It's the holidays: time to let your hair down, have a swim, give in to your appetite...and have a boogie. From Kings to The Clean, from 'Ten Guitars' to 'Trippin', let NZ On Screen supply the music, with this epic playlist of classic Kiwi party songs. In the backgrounder, music fan and publicity maestro Nicky Harrop takes us through the tracks, before bidding adieu to NZ On Screen.
This full-length documentary gives warm-spirited context to the song that has been the soundtrack to countless back lawn crate parties and freezing works chains (watch the credits). It was released as the B-side of singer Engelbert Humperdinck's Please Release Me, and became an unlikely hit in Aotearoa with fans who have done the "dance, dance, dance ...": including Dalvanius (who discusses its "pop-schlock" charms), Bunny Walters, The Topp Twins, and a special group of ten guitarists. The documentary also explores why "the national anthem of Patea" is so appealing to Māori.
Dragon's 'April Sun in Cuba' (from 1977 album Running Free) was originally released in Australia, where it charted at number two. New Zealand loved to hear Marc Hunter talking about Cuba and missile love too: in 1978, the song hit number nine. Later the Hunter/Paul Hewson composition made number 10 on the APRA list of Top 100 NZ Songs. This Aussie-made video, complete with footage of missiles, has the band in full big-hair rock star mode: a white-suited Marc Hunter gets in some high kicks while bassist brother Todd maintains his cool from behind his sunnies.
With departed founder member Phil Judd back in NZ, this UK written Tim Finn rocker took Split Enz even further into pop territory and away from their art rock roots. Of a piece with the most energetic New Wave of the time, it was accompanied by a video with an appropriately frenzied performance which former member and Enz historian Mike Chunn rated as one of their most infectious. The band are wearing Noel Crombie’s art-school designed suits, Neil Finn looks ridiculously young and endings don’t come much more abruptly than this one.
With a chorus to do any football terrace proud, the final single from Th’ Dudes (featuring Dave Dobbyn, Peter Urlich and Ian Morris) has become one of the great Kiwi drinking songs — though it was written in Sydney to parody hard-drinking pub crowds, and the lyrics namecheck local landmarks (The Coogee, The Cross) and luxuries unavailable back in NZ (Spanish shoes, falafel). The video, shot in the booze-barn like Cricketers’ Arms in Wellington, captures the raw essence of the song as it showcases the excitement of the band’s live show, and offers a snapshot of bar culture in early 80s New Zealand.
The opening images of this video — the swinging guitar, fingers on the fretboard — make for a defining moment in Kiwi music video history. The clip was actually shot in Australia; by the time they recorded the song, The Swingers had relocated from Aotearoa to Melbourne. They would soon be history. Aussie cinematographer/ director Ray Argall ('World Where You Live') matches the beloved composition with colourful images, quirky humour, and an infectious dance finale. In 2001 music organisation APRA voted the chart topper fourth on their list of the top Kiwi songs to date.
This video marked the directing debut of the multi-talented Chris Knox. Capturing the energy of The Clean's legendary first single, the clip memorably broke with local music promo standards (lip-synching, filming inside a studio etc) and set the template for Knox’s cheap but effective DIY method. He shot the band walking (and lying) on the street using a borrowed 16mm camera, set at a slow frame rate. He also played around with negative reversal film, to obtain some of the more distinctive images. 'Tally Ho' got to number 19 in the local charts; the band were "shocked and delighted".
This classic alternative national anthem by Auckland post-punk trio Blam Blam Blam became a theme song for New Zealand’s long, troubled winter of 1981 as the country was wracked by social and political division and the Springbok Tour. Poet and playwright Richard von Sturmer wrote the lyrics while the music was by Blams member Don McGlashan. The video features a band performance shot on the roof of TVNZ’s Shortland Street studios and shows a curious penchant for celebrity lawn mowing. The performing Marmite and Vegemite jars are, however, the real deal.
