Creating New Zealand's first local hit involved a lot of trial and error, as a company best known for making radios grappled with how to make records. Sixty-six years later Neil Finn visited musician Jim Carter, whose Hawaiian-style guitar is part of the magic of the original 'Blue Smoke' track. Finn "gently persuaded" Carter to help him record a new version on a laptop in just a few hours. Alongside newsreel shots of WWII soldiers, this evocative clip features footage of two musicians from different generations sharing memories, and making music about saying goodbye.
‘Message to My Girl’ finds Split Enz in a time of transition — foreshadowed here when the Finn brothers walk past each other in opposite directions. Tim has just completed his solo album and will shortly leave, while Neil is coming into his own as the band’s new leader. The track is an unabashed love song to his wife. The accompanying video was shot in two extended takes, with the only edit obscured halfway through — and staged in what looks like a theatre set storage area. New drummer Paul Hester makes his debut but no Noel Crombie suits this time, just civvies.
'Land of Plenty' is a love letter to Aotearoa, featuring another take on the conversational vocal stylings heard on global smash 'How Bizarre'. Channelling his Niuean father's love of NZ, Pauly Fuemana namechecks favourite streets, Mt Ruapehu, white water and "open caves that glow supreme". Taisha Khutze (now in The Lady Killers) supplies some impressive vocal stylings of her own. In 2013 co-writer Alan Jansson joined Fuemana's widow in criticising what they saw as "noticeable similarities" between this top five hit, and the song for a 'Land of Plenty, Land of Quattro' car ad.
After Bic Runga's debut album Drive sold — and broke — a bunch of records, another five years passed before she found time to perfect her follow-up. Fears it would join the long list of disappointing second albums proved unfounded: Beautiful Collision scored three NZ Music Awards, and became the biggest-selling local release of 2003. The album's third single 'Listening for the Weather' spent 20 weeks in the Kiwi charts. Shot mostly on DV and Super 8mm, the video offers a snapshot of life on tour: dressing rooms, concert halls, road signs...and lyrics about home not being too far away.
This dance pop anthem was a number one for the reality TV series-generated act TrueBliss — and the biggest selling single by a New Zealand artist in 1999. It was written (like most of the TrueBliss album) by Anthony Ioasa, an APRA Silver Scroll winning co-writer for Strawpeople's 'Sweet Disorder'. The video features a girls' night in slumber party, complete with home movies, hairbrush microphones, pillow fights, dress-ups, American Indian head-dresses and hula dancing. There is also quite a lot of moody introspection for what is essentially an unabashed love song.
The urgent, pulsating 'Just a Little Bit' was the second single for Auckland electropop duo Kids of 88. On a set lit by suitably retro fluorescent light tubes, director Tim van Dammen's clip echoes the video for the band's debut 'Our House' — but with models fighting each other rather than having paint poured over them. Van Dammen's aim was to create "a fight, but shot to look like an orgy" — and, by the end of the video, the line between passion and aggression is all but indistinguishable. The single and video were both winners at the 2010 Vodafone NZ Music Awards.
Soul songstress Hollie Smith looks gorgeous in a fierce kind of way, in this clip directed by Preston McNeil. Auckland bars Hotel DeBrett and Sale St gleam, and there are clowns, stylish assassins and a mysterious crime. Not to mention celebrity cameos galore — including Danielle Cormack, future Westside actor Pana Hema-Taylor, and music TV hosts Shavaughn Ruakere, Nick Dwyer and Helena McAlpine. Topping it all off: surely the longest credits sequence in the history of Kiwi music videos.
The first single from Goldenhorse's second album is an insistent lover's plea that marries Kirsten Morrell's vocal dexterity to a driving tempo. In the music video for the Auckland folky rockers director Adam Jones disdains the big wide shot for disembodied images and details of the musicians performing. A vibrant Morrell, resplendent in red (rather than the lyric's lady in white) captures the centre of attention, with her band mates providing a textured background — and workout for the focus puller.
Chris Knox's grungy collage-style clip suits this mournful song perfectly. The sequence offering multifarious images of what “turning brown” might mean — from a deep tan to race-swapping — is a particular delight. The shot of Knox's daughter Leisha as a toddler, with the scratched in message "there is always hope" gives the clip a surprisingly poignant ending. In his ScreenTalk interview for NZ On Screen, Knox recalled it was a technical problem that led to him scratching directly onto the film, in the style of his hero Len Lye.
The video for this Phoenix Foundation single features Bret McKenzie excavating a deep hole, in a landscape that evokes the work of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky (although Loren Taylor's video was actually shot in a clearing close to Wellington's wind turbine). The band turns up to watch, and the man finds eye-opening liberation from his toil. Vocalist Samuel Flynn Scott credited inspiration for the song to musician Lawrence Arabia’s recipe for satisfaction: ditching dreams of success, in order to enjoy making music. The result was a finalist for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll.