June 2008: Mareko, Nathan King, Nesian Mystik, Opensouls, Over the Atlantic, Shihad, Sweet & Irie

Raging against the machine, a boring road trip, high school musical, an ’80s celebration, a dark disco corner, rocking in a forest, fake tropics.

Mareko “Record Of The Year”

“Record of the Year” is Mareko raging against mediocrity in New Zealand hip hop. It’s like a less fun version of the KLF’s book The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way). It’s hard to know what exactly Mareko is angry about. He name-checks The Fast Crew, but by 2008 they’d broken up. And the New Zealand hip hop songs that were making the year-end lists and getting nominated for Single of the Year were anything but the unoriginal beats and lazy rhymes that Mareko sings about. If anything, the 2000s were a golden age where a dozen New Zealand songs could end up in the year-end top 50. Last year only three New Zealand songs made it.

The video is set in a bookshop on Symonds Street, with Mareko signing copies and dishing out his advice. This is illustrated by a group of young MCs who are forming a cliched hip hop group. The video feels cheap and disjointed, far removed from the ambition of Mareko’s earlier videos, or indeed the videos made by the wack MCs he’s rapping about.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Nathan King “Never Too Late”

“Never Too Late” puts the former Zed frontman in a car with two other versions of himself along. The big comparison has to be with Alanis Morrisette’s “Ironic” video, directed by Stéphane Sednaoui. The four Alanises are all different and playfully interact with each other, whereas the three Nathans, well, it’s just three Nathans and they look like they’re in the middle of a boring road trip. The song isn’t the most exciting track, but the video just drags it down further.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Nesian Mystik “Dance Floor”

“Dance Floor” is like a New Zealand version of Fall Out Boy’s 2005 video “Dance Dance”, a tale of nerds and romance and fresh moves at a high school dance. The video is supposedly set in 1993, but I have no idea why as no effort has been made with costumes. Everyone is dressed in cool 2008 clothes.  (Actual 1993 was baggy. Very baggy.) The song ends on a romantic note, but video kills the moment by added a postscript that shows the lads have ditched the girls and all gone home together to play video games and preview their album track “Game Over”.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Opensouls “Dollars”

I think this might be the first video made in the style of a cheesy homemade video from the 1980s. And they’ve gone to the effort with the costumes, with Tyra Hammond rocking the early Pixies Kim Deal office worker look, complete with shoulderpads. Much of the video is shot around Myers Park, but the ordinary setting is given life with loads of basic digital effects. It signals the point where it was getting very easy to make a slick looking video, so why not have some fun by deliberately referencing the bad old days.

Director: Tim Van Dammen

Over the Atlantic “Celia”

The “Celia” video stars singer Nik Brinkman and his rude-arse moustache. He’s filmed in a black space, lit with dramatic coloured lights. It looks amazing, like a stolen moment from the corner of a disco. There’s also footage of people wandering through the bush with some coloured lights, suggesting some sort of search mission, or a rave. Another version of the video was made – possibly earlier – that features a rougher version of the same ideas, and using a white background instead of black. And Nik is clean shaven.

Director: Daniel Batkin-Smith
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Shihad “Beautiful Machine”

“Beautiful Machine” was the third single and title track from Shihad’s seventh album. It captures the band in the midst of one of their pop phases. The video puts Shihad, dressed in black, in a forest at night. This is cut with slow-motion footage of unusual objects and dancers. It’s very music video. The fast song and slow visuals never quite seem to mix well.

Director: Sam Peacocke

Sweet & Irie “My Girl”

This video starts with the most unexpected piece of product placement – the Sweet & Irie lads stop off to enrol to vote, presumedly to get enrolment up ahead of the 2008 general election. The rest of the video sees the band playing the song in a green-screen tropical location.  When it’s not faking the tropical island sunset, the video actually looks pretty good, a night-time concert, with the band joined by friends and family.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

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