August 2010: Midnight Youth, Motocade, November Zulu, Opshop, Pieter T, Rosie Riggir, School For Birds, Seth Haapu, Shapeshifter

Great balls of fire, point and click, unexpected subversion, underwater mystery, proper like, applying lippie, an amorous rabbit, rooms full of weirdos and augmented reality.

Midnight Youth “Just For Once”

It’s a not the most original music video trope, but there’s something really enjoyable about a video with great balls of fire. “Just For Once” doesn’t literally play with fire, but through decent CGI effects, the band are surrounded with flaming flames, and pleasingly epic explosions. Midnight Youth were good at producing arena rock on a King’s Arms budget, so the CGI fireballs at least capture the soaring rock feeling of the song, giving it the context it needed.

Director: Tim van Dammen

Motocade “Big Empty”

Most of the video is Motocade performing “Empty Room” to a group of fans, while wearing painted colour striped across their eyes, like superhero masks. But the most interesting thing comes when the audience starts filming the band with their own cameras. They’re mostly using point-and-click cameras, with only a few smartphones seen. It’s an important step in the history of cellphone technology in New Zealand music videos: the time when everyone had a phone and a camera – but few had a device that could do both.

Director: Eden Mulholland

November Zulu “Run With The Enemy”

“Run with the Enemy” is a big, motivational rock song, but the video does something very unexpected with it. The video puts lead singer Geordie in a studio, and also features lots of very clean-cut, ordinary looking people, mostly young women. So while the song is a hearty warrior anthem, the video is full of cheerful looking women, the kind you’d expect to see working hard in offices around New Zealand. It feels quite subversive and unexpectedly feminist.

Director: Anthony Plant, Marko Los

Opshop “Madness & Other Allergies”

“Madness & Other Allergies” is about a woman who “doesn’t buy into economic downturn”. There is the very real possibility that she may be faking a lack on interest in economic affairs, in order to avoid one of those conversations with Jason Kerrison. But the video never goes there. Instead it’s set underwater, with Jason and a number of women looking all floaty and mysterious both underwater and in a dark studio setting. It’s very 2010.

Director: Ivan Slavov
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Pieter T “No 1 Needs 2 Know”

The “No 1 Needs 2 Know” video looks like it was produced on a budget, but it’s nicely shot and doesn’t look cheap. It involves three basic settings: casual Pieter T in a bare studio set, fancy Pieter T in a slightly decorated studio set, and Pieter T and his bae sitting on a couch, while he steals her magazine. It’s a cute video, and the actress playing the girlfriend looks like she genuinely likes Pieter T, rather than just playing a role.

Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Rosie Riggir “Hands Up”

“Hands Up” is a decent electro-pop song, though ones that goes on for about 45 seconds too long. The video puts Rosie in a number of not-quite-right situations, bringing a sinister edge to the simple act of a lady applying lipstick. There’s a strong artistic vision running through the video, coming at a time when Lady Gaga was making weird, edgy, arty videos mainstream.

Director: Rua Acorn

School For Birds “Mod Love”

Imperial-era Lady Gaga continues to make her influence felt, with “Mod Love” name-checking both “Paparazzi” and “Bad Romance” in the lyrics, along with a sample of the French nursery rhyme “Ainsi font”. The video layers on the weird, with slow-motion shots of cheerleaders, fencers, boxers and an amorous person in a rabbit costume. Auckland’s Wintergarden stars as an exotic location.

Director: Claire Littler

Seth Haapu “Stereotype”

Here’s a trope we haven’t seen in a while – the hotel rooms full of weirdos. As Seth roams the hotel corridor, soulfully raging against stereotypes, he comes across unusual people minding their own business. This includes freaky twins, a crying Marilyn Monroe drag queen, a Bettie Page-style amputee and a clown painter, a vampiress. Finally Seth finds what he’s looking for – a room full of generic youthful partygoers. It’s where he’s comfortable, but he seems happy that the other hotel guests are weird in their own way.

Director: Darren McFarlane
Nga Taonga Sound & Vision

Shapeshifter “Monarch”

There are two visual experiences for this song. The first is the music video, a fairly standard life show video, filmed at a number of live gigs. It captures the live energy of Shapeshifter, though as YouTube commenter Andy reckons, they don’t sound as good live – “sadly they were the biggest letdown”.

But the other visual experience is the app, which uses augmented reality. What this means is that you point your iPad at a butterfly symbol and it starts playing an animate, where plants grow and insects crawl around and sometimes respond to screen taps, seemingly in 3D. It’s fun the first time, but the novelty quickly wears off and the standard music video is a better option for repeat listenings.

Here’s a fan video of the experience, though she moves the paper rather than moving the camera.

NZ On Air have recently changed the model of funding for music, meaning that the grants given for promoting songs can go for other projects, not just music videos. And I get the feeling that this sort of thing is what they have in mind.

But it is limited – it relies on the app to be available, for the technology to run the app to work, and for the marker image to be accessible. If any of those things stop working, it’s dead. It seems a lot more fragile than a grainy old 240p music video on YouTube.

Director: David Way, Tim Lenton

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