Kiwi Lovin'

September 2011 Ariel Short

For three months I lived in Wellington, New Zealand. It’s expensive to live there and thus I didn’t get cable. Which meant I spent a lot of time watching C4 – a combination of MTV and a mesh of network television. At night there was reality TV and prime time shows, while during the day it was non-stop music videos.

I watched/listened to a lot of videos.

I noticed several things:

1) Lady Gaga didn’t exist. At all. She was never on the radio, never on TV, never in the news, and was always absent from the weekly Top 40. (Though currently she’s on the bottom half of the most recent list.)

2) There was a lot of techno songs. Stereo Love, Barbra Streisand, We No Speak Americano were hits when I was over there and I didn’t hear them in the States till months after I returned. Some I still don’t, like Katy B’s Katy on a Mission that I love.

3) British songs showed up in NZ before they were heard in America. There was a delay between appearances on the Top 40 lists.

4) American song/bands were hot in NZ, but I hadn’t heard of them before I moved. Like Mumford and Sons, I totally thought they were British at first because I hadn’t heard of them before I left but they were all over.

5) There were always NZ artists on the Top 40 lists, but the song/artist’s fame never spread to other countries. Yes, everyone knows of the Flight of the Concords, but Opshop? Brooke Fraser? Zowie?

Number Five makes me really sad, as there is no real reason that New Zealand musicians shouldn’t be able to expand beyond their national borders. I mean, yeah, it’s a far flight from pretty much everywhere (except Australia), but with the Internet that shouldn’t be that much of an issue.

And yet it still persists, even with reality TV programs. In fact, NZ no longer has music reality TV contests and watches Aussie’s X-Factor instead (of which they can’t vote for). Contest winners never made it big in the past.

I think that should change.

The big issue is exposure, that no one knows of NZ artists and thus can’t shower them with love. Well, as an honorary Kiwi I’m here to change that. Here’s three hot items in New Zealand right now.

Don’t Forget You Roots by Six60 - Six60 is a five-piece boy band, named for the address that served as their makeshift recording studio. They have a unique blend of hip hop, dubstep, and rock roots. Don’t Forget You Roots leans towards the light rock side, the guitars and drums take a back step to the laid back vocals. A soothing song for background music or a great number to sing along with, it’s about remembering where you come from because that will get you through life.

Dub Me Crazy by Bulletproof featuring Jessie G - DJ Bulletproof specializes in dubstep, a type of dance/techno/trance style of music. It’s not common here in the States, but huge over there and with Jessie G’s vocals this song takes on a slow synthpop feeling. It’s about that crazy feeling you get when around someone you like.

Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye featuring Kimbra - Gotye is actually an Australian artist, not a Kiwi, but he did really well on the charts last week and whose to say Aussie musicians don’t need love too? His song has a pop-folk feeling to it, a slow melody with minimal instruments that really shows off his voice. The song is the story about a less than pleasant break-up, and the singers really convey a sense of bitterness about the situation while performing it.