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.

Maybe Tomorrow

Goldenhorse, Music Video, 2003

'Maybe Tomorrow' was the song that opened the door for Goldenhorse. Released in February 2003, the single's mixture of the bittersweet, the nostalgic and the supremely catchy helped make it NZ radio's most played local song that year; it was also a finalist for a Silver Scroll songwriting award. In the video, Kirsten Morrell sings of past and future, sorrow and possible celebration, alongside grainy home movie style images of the band at the beach, and at the mike (possibly in someone's living room). A less popular alternative video for the song featured Morrell singing in the kitchen. 

Mercy of Love

Shona Laing, Music Video, 1992

One of the gentler songs on Shona Laing's 1992 album New on Earth, this warm, Latin-tinged number is in polar opposition to the staunch, synth-laden stylings that won attention on her previous release South. Karyn Hay's purposefully minimal clip concentrates exclusively on Laing, highlighted by red and blue filters as she plays acoustic guitar. Elsewhere, the stylised symbols seen on her face form part of an interstellar background. Laing has called New on Earth "the best record I ever made". Mercy of Love won Laing her second Silver Scroll songwiting award in 1992. 

Tonight

TrueBliss, Music Video, 1999

This dance pop anthem was a number one for the reality TV series-generated act TrueBliss — and the biggest selling single by a New Zealand artist in 1999. It was written (like most of the TrueBliss album) by Anthony Ioasa, an APRA Silver Scroll winning co-writer for Strawpeople's 'Sweet Disorder'. The video features a girls' night in slumber party, complete with home movies, hairbrush microphones, pillow fights, dress-ups, American Indian head-dresses and hula dancing. There is also quite a lot of moody introspection for what is essentially an unabashed love song.

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.

Bathe in the River

Mt Raskil Preservation Society, Music Video, 2006

Don McGlashan wrote this "secular gospel" song for a key scene in Toa Fraser film No. 2: where matriarch Nanna Maria watches her family at a party and says "look at all that life". The song won an APRA Silver Scroll songwriting award and spent 22 weeks in the charts,. It rose, appropriately enough, to number two. It only became a single thanks to public demand, fuelled partly to this video — which features No. 2's cast and crew gathering for a backyard performance by vocalist Hollie Smith, accompanied by McGlashan and the rest of the Mount Raskil Preservation Society.