Oh, there are some kitschy delights in this video. Maree gets four different looks in this video, not unlike a pop version of Teremoana’s very serious “Four Women” video. There’s a ’60s chick with a heavy fringe and a mini dress, a long-haired hippy chick from the ’70s, a staunch ’90s chick with hair in Bjork minibuns, and a fabulous poolside diva.
The song has echoes of Cheryl Lynn’s disco classic “Got to be Real”, so the video wisely plays to that fun dance side. But I’m not sure if it’s entirely sucessful. Maree has a soft, sultry voice that doesn’t quite work with the bold diva ideals of the song. The video just underscores this, making it seem like a slowed-down version of a disco classic.
The poolside scenes are the best, with Maree lounges fabulously while various young men hang out in speedos. These scenes work well because the lazier pace matches the song better than the faster studio bits, and it looks like a fun place to be.
Best bit: the pool cleaner, wandering back and forth, doing his job.
I know a bit about this video because in early 1996 – just as obsessed with music videos as I am now – I did a summer school course at Waikato Polytech on the art of music videos, run by the director of his video, Greg Page.
He’d made “All Different Things” a few months before. It was a hearty Hamilton effort, film in Metropolis Caffe on Victoria Street (Hamilton’s cool ’90s cafe)
and starred Inchworm frontman Justin Harris.
Throw don’t appear in the video because by this stage they’d become a studio-only band. So rather than use claymation, Greg turned the band into monsters, making an alterno retelling of the Frankenstein story.
The monsters were also the creation of Greg, and some of his paintings in a similar style can be seen around the lab/cafe. The video gets the emotion right, with a perfect combination of sweet and sinister.
This video also gets to be historically significant because it’s the very first video to have a customised NZ On Air logo. Rather than superimposing the graphic, it was instead incorporated into the video, drawn on cardboard in a jar full of a mysterious liquid.
Best bit: the reassurance that cool stuff happens in Hamilton.
“Downhill Racer” was a minor indie hit, all over the bFM top 10. It’s a superbly written song, with a great ’60s feeling. The video goes for a kitschy retro style, turning a nerdy bedroom fantasy into a full-on glam-rock extravaganza.
Halfway through the video we meet a gothy fellow alone in his bedroom, looking up bomb recipes on the internet. This comes complete with a brilliant screen shot of the ye olde web browser Netscape displaying a webpage called “BOMBS for FUN”. Back in the mid-’90s, the media were always going on about “bomb recipes” on the newfangled internet thing. Such innocent times.
By the way, the website in this video looks real, so I googled to see if it was still around. I couldn’t find anything, but now I’m paranoid that some authority will have been alerted to a New Zealander searching for bomb recipes.
Anyway. Back in the video, there is much excitement because it appears that a large truck is going to smash into a wendy house. And indeed it does, which we see from five different angles. I figure, if you’ve gone to the trouble of constructing a little house for a truck to smash in one take, you’re going to set up as many cameras as possible to make sure you don’t miss the vital shot. Like Demi Moore shaving her hair off in “GI Jane”.
The uploader of this video comments that the song “evokes the enigma of life as we know it”. And I think the video does that too.
I previously said that “U Can Do It” was Purest Form’s last single, but I was wrong. They actually had one more single up their sleeves, and with it came the most ridiculous and therefore the greatest New Zealand music video ever made.
The song is a slowed-down cover of the Beatles’ classic. As expected, it is a perfect song to show off the boys’ vocal harmonies. Their previous music video, “U Can Do It”, had a bold Polynesian flavour, but “If I Fell” goes in the complete opposite direction, thoroughly colonising the boys.
They start sitting on the steps at Alberton, before jumping into a vintage car and hooning off to a waterfall, including a couple of the Form sitting on jump seats at the back. Watch out, guys!
Once they reach the waterfall, they stand around looking moody, dressed in what appears to be cricket uniforms. A young lady in a white dress moves about, also looking moody and romantic. Sometimes she plays a cello.
It’s all very good so far, but then at the two-minute mark, something amazing happens: the lead vocalist gets wet. Probably inspired by Peter Andre’s 1995 waterfall romp in “Mysterious Girl”, one of the Form (the fit one) casts off his colonial attire, dons a lavalava and stands under the waterfall looking really hot.
This sort of stuff doesn’t usually happen in New Zealand music videos. We get all shy and embarrassed and wonder what our parents would think and how this might affect our future employment opportunities. So I am super impressed that Purest Form were brave enough to do this, but that makes it a even more sad that this is their final music video.
Best bit: Of course it’s the bloody waterfall bit.
This is a very dramatic song, the sort that wouldn’t have been out of place in the mid ’80s. But it’s now the mid ’90s and Hello Sailor are no longer cool dudes in skinny jeans. They are dad rockers.
