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Pop CultureAugust 17, 2017

Chartlander: What we were listening to the day Helen Clark became Prime Minister

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Every week Chartlander travels back through time, landing in a different year on the official New Zealand singles chart in the hopes of (re)discovering forgotten Top 40 gold. Today we go back to the last time the Labour Party came into power.

The day is November 27, 1999, and Helen Clark has just been elected New Zealand’s 37th prime minister. Tomorrow, for the first time in nine years, New Zealand will wake up under a Labour government. The official singles chart is awash with subliminal political messages.

S Club 7’s ‘Bring It All Back’ (#3) has galvanised New Zealand voters to ‘bring [the country] back’ to the left of the political spectrum. The jibberish lyrics of Eiffel 65’s ‘Blue’ (#2) have critically undermined National’s credibility. The sentiment of Ronan Keating’s ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ (#14) has directly influenced the voter turnout, which was 3.51% lower than the previous general election.

New Zealand will not change the government for another nine years, when John Key is elected on the 8th of November 2008. Only two artists feature on both election day charts: Britney Spears (‘Crazy’; ‘Womanizer’) and Kid Rock (‘Cowboy’; ‘All Summer Long’). While Britney appeared on the charts frequently throughout Labour’s nine year reign, 2008’s ‘All Summer Long’ was Kid Rock’s first – and only – appearance in the New Zealand singles chart since ‘Cowboy’ in 1999.

Kid Rock is this country’s only reliable musical agent of political change. The evidence is clear. If we want to change the government at this year’s general election, we need to get him back into the charts.

☝️ Number One

Deep Obsession – ‘One & Only’

The third consecutive number one hit for this country’s greatest ever Eurodance act, and the end of their brief golden run. Singer-songwriters Zara Clark and Vanessa Kelly and producers Christopher Banks and Michael Lloyd broke the record for consecutive number one singles with what began as an after-hours recording project at Auckland’s More FM studios. Their one and only (sorry) album Infinity would end up getting remixed by Brian Rawling, the British producer who brought autotune to the mainstream with Cher’s 1998 hit ‘Believe’.

Soundalike alert: The pre-chorus line (“You won’t be alone when I get to you”) sounds a lot like the pre-chorus line in Savage Garden’s 1996 single ‘I Want You’ (“You won’t know what hit you when I get to you”).

???? Best Bets

#7: Mariah Carey – ‘Heartbreaker’ (feat. Jay Z)

Easily overlooked amidst Mariah Carey’s hundreds of other hits, which makes it the perfect choice to chuck on the Friday drinks playlist circa-2017. ‘Heartbreaker’ features on 1999’s Rainbow album twice; the remix with Da Brat and Missy Elliott is as good, if not better than the original – it depends on how much you like Jay-Z.

Sample alert: This version is built around a sample from ‘Attack of the Name Game,’ a 1982 rap by teen singing sensation Stacy Lattisaw.

#15: Jennifer Lopez – ‘Waiting For Tonight’

Arriving in the final months of the 1990s, ‘Waiting For Tonight’ makes a strong case for being the decade’s last great dance pop hit. With one foot in the late-’90s disco revival and another back with earlier acts like Real McCoy and La Bouche, it should be an essential part of any ’90s playlist. In the video, JLo attends a euphoric Y2K New Year’s Eve countdown rave.

Language alert: There is also a Spanish version, ‘Una Noche Más’.

#36 LFO – ‘Summer Girls’

This is one of the dumbest songs ever written, and against all odds it just keeps getting better with age. In 100 years time it’s unlikely anyone will know the songs of the Spice Girls, Alanis Morrissette or Radiohead; the only song from the 1990s anyone will still want to listen to will be the one that starts: “New Kids on the Block had a bunch of hit / Chinese food makes me sick.”

Interpolation alert: Eminem interpolated ‘Summer Girls’ in an angry rap on 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP.

???? Major Artist, Minor Hit

#33 Brandy – ‘(Everything I Do) I Do It For You’

A massive Bryan Adams hit from just eight years before seems like a weird choice of cover, but then Brandy (and Ray J!) also covered Phil Collins’ ‘Another Day in Paradise’ a couple of years later. Either she’s a genuine fan of AOR balladry (if so, fair enough) or she got given some very questionable cover song advice. This was the final track on 1998’s Never Say Never; the album’s sixth single, it was only ever released in New Zealand and Australia.

Cover alert: Bryan Adams’ raspy original from the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack spent 8 weeks at #1 in 1991.

???? Wildcard

#29 Nicolette – Blue Day

After making an album (and subsequently breaking up) with Deep Obsession, Christopher Banks tried to repeat the magic with a new singer called Nicolette. Also an actor and professional stuntwoman on Xena: Warrior Princess and Hercules, she recorded two singles – this cover of a 1983 Mi-Sex single and an original called ‘Harden Up’, which was moderately successful in Australia.

Cover alert: The Mi-Sex version of ‘Blue Day’ peaked at # 36, Nicolette’s version reached #20, making the indisputably superior version.

???? Erotic Expo

#4 Bloodhound Gang – ‘The Bad Touch’

Somewhere out there exists a person or a couple who unironically put this on every time they have sex. Imagine that. Imagine having sex to this song.

???? Trendwatch


It is highly unlikely there has ever been a week with more mambos in the New Zealand singles charts. While Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo Number 5’ (#5 this week and already triple platinum) has gone on to become a bona fide party essential, Shaft’s ‘Mucho Mambo’ (#31) has been largely forgotten outside of the international mambo community. If we also count Marc Anthony’s ‘I Need to Know’ (#26) that’s three mambos in the top 50, a full 6% of the chart.

???????? Kiwi Flagbearers

Total this week: 7

Deep Obsession and Nicolette carry the flag for the pop community but they are still outnumbered by the rock community: Eye TV are at #32 with ‘Just The Way It Is’, Shihad at #34 with ‘My Mind’s Sedate’, and Breathe at #50 with ‘Landslide’ (not a Fleetwood Mac cover). Meanwhile, 4% of this week’s chart is made up of Rungas – Bic’s American Pie duet with the guy from Semisonic is #24 and Boh’s band Stellar* are at #47 with ‘Undone’.

???? Cover Art of the Week

#27 Moloko – Sing It Back

Look at this crackup dog! What’s it doing on the cover of a sophisticated dance pop single? Get outta there ya mongrel!

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