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.
Don McGlashan is renowned for the sense of place in his songs. In 'Bad Blood', the trees along the Shore are turning red and immediately the listener is on the bus on Auckland's North Shore, gazing out the window with him. This video was directed by Aucklander Sally Tran (before she relocated to NYC) and demonstrates her love for textiles and cardboard cut-outs. McGlashan 'appears', but in two dimensions, something repeated in the video for his 2015 track 'Lucky Stars'. 'Bad Blood' reveals a master storyteller at work; the 'stranger' he obsesses about is part of himself.
'Royals' took Lorde far indeed. The Auckland teen found herself topping the charts in ten countries, with her debut single (which she co-wrote with producer Joel Little). The award-winning music video has been seen a mind-boggling 680 million+ times online. The clip was born from conversations between Lorde and director Joel Kefali about what it was like to be a teen in Auckland. Kefali has said the intent was to "capture a mood, capture a particular (sometimes ignored) slice of teenage life". The American version of the video features slightly more of Lorde than the original.
In 2006 photographer Greg Semu was offered the first residency at indigenous museum Quai Branly in Paris. Just over a decade earlier his debut exhibition was on at Auckland Art Gallery — and he was making an award-nominated music video for the Sisters Underground, with veteran video director Kerry Brown. Set around Mangere Bridge, their clip exudes a palpable warmth, even if the lyrical references to MAC-10s and a hot and cruel June morning are nods to MC Hassanah’s Nigerian origins, rather than the South Auckland suburb. The song got to number six on the Kiwi charts.
The perils of fast-paced celebrity culture are joyfully skewered in this "boogie-infused groove" from Auckland artist Randa (aka Mainard Larkin). Randa becomes an appendage/hostage to success when his belly button transforms into a scarlet-lipped star vocalist and goes viral. The video is a hilarious cautionary tale — Randa and his talented tummy are discovered online, he hits the studio, the hangers-on arrive, and substances are ingested. 'Rock Bottom' is directed by duo Vision Thing, and won Best Music Video at the 2019 New Zealand Music Awards.
Chart-topper 'Brother' is about Smashproof's South Auckland neighbourhood, and how the hip hop trio want it to change — crime and violence are not the only options. It's an urgent message, delivered via a powerful, Tui award-winning drive-by video from music video director Chris Graham. The clip made it into mainstream news media for a scene bluntly inspired by a high profile incident, where a businessman stabbed a young tagger. Singer-songwriter Gin Wigmore features during the chorus. 'Brother' broke local chart records, after spending eleven weeks at number one.
Don McGlashan has never been scared to use Kiwi place names in his songs, including on this classic debut single by The Mutton Birds. Inspired by a man glimpsed from the bus one day — a resident of the fabled “halfway house, halfway down Dominion Road” — McGlashan spins a tale of redemption on one of Auckland’s busiest arterial routes. The colour footage (showing glimpses of forgotten shops, and a less multicultural streetscape than today) is by cinematographer Leon Narbey. An alternative video for the song was shot inside an old armoury building in London.
Arriving in the first decade of Kiwi hip hop, this track edged into the top 20 of the Kiwi singles chart. The performance-based video was shot on the streets of South Auckland, in a mix of both black and white and colour. Lost Souls was made up of two Samoans, a Niuean, a Tongan and a Cook Islander. Two years after recording this tale of post-migration PI life in Aotearoa, Lost Tribe rapper Brotha D (Danny Leaosavai'i) co-founded legendary hip hop label Dawn Raid, with Andy Murnane.
Recorded at the Galaxy in Auckland for a Radio With Pictures special in May 1987, Hamilton rockers Knightshade perform ‘The Physical You’. The song made it to number 14 on the New Zealand charts as part of an EP of the same name. Soon after, the band signed an ill-fated deal with Australia's Mushroom Records, before finally releasing their self-titled debut album — featuring this song — in 1995. The band’s performance is archetypical 80s hard rock — which makes sense of their long list of support slots for acts including Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi and Jimmy Barnes.
In the 1990s Maree Sheehan was one of a small number of Māori women who used Māori instrumentation to create their own special flavour of dance music, hip hop and R'n'B. The video for this highly percussive R’n’B track from 1995 features performances by kapa haka group Te Ao Hurihanga. The stylish monochrome clip was partially shot on Auckland's One Tree Hill, before it lost its famous tree. Josh Frizzell, who directed this, had recently helmed one of the most played Kiwi music videos of 1994 — System Virtue, for Māori singer Emma Paki.