Swinging the Lambeth Walk

Len Lye, Music Video, 1939

The Lambeth Walk was a popular 'swing jazz' dance in London in 1939. It included a hand gesture with the Yiddish "Oi!". New Zealand-born filmmaker Len Lye edited together different versions of the music (including Django Reinhardt on guitar and Stephane Grapelli on violin), and combined them with a variety of abstract images painted and scratched directly onto film, without using a camera. The colourful, dynamic animation was made with public money — for the Ministry of Information in the United Kingdom — scandalising some government bureaucrats.

Swing

Savage, Music Video, 2005

This infectious hip hop hit marked Savage’s solo debut, after his previous recordings with The Deceptikonz. A NZ chart-topper for five weeks, it went platinum in the USA (helped by its placement in Hollywood comedy Knocked Up and as the soundtrack for its DVD menu). For her video, director Sophie Findlay created a laundromat from scratch in an empty Otahuhu shop. In it she intersperses an undersized Savage and 70s-themed dancing girls with darker, more contemporary hip hop imagery. It must be all a dream, because the pimply palagi teenager is the tough guy.    

Artist

The Swingers

Formed by Phil Judd (a founding member of Split Enz), Bones Hillman (aka Wayne Stevens) and Buster Stiggs (aka Mark Hough) in 1979, The Swingers evolved from early punk band the Suburban Reptiles. After releasing debut single ‘One Good Reason' — which got to number 17 in the Kiwi charts — they signed with Mushroom in Australia. ‘Counting The Beat' would come to define them, rocketing The Swingers to number one on both sides of the Tasman, and selling 100,000+ copies. Disagreements over song choices hastened their demise in May 1982, after the late addition of vocalist Andrew Snoid (Coconut Rough).

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.  

Collection

The Animation Collection

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Animated plasticine. Talking chickens. Dancing Cossacks. Plus old favourites bro'Town, Hairy Maclary and Footrot Flats. From Len Lye to Gollum, feast on the talents of Kiwi animators. In his backgrounder to the Animation Collection, NZ On Screen's Ian Pryor provides handy pathways through the frogs, dogs and stop motion shenanigans. 

Collection

Ultimate NZ Party Playlist

Curated by NZ On Screen team

It's the holidays: time to let your hair down, have a swim, give in to your appetite...and have a boogie. From Kings to The Clean, from 'Ten Guitars' to 'Trippin', let NZ On Screen supply the music, with this epic playlist of classic Kiwi party songs. In the backgrounder, music fan and publicity maestro Nicky Harrop takes us through the tracks, before bidding adieu to NZ On Screen.

Collection

Better Safe than Sorry

Curated by NZ On Screen team

Long before Ghost Chips, even before "don't use your back like a crane", life in Godzone was fraught with hazards. This collection shows public safety awareness films spanning from the 50s to the 70s. If there's kitsch enjoyment to be had in the looking back (chimps on bikes?!) the lessons remain timeless. Remember: It's better to be safe than sorry.

One Good Reason

The Swingers, Music Video, 1979

The Swingers have long been umbilically tied to one composition: 1981 chart-topper 'Counting the Beat’. But the band's debut single makes clear that their gift for percussive pop was there from the start. The accompanying video sees the trio getting down to it in their union jack-emblazoned shirts; the lyrics channel the same kind of sexual frustration as Stones classic ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’. The result is arguably in the same realm of catchy. After reaching number 19 in NZ, ‘One Good Reason’ featured in Aussie film Starstruck. Strawpeople later released a funked up version.

Counting the Beat

The Swingers, Music Video, 1981

The opening images of this video — the swinging guitar, fingers on the fretboard — make for a defining moment in Kiwi music video history. The clip was actually shot in Australia; by the time they recorded the song, The Swingers had relocated from Aotearoa to Melbourne. They would soon be history. Aussie cinematographer/ director Ray Argall ('World Where You Live') matches the beloved composition with colourful images, quirky humour, and an infectious dance finale. In 2001 music organisation APRA voted the chart topper fourth on their list of the top Kiwi songs to date. 

Series

It's Only Wednesday

Television, 1987

Hosted by television all-rounder Neil Roberts, It’s Only Wednesday was a short-lived TVNZ chat show in the late 80s. It was characterised by Roberts’ energy as host, and performances by Grant Chilcott’s swing band Wentworth-Brewster & Co. The It's Only Wednesday format saw guests staying on after their interviews, leading to some eclectic company sharing the couch. The guests included former Prime Minister Robert Muldoon, and pop group When the Cat’s Away.