This NZ Music Month collection showcases NZ music television, spun from a playlist of classic documentaries and beloved music shows. From Split Enz to the NZSO, Heavenly Pop Hits to Hip Hop New Zealand, whether you count the beat or roll like this, there’s something here for all ears (and eyes). Plus music writer Chris Bourke gets Ready to Roll with this pop history primer.
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.
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.
It's hard to reduce legendary band Split Enz down to a single sound or image. Soon after forming in 1973, they began dressing like oddball circus performers, and their music straddled folk, vaudeville and art rock. Later the songs got shorter, poppier and — some say —better, and the visuals were toned down...but you could never accuse the Enz of looking biege. With Split Enz co-founder Tim Finn turning 65 in June 2017, this collection looks back at one of Aotearoa's most successful and eclectic bands. Writer Michael Higgins unravels the evolution of the Enz here.
This video for the debut single from Christchurch rockers The Feelers was one of the first made by director Joe Lonie after the disbanding of Supergroove (where he played bass, and learnt his craft directing their videos). It earned Lonie a nomination for Best Video at the 1998 NZ Music Awards. The video begins, as it ends, with a man fleeing from unseen forces. Lonie builds and maintains momentum with constant motion and cutting, while underlining the pressure motif by having the band performing in a boiler room, and claustrophobically running through a pipe.
This wistful, gently melodic rocker was the breakthrough single for this Australian based band of Kiwi brothers. Written by drummer Dann Hume when he was 16, it spent four months in the Australian Top 20 and was the NZ APRA Silver Scroll winner for 2005. Melbourne director Sarah-Jane Woulahan's video makes the brothers an elfin presence in the depths of a black and blue forest while the clock motif, which echoes the song's theme of passing time, takes its visual cues from vintage cinema.
'Sierra Leone' was one of those songs that quickly stood out from the pack. Andrew McLennan's synth-pop track won his new band Coconut Rough a deal with Mushroom Records, then became a runaway hit in 1983. The video, slick for the time, features bright colours, a running motif, and African imagery. But the pressure of being in demand for a single song became an albatross around the band's neck. As McLennan told website AudioCulture, "‘Sierra Leone’ became the only song from our repertoire that people wanted to hear and no matter what we did we couldn’t follow it up."
Herbs visited the troubled East Coast town of Ruatoria in 1987, bringing music and aroha. They left with a documentary and this music video, which shows the band meeting and performing for the locals. Both The Power of Music and the music video were co-directed by Lee Tamahori (Once Were Warriors ) — in one of his earliest turns as director —and cinematographer John Day (Room that Echoes). The ode to love and harmony was judged Best Music Video at the 1987 New Zealand Music Awards.
Late 90s Flying Nun act The D4 are at their rambunctious best with this meditation on indecision in the face of endless possibilities from their second and final album. Director Wade Shotter’s one take video was made after one and a half days of rehearsals, and bravely shot on 35mm film (with the 10th take as the keeper). In a feat of engineering, logistics and timing, all of the action — cheerleaders, carnival strongmen, sets and backdrops — happened on stage (at Takapuna’s Bruce Mason Centre) and was captured in the camera with nothing added in post.
‘Message to My Girl’ finds Split Enz in a time of transition — foreshadowed here when the Finn brothers walk past each other in opposite directions. Tim has just completed his solo album and will shortly leave, while Neil is coming into his own as the band’s new leader. The track is an unabashed love song to his wife. The accompanying video was shot in two extended takes, with the only edit obscured halfway through — and staged in what looks like a theatre set storage area. New drummer Paul Hester makes his debut but no Noel Crombie suits this time, just civvies.