Mary, thinking that this all-girl group with silky pop harmonies might go on to have some hits, but it just didn’t happen that way. Instead we have traces of a fiercely independent band who released some EPs, some singles, made some videos, played a lot of gigs then broke up.

Best bit: the “no bottles” sign – it’s badass.

Note: The video was on Amplifier, but it’s since been removed.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a farmgirl dreams.

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