Dave is playing the song with his band in an underground bar. The video is shot with desaturated colour, so it’s virtually black and white with mild hints of red. Sometimes the footage is full screen, other times it’s split into two or three boxes on screen. It’s achingly dull.
Five years later, in 2010, Cee Lo Green released the lyric video for his song “Fuck You”. This was the first modern dynamic lyric video and it sparked the now ordinary craft of lyric videos. And it sets a benchmark: is the “Pour the Wine” video more interesting than it would be if it were a lyric video? No. I would rather see the lyrics on screen (or just listen to the song on its own) than go to the effort of watching this boring video. Or maybe the Mint Chicks could come along with their felt-tip pens and scribble over the vid.
DD’s videos don’t have to all be as bold as “Don’t Hold Your Breath”, but he’s such a legendary performer that his videos should capture at least some of that spirit.
Best bit: Dave’s satisfied smile at the end, which is nice.
When the music video funding for the Veils first song was announced back in 2005, there was a fierce debate on NZmusic.com. Were the Veils a legit New Zealand band, or were they actually an English band using the Kiwi connection of the lead singer for getting funding? Well, it turns out that Finn the Devonport kid fit the criteria (though other New Zealand/England popster Daniel Bedingfield didn’t), so all was good.
So, we find the Veils playing in a small room, crammed into a corner. Finn, wearing fur, eyeliner and a crown, locks eyes with the camera and delivers a very confident performance. When the chorus kicks in, the camera moves back to reveal a room full of revellers. It looks like the band just invited all their friends a long, because they all look like they’re genuinely having fun, in a “Woohoo! I’m in a music video!” way.
Finn rocks the room like a skinny indie prince, before eventually fleeing the confines of the house party and going for a jog along a beach. The partygoers follow their indie prince, as he leads them all into the ocean, where they mysteriously vanish, Harold Holt style.
The song has a meandering, Smiths-inspired sound which seems like it should have had a slightly more sophisticated video. But for a bunch of kids from Devonport, it’s a good debut.
The video centres on a clown. We meet him alone at his house, before he sets off into the city. The futuristic looking Britomart station has been used a lot in music videos, so it’s really refreshing to see the clown take a train to Britomart and walk through it as a commuter, not as a cool dude in music video.
The clown entertains some kids in QEII Square, but sadly loses his colourful bunch of balloons. Seriously bummed out, he goes to drown his sorrows at a corner bar where Greg Johnson has also been drinking.
At this point I should also note that none of the geography in the video has been faked. It would be actually possible to replicate the clown’s journey from the train station to the bar.
The sad clown gets a drink and begins to remove his wig and makeup and – hey now – it’s comedic actor Jon Gadsby! It’s a really good piece of casting. Gadsby can properly act and does a decent job of both the clowning and the sadness.
It’s a really nicely shot video too. Every scene is pleasingly framed and the overall video has a dusky palette like the Brannan Instagram filter. In the end, when Greg joins the sad clown for a drink, it seems like the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Best bit: sad clown popping up in the transparent lift.
“Suburbia Streets” is the Fast Crew being honest about their upbringing. They didn’t grow up on troubled inner-city neighbourhoods. No, they came from safe middle-class suburbs, where it’s “safe for child’s play, and there’s minimal homeless”.
The video is also an ode to this environment. We see the Crew rapping and singing around the suburbs, wandering the empty streets, inside an empty house and travelling on an empty bus. This is a fairly accurate portrayal of suburbs – during the day they do indeed empty out.
And that’s one of the big weaknesses with the video. For a song that is celebrating the depth and variety of the band’s suburban roots, the video isn’t doing such a great job of showing all that variety. In direct opposition to the lyrics promising that “suburbia is packed with all them cats you’d like to know” and talk of “street hustlers to band geeks, architects to police”, the only life seen in the empty suburbs is from Fast Crew, who are presumedly just there to shoot the video.
There are plenty of videos showing vibrant block parties in poorer neighbourhoods, but maybe this sort of carry-on just doesn’t happen in a nice middle-class area. Perhaps they’d find more suburban life down at the local Lone Star restaurant on a Thursday night.
Best bit: the very serious vocoder tube-singing bit – “suburbiaaaaaa”.
I have a theory about this song. After Dave Dobbyn saw “Loyal”, a song about a relationship breakdown, used to foster national pride in a sports contest, he decided to write an actual proper song about pride in New Zealand. And so “Welcome Home” was born, and I imagine Dave has done quite well performing it at all those sports, military and civic ceremonies, all in honour of people who have “sacrificed much to be here”.
The video starts in black and white, with Dave walking down a busy street. He occasionally turns to wave and smile at people off camera, and you just know it’s people who are just shouting “DAVE DOBBYN!” because, hey, it’s Dave Dobbyn.
