I’m thinking about Tim Finn’s earlier video for his song “Twinkle”. Tim seems uneasy in front of the camera, like he’s not used to the whole pop star/music video business – when clearly by that stage he was a pro.
But maybe it was just the setting. Maybe what Tim Finn needs to come alive in a music video is to just do what he’s been doing for decades – performing.
“What You’ve Done” puts Tim on stage. He’s wearing a nice suit, is surrounded by his band’s instruments, but there’s no sign of the band – or an audience for that matter. He’s alone, just a man and his mic.
Right from the first shot, Tim is full of energy. He bursts into the shadowy performance area and kicks up a storm (as well as the sawdust covering the stage). It’s a manic journey through the song, a bitter kiss-off to an ex (with lyrical gems such as “The pretty dress I bought you? I wear myself.”)
For a video that is essentially a man in a suit singing a song in a black room, Tim Finn makes it all work. His energy levels never relent, keeping the tension and mania flowing right until he storms off at the end. Tim Finn was almost 50 when this video was shot, shaming out the boring music videos of bands half his age. Nice one.
Best bit: during the line “I saw you with your boyfriend – he’s bigger than me”, Tim lifts up his mic stand to show the height.
I found this video uploaded to YouTube by a Japanese fan. “It is a band of best for me,” part of the description reads, as awkwardly translated by Google. And indeed the D4 were a band of best for many Japanese, enjoying some success there.
But the video for “Heartbreaker” is an Auckland production, directed by previous D4 video-maker Greg Page. The video begin by introducing us to a couple of saucy leather-clad rockabilly vixens, hanging out in an old yard, as such video characters do. They’re shot in grainy black and white, which slightly mythologises this intriguing pair.
We also meet the D4 indoors, playing in a grimy room with walls streaked in (artfully applied) grey paint. It’s hot in colour but with a very minimal palette, as if the bad girls have sucked all the energy from their lives. The song is tense and serious and the video focuses on those aspects. The band is relatively restrained, and even the massive rock-out at the end is more conservative than what they’ve previously done.
There’s a bit of fun with camera movement. As well as the camera doing typically pervy pans over the women, it jumps and skips over the band, as if it’s not quite sure what to make of these guys. They’re hurtin’ – don’t want to get too close.
The video ends with the two bad girls strolling over the Haslett Street-Waima Street motorway overbridge (also seen in Pluto’s “Bananas in the Mist” video from the same funding round).
There’s something very pleasing about this video. It’s relatively low budget, a simple concept but it looks really good. It’s just about making a music video that promotes the single, so that fans in Japan can enjoy a bit of the D4 as much as fans in New Zealand.
Best bit: the attention given to Jimmy’s isolated, one-word backing vocal performance of “cheatin'”.
takesStellar return with the first single from their second album “Magic Line”. “All It Takes” is a song about determination and sacrifice, but it feels a bit lazy, like Stellar have settled on a specific sound and all their songs are just variants of that.
The video, however, is less than lazy. Going with the themes of the lyrics, the video puts the band on a picturesque fitness assault course. Boh (who has ditched the shocking red hair of “Mix” era videos) and the band aren’t even given boots and cammo to wear, struggling through the mud in their regular rock threads and carrying their instruments.
The group struggle with the challenges, hurling themselves over planks, along wires, under barbed wire, and over a big-arse wall. There are also a lot of shots of Boh away from the assault course, doing her duties as face of the band. She also bravely sings while standing on a wire, looking only slightly nervous while she sings “I’m looking out for someone who’s not afraid of anyone.”
It’s a similar kind of humour that Joe Lonie has in his videos (especially of the “make the band suffer” variety), but Jonathan King’s cinematography gives the action a much more stylish look.
Stellar seem to do ok with the physical challenges, leaving me feeling confident that they could be called on to as a pop-star territorial army, should Six60 ever take their “Rise Up” song too seriously. But then right at the end we disappointingly find the group exhausted, huddling with blankets and a hot cuppa (and one of them is laid out flat getting oxygen).
