The choruses on Bic Runga singles like 'Sway' and 'Good Morning Baby' are part of the New Zealand songbook. Runga is Christchurch-born, to a Chinese-Malaysian cabaret singer mother and Māori soldier father. Her 1997 debut album Drive sold seven times platinum, a local record which she broke in 2002 with Beautiful Collision. Among varied accolades, Runga was made a member of the NZ Order of Merit in 2006. In 2011 she helped compose the soundtrack for cross-cultural romance My Wedding and Other Secrets. At the 2016 NZ Music Awards, she became the youngest artist inducted into the NZ Music Hall of Fame.
This episode of C4's music series Homegrown Profiles features singer/songwriter Bic Runga, who burst onto the New Zealand music scene in 1997 with her record-breaking debut album Drive. Since then Runga has had both local and international success and released two further hit albums, Beautiful Collision and Birds. Runga talks about growing up in a musical household (her mother and two older sisters are all singers), the success of Drive, and her "difficult second album", which was released a full five years after her debut.
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.
Auckland Museum's Volume exhibition told the story of Kiwi pop music. It's time to turn the speakers up to 11, for NZ On Screen's biggest collection yet. Turning Up the Volume showcases NZ music and musicians. Drill down into playlists of favourite artists and topics (look for the orange labels). Plus NZOS Content Director Kathryn Quirk on NZ music on screen.
Kiwi women have long held their own when it comes to songwriting. From a 17-year-old Shona Laing performing her self-penned ‘1905‘ on Studio One’s New Faces, to Bic Runga becoming the youngest inductee into the NZ Music Hall of Fame; from the 80s girl power of Sharon O’Neill, to the chutzpah of Anika Moa and Gin Wigmore. They know a chorus from a coda — in this spotlight we reflect on songs and songstresses that have found their way into Kiwi hearts.
The first single from Bic Runga’s chart-topping second album Beautiful Collision is — according to AudioCulture's profile of the singer — an autobiographical song about the stresses of touring. 'Get Some Sleep' peaked at number three in the New Zealand charts, and was the best-selling song by a local artist in 2002. Two videos were made; the version aimed at local audiences sees Runga roaming Aotearoa in a mobile radio station playing CDs and records, greeting fans and generally broadcasting happy vibes: Yes...we do believe Bic may be having fun.
The third single from Bic Runga's 1997 debut album Drive got to number seven in the NZ charts, 10 in Australia and 26 in Ireland. It nudged the UK charts at 96, and was included on the soundtrack of hit comedy American Pie. Directed by UK photographer/video director Karen Lamond and made to showcase Runga internationally, the video shows the singer shyly stalking the hipster of her 90s dreams, as he stocks the shelves of an Italian deli. Back at her place, the camera pulls back for an unexpected end. An earlier video for the single also exists, directed by Kiwi talent Joe Lonie.
After Bic Runga's debut album Drive sold — and broke — a bunch of records, another five years passed before she found time to perfect her follow-up. Fears it would join the long list of disappointing second albums proved unfounded: Beautiful Collision scored three NZ Music Awards, and became the biggest-selling local release of 2003. The album's third single 'Listening for the Weather' spent 20 weeks in the Kiwi charts. Shot mostly on DV and Super 8mm, the video offers a snapshot of life on tour: dressing rooms, concert halls, road signs...and lyrics about home not being too far away.
For fourth album Belle (2011), Bic Runga found new collaborators, including brothers Kody and Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks), with Kody becoming Belle's producer and Runga’s partner. ‘Tiny Little Piece of My Heart’ was the first result, and opening track; The Herald's Lydia Jenkin called the girl group style number "an irresistible piece of pop, deceptively effortless in its spacious groove and sweet keyboard riffs". The black and white video for the jaunty song about moving on, sees Runga lolling about on a bed with a vintage camera. It was directed by fashion photographer Oliver Rose.
This single, one of many from singer-songwriter Bic Runga's debut album Drive, is a recognition that a relationship is over. Runga's bittersweet lyric is a declaration of independence that never quite manages to be unequivocal. Nominated for best video at the 1998 New Zealand Music Awards, Wayne Conway's clip finds her in a box in a number of locations around Auckland — enclosed while a slightly surreal life goes on around her, until she musters the energy to walk out into the world.