The Dance Exponents (later shortened to The Exponents) formed in Christchurch in 1981, and went on to become one of New Zealand's longest lasting bands. Over three decades they played live gigs across the country, and in Britain to big ex-pat crowds. Singer Jordan Luck's rock'n'roll lifestyle is legendary; so are the band's perfect pop songs. The hits include 'Victoria', 'Why Does Love Do this to Me?', 'Who Loves Who the Most?', and 'I'll Say Goodbye (Even tho' I'm Blue)'' — songs embraced by successive generations of Kiwis. In 2007 Luck became the first songwriter inducted into the APRA NZ Music Hall of Fame.
In this excerpt from TV2's 90s late night news show, a bemused Mark Staufer interviews Jordan Luck (aka "slightly tipsy singer") as his band The Exponents plays on a rooftop on Auckland's Karangahape Road, to promote a new album and summer tour. The jokes about not falling off may have a point. Luck suggests the new release is "a magical recording of ancient times" and confirms that they will be touring the whole country, "and Greymouth as well ... and Westport". The bakery underneath is long gone — replaced by an adult shop. Bassist David Gent also says some words.
This concert from May 1983 finds Dance Exponents — one of five bands filmed for a Radio with Pictures live series — with their star on the rise, but yet to release their debut album. An irrepressible Jordan Luck and band mates Dave Gent, Brian Jones and Mike Harralambi perform six songs in front of an enthusiastic full house, at Auckland's premier venue Mainstreet Cabaret. Highlights include a sparse, urgent 'Victoria' and a barnstorming 'Airway Spies'. Opening song 'Perfect Romance' was only ever released in this version on a companion live album.
Julia Parnell runs Notable Pictures, and is the award-winning producer behind the offbeat Wayne Anderson: Singer of Songs; diversity series Both Worlds and Arranged; and music docos The Exponents and The Dragon Story. Parnell is also one of the driving forces behind successful online mini-documentary initiative Loading Docs.
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.
In the early 90s Australian David Barraclough joined The Exponents as a guitarist and songwriting partner for singer Jordan Luck. ‘La La Lulu’ was one of the results. Directed by Mark Tierney, the video sees the band – besuited a la Reservoir Dogs – hard rocking in a studio then driving around a quarry, before tagging and demolishing their ride. It borrows a graphic style from US conceptual artist Barbara Kruger, flashing slogans like ‘online erotic’ over the band. ‘Lulu’ got to 13 in the NZ charts, and would be the band's final single to break the top 20.
This infectious song about the heartache of love took Jordan Luck roughly five minutes to write, in an east London squat. It was the band's first release in their new career after a brief name change to Ampllfier, then a shortening to The Exponents. Despite its unlikely origins and subject matter, it has become an enduring NZ sports stadium sing-along (rivalling Dave Dobbyn's 'Loyal' for unofficial national anthem status). The song's simplicity is matched by director Kerry Brown's video, which allows the band to do what they do best, in scenic spots including Waiotapu hot springs.
A young, blonde and big-haired (it was the early 80s) Jordan Luck and his fellow band members hang out in Auckland's old Leopard Tavern for this sing-along classic. Model Debra Mains — star of a number of DD Smash videos of the time — smoulders as the spurning lover. A rest-home of elderly extras join in for the famous chorus. The dial phone looks positively pre-industrial. The song was voted number 89 in the APRA Top 100 New Zealand songs of all time; the Dance Exponents' debut studio album Prayers Be Answered stayed in the charts for a year.
After efforts to crack the UK market in the late 80s, The Dance Exponents returned to New Zealand, rebranded themselves as The Exponents and released chart-topping 1992 album Something Beginning with C. This song was one of a series of hook-laden follow-ups to the first single — top five hit ‘Why Does Love Do this to Me?’. The Kerry Brown-directed video sees the band playing the tune in front of a kaleidoscope of cosmopolitan backdrops (New York, fairgrounds, religious icons) which loosely echo the song's lyrics. Singer Jordon Luck is in dapper Mad Hatter mode.
This was the song that started it all for The Exponents. Instead of the usual TVNZ studio cheapie, the promo is a film clip, complete with fantasy 80s Christchurch night-life scenes. The song was inspired by Jordan Luck's onetime landlord, who was trapped in an abusive relationship. Locations include the Arts Centre and deco apartments opposite. Reaching number six, the song would prove to be the biggest hit on a debut studio album packed with classics. Luck later described it as "a strange song to pick as a first single"; but the right one.