OMC “On The Run”

“On the Run” was OMC’s third single and last NZOA-funded video. It was the lowest charting OMC single in New Zealand (#30), but it charted in the UK (#56) and the Netherlands (#98). It’s a far cry from the glory days of “How Bizarre”, but it’s certainly not bad going.

The song is a moody track with a disco funk bass and some fab 1960s guitar tremolo, while Pauly raps and sings about being on the run, a simultaneous blend of pop star and badass.

After an introduction with a Betty Draper-ish, we meet Pauly, hiding out in a dark motel room, his face cast with shadows from venetian blinds. We also see him in a colourful room, sometimes playing his guitar, wearing a silver jacket at a press conference, and wearing a 1960s leisure suit as he is spun around on a rotating wall.

Betty also makes an appearance in these locations, but never at the same time as Pauly. She’s in the company of a sinister-looking man who seems to be keeping her prisoner. If she knows anything about Pauly’s whereabouts, she’s not snitching.

There’s no conclusion, no hint that this drama will be resolved. The video ends with a pause on Pauly and then a fade to black.

In his book How Bizarre, Simon Grigg notes that the video shoot was masterminded by the Australian record company. He describes the video as, “excessively glitzy, and devoid of anything resembling personality – Pauly’s or anyone else’s. It completely missed what it was that made Pauly stand out from the international mire.”

Best bit: Pauly banging out some instro guitar – a perfect way to pass the time when laying low.

Director: Mark Hartley
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

It would be nice if the OMC videography ended here, but there was also “I Love LA”, an irony-free cover of the heavily ironic Randy Newman song, recorded for the “Mr Bean” movie soundtrack. Simon Grigg notes: “The embarrassing video, in a Hollywood pool, cost more than every video and recording made by Pauly to date, combined. An almighty flop, a terrible record, and a career killer. Its on my label but I disowned it before release.” View with caution.

Next… outrageous sexy ’90s party.

OMC “Land Of Plenty”

1996-omc-land-of-plenty“Land of Plenty” was the third OMC single to receive NZOA funding and “Right On” was the fourth, but they were released in the opposite order, making “Land of Plenty” OMC’s final NZOA-funded video to be released.

Pauly Fuemana had enjoyed a global hit with “How Bizarre” and local success with the follow-up single “Right On”. “Land of Plenty” gets personal. It’s very much the work of a New Zealand-born child of Polynesian immigrant parents.

“Land of Plenty” is a valentine to New Zealand. While Pauly’s rapping isn’t as good as it has been (he sounds like he has a cold), it is still a strong song with a killer chorus.

The lyrics list places and features of New Zealand: “Oamaru by Timaru, winding roads, sudden bends, Lake Taupo, Bethells Beach.” Pauly doesn’t forget cities, also mentioning “Mission Bay, Cuba Street, Vulcan Lane”.

There’s a cool story behind the production of the video, as told by Simon Grigg in his rather good book How Bizarre. Director Kerry Brown came up with an ambitious treatment for the video that was budgeted at $60,000 – but all they had was the $5000 NZ On Air grant and $15,000 from the record company.

So they got sponsors. The New Zealand Wool Board chipped in $20,000 on the condition that Pauly would wear a woollen jacket in the video. TVNZ contributed another $20,000 with the understanding that Pauly would take part in a promo for the station (which never happened).

Much of the video is second-unit filming around New Zealand, with Pauly and singer Taisha filmed in the volcanic plateau. Pauly was in a foul mood the day of the shoot, but Brown’s directorial expertise transformed the scowls into looks of thoughtfulness.

The video takes inspiration from the lyrics and the typical “scenic New Zealand” tourism film (check out “This is New Zealand” for a glorious example), so there’s lots of aerial footage of mountains, rivers and oceans. But we also visit small towns and the aforementioned urban hotspots.

Both and song and the video capture the appreciation that a migrant family has for their new home, but it also works as a reminder for those of us who’ve been here a bit longer that New Zealand is a lovely country.

