To mark Valentine's Day, NZ On Screen Content Director Irene Gardiner has selected 14 Kiwi love songs spanning 40 years of NZ music history. The list is in chronological order — from an early Loxene Golden Disc winner for Ray Columbus and the Invaders, to Dragon in the 70s, and in the 80s, everyone from Split Enz and Blam Blam Blam to Prince Tui Teka. And that's not even the half of it: along the way check out a trio of classics whose take on romance is positively oceanic: 'Anchor Me', 'Sway' and 'Not Given Lightly'.
Another black and white prototype music video from Ray Columbus and the Invaders. Ray and the band planned and directed this one themselves, at Peach Studios in Auckland. The song is a ballad, and it's a more restrained performance than the clip for She's a Mod, but the 1960s zoot suits and aloof rock star poses are still there. 'Till We Kissed' was a Top 10 hit, and won the first ever Loxene Golden Disc Award in 1965.
‘Still in Love With You’ dates from 1978's O Zambesi, the album that yielded Dragon ‘Are You Old Enough’, their first (and only) number one hit in Australia. One of a series of hook-laden singles penned by keyboardist Paul Hewson, 'Still in Love' became another live staple for the Auckland prog-rockers turned Aussie pop stars. A straight down the line performance video shot against white-washed studio, the video works thanks to the star power of lead singer Marc Hunter, who brings to the party all of his swagger, charisma and coiffed hair. The band bring their sunnies.
This Neil Finn number finally turned Split Enz into chart-toppers in Australasia, and gave them an entree to the vital North American market. It was graced with Noel Crombie's most ambitious video to date and became an MTV favourite. Curtains on the outside? Just one of the many innovative design elements in a clip, which explored Neil's inner torment as he withered under the scrutiny of giant eyes, an Orwellian flat screen television, and his creative paranoia at being shunned by the rest of the band — unable to infiltrate the clique. Heavy stuff!
Blam Blam Blam’s second hit from 1981 was angular and artsy, hook-filled but unsettling: all qualities captured in a theatrical video, directed by Andrew Shaw. Clowns, magicians, fire-eaters and trick cyclists join the band, while actors play out the saga of ‘Don’t Fight It, Marsha’. The actors — including Phillip Gordon (Came a Hot Friday), Michael Hurst and Donogh Rees (Constance) — were directed by Harry Sinclair, who would later join Blam band member Don McGlashan in The Front Lawn. The Len Lye-style scratch effects were by Jenny Pullar, the Blams’ lighting designer.
Music legend Prince Tui Teka performs his greatest hit ‘E Ipo’ in this excerpt from a TVNZ special recorded at Auckland’s Mandalay Ballroom. Based on a traditional Indonesian folk melody, ‘E Ipo’ was written by Teka with Ngoi (‘Poi E’) Pewhairangi, when he was courting her niece (and his future wife) Missy. The two join Tui Teka on stage (along with Pita Sharples’ Te Roopu Manutaki cultural group) for a rousing rendition performed with his trademark verve and humour. The song reached number one, following te reo-dominated chart-toppers 'The Bridge' (sung by Deane Waretini) in 1981, and Howard Morrison's 1982 version of 'How Great Thou Art'.
‘Message to My Girl’ finds Split Enz in a time of transition — foreshadowed here when the Finn brothers walk past each other in opposite directions. Tim has just completed his solo album and will shortly leave, while Neil is coming into his own as the band’s new leader. The track is an unabashed love song to his wife. The accompanying video was shot in two extended takes, with the only edit obscured halfway through — and staged in what looks like a theatre set storage area. New drummer Paul Hester makes his debut but no Noel Crombie suits this time, just civvies.
The 1986 adaptation of Murray Ball's beloved Footrot Flats comic strip was a huge hit in Aotearoa and Australia. Born from a John Barnett idea, the movie’s trailer doubled as a promo for the Dave Dobbyn-Herbs theme song: one leveraged the other. Directed by cinematographer John Toon (Rain) while the song was being recorded at Wellington's Marmalade Studios, this screened before Crocodile Dundee in Australian cinemas. The single spent four weeks atop the Aussie charts. Back home ‘Slice of Heaven’ was 1986 Song of the Year, and reached unofficial National Anthem status.
A triumph of imagination and creativity over budget, this now classic Jonathan Ogilvie clip cost just $250 to make, and the song is probably their best known. Coloured cellophane and a projector created the far out psychedelic look on the band members’ underwater heads; the performance shots capture the Fits on the back of a truck, going through the Lyttelton tunnel. The ever-cool Shayne Carter snarl is supported by an almost-mullet — apparently self-styled.
For this lush, spacious ballad, then teenage director Paul Middleditch continues the striking visual style he had established a year earlier with his video for previous Tex Pistol hit, 'The Game of Love'. Tex (Ian Morris) wears the same outfit, while his brother Rikki is clad in the reverse — white shirt and black jeans. Backing vocalist Callie Blood appears again (although she didn't actually sing on this recording), a choir of children is added, and some behind-the-scenes shots of the crew — but the set is free of surface water or falling rain this time.
Chris Knox directs his own face in this video for his classic Kiwi love song. The camera gradually pulls out from an extreme close up of Knox's face to a living room full of family and friends. Jump-cutting on the beat, Knox, with trademark simple-but-effective style, effectively fuses lyrics, song and an impassioned performance. Interestingly, in his ScreenTalk interview, Knox says he now regrets using a solarising video effect in the later part of the clip.
Don McGlashan’s anthemic plea for safe harbour — written for his band the Mutton Birds — won him his first APRA Silver Scroll and became a Kiwi classic with a life of its own. It was used in the soundtrack of a short film (Boy), a feature (Perfect Strangers) and given all star treatment by Greenpeace. But TVNZ’s use of it under National Party conference footage was a step too far for McGlashan, who famously took very public offence. Director Fane Flaws places his video in the eye of a mermaid rather than a storm, but plenty of watery perils await.
The third single from Bic Runga's 1997 debut album Drive got to number seven in the NZ charts, 10 in Australia and 26 in Ireland. It nudged the UK charts at 96, and was included on the soundtrack of hit comedy American Pie. Directed by UK photographer/video director Karen Lamond and made to showcase Runga internationally, the video shows the singer shyly stalking the hipster of her 90s dreams, as he stocks the shelves of an Italian deli. Back at her place, the camera pulls back for an unexpected end. An earlier video for the single also exists, directed by Kiwi talent Joe Lonie.
The third single from Opshop’s triple platinum-selling second album Second Hand Planet reached number three on the NZ singles chart, and became the theme song for a string of heart string-pulling NZ Post adverts with its lyric “one day / you’ll realise how much you have me”. Director Luke Sharpe’s video has the band in semi-darkness, accompanied only by a smoke machine and the odd dreamy projection. Lead singer and New Zealand’s Got Talent host Jason Kerrigan’s vocals are harmonised by Dianne Swann from When the Cat’s Away and The Bads.
'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).