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Collection

Five Decades of NZ Number One Hits

Curated by NZ On Screen team

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.  

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Close Up - 'Nature' performed by The Fourmyula

Television, 2010 (Excerpts)

“Through falling leaves I pick my way slowly…” In 1970 a musical paean to getting your nature buzz topped the charts. ‘Nature’, by The Fourmyula, became a Kiwi classic: in 2001 an APRA poll voted it the best local song of the past 75 years. This 2010 Close Up report, from Auckland’s Montecristo Room, sees presenter Mark Sainsbury introduce the band's second performance of 'Nature' in Aotearoa (the band were overseas when it topped the charts). He quizzes composer Wayne Mason, and drummer Chris Parry recalls encountering The Clash while working in the English music scene.

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Lovely Lady

John Hanlon, Music Video, 1974

This short clip marks the only known footage of John Hanlon performing his biggest hit 'Lovely Lady', via NZBC talent competition Studio One. The song ended up placing second, but went on to spend 20 weeks in the NZ charts. It reached number one, and won the 1974 APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award. Despite his immense success — he won another Silver Scroll the following year, and earned multiple RATA awards — Hanlon has faded somewhat from New Zealand’s cultural consciousness, since concentrating from 1978 on a career in advertising. 

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Artist

Lydia Cole

Singer/Songwriter Lydia Cole first found recognition with 2009 EP Love Will Find A Way. The following year she toured in support of Brooke Fraser, before releasing her debut album Me & Moon in 2012. It won critical acclaim, and its second single ‘Hibernate’ earned an APRA Silver Scroll nomination for songwriting. In late 2015 Cole launched a Kickstarter page to raise money for her second album, The Lay of the Land. Her single ‘Dream’ scored a second Silver Scroll nomination. In 2017 Cole relocated to Berlin.

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Young Blood

The Naked and Famous, Music Video, 2010

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.

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Artist

Love Soup

Love Soup was a brief prelude to the rise of Bic Runga. She formed the duo with Kelly Horgan as a seventh former at Cashmere High School in Christchurch. They placed third in the 1993 Smokefree Rockquest and won a recording contract with Trevor Reekie’s Pagan Records. Runga then signed with Sony. One of her Love Soup songs ‘Drive’ was re-recorded for her debut Sony release and went on to win the 1996 APRA Silver Scroll (and the other Pagan recordings were released as part of the Drive EP). Kelly Horgan later played in Auckland band Heavy Jones Trio.

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It's Too Late

Evermore, Music Video, 2004

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.  

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Something in the Water

Brooke Fraser, Music Video, 2010

'Something in the Water', from singer-songwriter Brooke Fraser's third album Flags, is a giddy, infectious love song with a rollicking country/folk setting. It was voted Most Performed Song of the Year at the 2010 APRA Silver Scrolls. The partly animated video, made by the Special Problems production team of Campbell Hooper and Joel Kefali, loosely recasts the song as Homer's Odyssey with a multi-costumed Fraser as Penelope waiting for her Odysseus to return from across the water (but not above a playful poke of the tongue to finish off proceedings).

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Long White Cross

Pluto, Music Video, 2005

This video goes for the patented band playing moodily in a warehouse approach. The debut single from Pluto's long in gestation second album is built around drums, guitar and the band's distinctive vocal sound. The lyrics to 'Long White Cloud' trade in tiredness, confusion and a woman who is kind, but no longer on the scene. Judged single of the year at the 2006 New Zealand Music Awards, it was also nominated for the Silver Scroll songwriting award. The song went on to feature during the water-logged opening titles of border security drama Orange Roughies.

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Empty Head

Betchadupa, Music Video, 2000

This Betchadupa video opens with frontman Liam Finn performing in a recording studio; the other band members are soon revealed playing to unusual, sometimes unprepared audiences. Drummer Matt Eccles plays an impromptu gig in a lift, Chris Garland entertains boogying kindergarteners with his guitar, and Joe Bramley on bass harasses shoppers in a cinema foyer. By the end, the band are back together. Taken off Betchadupa's self-titled EP, the catchy track was nominated for a 2000 Silver Scroll songwriting award. Lead singer Finn was around 16 at the time.