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.  

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.

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. 

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.

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.

Artist

Thomas Oliver

While making his name fronting The Thomas Oliver Band, Thomas Oliver added a new string to his bow when he picked up a lap steel guitar (where sound is made by pressing a bar against the guitar strings). He has gone on to earn international recognition as a leading proponent of the instrument. His instrumental YouTube videos and debut solo album Beneath the Weissenborn have garnered acclaim. Oliver's 2015 single ‘If I Moved to Mars’ was nominated for a 2016 APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award.

Misty Frequencies

Che Fu, Music Video, 2002

Taking as its subjects a boy discovering new sounds on the radio and a soundtrack that gives purpose to a woman’s life, ‘Misty Frequencies’ is a soulful hip-hop hymn to the power of music. Che Fu’s music video places the singer and his band in a giant Tetris-like computer game before plugging into a bush setting (locations representing his musical yin and yang of technology and passion?). A magic mushroom prefigures the tree ferns collapsing in a heap of CGI bricks. ‘Misty Frequencies’ won the 2002 APRA Silver Scroll for Che Fu and co-writer Godfrey de Grut.

Making Music - Nesian Mystik

Short Film, 2005 (Full Length)

This episode from a series for high school music students features Auckland hip-hop act Nesian Mystik who can speak from personal experience about music education after forming at Western Springs College and first making an impression in Rockquest's Pacifica Beats. They perform stripped down versions of their APRA Silver Scroll winner 'For the People', and 'Better than Change' (written by Dallas Tamaira of Fat Freddy's Drop) and emphasise how simple music making can be — they started out with just their voices and a Playstation One programme.  

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.

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).