In the 1960s, parody songs like 'Rugby, Racing and Beer' and 'Pūha and Pākehā' were big hits for singer Rod Derrett. Un-PC lyrics such as "I don’t give a hāngī for the Treaty of Waitangi / You can’t get fat on that – give me some pūha and Pākehā" struck a popular chord, but were also subversive. Here the latter song is illustrated in a segment for popular NZBC Sunday show Looking at New Zealand. A Pākehā tourist who falls into a mud pool becomes an impromptu boil-up. The song (and some of the Looking at NZ footage) were rereleased in 2012 to promote cannibal comedy Fresh Meat.
This 1968 segment from an early Sunday night magazine show provides light-hearted visuals for a classic Kiwi song. Though written by Rod Derrett as a parody, 'Rugby, Racing and Beer' became an unofficial national anthem of the 60s, where it was an icon of the Kiwi male's recreational trio of choice. The clip takes the perspective of a "little shaver" being educated in his national heritage by various footy-playing, boozing'n'betting paternal role models (aka blokes afflicted with 'Kiwiitis'). The early New Zealand music video finishes with scenes of packed terraces at Athletic Park.
Suzanne Paul made a splash on our TV screens as the Queen of Infomercials in the 1980s. She soon had her own TV show called Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, followed by a range of other popular primetime programmes. Despite breaking a rib in the final episode, Paul won the third season of Dancing with the Stars.
This 1982 novelty song was made by Dalvanius for a fee. A local take on the Stars on 45 medley single concept, the song (and video) pay tribute to the party singalongs of Dalvanius’ childhood; he told Murray Cammick in a 2001 Real Groove profile, "I was asked whether I was going to put my name on it and I said ‘f**k off'." When the song made the top five of the local charts, he "nearly dropped dead". It was a stepping stone to Dalvanius forming Maui Records – which got off to a flying start when te reo-meets-breakdancing classic ‘Poi E’ became a huge hit in 1984.
Looking like Borat out on the town, Monte Video's 'Shoop Shoop ...' invaded the pop charts in 1982. The novelty song written by — and starring — veteran Auckland musician Murray Grindlay reached No 2 in New Zealand, No 11 in Australia, and was released in the UK. TVNZ's chart show Ready to Roll found itself playing host to a hedonistic video filmed at Ponsonby's Peppermint Park nightclub with scenes of flagrant alcohol and tobacco use and a cast of transvestites. Follow-up album Monte Video featured song 'You Can't Stop Me Now', which seemed like a threat.
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.
Prank phone calls were more radio DJ Kevin Black’s on-air stock in trade, but he fronted an unlikely Top 20 hit with this spoof of Deane Waretini’s 1981 chart topper ‘The Bridge’. With more than a little help from his Radio Hauraki creative team, a plea for cross cultural harmony was transformed into a novelty song celebration of a largely unsung domestic appliance. Blackie was front and centre with the souped up fridge in the video shot by TVNZ in Wellington, but producer Kim Adamson was the singer and co-writer (in addition to playing the dodgy salesman).
Dunedin band Mother Goose scored their biggest hit with this novelty song extolling the previously overlooked romance-promoting qualities of sauced legumes (and won extra marks for avoiding flatulence jokes). The Australian-made video references Queen's pioneering Bohemian Rhapsody clip and features Melbourne trans-sexual drag show performer Renee Scott as the recipient of one of the more bizarre pick-up lines. In his post Mother Goose career, keyboard player Steve Young (the bearded ballerina) directed The Chills' classic Pink Frost music video.
In the pre-Flying Nun era, Mother Goose was the most successful band to emerge from Dunedin. Their mad-cap image and on-stage antics blended mid-1970s rock'n'roll theatricality with a nursery sensibility built around characters that included a sailor, a bumble-bee, a ballerina and a nappy-clad baby. Their biggest hit, the novelty song 'Baked Beans', threatened to overwhelm their more serious music and a career which ran to three albums, extensive touring in Australia and the USA and an APRA Silver Scroll for their 1981 single 'I Can't Sing Very Well'.
Irrepressible infomercial queen Suzanne Paul made her name selling products like Natural Glow on the small screen but she’s always been keen to diversify her media profile. As well as television acting, presenting and competing (Dancing with the Stars), she has dabbled a toe in the music industry (despite freely admitting that she thinks her singing sounds like a “strangled cat”). In 1994, she made an unsuccessful attempt to launch a dance craze with her novelty song ‘Blue Monkey’; and, in 1997, she covered Dave and the Dynamos’ ‘Life Begins at 40’.