Purest Form “If I Fell”

1995-purest-form-if-i-fellI previously said that “U Can Do It” was Purest Form’s last single, but I was wrong. They actually had one more single up their sleeves, and with it came the most ridiculous and therefore the greatest New Zealand music video ever made.

The song is a slowed-down cover of the Beatles’ classic. As expected, it is a perfect song to show off the boys’ vocal harmonies. Their previous music video, “U Can Do It”, had a bold Polynesian flavour, but “If I Fell” goes in the complete opposite direction, thoroughly colonising the boys.

They start sitting on the steps at Alberton, before jumping into a vintage car and hooning off to a waterfall, including a couple of the Form sitting on jump seats at the back. Watch out, guys!

Once they reach the waterfall, they stand around looking moody, dressed in what appears to be cricket uniforms. A young lady in a white dress moves about, also looking moody and romantic. Sometimes she plays a cello.

It’s all very good so far, but then at the two-minute mark, something amazing happens: the lead vocalist gets wet. Probably inspired by Peter Andre’s 1995 waterfall romp in “Mysterious Girl”, one of the Form (the fit one) casts off his colonial attire, dons a lavalava and stands under the waterfall looking really hot.

This sort of stuff doesn’t usually happen in New Zealand music videos. We get all shy and embarrassed and wonder what our parents would think and how this might affect our future employment opportunities. So I am super impressed that Purest Form were brave enough to do this, but that makes it a even more sad that this is their final music video.

Best bit: Of course it’s the bloody waterfall bit.

Next… a slow download via Netscape Navigator.

Purest Form “U Can Do It”

1995-purest-form-you-can-do-itIt’s sad that this is Purest Form’s last song, because it really feels like they’ve hit their stride and would have been ready to slot right into the late ’90s boy band scene. All four band members are back. “U Can Do It” is a positive, upbeat pop song, and the video illustrates this perfectly.

There are two sides to the video. It starts with Purest Form in a bleak setting – the kind of place where “people give us on their hopes and their dreams”: a suburban cul-de-sac. The old Auckland CPO, pre-Britomart renovation, also stands in for urban desolation, with its boarded up doors and smattering of tagging.

But don’t worry – a better life is just around the corner: the choruses explode with an amazing Polynesian beach party.

Fires burn, palm trees sway and masses of Pacific performers dance in a mix of traditional and modern styles. And the four lads have a twist on their trademark matching suits: instead of trousers, they wear white lavalava with their baggy red and white jackets.

It feels like Purest Form were on the verge of greatness, but then they went their own ways, never to see the charts again.

Best bit: The a capella breakdown outside the old post office.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Purest Form “Lady”

1995-purest-form-ladyPurest Form is really growing on me. “Lady” is a fairly ordinary slow jam, but – like all Purest Form videos – this video is another precious taonga.

The quartet seem to have reduced to a trio – scandalous! They start dressed as mechanics – or rather, an am-dram version of a mechanic, complete with strategically placed smears of grease. Sometimes they’re leaning over the car, other times they’re in the car, with a deliberately unconvincing green screen. I’m going to pretend this is homage to the Headless Chickens’ “Cruise Control” video.

The garage scenes are cut with black and white outtakes from their previous videos, including falling down the dunes in “A Message to My Girl”, whacking into the giant Christmas decorations in “It’s Christmas” and tomfoolery on their Rainbow’s End ad shoot. We also get to see them performing at a mall, a reminder that for a few months, Purest Form were a bit of a big deal.

For the chorus, the group are back in the matching suits. This time the suits are made from a black fabric with a silver filigree design. They are dressed like middle-aged women. They’re trying. They’re really trying to be New Zealand’s answer to Boys II Men, but there’s just so much missing.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… an early trip to the stars.

Purest Form “It’s Christmas”

1994-purest-form-its-christmasPurest Form know how to deliver, and this time they’re delivering a delicious cheese platter for Christmas.

The four are found in three different locations. They can be seen out on the ice at Paradise Ice Skating. This might seem like a romantic Christmassy thing to do, but the four seem to the only people at the rink, making it feel more like a bunch of 12-year-olds having a birthday party treat.

Their second location is a white studio, where they are dressed in almost identical white suits, distinguised only by colour ribbons. So they look like they’re wearing the flags of England (red), Finland (blue), the Maltan city Zejtun (green), and the People’s Democratic Republic of Purist Form, which I have just invented (purple).

The third location is somewhat disturbing. The group are standing next to the unassembled Farmers santa. The santa seems to be getting a fresh paint job, and I think this was the precise paint job that made him look really weird and creepy and started the “Eeew! He looks like a paedophile!” meme. The santa is then shown being trucked to his ’90s home – outside the mall at Manukau. (Kinda cool that South Auckland got the santa for a while.)

This may not be an amazing song, but I’m so glad the video exists. Years later, it brings a special kind of Christmas joy.

Best bit: the acting set-up, complete with a phone box.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

And with this cheerful video – which remarkably happened to coincide with the festive season posts – I’m going to take a break for a couple of weeks and will be back on 9 January kicking off the new year with another new year – 1995.

5000 Ways To Love You has been going for almost six months now. I’ve reviewed over 150 music videos so far and have learned more about music videos in the ’90s than I ever though possible. But the best part of this project is getting all the information from people with tales to tell, and slowly see previously missing videos appear online. Thank you to everyone who’s contributed, but also cheers to those who just enjoy reading the site.

Here’s to more adventures in music videos in 2012!

– Robyn

Purest Form “Message To My Girl”

1994-purest-form-message-to-my-girlAs the cruel hand of history would have it, Purest Form are best known for their barbershop quartet performance in the Rainbow’s End ad.

But then they weren’t singing the praises of the Motion Master, they were having a go at a proper pop career. Their first single was a sweet cover of Split Enz’s “Message to my Girl”.

Dressed in suits of the ’90s power palate (deep red, teal green, sky blue) the quartet perform the song on a west coast beach. It’s a fine day, with plenty of golden sunshine, but the jagged rocks on the beach don’t quite make it as romantic as perhaps the band intended.

The song is ok, but the arrangement tends to overegg the pudding. “I don’t wanna say I want you,” one singer croons. But that’s not enough. Another comes in with a sensually whispered, “I want you.”

The song has a really ambitious, epic quality to it, complete with a spoken break that starts with “Giiiirl, you know me…” But where were Purest Form when vocal harmony groups like Backstreet Boys and Nsync were tearing up the charts around the turn of the millennium? The Form came too soon.

Best bit: the smooth velvety spoken bit.

Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision

Next… a trip to Taumarunui.