Best bit: Boh cleverly using her mike stand to hook a rope swing.
Space Dust’s cover of the Lee and Nancy classic was on the soundtrack of “Snakeskin” bad-trip roadtrip Melanie Lynskey film. It takes the original and roughs it up a little, emphasising the psychedelic sound over the sexual (and gender) tension of the original.
The video uses a lot of clips from the film, but we also see the Christchuch-ish band playing the song in a smoky bar. The films clips are edited to match the tone of the song. It starts with scenes of the “Wheee! Roadtrip!” beginning, slowly moving to drug-fuelled weirdness and Oliver Driver’s menacing skinhead.
I think there’s too much of the film, like video is there purely to sell the movie, with the song just a footnote. That’s not right. A good movie tie-in video should work with both the song and the film.
But the big question is – does the video make me want to see the film? Well, it starts off doing a convincing job, but by the end Melanie Lynskey is alone with a gun in a dark abbatoir and it’s all looking a bit grim. (But watching a clip from the film does refresh my interest in it.)
The bar scenes with Space Dust fit in with the aesthetic of the film, but I can’t help feel that I’d rather see more of the band and less of the movie.
Bonus: Future mayor of Christchurch Bob Parker makes a cameo appearance as a dancing bar patron at 2:09. (Thanks to Philip Matthews for pointing this out!)
Oh, this song. Juice TV thrashed it, and loved Sommerset so much it awarded them “Special Lifetime Achievement Award for services to R.O.C.K” (whatever that signifies) at the Juice TV Awards in 2005.
Juice TV played this song so much that during my period of watching Juice too much, I started to find deep resonance in the lyrics. One empty evening in Hamilton I spied Ryan from Sommerset in Victoria Street and I told him how “Streets Don’t Close” was an awesome song, with its message of escaping a “boring town”. Well, yeah.
The video is set at the AUT gym, with Sommerset and friends playing a tense game of basketball. Ryan isn’t playing so well, with his coach yelling at him and furiously gesturing towards a play diagram.
Just when things seem to be improving on the court, along comes trouble in the form of MC OJ and Rythmn Slave (there is not a music video out there that can’t be enhanced by an Otis and Slave cameo). These tattooed badboys are there to battle the tattooed goodboys of Sommerset.
Things ramp up, and Ryan throws the ball at the goal. As the opposition pounce on him, he ball sails through the air and lands a perfect basket. Victory! I guess this means it’s MC OJ’s shout.
Despite all this action, the video feels a little bit empty. Sommerset were great live, but there’s sign of that here. And all the extras make it hard to figure out who’s in the band and who’s not. But, you know, at one point in 2002 none of that mattered to me.
Best bit: MC OJ getting so aggro towards the emo ref that Slave has to pull him off.
Hey guys, let’s do a road trip! Salmonella Dub – who by this stage had a pretty strong reputation as a sunny, summery kind of group – subvert things by setting their video in a winter wonderland.
We catch up with three of the Dub as they’re cruising along in a Saab convertible in the South Island countryside. From a main road, they’re soon cruising along a gravel road with clusters of snow around the edges, heading towards some snowy mountains.
Tiki’s singing the song as he cruises along past the icy landscape. And I can’t help think that everyone in the video looks freezing. Who drives a convertible in winter? The band are wrapped up with jackets, scarves and gloves, but there’s a real sense of “OMG, it’s freezing!”
The roads get even snowier, with the camera lingering on the whitening landscape like a kid who’s never seen snow before. Eventually the trio arrive at a skifield, where they are met with hugs by the other band members. Then they hit the snow, frollicking in the frozen whiteness.
