In “Nothing’s Changed”, 3 The Hard Way look back at their youth, the golden days of “Hip Hop Holiday” when they were running wild and free. It was only 10 years prior, which shows how young they still were. (I bet now they look back at the golden days of 2003, etc.)
So, what goes with reminiscing? Why, Mongolian barbecue. The video is set in that Mongolian barbecue restaurant and karaoke venue at the top of Queen Street. It’s packed with young Asian diners – a change from the “crazy Asian fans” trope seen in other music videos.
The restaurant patrons take turns at singing the song’s chorus. The screen that would normally display the karaoke lyrics instead shows the “Hip Hop Holiday” music video, which seems custom-made to evoke nostalgic feelings of youthful extravagances.
There’s slow-motion footage of goings-on in the restaurant, including the delivery of a giant platter of noodles. (OMG, I would actually watch a music video that was just people eating a giant bowl of noodles.) We also see chefs in the kitchen literally playing with fire, setting alight a meat skewer via fire breathing.
But about halfway through the video loses steam. There’s no more rapping, so the video is left with clips of the “Hip Hop Holiday” video and karaoke kids. It’s partly due to the song also running out of energy, with the end result being like a tired old man who’d rather be at home watching Coronation Street than bothering with all this hip hop malarky.
“Many Rivers” takes its chorus and inspiration from the Jimmy Cliff classic, “Many Rivers to Cross”. It’s full of contemporary hip hop beats with extra vocals provided by Sulata and Cherie. The video funding was granted before their massive hit debut single “Hip Hop Holiday”, so presumedly someone once thought this was the strongest song.
The video sees the three lads of 3 The Hard Way go to the beach, but it ain’t no sunny seaside moment. No, it’s the rugged west coast beach at Piha with Lion Rock towering in the background as the trio hang out on the empty beach.
Sometimes the beachside setting feels like it’s getting uncomfortably close to a literal depiction of the lyrics, but there’s still that feeling of unease that comes from such a wild beach. Here are three dudes decked out in fresh urban threads, alone in the wilderness. (Given they’re all wearing long sleeves and that the beach is deserted, I’d guess this was filmed on a chilly winter’s day.)
Sulata shows up for the chorus but she’s in Devonport with an evening cityscape of Auckland looking all sexy in the background. Things seem to be far more uplifting for her in the city, and sometimes she’s joined by the boys.
We also see the trio in their natural habitat – wandering K Road at night. It’s like a roll call of dearly departed K Road retail establishments – Deka, Rendalls, Modern Bags and there was even once a Hannahs.
But the video always comes back to the beach, finally leaving us with the trio as they wander off to metaphorically cross the many rivers.
Best bit: Deka, K Road – a good place for pick ‘n’ mix.
Over at the Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, this video is ominously described as “LA style, basketball, moving images of cars etc projected in background”. The video does have a bit of a West Coast flavour, but there’s no mistaking its Auckland location.
“All Around” is a compass-points-themed shoutout, which also pays a fair bit of homage to A Tribe Called Quest’s “Can I Kick It?” (“You know we can!”) It made it to number 22 in the pop charts, and it’s a really upbeat track and actually had me bopping along, swept away by its infectious fun-time charms.
The video is set in various locations around central Auckland. There’s the trio in front of a pile of logs (?) with some green screens playing footage of old videos and the Auckland skyline behind that. They’re also in front of a large graffiti mural being done by DLT – and think this might be the first appearance of live graffiti in a NZOA video. (The second I’ve seen is Joint Force’s “Burntime” video, also featuring DLT.)
The video is accented with some animation – the flickery kind that was popular in the ’90s. Occasionally a compass, a globe, a cool dude playing a saxophone pops up to underscore the lyrics or music.
All this might seem influenced by LA, but this is how a lot of young Aucklanders were back then. There was a specific street culture that took its cues from America but mixed it up with its Pacific location. And this video captures a bit of that scene.
Best bit: hanging out under the Auckland Harbour Bridge, all pylons and security fencing.
“So Am I” was Bailter Space’s final NZOA-funded video from the ’90s. They took a break and showed up again in 2012.
D-Faction “Take a Little Piece”
After having all their videos online, it’s sad that D-Faction’s final video, “Take a Little Piece” isn’t around. YouTube uploader slydogmania notes the group “disbanded in late 1997 before this final single was ever released”
Head Like a Hole “Hot Sexy Lusty”
Head Like A Hole have “Hot Sexy Lusty”, another single from their sex album, Are You Gonna Kiss It Or Shoot It? Guys, in googling for this video, I saw things I wish I hadn’t seen.
Brett Sawyer has the song “When It Happens”. I’m most interested to discover that he and Pearl Runga sang New Zealand’s official millennium anthem, “I’ll Meet You There”, written by sister Bic and James Hall.
Delta! “Slather”! I saw them play a few times and I happily bought the “Slather” single. It was a fun burst of pop that should at least have enjoyed one-hit wonder success. But anyway, here’s Delta performing the song at a 2010 reunion show. Nice one.
Girl group Ma-V-Elle had lost a member (but weren’t renamed V-Elle). “Angel” was the first single from their new album as a duo. Here’s a Tangata Pasifika profile of the group enjoying their early days of success.
Strong Islanders “Shining On”
Kiwihits notes that Jonah Lomu’s cousin is in “Strong Islanders”. Their song “Shining On” is ok, but their main MC has a somewhat lacklustre delivery.
The final NZOA-funded video for Trip to the Moon is their cover of “Sexual Healing”, a duet by Bobbylon and the ethereally voiced Rachel Weatherly. NZ Herald reviewer Russell Baillie dramatically described it as having “all the charm of a lavish STD-treatment jingle”.
