Otara Phil Harmonic “Drummer Boy”

This is an interesting one. The Otara Phil Harmonic was a Phil Fuemana project, with vocals by Johnny Sagala and Ermehn, and Lole singing the chorus. This song might not actually have had NZ On Air funding. But the one thing I do know is that on Christmas Day 1994, “Drummer Boy” was at number 40 in the charts, before quietly slipping away into the silly season. But then they were up against Purest Form’s yuletide power ballad.

While the song is very loosely based around the classic Christmas song “The Little Drummer Boy”, it’s not an overtly Christmas song. It has rapped verses with Lole singing about her “drummer boy” in the chorus. It’s very reminiscent of DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince’s 1991 hit “Summertime” but with a random Christmas theme. But maybe that’s the problem. It’s too Christmassy to appeal as a regular hip hop track, but not Christmassy enough to become a yuletide classic.

The video is shot around South Auckland. It looks pretty low budget (which would suggest it’s not NZOA funded, but I’ve seen cheaper looking videos made with funding) but the quality of shots varies. Lole is filmed dressed like an office worker, sitting in a chair that looks like office reception seating. It’s like they popped in during her lunch break and filmed the chorus.

The rapped bits are done outside, around the back of some shops and it looks good. It’s the delicate balance of picking a location that looks edgy enough to work in a music video, but still looks like New Zealand.

But the best thing is the dancers. I like dancing in a music video. There’s not a lot of it, probably because it’s quite complicated to arrange and film, but this video gets it. A group of dancers break out some slow-mo moves, filmed in front of colourful roller doors as the golden-hour light makes everything look amazing.

Best bit: all the rappers sensibly wear sunglasses as they’re facing the bright sunshine.

Next… all the groove of the Pacific.