Bic Runga “Suddenly Strange”

1997-bic-runga-suddenly-strangeWe meet Bic Runga in an empty white room. She’s just hanging out, playing her guitar, singing a song. It’s all very ordinary, but suddenly the camera zooms out and – whoa – Bic’s white room is an open-sided cube inside a supermarket. That’s, like, suddenly strange.

But the supermarket isn’t the only location we’ll find Bic’s cube. Again the camera zooms out and suddenly the brand new Sky Tower is visible through a window. The cube is now in the location now known as the Wynyard Quarter, plonked in front of the tank farm.

It’s all a bit Doctor Who. Maybe the cube is Bic’s TARDIS, but rather than fighting aliens, instead she travels around Auckland, singing songs. Where’s a sonic screwdriver when you need one?

The cube also appears in a cathedral and on a beach. There’s something about the supermarket location as stacks of jars keep appearing next to the cube in other locations. It reminds me of the scenes in “Exitenz” where the real world bleeds into the virtual worlds.

But despite all the scifi vibes, it’s essentially a sweet Bic Runga video for another single off her seven-times Platinum debut album.

Best bit: the old couple pashing.

Director: Wayne Conway
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… we’re all going on a summer holiday.

Bic Runga “Sway”

1997-bic-runga-swayThe better known “Sway” video is the American version aka “Love Theme From American Pie”. It’s the black and white vid where Bic mooches over a shaggy-haired hipster called Jones who works in an Italian deli. As well as using a punchier mix of the song, that video largely focuses on Bic, introducing her to the international pop world. (Director Karen Lamond, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

But before that, there was the locally made “Sway” video, directed by Joe Lonie. Shot in vivid colour, the video focuses on Bic playing with her band, both in a cool inner-city apartment and on stage at a bar. We also catch a glimpse of Bic frolicking on a west coast beach, shot like a home video.

Somehow Bic seems a lot older in this video than the American version. I think it’s down to her heavy makeup, bulky clothing and her older bandmates. In the other version, she’s a gamine pixie girl.

In the bar scenes, Bic and band play to a small crowd of slow-dancing couples. It feels like the end of an evening where everyone is a bit wasted and has fallen in the arms of whoever’s nearest.

In Bic Runga’s New Zealand pop career this was her third single, so it makes sense that the video would try something different from the “here’s Bic” of the previous two. But this video feels cluttered, like there are too many bit players filling up the screen. She’s still the star but is treated like one of many items of interest.

Best bit: Bic’s giant op shop jacket, the uniform of a good ’90s girl.

Director: Joe Lonie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the ruins of modern civilisation.

Bic Runga “Bursting Through”

1996-bic-runga-bursting-throughBic is back with her second single, “Bursting Through”. The video is much more sophisticated than the previous “Drive” video. A line has been drawn and Bic is now very much on the grown-up, sexy side of it.

The video seems to be all about introducing Bic Runga to the world (or at least New Zealand). The video is all about her, as she elegantly poses in a couple of glamorous white outfits. She’s exposing about as much flesh as Britney Spears did in her later videos, but somehow Bic seems quite modest.

The video works as a 1996 introduction to Bic Runga, but how does it hold up now that Bic is a New Zealand music icon? Well, it feels a little empty. There’s Bic on a couch, with a dove, in a corner, underwater, but there’s more to this song than Bic Runga’s youthful elegant face.

Looking at this video in 2012, it feels more like the sort of thing a record company would stick up on YouTube in advance of the proper video being release. It’s perfectly all right, but just seems a bit lacking by today’s standards.

Best bit: the white dove that wouldn’t fly away, but that’s cool.

Directors: Melanie Bridge, Mark Lever
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… they’ve got a Steadicam and they’re not afraid to use it.

Bic Runga “Drive”

1995-bic-runga-driveFinally 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.

Director: Justin Pemberton
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… bros with a megaphone.