One of the great rock'n'roll songs about Auckland is the work of a Christchurch band. 'Auckland Tonight' is The Androidss' claim to fame - and yet it was the b-side of their only single. The work of a band that was never scared of a good time, it extols the virtues of a night on the town with special mention of Proud Scum and Toy Love playing at the Windsor Castle. The TVNZ video careers around rain soaked streets (with a shot of the long-gone Harbour Bridge toll booths) and offers telling glimpses of The Androidss' bête noir - the central police station.
This uplifting promotional clip is as famous as the chartbusting song. Accompanied by Jo, the breakdancing guide, for a tour of Patea and surrounds, the Patea Māori Club are captured "bopping and twirling like piwakawaka": at the local marae, in Wellington's Manners Mall, and on Patea’s main street, where milk tankers and sheep trucks pass by the Aotea canoe remembrance arch. So does the impresario himself: Dalvanius does a pūkana out a car window. In 2010 'Poi E' re-entered the charts thanks to Taika Waititi hit Boy. A documentary on the song was released in 2016.
As was often the way in the early 80s, this is a fairly basic TVNZ-produced video, filmed on a studio set to a DIY marae backdrop under red, green and yellow rasta lighting. But the band are natural born performers. There's puffer vests, Hawaiian shirts, and wristbands; and singer Willie Hona’s sleeveless leopard print top worn with bone carving necklace somehow feels just right for the Pacific reggae charms of the music. 'Long Ago' was the title track from the band's third release, which also featured their no-nukes anthem 'Nuclear Waste'.
Nick Sampson wrote Netherworld Dancing Toys' big hit 'For Today' during a summer spent working at a Taranaki freezing works. His love song has become a classic — aided in no small part by Annie Crummer's soaring vocal. The TVNZ video, directed by Radio With Pictures producer Brent Hansen, places the band in a studio (where Crummer sings with Kim Willoughby in a precursor to their time in When the Cat's Away) and on the Cook Strait ferry (where the shoot was nearly derailed when lunch in a Picton pub almost led to the band missing the return sailing).
The 1986 adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip was a huge hit in Aotearoa and Australia. Born from a John Barnett idea, the movie’s trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs theme song: one leveraged the other. Directed by cinematographer John Toon (Rain) while the song was being recorded at Wellington's Marmalade Studios, this screened before Crocodile Dundee in Australian cinemas. The single spent four weeks atop the Aussie charts. Back home ‘Slice of Heaven’ was 1986 Song of the Year, and reached unofficial National Anthem status.
This infectious song about the heartache of love took Jordan Luck roughly five minutes to write, in an east London squat. It was the band's first release in their new career after a brief name change to Ampllfier, then a shortening to The Exponents. Despite its unlikely origins and subject matter, it has become an enduring NZ sports stadium sing-along (rivalling Dave Dobbyn's 'Loyal' for unofficial national anthem status). The song's simplicity is matched by director Kerry Brown's video, which allows the band to do what they do best, in scenic spots including Waiotapu hot springs.
This jaunty debut single from Wellington reggae band Southside of Bombay is as deceptive as the happy family sing-a-long it accompanied in Once Were Warriors (which turned it into a belated chart hit). Far from being a nursery rhyme, its lyrics are informed by composer and vocalist Ruia Aperahama’s Ratana religion and a belief in the clock ticking towards an end time. Cinematographer Richard Bluck’s Wellington-filmed video captures the band performing (aptly there's sax on the south coast), cut with archive footage of Aotearoa activism ... as Mr Wolf watches on.
'Trippin'' was the debut single and biggest hit for early 90s North Shore rockers Push Push, who were powered by the lung-filled squall of future media personality Mikey Havoc. It spent six weeks on top of the Kiwi singles chart, propelled in part by this highly effective, and award-winning performance video from Chris and Tim Mauger. The clip provides ample testimony to the power of guitars, hair, t-shirts, that voice, and a healthy dose of strobe lighting. It's worth noting that, even at this formative stage of his career, Mr Havoc isn't exactly shy of the camera.