Well, I dunno. This song is on the list of videos that were completed, but I can’t find any sign of a 3 The Hard Way single called “Front Back Side”, or indeed any releases from this time. But there might have been some shuffling – there’s a 3 The Hard Way video for their 2004 single “Girls”. It’s set in the same sexy club world as “It’s On (Move to This”), only it’s so much cheesier.
Bike’s final NZOA-funded single is “Gaze”, which also appeared on the “Scarfies” soundtrack.
Brett Sawyer “Where We Wanna Be”
“Where We Wanna Be” is Brett Sawyer’s ode to his partner for sticking out a decade in Britain with him.
Fiona McDonald “Wish I Was a Man”
Fiona McDonald gets dirty and grungy with “Wish I Was A Man”.
Moizna’s final NZ On Air-funded video is aptly titled “Summer Goodbye”, a sweet tale of a break-up.
Satellite Spies “Please Never Leave”
Satellite Spies apparently had a song called “Please Never Leave”, but it’s ungooglable.
TrueBliss’s third single was a cover of the Wham song “Freedom”. I’ve found an 2001 Australian documentary about the “Popstars” phenomena that shows a short clip from “Freedom” at 8:01. It features the group dressed in red, white and blue costumes, performing on stage in front of thousands of screaming fans.
DNE was a “cyber collaboration” between Aly Cook and David Horizon – their name for the now commonplace practice of online collaboration. Their old bio at Amplifier promised a fabulous web experience with “CLUBDNE interactive”, and directed viewers to NZmusic.com to watch their video for “Be There”. Sadly all is but a cyber memory now.
Greg Johnson “Beautiful Storm”
Greg Johnson gets drench in meteorological metaphors with the upbeat “Beautiful Storm”. Nga Taonga describes the video as, “Greg Johnson tours an Asian city and sings “Beautiful Storm” to camera as the surroundings move rapidly around him.”
Ma-V-Elle have “Don’t Be So Shy”, described by the Kiwi Hit Disk as a “cool slice of original, soulful pop”. It’s the final Ma-V-Elle track funded by NZOA. The duo was to eventually disband, with Lavina ending up in the Australian Idol final 12 in 2006, among other achievements.
Ardijah “Way Around You”
I’m pretty used to Ardijah videos not being online, and indeed “Way Around You” isn’t available. It’s a breezy house jam
“Big World Out Your Window” was the final Exponents track funded by NZOA. It was a single off their 1999 album “Hello, Love You, Goodbye”, a half-studio, half-live collection. There’s no sign of the “Window” vid, but I do know it was filmed on Mt Eden.
Director: Andrew Moore
Here’s a video from the world of non-NZOA funding. Director Marc Swadel made the “Crystal Chain” video for Flying Nun group The Subliminals for “300 bucks and one re-used 100 foot reel of 16mm film”. As a NZ On Screen commenter notes, 100ft of film is only two minutes, 45 seconds. The solution? “A lot of repeats, keying over footage with footage, and other lo fi tricks”. It’s a moody delight.
This song was released in 2003, but the funding is from the 1998 round. The group originally received funding in 1998 for a single called “Home”, but that didn’t get made. Instead the funding stayed on the books and was put to use five years later.
Eight years since their last single, 3 The Hard Way returned with the smooth grooves of “It’s On (Move To This)”. In contrast with the seductive hip hop soul of the song, the video is set in the Cask & Cleaver, a cowboy theme bar on Dominion Road.
But rather than being full of diners wanting an entertaining dining experience along with a delicious steak, the joint is full of gruff looking cowboys and fly cowgirls.
The cowgirls feature a lot in the video, and I think this is the first NZOA-funded video that has included video vixens. At the time it was a little shocking, with an extra layer of WTF for me as one of the girls had been a receptionist at my old workplace.
YouTube uploader and label boss Simon Grigg notes, “The video got some flack for having ‘girls’ in it, but within a month or two every 2nd NZ hip hop video seemed to be copying it. It was meant to be very tongue in cheek at the time”. And that seems a fair comment. The ironic sexy cowgirls paved the way for non-ironic booty girls.
The video has a bit of plot. 3 The Hard Way upset the cowboys, who throw bottles at them, “Blues Brothers” style. But there’s never a sense of true jeopardy. The lads quit their performance and run off with the cowgirls, where they go for a hoon along Dominion Road in a stretch limo. Just think about that – it’s the early 2000s, you’re walking along Dominion Road – maybe you’ve just enjoyed a gourmet pizza at GPK – when a limo full of conspicuously partying young hip hop dudes and bisexual cowgirls drives past. You look at them and think, “_______”. Yeah, me too.
Best bit: the painful reminder of the millennial trend for low-rise jeans 🙁
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.
Every time you play this song, 10CC’s giant swimming pool of money gets a few more gold doubloons. Remember, kids: always clear samples.
Directed by Clinton Phillips and filmed in lovely warm sepia tones, “Hip Hop Holiday” evokes a hot city summer. This is not the New Zealand of going to the beach. It’s the New Zealand of inviting all your friends around to hang out in your backyard.
The lads cruise Aucklandtown in a convertible before arriving at their slightly less urban destination – a suburban house (but it’s a proper New Zealand state house bungalow). Bobbylon from the Hallelujah Piccasos shows up for some guest MCing, and the suburbs erupt into game of touch rugby and hip-hop-loving.
Fun and charming, “Hip Hop Holiday” is a perfect slice of the early ’90s Auckland hip hop sound. It was the first single with a NZ On Air-funded video to reach No.1, where it happily remained for three weeks in early 1994.
Best best: cruising down that cinematic stretch of Queen Street between Wellesley Street and Mayoral Drive.
NB: the YouTube uploader has provided the video twice – once from Pepsi RTR, the other from Max TV. Different vibes, yeah.