August 2008: J Williams, Jonny Love, Kingston, Ladi6, Luke Thompson, Nesian Mystik, P-Money

Some dancing, general chaos, four times the fun, a glamorous silhouette, shooting in the woods, sweetness and strength, and piggybacking.

J Williams “Blow Ya Mind”

And so we come to J Williams, who had an incredibly successful R&B pop career, with 10 top-40 singles, before his career was rapidly derailed due to revelations of domestic abuse. He was like New Zealand’s version of Chris Brown – a local star to meet the needs of the local market hungry for more. Or as Guy Williams said, J Williams was “our answer to Chris Brown, who sadly followed his career to the point of an almost identical domestic violence scandal”.

And so to J Williams’ first single, “Blow Ya Mind”, which reached No.13 in the charts. The song is a fairly generic romantic R&B song, where J tells his potential lady how he will take her shopping. But the video highlights J’s moves: he can dance. The video puts him in both an empty room and a dance studio, delivering moves on his own and with other dancers. It goes straight to the top of the list of the danciest NZOA funded video – so far. It makes clear the local popularity of J Williams. He might not have the raw appeal of Chris Brown, but he was ours.

Director: Sophie Findlay, Andrew Sorrenson
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Jonny Love “My Sympathy”

It feels like I’ve watched a million Jonny Love videos already, but this is only the second one. “My Sympathy” is a standard Jonny Love song, an inoffensive MOR track. The video is one where it’s been filmed with the song sped up, then the video slowed down to give it a dreamy feeling. Jonny’s dreamy stroll takes place in a warehouse where pyros are being ignited, someone catches on fire (!) and general chaos happens. The song itself has a lot of energy, but the slowness of the video drags the song down with it. Even the background chaos isn’t enough to add life.

Director: Logan McMillan

Kingston “Round We Go”

Kingston were best known for being the band behind the “Good Good Feeling” song that KFC used for a few years. They were like Elemeno P Juniors, helped by lead singer Dan being the brother of Dave from Elemeno P, and both bands having lookalike bass players. “Round We Go” is more radio-friendly pop. The video seems inspired by a couple of Michel Gondry videos: Kylie Minogue’s “Come Into My World” (2002) and the Chemical Brothers’ “Let Forever Be” (1999). As the camera spins around a colour studio set, four versions of each band member go through a carefully choreographed routine, with the clones sharing the performance. It’s a fun video, but it doesn’t quite have the same wow reaction that Michel Gondry’s videos had. “Round We Go” has no mystery or artistry – it’s just 16 performers in a room.

Director: Sally Tran

Ladi6 “Dark Brown”

The song is called “Dark Brown” but the emphasis seems to be on dark – it’s so gloomy. Despite being shot against a white studio background, the lighting is dim and shadowy. Sometimes it works – when the lighting drops down to showing Ladi6 in silhouette – but most of the time it looks shadowy, grey and dull, negating Ladi6’s glam and cool look. It feels like there was a really good idea behind this video, but the execution of it hasn’t quite worked.

Director: Mark Williams

Luke Thompson “Look The Other Way”

Luke takes his folk-pop on the road, showing up to a clearing in a pine plantation with all the things necessary to make a music video. He builds a set filled with opshop books and hooks up an old video camera. The result is… oh, they’ve recreated the same set in a studio with proper lighting so it looks really good. He goes through a couple of set changes, but things don’t really get interesting until he turns on a hose and gets all wet. Things always look better wet.

Director: Logan McMillan

Nesian Mystik feat. Che Fu, Kimbra, Cydel “Mr Mista”

The tight bro bond of Nesian Mystik is loosened to let in a few outsiders – Che Fu, Kimbra and Cydel. As a result, it’s one of the few Nesian Mystik songs that isn’t all about Nesian Mystik. The video sees the group (sans Kimbra) being welcomed onto a marae, where they relax and hang out. The song has a strong anti-authoritarian message, but it’s cleverly softened with the sweet guitar and Kimbra’s delicate vocals. The video itself continues the sweetness, but just like the song, there’s a social edge.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

P-Money featuring Vince Harder “Everything”

It’s 2008 and videos are getting weird. It’s like the influence of Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze has finally been felt. This video sees P-Money starring in a world where everyone walks around with someone else sitting on their shoulders. P-Money and his shoulder pal meet a woman at the supermarket and the four of them start dating. Oh my. It’s not until they go on a double date to a nightclub that the true star of the song is introduced. Vince Harder performs at the nightclub, and because he’s cool he doesn’t have a shoulder pal. And it’s bad news for P-Money – his lady friend dances with another couple, and P-Money has his shoulder guy stolen by muggers. But as quirky as all that is, I can’t help feel that Vince Harder was criminally underused in the video.

Director: Rebecca Gin, P-Money

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