Sunday, May 31, 2020

Weekend Diversion: On the air again

Welcome back to the new season of Weekend Diversion. That’s a joke, because these posts have no regular schedule whatsoever, and so, no “seasons”. But they’re about something broadcast—music videos on TV—so, why not extend the theme for this re-launch?

In March last year, I published a Weekend Diversion post called “Random songs I liked”. That was only a few months before the free to air music video channel I watched was taken off the air, but that channel has now returned, as I talked about yesterday, and I decided these “Weekend Diversion” posts would return, too, and that post in March was the inspiration for this one. However, since this is the last day of May, and May is “NZ Music Month”, I thought I may as well do a post about some recent New Zealand songs I liked.

First up, a group I’ve shared before, Six60 and their song “Never Enough”:

Since the band is mainly a New Zealand band—and a huge presence here—I have no information on chart performance, if any, overseas. However this song is their most recent single and reached Number 10 on the RIANZ chart, and was certified Gold. It’s from the group’s third eponymous album (often referred to as Six60 (3)). That album was released in November of last year, the single later, and the video this past January.

I’m not exactly a fan of the group, though I do like some of their songs, including this one. To me it has more of a pop feel to it than many of their earlier songs, something I obviously think is a good thing. I have no idea if this is an indication of where they’re headed, however, NZ groups that have success overseas usually are more pop and—sigh—"mainstream", so adding more pop influences could help them overseas—if that’s even what they want.

Next up is a group called eleven7four and their song “Where It Hurts ft. Tayla Parx”:

The group is twin brothers Muche and Shingi Murare, who were born in 1995 in Zimbabwe. The family moved to New Zealand around the turn of the century, and the brothers grew up in East Auckland. They met Tayla Parx (real name Taylor Monét Parks) at a music festival, and that’s where the story gets complicated.

When I first saw the video, I assumed they were American (the video was shot in Los Angeles). Not to put too fine a point on it, but New Zealand just doesn’t have that many black people living here, so it’s easy to make an erroneous assumption like that. I found out otherwise when the music video channel was playing one of its sponsored segments, and it was an interview with the brothers. I was doing something else at the time, but I noticed when they spoke that they had a Kiwi twang in their accents. They told the story of how they met Parx, mentioned growing up in East Auckland, and by then I wanted to know more. That added yet another layer to the story.

The interviewer, like some who have written about this song, breathlessly reported that Tayla Parx had “written” (their word) several US Top 10 songs, including “Love Lies” by Khalid and Normani, “Thank U Next” by Ariana Grande (which was in one of these posts back in June of last year), and “High Hopes” by Panic! At The Disco, the latter of which I shared in that post in March I mentioned up top (see how symmetrical that makes everything?). In fact, Parx was co-writer of those songs, which is not to diminish her in any way—she’s clearly extremely talented. However, this is an example of something journalists often do to talented New Zealand performers: Make them and/or what they do seem like a much bigger deal than perhaps the evidence supports.

In any case, I like the sound of the song, the arrangement and sampling used. One thing, though, is that I’m not keen on vocals that have been electronically altered, mainly because it’s done far too much. Still, I liked the song and the performance by Tayla Parx.

I have no idea whether this charted in New Zealand or not (it’s not currently in the NZ charts), but it doesn’t seem to have charted anywhere else, either. The song was released last month from their upcoming debut album, What's The 1174? (Side 1), which has not yet been released.

Next a song by Benee, “Supalonely ft. Gus Dapperton”:

Benee (real name Stella Rose Bennett) is a 20 year old singer/songwriter from Grey Lynn, Auckland. Last year she won four NZ Music Awards, and—to be blunt—I thought she was insufferable every time she came up to accept an award: She came across as arrogant, self-centered, and otherwise annoying. Her music, on the other hand, is catchy and popular. Never judge a performer by their award acceptance speeches. Clearly.

The featured artist is Gus Dapperson (real name Brendan Patrick Rice), a singer, songwriter, and comedian from the USA. I know nothing about him, and hadn’t heard of him until this song.

She wrote the song to mock her own sadness when she and her then-boyfriend broke up. It was released in New Zealand and Australia last December, and in the USA and UK in March. The song hit Number 8 in Australia, 10 in Canada (Gold), 2 in New Zealand (Platinum), 18 in the UK (Silver), and 39 on the USA’s Billboard “Hot 100”. The song is currently Number 2 on the “Official Top 20 NZ Singles Chart” (which is for Kiwi performers only).

Finally, “In The Air” by L.A.B.:

I can’t remember ever having heard of this group before, and the truth is, this is another mistake of mine: When I first heard it, I thought it was by Six60 because the sound is very similar to that band's usual sound (I was listening to, not watching, the videos at the time). I then compounded that error by glancing at it and assuming they were American, which I wouldn’t have done if I’d watched it from the beginning: When they first appear on screen, there’s a shot of them in a righthand drive car with a Warrant of Fitness sticker clearly visible on one side, the vehicle registration on the other (it may be visible in the still for the video above). Just goes to show that multi-tasking isn’t a good idea when it intereferes with a blog post in the making. Not that I knew that then, though.

I like the song okay—it has an easy sound to it, though I’m not a fan of reggae/blues/etc. fusion songs. What do I know? The song is currently Number One on the “Official Top 20 NZ Singles Chart”, and Number Seven on the “Official NZ Top 40 Singles” chart (which is for all pop music).

And that's it for this first post returning to my "Weekend Diversion" series, which really ended because when the free to air music video channel ended I just never saw new music videos unless I went looking for them, which was complicated. Among other things, it was too time consuming to sit through the entire NZ Top 40 to find interesting new songs. That, however, might be a thing from time to time again, too.

That TV channel and these posts are on the air again. Sort of.


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

He does, and everything I know about him is in that page. And his performance in that video is the only one of his I've ever seen.

rogerogreen said...

Gus has a Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gus_Dapperton