Actually, this video is playing like an Aotearoa prequal to Wham’s “Last Christmas” video. That video starts with George Michael turning up to a ski resort (sensibly in a nice warm enclosed Land Rover) and also hugging his pals, settling in for some heterosexual ski lodge fun. I’d like to blend these together, with the scraggy Dub posse showing up at the resort to – hugs – join the Europosh Wham crew. And you know they’d all get on like a ski lodge on fire.
Best bit: the awkward hug, caused by an over-eager hugger going in before the hugee had climbed out of the car.
Pluto pack a lot into this video, showing a day in the life of a glam metal band. The band lives in a Monkees-like house, all sleeping in the same bedroom. They wake up looking fairly ordinary but soon transform themselves into gödz of glam.
They head off for a photoshoot, then jump on some toy scooters and go hooning around Auckland, including an arduous trek up Mount Eden. Then it’s over the Haslett Street-Waima Street overbridge (and I need to note that this is the second Pluto video that has been shot outside an old flat of mine).
They spill off their scooters, but some comedy sexy nurses come to their rescue. And then it’s off for a skinnydip, which lands them in jail. They escape, though, and are shown fleeing from the actual police headquarters in Auckland.
Their limo driver comes to the rescue, transporting them off to their gig where a crowd of screaming fans awaits. Only their fans are more interested in the limo, piling in and hooning away, leaving the glam boys alone and dejected on New North Road.
The song itself is a bit average, but the video, an antipodoean descendant of “A Hard Day’s Night”, is much more interesting, an alternate reality where Pluto are the hottest glam band in Eden Terrace.
Best bit: the expertly executed photoshoot lip-bite.
“Nesian style is here / Ladies beware.” And with that declaration/threat, Nesian Mystik arrive on the scene, determined to change things.
New Zealand had attempted boy bands before, most successfully with Purest Form; least successfully with En Masse (and little in between), but Nesian Mystik did things differently. They wrote their own songs, they played instruments and did rapping as well as sweet harmonies. And – most importantly – they managed to create their own sound – a South Pacific pop-soul-hip-hop-R&B mash-up.
The group had come together at Western Springs College and were in the 2000 Smokefreerockquest finals along with Evermore and the guys of Die! Die! Die! And then there they were, a year later, with their first single.
The video is mostly set in downtown Auckland, in a canyon of skyscrapers and urbanity. The boys spend most of the video hanging out on top of a parking building, with cool cars and hot chicks. It might have just been a fantasy for the purposes of the music video, but they were laying down some pretty bold ground rules. These guys were ready for some next-level pop stardom.
We also see the six-piece group hanging out around a bonfire in a suburban/industrial part of Auckland. That’s a bit of a trope in New Zealand hip hop videos – the ordinary suburban Auckland street. And it’s interesting what they’re doing with the video – posing, cars, women – all standard cliches from hip hop videos. But because the song is so sweet and the group seem like really nice guys, they get away with it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to party with Nesian Mystik on top of a car park?
Best bit: the breakdancer who spins around then flops down flat.
“Baby’s Been Bad” is a cheerful ska number, but like the group’s previous video “Golden Dawn”, this one gets a bit weird. It’s like Goldenhorse are slightly afraid of the straight pop songs they’ve written and have to do something to warp them a little.
This time the video gets a bit sci-fi and a bit surreal. Starting with a dystopian, black and white world where Geoff Goldenhorse climbs into a giant drawer which starts to transport him somewhere. We also meet Kirsten Goldenhorse who’s in a colourful caravan in the desert, mixing up crazy potions, involving a human heart, paper dolls and pasta.
It seems Geoff is visiting the desert to put a mysterious canister down an equally mysterious metal tube. But is he going to go back to the dystopian world? No, he is drawn to the caravan atop the sand dune.
The video doesn’t quite work for me. The song feels a bit weak from all its repetition and so the video seems like an attempt to distract from that. I’d be much more impressed if Goldenhorse could just make a straight video for their pop songs.
Best bit: the most important ingredient – a house made of macaroni.