It had to be a big ask getting all seven members of Supergroove in one shot and looking good for this video, but the result trips along with pace, great upside down special effects, and some bonus goldfish. Shot in one epic, 18 hour session, Can't Get Enough was one of the earliest Supergroove videos directed by bassist Joe Lonie, who went on to helm 50+ clips for everyone from King Kapisi to Goodshirt. In 1995 'Can't Get Enough' was the first of a trio of Supergroove videos to take away the supreme award for Best New Zealand Music Video of the year.
Shot in sepia tones with barely a level camera angle on offer, the video for 3 The Hard Way’s single has classic hip hop video written all over it. A cruise around Auckland in the back of a convertible culminates in a guest verse from Bobbylon of Hallelujah Picassos. Back at home, a rugby-loving audience assembles for the song’s second half. The unforgettable hook is inspired by 10cc hit 'Dreadlock Holiday', which proved lucrative for the English band when there were issues around clearing the rights. This was one of the earliest NZ On Air-funded videos for a song that reached number one.
After a first video was rejected, this version directed by Lee Baker was finished just as ‘How Bizarre’ went to number one in NZ. However, it did play its part internationally as the song became a huge worldwide hit. Shot on a soundstage in Ponsonby and at Ellerslie Racecourse for a budget of $7,000, it was shown on US networks 14,986 times in 1997 and 1998. Pauly Fuemana shares the limelight with Sina Siapia, and a Filipino named Hill, who was enlisted after turning up to help out with the shoot – and became something of a celebrity in his homeland as a result.
This soulful number was the first single from Che Fu’s second album The Navigator. It marked the debut of his new band, The Krates. The ambitious video translates the song’s message of undying friendship to a World War II setting (filmed at the NZ Warbirds Association hangar at Ardmore Airport). Che-Fu’s Supergroove bandmate turned Krates drummer Paul Russell plays the cheeky English chap, while P-Money has found some turntables that possibly aren’t authentic wartime issue. Fade Away was judged Best Music Video and Single of the Year at the 2002 NZ Music Awards.
Director Chris Graham toys with black and white in this performance-based clip, which accompanies possibly New Zealand's best-known remix. Graham shoots Scribe and company in colour, but apart from skin tones makes every ‘colour’ used either black or white: including the hoodies, caps, milk bottles ... and the dog. Film speed is tweaked to the beat, and the result is monochrome magic. Scribe is joined by a crusading crew of Kiwi hip hop luminaries (Savage, P-Money, David Dallas/Con Psy). 'Not Many' originally topped the charts as half of a double A-side, alongside 'Stand Up'.
Set in a Grey Lynn fish'n'chip shop, this clip delivers a killer kai moana concept, when it's revealed that the greasy takeaway is merely a front for the club downstairs. Winner of Best Music Video at the 2006 Vodafone NZ Music Awards, the video features a host of cameos in addition to the members of Fat Freddy's Drop: including Danielle Cormack, Ladi6, John Campbell and Carol Hirschfeld. It was directed by Mark 'Slave' Williams, sometime MC for the band. The track was part of Fat Freddy's first studio album Based on a True Story, one of the biggest-selling in Kiwi history.
Mark Trethewey’s video for Shapeshifter’s anthemic ‘Electric Dreams’ follows the band as they make their way by bus down the East Coast of the North Island to a typically storming performance at Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne. Along the way, there’s time for summertime staples like beach cricket and fishing off the jetty at Tolaga Bay. These quiet, largely empty spaces provide a marked contrast to the mayhem of the sold out festival. It’s a journey that echoes the summer holiday car trips that are a rite of many an Aotearoa childhood.
