Headless Chickens “Dark Angel”

1997-headless-chickens-dark-angelI’m going to keep talking about how I love the Headless Chickens third album, “Greedy”. “Dark Angel” was the opening track and it instantly takes me back to my first year in Auckland, 22 and trying to figure how where I fitted in in the crazy city.

Despite my likage for the song, I’d never seen the video. It reminds me of the “Mr Moon” video, with colour layers floating over the top of the black and white band.

But this time around Fiona is gone, but there is a woman in the video. Taking inspiration from the opening titles of Bond films, the video features shots of a naked lady. Who needs a girl in the band when you can just use female body parts in the video?

I started to think about the woman. What if she was actually a Bond girl, Chookie Galore, a good girl who got involved with the Headless Chickens gang. Has she come to seduce you, Mr Bond?

There’s a strange vibe in this video. It’s very stylish and has a pretty colour palette, yet there’s a very strong masculine feel to it. The band have a sluggish yet menacing look about them. I wonder if the naked lady and the colours were thrown in to balance it out, to add a touch of femininity to what might have otherwise been too grunty.

I get the same feeling with every video from “Greedy” – something wasn’t good with the band. While the music sounds fine, the videos feels like something had broken in the band and was being held together with the thinnest thread.

Best bit: the brief glimpse of a little bird figurine. I sense a theme.

Note: This video was on YouTube, MySpace and MTV Australia, but now it’s not.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… Venice of the South Seas.

Headless Chickens “Super Trouper”

1995-headless-chickens-super-trouperI once knew a goth guy who loved this song. He wasn’t a Headless Chickens fan or an Abba aficionado, but the power combo of the Chickens covering Abba was what did it for him. That and the “Su-pa-pa trou-pa-pa” chorus.

It’s a song about the loneliness of being a touring pop star, but it’s a situation that could apply just as much to a New Zealand indie industrial rock band. This was the first post-Fiona Chickens recording, so it makes sense that of all the songs the Headless Chickens could have chosen for Flying Nun’s “Abbasalutely” tribute album, they picked the one about the difficulties of being in a band.

The video is shot in black and white, with the band performing on an airport tarmac, including plenty of shots on top of and around planes. It’s a clever setting, a hint at the reality of life on tour: lots of aeroplanes, lots of airports.

The band are all wearing sunglasses. I’m willing to accept that it may have been a very overcast, glary day, but it also makes the Chickens look reluctant. They don’t quite want to connect with their audience, again fitting with the lyrics.

There’s something just not quite right with this. While the video looks great, it all feels a bit like a lazy effort.

Best bit: when the lively backing singer jostles her way into shot.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a killer catsuit.

Headless Chickens “Cruise Control (Eskimos in Egypt mix)”

1994-headless-chickens-cruise-control-remixFirst, let’s watch the original “Cruise Control” video from 1991. It’s not hard to see why some Headless Chickens fans didn’t like Fiona having joined their favourite band. It’s like light vs dark, good vs evil. The sunny, cheery Fiona vs the gloomy goth Chris. But as it happened, “Cruise Control” was the gateway drug for my love of the Chooks.

A few years later it was remixed. The problematic Shona Laing sample was removed, Fiona’s vocals double-tracked, and most of Chris’ rap disappeared. It was a heavenly pop hit for the Australian market, with the video cheekily funded by NZ On Air.

The band are hanging out in a car, with a bewigged Fiona playing a forlorn passenger. The rest of the band take turns driving, as well as playing cards, reading the newspaper, talking on giant cellphones, sucking on lollipops, and displaying a Knight Rider banner.

It feels like the Chickens are mocking the trappings of success, and acknowledging that sometimes things aren’t always so happy.

Best bit: the establishing shot of Auckland, just to prove that they’re actually on the (pretend) road.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the battle between goth and pop.

JPS Experience “Into You”

The song is underpinned by some nice nice nice crunchy guitar, with lovely pop melody over the top. The video doesn’t try to fight this, and the camera swooshes around the band performing the song with red and green stage lighting along with bits of blue and white. There’s also swirly lava lamp-like stuff, because lava lamps were cool in the 90s.

Also a relic of the 90s – Dave’s striped top, making him a perfect 90s indie pinup. The JPS lads have perfected the lingering camera glance. It’s as if to say, “Hey, girl. U know I’m in an indie band, but I always got time 4 u”.

The JPS Experience have previously gone for bigger concepts in their videos, but I think this simpler video is one of their strongest. When you have a great song, you don’t need to spice things up with exotic locations, lol props or bleeding edge digital effects.

Best bit: The sneer and the pout.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… is it you or is it me?

Headless Chickens “Mr Moon”

This is probably the most hard-sell, down-the-barrel-of-the-camera the Headless Chickens have made yet. Chris and Fiona take turns at singing the song in close up, with the rest of the band in the background. They both look utterly beautiful, in that dark sexy Headless Chickens way.

The song is bookended with sampled dialogue, and this is represented by various Chickens miming the words, as well as a reel-to-reel recorder being played like an instrument. The massive influence of street fashion in the early ’90s is also apparent, with Fiona wearing a Stüssy cap. Stüssy was so very cool.

The video is in black and white, with floating, overlapping circles (moons?) of pink, purple and a third which a overlaps to turn the monochrome into colour. Like the song, the visuals manage to be dark with tiny uplifting moments that only serve to make the dark even darker.

Best bit: The lone appearance of a person wearing a chicken head.

Director: Jonathan Ogilvie
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

P.S. Owen reminds me that this song uses the chorus melody of “The Sleepwalker” by This Kind of Punishment, perhaps best known for being covered by Cat Power.

Next… the perfect indie guy lover man.