A bit of colour comes to the video via portraits of immigrants, all posing next to the flags of their former home country, and longer established New Zealanders. There’s a meat worker, schoolkids, dairy owners, a kebab shop couple, a taxi driver, and a forklift driver. There’s also refugee Ahmed Zaoui and a couple of brothers from the Dominican Priory where he lived at the time.
The oddest person to feature is a Westpac teller. She’s standing in front of a partition with “welcome” on it, and for a brief moment the video suddenly feels like an ad for Westpac. But New Zealanders work in banks as well as kebab shops, hardware stores and freezing works.
A lot of New Zealand music videos try to capture an essence of New Zealand, but trust Dave Dobbyn to just layer on the New Zealandness so deep that it goes beyond a cliche and actually becomes how New Zealanders happily see themselves. This is New Zealand.
Best bit: Dave’s thumbs up to one of the “DAVE DOBBYN” yellers.
In between Breaks Co-Op’s first album Roofers and their second album The Sound Inside, group member Zane Lowe had moved to the UK and become a BBC Radio 1 DJ. But he had not forgotten about his music project back home. Along with Hamish Clark, the duo teamed up with singer Andy Lovegrove, who brought a rootier, folkier sound to the group with his newfangled lyrics.
The video goes for a standard New Zealand music video theme – the scenic road trip. Away from the city, the lads get into an old Kingswood (it’s always an old car) and head for the coast.
Much of the video is just them driving along 90 Mile Beach. I’m assuming it’s 90 Mile Beach because the sight of a Ratana church suggests they’re in the Far North. And New Zealand doesn’t have all that many epically long beaches.
Very pointedly, Hamish and Andy are in the front, with Zane slouching in the back. It seems like a deliberate choice to downplay his presence in the video, putting the emphasis on Andy’s vocals instead of the famous UK media star in the back. If you weren’t paying attention, you might not even notice he was in the video.
A lot of videos in this style play as porn for homesick expats, but there’s something a bit different about “The Otherside”. The lyrics deal with overcoming depression and the visuals of the beach landscape sometimes feel quite lonely and isolated. Maybe this is the first New Zealand video that uses majestic scenery as more than just a pretty backdrop.
The Feelers get all existential with “The Fear” and to drive home the point that this is serious, man, the video stars James alone. This is the first time the other two have been absent from a video, so you know it’s serious.
The video opens with James watching some home movies, then we get a 70 second uninterrupted shot of him lip-syncing to the camera. Even in Sinead O’Connor’s epic lip-sync video “Nothing Compares 2 U”, she still got out and wandered around some statues. Mr Reid is stuck in the same room, expressionless, looking like every last emotion has been sucked out of his body.
Fortunately the rest of the video has a bit more variety, with James mooching around the cool studio apartment, playing his guitar and watching some more home movies. But he still looks sullen, even when he’s singing the cheerful lyrics, “Look out on the bright side!”.
He also sings of the fear “that someone can replace you”. But one thing is for sure – since the Feelers’ peak years, there has not yet been a New Zealand pop-rock band come along with the Feelers’ popularity or longevity.
Best bit: the little kids having fun in the projected home movies – I’m glad someone’s having a good time.
Gramsci is always serious and his videos are always serious. “Fall to Earth” continues with the seriousness, but this time ramping up the rock vibe.
The Gramsci band play in a dark space, silhouetted against a colour-changing wall of LED panels. Sometimes it seems like the colours directly relate to the mood of the song, other times it just seems like a random rotation of colours. But when the song explodes into a rockstravaganza, it’s all red.
Because the band are shot in silhouette, we don’t really get a good look at them. They are mystery men, playing in the shadows. This leads to a certain disconnection between the band and the song. In a way, it could be anyone playing it.
It is a really strong song and maybe it does work having the band acting as humans props in service of the song. Though given its strength, I would rather see the energy primarily come from the band than the lighting and editing.
Best bit: the flash of red and green stripes, Christmas cheer amongst the monochrome.
“Without You” is a short jazzy love song, the sort of thing that is in the repertoire of Saturday afternoon cafe performer.
We find Brooke sitting on a hearty old leather sofa, surrounded by stacks of books. This reminds me of the bar decor trend of having shelves lined with old books purchased from op shop bargain bins, most of which ended up being All Black biographies and Reader’s Digest condensed books. I wonder if Brooke’s collection includes Ebony & Ivory: The Stu Wilson, Bernie Fraser Story.
As well as stationary Brooke on the couch, we also get shots of couples, posing in a portrait style. As well as the obvious romantic and family groups, there’s a punk dad with a punk kid, two beardy bastards, a girl with a horse, and woman with her award-winning dogs and their trophies.
It’s a sweet song and a sweet video, but there’s just not much that’s especially captivating about it. Maybe it’s just the sort of thing to play in a cafe on a Saturday afternoon.
Best bit: the elaborately bedazzled jacket of a young punk.