Classic NZ Name Songs

Names are part of the bedrock of history; they also make up a highly hummable thread in the story of Kiwi music. This Spotlight collection of songs with a person's name in the title includes an early Exponents classic (‘Victoria’), multiple ditties about how hard it is to say goodbye, a random pig's head — and chart-toppers from Shane (‘Saint Paul’), Greg Johnson (‘Isabelle’) and Headless Chickens (‘George’).

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Victoria

Music Video, 1982 (Pop)

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.  

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Isabelle

Music Video, 1992 (Pop)

Written and recorded in less than a day, Isabelle became Greg Johnson's biggest single to date, despite the fears of guitarist and label boss Trevor Reekie that a lack of drums limited its radio chances. The enigmatic lyrics — memory, cities under siege, a woman from Zagreb — are complimented by moody images of future Shortland Street actor Josephine Davison, and the band in obligatory sunglasses. Director James Holt now directs commercials around the globe.

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Maxine

Music Video, 1983 (Pop)

"If you don't like the beat, don't play with the drum." 'Maxine' was a single taken from O'Neill's 1983 album Foreign Affairs, about a King's Cross prostitute — "Case 1352, a red and green tattoo" — and based on a woman who worked the streets nearby. The song charted at No. 16 both here and in Australia. The clip starts with Sharon arriving at the airport; look out for leopard skin print tights and a dress straight off Logan's Run. Other highlights: a steamy sax solo, heavy eye shadow and backlit silhouettes in "rain-slicked avenues." Nice.

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Lydia

Music Video, 1999 (Pop)

Prolific music video director Jonathan King delivers a simple but finely-executed clip with this anthem for the jilted. Although the band act like nothing is wrong and pull off an artful mime, it soon becomes clear that they have no instruments. Shot in extremely narrow focus, singer Julia Deans' sometimes wistful, sometimes sneering performance matches the brooding tone of the song, which topped the Kiwi charts. The clip was shot at Verona Cafe on Auckland's K Road. 'Lydia' marked the third single from the band's first album Pet.

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Andrew

Music Video, 2001 (Pop)

The lead off track from Wellington band Fur Patrol’s debut album Pet (and follow up to their chart topping single ‘Lydia’) sees an unrepentant Julia Deans emphatically despatching someone who has wronged her for the last time. The video — shot in a club on Auckland’s Karangahape Road — sets Deans and bandmates amidst frozen bar patrons who spring to life with the first tempo change. The band responds with an (almost) accomplished dance routine in best boy band style ... nicely undermined by Deans’ rather graceless tumble out of the final pose.

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Beth

Music Video, 1994 (Pop, Rock)

A song about how hard it is to say goodbye, 'Beth' became a student radio fave and has been known to make some listeners feel a little teary. Perhaps sensing the potential for emotional meltdown, the makers of the music video introduce a touch of the oddball, with Voom long-stayer Buzz Moller flying to the moon in his pyjamas and meeting the rest of the band in an underground cavern, all the while addressing his beloved, “who went to Australia”. Moller finds his guitar in time for the amped up, I still care about you climax. The track is sometimes titled ‘Beth’s Song’.

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Sophie

Music Video, 2001 (Pop, Rock)

How long does it take to remove all the furniture and fittings from an apartment? If you’ve got Goodshirt on the case, apparently 3 minutes and 47 seconds. Part of a series of Goodshirt music videos directed by Joe Lonie and filmed in one continuous take, this video highlights the dangers of having the volume up too loud. As a young woman sits down to listen to Goodshirt’s latest single, she is unaware of the band robbing her of everything she owns. The video won Best Music Video at the 2003 NZ Music Awards.

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Johnny

Music Video, 1999 (Dub)

An echoing synth gives this song an ominous tone, and the video matches it with B-movie flair. With the logo for Salmonella Dub’s third album Killervision burnt into his chest, Johnny wakes in the band's boardroom, and the tale of how he got there unfolds. His troubles begin at the Havana Bar where he is drugged, and awakens in the back of a moving convertible. The resultant chase through native bush ends with Johnny getting cornered high up on a dam, leading to perhaps the most daring fight scene yet seen in a New Zealand music video.

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Maureen

Music Video, 1987 (Country)

The second single from Wellington's country crossover kings is a classic tale of lost love and the girl that got away: propelled by Nik Brown's fiddle, with Barry Saunders out front singing it like a cowboy. Director Waka Attewell's music video intersperses the band's performance with shots of Saunders in and around Wellington with a supporting cast of planes, trains and automobiles. The car is a cut-down Holden Belmont and there's a glimpse of the Cook Strait ferry (but the Warratahs' involvement with the Interislander is still a few years off).

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George

Music Video, 1996 (Alternative)

George was the first Flying Nun single to make it to number one in New Zealand, and the video is also a strong one. Brooding black and white shots of singer Fiona McDonald are frenetically cut together with dark images (tattooed man crawling on concrete, wily old bloke holding birthday cake) that match the menacing lyrics of the song.

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Virginia

Music Video, 1980 (Rock)

After four years as part of Hello Sailor, guitarist Dave McArtney stepped out with his own band The Pink Flamingos — and found himself very much the centre of attention in this video made by TVNZ for the Flamingos' debut single. With only his guitar for support, he roams the streets of downtown Wellington stalking the object of his desire, who remains largely impassive despite his protestations — and all but obscured in a haze of cigarette smoke. Locations include an empty Cuba Mall (beside the bucket fountain) and Plimmer Steps. McArtney died in April 2013.

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Don't Fight it Marsha, It's Bigger Than Both of Us

Music Video, 1981 (Pop, Rock)

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.

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Saint Paul

Music Video, 1969 (Pop)

'Saint Paul' was one of the biggest hits by a NZ artist in the late 60s. Written about Paul McCartney by American producer Terry Knight, it borrowed liberally from Beatles songs (eventually with their publisher's permission) and played an early part in the "Paul is dead" conspiracy theories. Shane’s version went to number one and was the 1969 winner of the Loxene Golden Disc for local song of the year. This footage from the awards show comes complete with interview by host Peter Sinclair and as many groovy special effects as TV could muster at the time.

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Caroline's Dream

Music Video, 1983 (Alternative, Flying Nun)

Directed by Chris Knox, this performance-based video features assorted strange props including a doll, a mannequin and half a pig's head. The song title is Caroline's Dream, and the video has a dreamlike quality, or should that be nightmare? And what is Chris Matthews doing writhing about on stage with his pants undone?

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Geraldine

Music Video, 1995 (Pop, Rock)

The lyrics to this Jan Hellriegel single unveil a strange and cryptic vision of a woman who has gone very high, and possibly lost her mind en route. Kerry Brown's video takes a similiar path. Shot largely in Auckland's St Kevin's Arcade, it begins like many other music videos, although a couple of passersby appear to have wandered into the wrong scene. Then halfway through everyone transforms, and the clip bursts into a vision of fire, red lipstick, feather boas and circus performers. 'Geraldine' was the first single off Hellriegel's second album, the Australian-recorded Tremble