The song was used in a 2001 ad by the BNZ, who effectively remade the video with a bigger budget, more BNZ customers and less scenery.

Best bit: the Wizard standing in front of the ChristChurch Cathedral. cries

Director: Kerry Brown
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… mission posse-ble.

OMC “Right On”

1996-omc-right-onModern life is tough for Pauly Fuemana. As he plays chess with his glamorous friends in a cool urban cafe, he starts to think back to his carefree childhood in the mystical Island Bay. But it’s not the windy Wellington suburb. Pauly’s Island Bay is a warm sunny seaside spot that filled with the joy of the Pacific Islands.

Following in the steps of their massive worldwide hit “How Bizarre”, “Right On” doesn’t stray very far from the winning sound of “How Bizarre”. It has the Pacific guitar, ladies singing the chorus, mariachi horns and a handy catchphrase. It’s a fine pop song in its own right, but tends to pale in comparison to “How Bizarre”.

In an attempt to capture the spirit of his childhood, Pauly boards a colourful Elvis-driven bus and gathers up some friends, destination Island Bay. Despite the carefree world of both the lyrics and the video, Pauly looks very serious, as if perhaps there are deep troubles weighing on him. And when he does smile, it looks like he’s trying to hide it, as if looking happy would damage his reputation.

But the video gets a happy ending, with the urbanites reaching Island Bay and enjoying a twilight singalong. And that’s not a bad thing to experience.

Best bit: the important businessman taking an important phone call on his chunky ’90s cellphone.

Director: Rob Mclaughlin
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… some very dark moods.

OMC “How Bizarre”

1994-omc-how-bizarreGuys, we did it. This song was in the August 1994 funding round, but the video wasn’t released until very late 1995, and didn’t become a bonafide massive global hit until 1996. Someone knew they had a hit on their hands.

A bit of history about the video. A first version of the video was made by directors Gideon Keith and Marcus Ringrose (who later directed the Headless Chickens’ “George” video). But their version was rejected because, among other reasons, the lighting made Pauly Fuemana look like “a raisin”.

So a reshoot was ordered, this film directed by film-maker Lee Baker who had also played the memorable guitar part on the song. So Pauly, singer Sina and a Filipino guy named Hill was stood in for Brother Pele cruised in a Chevy Impala along the gardens at Ellerslie racecourse.

Record label owner Simon Grigg notes that the video “had over 15,000 TV plays in the US between 1997 and 2000 and cost a total of $7000 to make.” And indeed it doesn’t look particularly fancy, with most of the action taking place in the lyrical Chevy or on a circus themed stage.

And Simon tweeted some more info about the making of the video.

it was a real rush job as we had rejected the first. It went to number 1 in NZ without a vid.

…and the opening sequences – the car – was copied countless times in the US. The director was offered heaps of US work

Then we left NZoA logo off accidentally and brendan rang asking if we could please add it. Happy to of course.

It’s the first video I’ve seen so far that has proper dancing girls – wearing sequinned bras and not playing any significant role in the video, other than to shake their booties. It’s a clever move – a lesser video would have had clowns in it.

Listening to the whole song for the first time in years, I suddenly realised that there’s a lot of accordion in it. This make it seem even more improbable that it would become a massive worldwide hit, and yet it did.

But at the centre of “How Bizarre” is Mr Fuemana, Mr Pauly Fuemana, looking dapper-as in a cravat. “How Bizarre” seems like a moment in time when Pauly Fuemana stood on top of the world, with unlimited possibilities in front of him. Knowing how the story ended is sad, but doesn’t stop the spirit of “How Bizarre”.

Doof it up, Pauly.

Best bit: Sina’s practical sports bra.

Note: Can things get more complicated? There are at least two versions of the music video. This version has the NZ On Air logo so I assume it was the first to be made.

And this video looks to be the second version. It’s based on the same clips at the first, but with less of the car and more of the dancing girls.

Director: Lee Baker
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… playing the November Rain card.