The Naked and Famous enjoyed a fairytale rise after forming in 2008 around composer Thom Powers and lyricist Alisa Xayalith, with their twin vocals at the forefront of a hook-laden cocktail of electronica and pop. The band began a busy touring schedule after releasing Passive Me Aggressive You, and winning eight gongs at the 2011 NZ Music Awards. A run of distinctive videos have aided the group's rise: including 'Punching in a Dream' and Young Blood’ — which entered the NZ charts at number one, and won 10 million+ YouTube hits. Later albums In Rolling Waves (2013) and Simple Forms (2016) won wide acclaim.
This collection rounds up almost every music video for a number one hit by a Kiwi artist; everything from ballads to hip hop to glam rock. Press on the images below to find the hits for each decade — plus try this backgrounder by Michael Higgins, whose high speed history of local hits touches on the sometimes questionable ways past charts were created.
Music videos — often they're no more than a promotional tool; sometimes they are works of art. They provide a chart of changing fashions and trends, and offer emerging filmmakers the chance to really show their stuff. The best clips lift the music even higher. So get your groove on for this career-spanning, 'best of' compilation: from mad scientists to metalheads, from Supergroove to The Naked and Famous — almost every Best Music Video winner at New Zealand's local music awards, since Andrew Shaw first took the prize for DD Smash's 'Outlook for Thursday' in 1983.
The lyrics detail the intensity of thwarted love, and the accompanying video is a DIY delight — mixing an origami fortune teller concept with back-projected Animalia-style shadow puppets. From the 2008 EP This Machine, this video marked the first collaboration between design studio Special Problems (Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali) and the band. The fertile partnership would go on to yield multiple music videos (including the breakout promo for ‘Young Blood’), plus the artwork on a number of their releases.
Though gifted with a typically driving chorus, this Naked and Famous track evokes a state of limbo and dissatisfaction. Winner of a New Zealand Music Award for Best Music Video of 2014, Campbell Hooper's clip is permeated by mist and mysterious, possibly violent events. Is that a murder playing out on screen, or merely someone getting the firewood ready? Are those men doing exercise, or punishing themselves? And is that Michelle Ang getting out of the pool? Longtime collaborator Hooper directed the video in New Zealand and the band's base in Los Angeles.
This music video continued the fruitful collaboration between The Naked and Famous and directing duo Special Problems. Joel Kefali and Campbell Hooper brought their trademark mix of graphic design, film and painting to the synth-driven pop song. As vocalist Alisa Xayalith moves through a dreamscape, she sleepwalks, runs, skates and flies through pine forest, snow, sand, and a manor. Ice hockey masks and hoodies add menace. It won Best Music Video at the 2011 NZ Music Awards, part of a major awards haul for the group. The song has featured on a number of TV shows.
This Silver Scroll winner from the debut album by The Naked and Famous became a breakout hit, winning global notice and playing on a number of teen TV shows (Gossip Girls, Skins). Directed by Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali, the promo won 10 million+ YouTube hits, playing no small part in announcing the band. Via a catalogue of Dazed and Confused-esque imagery, the clip puts its thumb on the pulse of the soaring synth-pop celebration of ‘Young Blood’: bonnet jumping, sparklers, skating and Badlands-style skylarking. The song won a Silver Scroll and an NZ Music Award.
The Sun was perhaps the most daring and experimental video yet for directors Joel Kefali and Campbell Hooper. Collaborating once more with electropop band The Naked and Famous, they scored their second award for Best Music Video with another track taken from breakthrough album Passive Me, Aggressive You (2010). The widescreen video is built around a series of split second shots of a man and a woman getting intimate. As the video continues, the images fracture, multiply, and become increasingly kaleidoscopic. Warning — this video is not suitable for younger viewers.
Sam Neill has acted in forgotten Kiwi TV dramas (The City of No) and classic Kiwi movies (Sleeping Dogs, The Piano, Hunt for the Wilderpeople). His career has taken him from the UK (Reilly: Ace of Spies) to Hawaii (Jurassic Park) to dodgy Melbourne nightclubs (Death in Brunswick). As Neill turns 70, this collection celebrates his range, modesty and style — and the fact he was directing films before winning acting fame. In these backgrounders, friends Ian Mune and Roger Donaldson raise a glass to a talented, self-deprecating actor and fan of good music and pinot noir.
This bright, electro-poppy blurring of the lines between human and robot was the debut single for Zowie — a persona created by Auckland musician Zoe Fleury (the artist formerly known as Bionic Pixie). For the video, production team Special Problems eschewed CGI and had Zowie spend a day lying on a floor while their pinball machine inspired arrangements of dominos and machinery fell all around her. A Best Video finalist at the 2011 NZ Music Award, it lost out to another Special Problems clip (for 'Punching in a Dream' by The Naked and Famous).