Thursday, May 29, 2014

NZMM Day 29 – The Runga sisters

Okay, this IS a bit cheeky: Today I’m featuring two sisters, Bic and Boh Runga who, apart from being sisters, also have the fact they’re singers in common. Their styles, however, are different. I’m putting them together because, quite frankly, I’m running out of time.

The sisters were born in Christchurch, Boh in 1969 and Bic in 1976. Their mother, Sophia Tang, was a Chinese Malaysian singer in Malaysia when she met Joseph Runga, a Māori soldier on leave from Vietnam. They moved to New Zealand to live and Sophia gave up her music career.

Boh Runga moved to Auckland to form Stellar* (the asterisk is part of their name), a pop/rock band, in the early 1990s. Their first album, Mix (1999), went to Number One and was 5x Platinum. Their second album, Magic Line (2001), also went to Number One and went Platinum. Their final album, Something Like Strangers (2006), went to Number 9.

Their biggest hit was “Every Girl” (2000, below), the final single from from Mix. The song went to Number 3.

An earlier hit, and a song I particularly liked, was “Part of Me” (1999, below), also from Mix. It reached Number 4. It was the band’s first Top Ten single.

Without a doubt, their best-known song is “Violent”, below, and also from Mix and released in 1999. The song reached number 11. I liked this song in particular for mentioning “nihilistic tendencies”. Don’t get that in pop music every day…

One of my favourites by them is also their least-successful charted singles, “Star” (2002, below). It was from their second album, Magic Line. The song peaked at Number 40 and was their last charted single.

The reason I like, however, is that in 2002 I went to the official launch of the Labour Party’s campaign and Stellar* were the entertainment. One of the songs was “Star”. As Boh sang “Baby you’re a star” I looked over and saw then-Prime Minister Helen Clark at the back of the hall, determined look on her face, ready to be introduced to the party faithful. She was a star.

Bic Runga (her name is pronounced “beck”, not “bick”) is a singer/songwriter, and quite different from her older sister.

I didn’t like her first two singles, “Drive” and “Bursting Through”, which I thought were somewhat ponderous and unlikely to take the pop charts by storm. In fact, “Drive” reached Number 7, and “Bursting Through” hit 33.

However, her next single, “Sway” (1997, below) was different: It hit Number 7 in New Zealand, 10 in Australia and 93 in the UK, her fist single to chart in those countries. It was also from her first album, Drive, which debuted at Number One in NZ and was 7x Platinum.

She had several minor hits after that (including “Good Morning Baby”, a great pop song with Dan Wilson on the American Pie movie soundtrack – LISTEN), before hitting Number 3 with one of my favourites, “Get Some Sleep” (2002, below). The song was 92 in Australia and 78 in the UK, but was also her first charted single in those countries since “Sway”.

Bic’s next single, “Something Good” (2002, below) hit Number 4 in New Zealand and 107 in the UK. Both it and “Get Some Sleep” are from her album, Beautiful Collision, which also debuted at Number 1 on the NZ album chart and was 11x Platinum. The album also hit 41 in Australia and 55 in the UK. When the song came out, I was carpooling with a workmate, and we used to repeat each “ya” whenever the song came on the radio on the way to work. Good times.

Bic’s most recent charted single was “Winning Arrow” (2005, below), which reached Number 23. She’s released five singles since, but none have charted. It was from her third studio album, Birds, which debuted at Number One, as Drive and Beautiful Collision had done. Birds reached Number 26 in Australia and 154 in the UK. It also was 3x Platinum in NZ. “Winning Arrow” features Neil Finn (mentioned as part of Split Enz and Crowded House) as well as Anika Moa on backing vocals. Both are in this video.

Bic released her fourth album, Belle, in 2011. It reached Number 5 in NZ and 97 in Australia, despite having no charted singles in either country. It also went Gold in New Zealand.

Boh, meanwhile, has continued a solo career, releasing the album Right Here in 2009. She also designs jewellery.

I said at the start that I decided to make one post with both sisters because I’m running out of time for this series. That’s true, but I also figured I could get away with it because the performers are—ahem!—related.

And, I like them both.


rogerogreen said...

I could have used the Runga sisters for my last ABC Wednesday series. Except that I had never heard of them!

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Well, now you have! And, your "R" for the next round is open (The American Pie soundtrack link may be the strongest connection…