In the tradition of novelty songs, ‘Culture?’ was catchy to the point of contagion. Fuelled by carnival keyboards, it was The Knobz response to Prime Minister Rob Muldoon’s refusal to lift a 40% sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), and Muldoon's typically blunt verdict on the cultural merits of pop music (“horrible”). The giddy, hyperactive video comes complete with Muldoon impersonator (Danny Faye), and casts the band as the song’s 'Beehive Boys'. In the backgrounder, Mike Alexander writes about his time as the band's manager.
This heartfelt 1981 hit was the first song sung in te reo to top the NZ singles chart. It was written by Te Arawa elder George Tait for his cousin Deane Waretini, who recorded it with musicians he could only afford to pay in fried chicken. Tait based the melody on Italian Nini Rosso’s 1965 hit ‘Il Silenzio’, but the lyric refers to the linking of Pākehā and Māori cultures at the time of the construction of the Mangere Bridge. The TVNZ video features the less imposing but rather more picturesque valve tower turret, at Wellington’s historic Karori reservoir.
Filmmaking duo Thunderlips certainly make a statement with this audacious clip filled with bright colours and retro gear. Based around fictional sitcom That’s So Randa, the video is a montage of the adventures of Randa and producer Totems, living together in their retro apartment. An incident with a falling stage light takes the video beyond the fourth wall, yet Randa’s non-stop pop culture references keep the video firmly grounded in unreality. Frankenstein was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2013 Vodafone NZ Music Awards.
Alien Weaponry’s first single ‘Urutaa’ was released in late 2016, following their triumph at the Smokefree Rockquest and Pacifica Beats. The band won media attention for their inclusion of te reo Māori in metal music. The video sees them performing on a soundstage, interspersed with a pocket watch motif. The watch is a reference to a series of incidents between Māori and Pākehā in the early 1800s, which resulted in an attack by Māori on visiting ship The Boyd. The band used the incident as a metaphor for continuing misunderstandings "between cultures, generations and individuals".
"Samoa mo Samoa!" — King Kapisi blends his Samoan roots with hip hop culture in this video shot on Samoa's ring roads. The hip hop music video standby of the drive-by gets revised Pasifika-style, and the fire poi, papase'ea sliding rocks, lavalava, coconuts, and colourful Apia buses make this clip staunchly fa'a Samoa.
This was the first music video funded by New Zealand on Air. The song is a colourful plea for Māori youth to preserve their culture by learning the reo — it also doubles as a handy guide to Māori pronunciation. Director Kerry Brown created vibrant animated backgrounds to match the song’s hip-hop beats. The cameo appearances include Moana Maniapoto’s father, MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave, Mika and various crew members. The Moahunters were Mina Ripia (who went on to her own act Wai) and Teremoana Rapley (from Upper Hutt Posse, who went on to manage King Kapisi).
Ruban Nielson’s Portland-based Unknown Mortal Orchestra explores lo-fi, funk psychedelia on this bittersweet number from their second album. The video, shot by an American cast and crew at counter-culture hangout Venice Beach in Los Angeles, follows Chris Mintz-Plasse (Superbad, Kick-Ass) as he attempts to extricate a loved one from the clutches of a panhandling, Manson Family style cult. Former Mint Chick Nielson (in black jersey and beanie) and his fellow UMO members have cameos but can’t compete with the family members dancing in the California sun.
With a chorus to do any football terrace proud, the final single from Th’ Dudes (featuring Dave Dobbyn, Peter Urlich and Ian Morris) became one of the great Kiwi drinking songs. It was actually written in Sydney to parody hard-drinking pub crowds; the lyrics namecheck Sydney landmarks (The Coogee, The Cross) and delights unavailable back home (Spanish shoes, falafel). Shot in Wellington's booze barn-like Cricketers’ Arms, the video showcases the excitement of the band’s live show, and offers a snapshot of bar culture in early 80s New Zealand.