Upper Hutt-born singer Jon Stevens pulled off the remarkable feat of having consecutive number ones on the New Zealand Top 40 with his first two singles. 'Montego Bay' was the second (taking over from 'Jezebel' in January 1980). It was a cover of a one-off 1970 hit for American Bobby Bloom, written for the second largest city in Jamaica. The cut-out palm trees of the studio set were as close as Stevens and band got to the Caribbean. 'Montego Bay' stayed at the top of the chart for two weeks and was voted 'Single of the Year' at the New Zealand Music Awards.
This Janice Weaver song was originally recorded by American singer Morgana King (who played Mama Corleone in the first two Godfather films). Allison Durbin's epic version featured backing from Quincy Conserve and was produced by Howard Gable (who she later married). The biggest selling release by a New Zealand artist in 1968, it topped the local singles chart and won the Loxene Golden Disc. Durbin's performances from the televised Loxene awards show and a TV special have long since been lost but this grainy Australian TV clip of her finest moment survives.
Vocalist Victoria Kelly is very much the focus of this moody Strawpeople video. Singing enigmatically of dreams, knives and possible obsession— and magically changing outfits off camera, in patented music vid style — she performs in a shadowy, red-lit dive for an audience that consists of Strawpeople founders Paul Casserly and Mark Tierney. Tierney left the group in 1996. Plans for Victoria Kelly to take on a bigger role in Strawpeople would be derailed by her increasingly busy career as a film composer. ‘Beautiful Skin’ was composed by Strawpeople collaborator Greg Johnson.
Inspired by the legend of Ranginui and Papatuanuku — and two attractive singers — director Jessica Sanderson pulls out the stops with this video, which features galaxies, moons, and the circling star wattage of Stan Walker and Ginny Blackmore. Stan and Ginny play lovers who can’t exist in the same space without the potential for havoc, with Walker representing water and earth and Wigmore the sky. Co-written by the two artists, ‘Holding You’ became a number one hit in New Zealand, and was the most downloaded song on local iTunes on its first morning of release.
Love Soup was a high school duo formed by singer-songwriter Bic Runga and guitarist Kelly Horgan. After coming third in the Smokefree Rockquest, they were picked up by Trevor Reekie’s Pagan Records. This video is one of the only things Love Soup did, as they were overtaken by Runga’s burgeoning solo career. Shortly to be signed by major label Sony, her debut hit single (and APRA Silver Scroll winner) ‘Drive’ was just months away. Aged just 19, Runga already looks and sounds remarkably assured as she sings about a lost friendship, to a mystical CGI cipher.
This cautionary tale about the perils of lost love comes from singer-songwriter Greg Johnson's third album Vine Street Stories (named for the address of the Auckland house where it was recorded). Director James Holt (a flatmate at the time) shot the clip on 35mm and gave it a rich, golden-hued setting of brocades, leathers, candles and curtains to showcase musicians including Pagan Records founder (and broadcaster) Trevor Reekie and Johnny Fleury (father of Zowie) on Chapman Stick. Boh Runga contributes vocals (around the time she formed her own band Stellar*).
'Odyssey' is the second single for Ruby Frost (a musical persona created by Auckland singer-songwriter Jane de Jong). With a wink and nod to the DIY craft aesthetic, director Veronica Crockford-Pound’s video presents West Auckland's Bethells Beach as an alien landscape inhabited by exotic, glitter-faced creatures. Accordingly the subject matter of this electro-pop odyssey is more of the space variety than Homeric; but, for all of the astral imagery, the journey in question is actually about de Jong rediscovering her creativity after difficult times.
Released in April 1977, 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' became Mark Williams' second number one single. The singer funks it up in bell-bottoms and afro, while circled by cameras on the set of long-running music show Ready to Roll. Abandoning the violins of the Buddy Holly/Paul Anka original in favour of percussion and horns, producer Alan Galbraith's arrangement demonstrates that breakup songs can be catchy indeed. By the end of 1977, Williams and Galbraith had decamped for Australia. Williams would ultimately take over vocals for Dragon.
The making of this Anika Moa video arguably puts the singer's heady early rise in a nutshell. American label Atlantic Records flew an executive down to New Zealand to monitor proceedings, and ensure that the singer looked as slim on screen as possible. Moa and director Justin Pemberton came up with the idea of Moa lusting after every male she passes. The taxi is driven by actor Antony Starr (before Outrageous Fortune). As for Moa, she soon returned home from the US. A local top five hit, the song ended up on the soundtrack of Julia Roberts romance America’s Sweethearts.
Band Spats demonstrated they could write a catchy song with 'New Wave Goodbye'. But it needed the addition of singer Jenny Morris, a name change to The Crocodiles and a track called 'Tears' for the public to really sit up and take notice. In the video, drummer Bruno Lawrence hangs around next to a shady lamp post while Morris passes by, and the band's bubblegum coloured costumes positively shine against an all white set. After reaching number 17 on the NZ singles charts, 'Tears' won the APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award for 1980.