The dadness is strongly established right at the beginning. The band are setting up for a gig and we catch a glimpse of Dave McArtney holding a small child. After the stage is well and truly set up (and we’re treated to a lingering shot of a bemulleted soundie adjusting a microphone stand), the band are ready to rock out.
The song has a killer chorus, with some hearty nautical themes. It does it actually seem like the kind of song that would be great to see live, but there’s little sense of the audience reaction. During the guitar solo, we hear cheering from the audience, but it’s obviously been dubbed in.
Sometimes the video works. Sometimes it feels like they’re kicking arse at a huge gig. Other times it feels like they’re filming a music video in an empty hall on a Sunday afternoon.
Ok, so D-Faction have taken a folky pop song about the romantic troubles of a country boy and reworked it into a South Pacific reggae song. And that’s works – small islands can have grotty rural areas just as much as continental countries.
But something weird happens with the video. This cheery song about a boy from the wrong side of the tracks looking for love is illustrated with the band performing the song in a bleak, futuristic industrial setting.
Vent pipes dangle, sparks literally fly and the band are surrounded by ominous looking grates. And it’s all tinted gold, so it feels like there’s a giant furnance blazing away. Rather than evoking, say, rural East Coast or Northland, instead it’s like they’re prisoners on a slave spaceship, being forced to labour under the cruel eye of an evil overlord.
But despite the video treatment, the song was the highest charting track for D-Faction, enjoying the #10 spot. But just think – if the video had been better, it might have made it to #1.
“Winter” feels cold. It’s a minimalist song dominated by repetitive bursts of a clear, gangly guitar. The video, directed by Paul Swadel, picks up on that and creates a scratchy, moody world.
The band play the song in a dark space. This footage is mixed with scratchy scribblings, which look like they were influenced by the ground-breaking opening titles of 1995 film “Seven”. We also see flashes of binary code, like a low-fi precursor of “The Matrix”.
I’m trying to figure out this video. It doesn’t quite feel like a traditional music video, made to sell, sell, sell the song. It’s seems more like an artistic work that aims to equal the song.
I don’t feel like I can properly enjoy this video on my laptop. It just seems a little underwhelming on YouTube. It should be projected onto a big screen in a dark room, with a bunch of people who don’t need to google “post rock”.
Finally Sony was ready for Bic. “Drive” was the song chosen to launch Bic Runga to the world – or at least New Zealand. It’s all Bic, with just her voice, acoustic guitar playing and a stark emotional song.
The video places Bic in a cool old flat – one of the Courtville apartments in Auckland. The apartment has a bit of shabby chic going on, matched by the video alternating between colour and degraded black and white footage.
Bic hangs out in her apartment, evidently waiting for the boy of her dreams to come and take her for a drive. She simultaenously seems like a teenager, impatiently mooching about (and she was only 19 at the time), and a much older, world-weary woman.
We don’t meet the object of Bic’s yearning. She waits outside her building but the driver never shows up. As a result, the combination of the song and the video create a very melancholic tone. Poor Bic. I want to hug her and tell her that everything is going to be ok.
Best bit: the bright red Body Shop soap, a sign of the ’90s.
More business from Christchurch grunge unit Pumpkinhead. With a song called “Third Eye”, I would be extremely disappointed if the video didn’t include low-tech animated third eyes. Nga Taonga describes the video as “Pumpkinhead perform “Third Eye” in a yellow lunar setting and in a pub.”
Spurred on by popularity from the “Once Were Warriors” soundtrack, Southside of Bombay make a house record, with the highly danceable “Umbadada”. But Southside haven’t lost track of their reggae roots – the song has a message of unity and living forever.
In 1995 the Feelers won the prestigious South Island Battle of the Bands competition. Part of the prize included a single and music video released through Wildside. That song in question was “The Leaving”, with the music video directed by James and Matthew of the Feelers and camera by future Feelers music video director David Reid. The song obviously didn’t have the impact of later single “Pressure Man”, but it was included as a track on the band’s debut album.
Wonderkind have “Destiny Change”, an upbeat dance song about a teen prostitute. There was a lot of that in the ’90s – upbeat dance music about really depressing social issues. Here’s a very 1997 remix of the song.
Another track from Hamilton songstress Jacqui Keelan Davey, this time with “Watching Me Drown”.
Maree Sheehan “Might As Well Shout”
The Kiwi Hit Disc described “Might As Well Shout” as a “fast-paced, catchy dancefloor number”. It features backing vocals from expats Mark Williams and Australian Idol vocal coach Erana Clark.
Papa “For What It’s Worth”
This is pretty much impossible to Google (it’s not a unique song title). I don’t know who Papa was, but it might be related to the record label, Papa Pacific.
Meanwhile in the world of non-NZOA-funded videos we find “Manic (Is a State of Mind)”, the first music single from Jan Hellriegel’s second album. Filmed in Sydney, it takes place in a gloriously garishly painted art deco house (not a visual effect, the YouTube description notes!), and features a very sinister looking cafe fridge.