Matty J feat. Dei Hamo “Somewhere You’re There”

1994-matty-j-somewhere-youre-thereThe first few seconds of this song seem quite sedate. There’s Marry J doing his soul crooning and it’s all very sweet when suddenly – bam! – here’s Dei Hamo with some rap to make things a lot more interesting.

Dei Hamo is filmed in black and white, with the lyrics of his rhymes jumping around behind him, like a YouTube lyric video. This tantalising and explosive intro is over quickly, and we return to Matty J, walking along a city street.

The camera always films him walking left to right, and we also see split screen shots of different angles of him. I know what’s trying to be achieved here (the spilt screen style was very cool in the mid-’90s) but it seems a bit awkward here. It has been done with some really horrible looking bevelling effects, like the sort of stuff that showed up in webpage design in the mid-’90s. Was there a point where this style was cool? Maybe.

Dei Hamo bursts in again, introduced by Matty J as “the Madd Coconut”. And then Matty J continues on his journey, walking through cityscapes in bold colours, particularly purples and blues. Finally Matty J’s journey ends with him walking right up to his sweetie, but the video abruptly ends before there can be any grand reunion. (This might just be the version that’s online.)

It feels like there are some really good ideas behind this video, but not everything manages to work.

Best bit: Matty J’s simultaneous look of loved-up and cool.

Director: Craig Jackson
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… lying in the sand.

Fuemana “Rocket Love”

Funded in 1992 but not released until 1994, “Rocket Love” was a cover of a Stevie Wonder track and the first NZOA-funded video for Fuemana. Phil and sister Christina supply smooth-as vocals, along with a contribution from Matty J.

The video is based around the 1994 short film Funny Little Guy, a kitschy, romantic tale of a woman’s love for an alien. But sometimes it’s an awkward mix, with the beautifully photographed scenes from the film sitting uncomfortably alongside the simpler shots of the group green screened over the top.

But other times the kistchy B-grade style of the film suits the low-budget awkwardness of the video. One thing that makes the cinematic connection work really work is the subtle James Bond motif in the song. That makes the video come across like the DIY opening titles of Bond flick, with, er, Matty J taking the place of the sexy Bond girl silhouette.

Maybe the video is a little overpowering. There’s so much cool stuff going on on screen that it seems to make the song recede. I feel like I’d rather watch the short film and listen to the song separately, each doing their own thing.

Best bit: stop-motion background animation, featuring Elvis stamps, satellites and robots.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… headphones and kerbstones.

Matty J Ruys “Cruisin'”

1995-matty-j-ruys-cruisingSome New Zealand music videos will cleverly make an ordinary bit of downtown Auckland look like Paris, London, New York or Apia. But sometimes clever camera angles aren’t just enough and a proper location shoot is needed. This time Matty J went to Miami.

Again directed by Mark Tierney, Matty J takes his cover of the smooth Smokey Robinson track to sunny Florida. Matty J hangs out in the back of a convertible, cruising with the top down. As he drives around the streets of Miami, we catch glimpses of the street life, lots of ordinary people going about their business, including girls in short shorts. This is, after all, a music video.

The video is high contast and has a strong orange filter, like a really bad Instagram filter. I assume this is meant to create a golden, sunny feeling, but it’s more like a strange post-apocalyptic sci-fi world. It would not be out of place for the tri-bosomed hooker from “Total Recall” to suddenly show up.

I remember at the time this video was released there were mutterings about the Miami location. But despite the exotic locale, it’s obvious that the video shoot itself was not expensive. It literally looks like they just drove around one afternoon and shot some stuff from the car. A video shoot in Miami? Why not.

Best bit: all the rollerbladers, cruising along.

Director: Mark Tierney
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Matty J Ruys “Mine”

1995-matty-j-ruys-mineCatch-up time: this was missing from one of the NZOA databases that I used, but fortunately I found it in another.

Matty J is a determined man. “The girl will be mine,” he asserts. But which girl? This video has a United Nations of hotties for him to pick.

Directed by Mark Tierney, the video is simple but cool and urban. Wearing a shirt with an extremely pointy collar, Matty J is caught in a spotlight as he stands in front of a wall made from non-step steel, just in case he wanted to try out his Spider-Man movies.

Also standing by the non-slip wall is a number of women, each dancing to the song’s cool grooves, each giving the camera seductive looks. It’s almost like they’re auditioning to be “the girl”, except all the women have a bit of a don’t-give-a-dam look.

Just in case things were getting a little claustrophobic, Matty J ventures outside, hanging out in front of the old Central Post Office, where only the pigeons understand his angst. He also celebrates being outdoors by doing a seduction rap.

I like that this video has taken a low budget and made something quite styley out of it, including magically tranforming Queen Street into a much cooler urban area.

Best bit: Matty J’s dramatic grabs at the camera.

Director: Mark Tierney
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Matty J Ruys feat Lole “Love Every Little Thing”

1996-matty-j-love-everything-about-you“Love Every Little Thing” is Matty J doing what he does best – smooth R&B pop. Christian soul diva Lole joins Matty J on their cover of this Stevie Wonder album track.

The video is shot in black and white, with Matty and Lole sing the song in front of a stark white background. Their footage is cut together with clips of a diverse selection of other couples, but also a body builder wearing only underpants. Also, a ladder makes a brief cameo.

There’s a slight religious component to the song. Matty J clarifies that while he really loves the subject of the song, “there is only one that I place above you – it’s God that I place above you.” Mainstream New Zealand pop songs don’t normally go to that Jesus place – and Stevie Wonder didn’t even release this song as a single. It’s refreshing to get a slice of a New Zealand gospel style.

It’s a really cute song, but the video seems a little bit too serious. Most of the diverse couples look very serious, like there’s a bit of unhappiness in their relationships. And I’m still trying to figure out the ladder. Perhaps it’s the happiest of all.

Best bit: the ladder, it will take you to higher ground.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… the overground singing girl.

Fuemana “Closer”

The Fuemana family and Matty J are back with more of their smooth grooves, with influences galore, including a Monkees/Del Tha Funkee Homosapien reference with “Mr Fuemana, Mr Phil Fuemana”.

The video takes place in a day-lit club (probably Cause Celebre, which seems an Auckland ’90s thing). The group perform their song, with the Fuemanas being cool and Matty J trying to be cool.

When Phil does his keyboard solo, a very Catholic looking crucifix can be seen on the piano keys, implying that perhaps this song is about getting closer to God.

It’s funny to look at this video and think that within three years, one of the guys in this video was going to have a bonafide international mega hit single.

Best bit: Matty J’s seduction moves.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… cherub-faced folk rock.