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UTR 2021 New Zealand Music Video Highlights

UTR 2021 New Zealand Music Video Highlights

Chris Cudby & Annabel Kean / Tuesday 14th December, 2021 1:59PM

Let the UTR end of year lists for 2021 begin! First up is our editorial team's favourite Aotearoa music videos of the year — read Chris Cudby and Annabel Kean's personal selections below and stay tuned for our whopping end of year playlist, plus even more festive treats. Special thanks to NZ On Air for helping support our local music video coverage in 2021.

Aldous Harding - 'Old Peel'

A god damn renaissance painting come to life, Aldous Harding's self-directed video for stand alone single 'Old Peel' has burned itself into my brain since it dropped in June. With each watch you notice a different element that makes this deceptively simple concept shine — the lighting! The textures! Each performer's movement! Can't wait to see what visual delights Harding will dream up next year. — A.K.

DARTZ - 'Pray for Prey'

Pōneke's DARTZ sum up some of the absolute madness that went down locally in 2021 with their self-directed video for 'Pray for Prey', created with support from NZ On Air. Starring lead singer Danz in a role inspired by Destiny Church leader and ("in my opinion") public menace Bishop Brian Tamaki, the clip feels like one of the frontman's savagely satirical comic strips brought to life, gleefully upping the ante to such a manic degree the band reportedly had to get legal advice before being able to release. If it's all too absurd then that's the point — this is one of those vids you imagine whenever you hear the song. — C.C.

Emmanuelle - 'Mouthfeel' Prod. franc015

Emmanuelle's zero budget video for 'Mouthfeel' (produced by franc05) is one of the only local artworks I've experienced to convey the spooky lawless feeling of Tāmaki Makaurau's empty city streets during 2021's four months of lockdown. Expressing the song's high wire emotions in a poetic DIY vid filmed by and featuring the artist, Emmanuelle ventures into a construction site and scales the dizzying heights of a crane for a (probably quite dangerous) spot of undercover urban stargazing. — C.C.

KITA - 'Every Day'

Having dived straight into the deep end of music video making myself over the past couple years, I have a particular level of awe reserved for people who pull off a one-shotter. Directed by KITA frontwoman Nikita 雅涵 Tu-Bryant, choreographed by Kia Jewell and with expert projection work from Erica Sklenars, the video for 'Every Day' is bursting with life and charm, made all the more impressive knowing they probably shot this approx 50 times. — A.K.

Mousey - 'The Bench'

Usually folk songwriters don't get to play the part of outlandish, stage-struttin' rock star, so I'm stoked with what Martin Sagadin and Mousey aka Sarena Close came up with for upbeat banger 'The Bench' — made with support from NZ On Air. The video excels at enhancing rather than just reinforcing the track, and simultaneously flaunts Close's electric stage presence (with help from movement coach Robyn Jordaan) and matches the track's infectious high energy. I would very much like to see Sarena do karaoke. — A.K.

Night Lunch - 'House Full Of Shit'

No video summed up NZ's home-obsessed hellscape better than Ōtepoti duo Liam Hoffman and Liam Clune aka Night Lunch's 'House Full Of Shit'. Instantly gaining a devoted nationwide fanbase for the pair when it dropped in March, they scream "Live Laugh Love" while lamenting our collective domestic garbage reality in their eye-popping and explosive DIY animated clip. Also a primo showcase for Night Lunch's inventive electric diddly bow / drums setup, 'House Full Of Shit' is inarguably one of Aotearoa's breakout videos in 2021. — C.C.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra - 'That Life'

Unknown Mortal Orchestra skewers high end luxury holiday lifestyles with his slyly infectious single and deceptively cute puppet vid 'That Life', directed by Lydia Fine and Tony Blahd. Coincidentally launched while US social satire series The White Lotus (which explores similar themes) was at the height of popularity, here's what UMO mastermind Ruban Nielson had to say about 'That Life': "I saw this painting by Hieronymus Bosch called The Garden of Earthly Delights and in the painting there was a mixture of crazy stuff going on, representing heaven, earth, and hell. When I was writing this song, 'That Life,' I was imaging the same kind of 'Where's Waldo' (or 'Where's Wally' as we call it in New Zealand, Australia, and the UK) of contrasting scenes and multiple characters all engaged in that same perverse mixture of luxury, reverie, damnation, in the landscape of America. Somewhere on holiday under a vengeful sun." — C.C.

Van Staden & Böhm - 'Spirit Level (Official Video)'

A joy to behold, the official video for electronic duo Madison Van Staden and Amelia Berry (Amamelia) aka Van Staden & Böhm's 'Spirit Level' activates the gritty streets of overcast Tāmaki Makaurau with a hyper-energising dose of dance mania. Directed by Van Staden and starring Oscar Perress, the clip feels like the ghost of rave-era UK has materialised in the super city, depicting a dance-loving individual breathing fresh life into urban spaces both familiar and sometimes straight up barren. That it's also a tacit advertisement for the pair's t-shirts is the icing on the cake (they say "Buy our shirts!" HERE) — if VSB are Aotearoa's queer happy hardcore equivalent to Prodigy I'm all for it. — C.C.

Vera Ellen - 'I Want To Be Boy'

Full disclosure, Vera Ellen's It's Your Birthday is one of my favourite albums of the year and that may have affected my decision to include 'I Want 2 B Boy' in my favourite videos list. Also full disclosure, when I wrote about this clip in July I spent an embarrassingly long time trying to find where co-creaters Randy Kaufman and Vera Ellen had sourced the footage, Googling shit like 'shirtless man hit by hot dogs', assuming it was a viral relic of early YouTube. It is actually Kaufman himself and it is a masterpiece. — A.K.


This pick is really for all of WHO SHOT SCOTT's videos so far. 'LOVE WE'LL NEVER KNOW' is the Tāmaki rapper's seventh, each one directed by Connor Pritchard and each captured in a single shot — a super challenging feat to start, let alone coming up with eight ways to do it. Specials mentions go to Pritchard's lighting genius, and to WSS's aerobic fitness. — A.K.


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