By 1978 UK chart success and an extended club residence in Hawaii were behind John Rowles; he was broke and looking for a hit. His earlier smash 'Cheryl Moana Marie' had been named after two of his sisters. For his comeback Rowles reprised the gesture, penning a song to sister Tania. The single topped the New Zealand charts for four weeks. This clip sees him donning a green suit to mime 'Tania' for local music show Ready to Roll. His 1978 album This is My Life did well on both sides of the Tasman, priming a 20 year stint in Australia performing on the Leagues club circuit.
Thanks to You topped the New Zealand music charts three weeks after its release in 1967, and earned Mr Lee Grant the Loxene Golden Disc Award. In this performance on C’mon, introduced by the legendary Peter Sinclair, he performs the hit in a distinctive three piece suit against a changing psychedelic backdrop. Mr Lee Grant’s Kiwi tour was split between shows for his sometimes hysterical teenage fans, and cabaret shows for the adults. The combination made him one of the country’s most popular acts, and saw him named 1967’s Entertainer of the Year at the NEBOA awards.
‘Black Box’ was the winning song for Australian Idol victor Stan Walker. His first music video was shot in Sydney two days after his triumph. It's set at a mansion poolside party, with Idol finalists and family members among the extras. The black box in question might hold the records of a romantic crash, not an aviation disaster, but this recriminatory look back at a failed relationship brought sweet success for Walker. It spent 10 consecutive weeks at the top of the New Zealand singles chart, and won four Tuis at the 2010 NZ Music Awards.
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.
The first single for short-lived Wellington band The Holidaymakers was a cover of a little-known song by American Bill Withers. It spent six weeks at number one and was the biggest-selling single in New Zealand in 1988. On a low budget director Fane Flaws created a beautifully lit video that captures the song’s infectious brightness and warmth. With a collection of lamps the only concession to props or special effects, nothing detracts from the compelling performances by vocalists Peter Marshall and Mara Finau. Sweet Lovers won Best Video at the 1988 NZ Music Awards.
In this video billowing sails and an impressive array of mid-80s celebrities (musicians, broadcasters, sportspeople) raise their voices in patriotic fervour, to rally support for the first Kiwi challenge for the America’s Cup: “in a boat just called New Zealand”. The bid failed, but ‘Sailing Away’ set a record for the most consecutive weeks at number one by a NZ artist (nine), until the arrival of Smashproof’s ‘Brother’ in 2009. The tune — borrowed from ‘Pokarekare Ana’ — remains both as a reminder of simpler times in the America’s Cup, and an era of questionable haircuts.
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.
'To Sir with Love' was a chart topper for newcomer Ngaire Fuata in 1990, after winning unexpected airplay on the ZM radio network. Remade often since Lulu's 1967 original featured in the hit Sidney Poitier movie of the same name, this version pushes Ngaire's winning vocal and a slinky beat. The result topped Kiwi charts for five weeks. The largely black and white video shows Ngaire has little fear of the camera; she had recently begun working in TV, and would later present Pacific news show Tagata Pasifika. Ex-Commodores bassist Ronald La Praed (unseen here) plays on the track.
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.
This weather-themed Kiwi classic spent 21 weeks in the charts, and became one of DD Smash's biggest hits. The quirky, light-hearted video was played repeatedly on Saturday chart show Ready to Roll, and won Best Music Video at the 1983 New Zealand Music Awards. It was directed by a young Andrew Shaw (of Hey Hey It’s Andy fame, later an executive at TVNZ). DD Smash singer/songwriter Dave Dobbyn hams it up in Adidas tracksuit and yellow raincoat, while drummer (and 1980s heartthrob) Peter 'Rooda' Warren appears in his speedos.