Luke Sharpe’s video for the 2008 number one hit sets out to educate audiences about the Nesian style: replete with graffiti hibiscus, hawaiian shirts ... and hot teacher. The band is shot in front of a green screen, with totems uniting their central Auckland upbringing with their ancestral Polynesian past shown behind them. From baggy jeans to greenstone pendants, corned beef to fish’n’chips, the references nod to the South Pacific influences on the Mystik sound: “Just keep it fresh no matter where you be.” It won Best Hip Hop Video at the 2008 Juice TV Awards.
The fourth single from Tiki Taane’s first solo album, ‘Always on My Mind’ is an unadorned, heartfelt love song featuring Tiki accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. It became his breakthrough hit, a chart topper and the first Kiwi digital single to achieve platinum sales. The video is one continuous shot set in an imagined “Heathcote Valley Hall” (a nod to the Christchurch suburb where Tiki grew up) with Tiki unplugged, a shimmering floor and a backdrop inspired by Elvis Presley’s legendary 1968 Comeback Special. It won Best Solo Video at the 2008 Juice TV Awards.
Featuring artwork by Grammy-nominated Kiwi Sarah Larnach — whose art has been a key feature on Ladyhawke's albums — the music video for My Delirium weaves between reality and a dreamscape where cats dominate the Mount Rushmore sculpture, and Ladyhawke soars through space in a car. The video opens with the singer in a dreary roadside motel, before animated artwork on the wall comes to life, featuring a cartoon Ladyhawke walking out of the motel and hitting the road in a classic convertible. The musician won six Tuis at the 2009 NZ Music Awards.
This Silver Scroll winner from the debut album by The Naked and Famous became a breakout hit, winning global notice and playing on a number of teen TV shows (Gossip Girls, Skins). Directed by Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali, the promo won 10 million+ YouTube hits, playing no small part in announcing the band. Via a catalogue of Dazed and Confused-esque imagery, the clip puts its thumb on the pulse of the soaring synth-pop celebration of ‘Young Blood’: bonnet jumping, sparklers, skating and Badlands-style skylarking. The song won a Silver Scroll and an NZ Music Award.
'Don't Forget Your Roots' was released in July 2011 as the second single from Six60's self-titled debut album. The laid back meditation on family reached number two on the singles chart. The video, directed by Robin Walters, is set around the student accommodation area of north Dunedin, where the band members met while three of them were studying at Otago University. Some of the city's most notorious flats are featured, including 660 Castle Street where three of the band members lived, and the group first rehearsed.
Set in London, this music video offers a Bonnie and Clyde-style tale, inspired by lyrics which contrast life for rich and poor, and speak of “churning butter into diamonds”. After opening with the discovery of a body in a wedding dress, the clip offers up a prelude to the death. The video contrasts the pair’s apparent romantic entanglement with their escalating crime spree, from petty theft to armed robbery. The widescreen clip was directed by London-based Kiwis Claire Littler and Ralph Matthews.
Bass meets brass in this 2014 collaboration between Australian house DJ and producer Timmy Trumpet, and Kiwi rapper Savage. Having previously tasted international chart success with his single 'Swing', Savage contributes vocals and lyrics to Trumpet's track. The result topped the charts in New Zealand — it won Highest Selling Single at the 2015 NZ Music Awards — made it to three in Australia, and won attention in Europe. The video is a sweaty record of the song being performed live at Adelaide’s HQ nightclub, with strobes flashing over the pumping throngs.
The video for the highest selling Kiwi song of both 2016 and 2017 was shot on a mobile phone in Fiji. Featuring beaches, pools, and partying, Don’t Worry Bout It was filmed by Auckland musician Kings while he was in Fiji for a music festival. Kings wanted to create an instrumental track with a summer feel, but added lyrics after watching his daughter run around a park without a care in the world. As of December 2017, 'Don’t Worry Bout It' held the record for the longest number of weeks (33) as the week's biggest-selling Kiwi single; it had been streamed on Spotify over six million times.