Proper Top Ten

Recently the Australasian Performing Rights Association (APRA) announced the top ten New Zealand songs of the past 75 years, as voted by its members and a group of 100 others. Not everyone agreed with the winners, and various publications have come up with their own “we was robbed” lists of people who they reckon should have been on the list.

I too have been thinking about worthy recipients who seem to have been inexplicably been left of the list. So here is my list of what I reckon truly are the top ten New Zealand songs of all time:

10. Zed – Daisy
People are always going on about Zed being a pretty boy band, but I’d never really given that much thought until I saw the “Renegade Fighter” video. And oh, yes, Zed’s bass player. He’s niiiice. But anyway, I think that “Daisy” is worthy of being on this because Zed cleverly rhyme “cow, yeah” with “go figure.” Also, their bass player is a spunk.

9. Supergroove – Can’t Get Enough
I was trying to decide between this one and “You got to know”. Even though the latter has plenty of dodgy lyrics, in the end I picked “Can’t get enough” because it’s funny when you change the chorus to “can’t get it up, can’t get it up, no!” Also of significance, they pronounce ‘can’t’ the New Zealand way, where as many lesser bands would put on a bad American accent.

8. Tex Pistol and Rikki Morris – Nobody Else
Remember the video for this one? It was more ironic than the Alanis’ “Ironic” video. The song was called “Nobody Else,” but the video featured the dude singing it, his brother, his wife, a choir of children, then a behind-the-scenes sequence showing the entire production crew. Well yeah, I don’t think there was anybody else left. So for a textbook example of irony, this song gets included.

7. Double J and Twice the T – Mod Rap
This song is actually officially known as “She’s a Mod/Mod Rap,” but we can’t count the “She’s a mod” part of it because that was not written by a New Zealander. Instead I’ve chosen to honour the rap from this song by these two lads. They skilfully transformed the song from a pop song about a mod chick, to an ode to their mother, a former mod chick who was bringing her modness to the dinner table. There was also a beat-boxing solo.

6. Fan Club – Sensation
Remember when laser light displays in nightclubs were really new? I don’t, but I like to think of “Sensation” as being the soundtrack to mid-late eighties night clubbing. The killer synth intro, the catchy chorus, and, of course, “bright lights, good times!” The Fan Club paved the way for other bands of guys with dodgy hair, fronted by a good looking chick. Without Fan Club there would be no Stella, no Fur Patrol, and certainly no Tadpole.

5. Delta – Slather
Exploding onto the Auckland rock scene with their bombastic single “Slather,” Delta sadly didn’t survive long enough to release an album. But “Slather” made its mark on the New Zealand music scene like a red hot branding iron on skin. Delta may have broken up, but the rockin’ scar tissue of their power remains.

4. Blackjack – I Don’t Have A Gun
Feeling shocked and betrayed by the death of grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain, Hamilton’s hardest working rock unit penned this tender ballad. Cleverly rhyming “pain” with “Cobain,” the song deals with the devastation that Cobain’s death caused to the world of hard working rock units. After all, Kurt said he didn’t have a gun, but he shot himself.

3. Push Push – Trippin’
So imagine a school dance, circa 1991. There’s a crappy covers band playing crappy covers. The band takes a break and a mix tape with the current hits of the day comes on. Just as “Trippin'” starts, the band is ready to come pack on, so the tape is stopped. The crowd boos, and yells “put the tape back on!” The tape is put back on. The crowd rocks out. That is why “Trippin'” is worthy of inclusion on this list.

2. MSU – Bob
“Hi, my name is Bob. I have got no job. People call me a knob, and they smack me in the gob.” Allegedly called “Bob” because nothing rhymes with Rohan Marx, “Bob,” by Hamilton good time fun band Mobile Stud Unit has a special place in the hearts of many student radio listeners since the song first came to the public’s attention in 1993. For the sheer joy and drunken revelry that “Bob” evokes in the face of adversity, “Bob” had surely earned its place on this list.

1. MC OJ and the Rhythm Slave – Joined at the Hip Hop
The question wasn’t “should OJ/Slave be in the top ten,” or “should one of their songs be number one” but rather, “which song of theirs?” I think “Joined at the hip hop” is the obvious choice. It laid down the beats and laid down the law. It established the rappin’ duo in the New Zealand music scene and paved the way for all white boy rappers who came after them.

Ironic

“It’s like rain… on your wedding day
It’s a free ride… when you’ve already paid
It’s the good advice… that you just didn’t take
Who would’ve thought… it figures”

Ah, my word yes. Ever since Ms Alanis Morrisette sang those words in her song “Ironic” of her 1995 album “Jagged Little Pill” my mind has been wondering what others have wondered.

Why is a song that is supposedly about irony lacking in actual examples of irony?

I have two theories on this. The first is that Alanis doesn’t know what irony is. She kind of understands the concept, but can’t think of any examples that really fit. “Rain on your wedding day” isn’t irony. It’s misfortune. But she’s in good company. Winona Ryder’s character in the 1994 film “Reality Bites” missed out on getting a job because she couldn’t define irony.

My second theory is that Alanis knows damn well what irony is, and has deliberately not included any examples of irony in the song. Of course this would appear to be a rather ironic thing to do. More ironic than those 10,000 spoons.

So where does this leave us, in these post modern pre-millennium days?

I think we ought to turn to the dictionary. The English language is a living, evolving language. New words come into existence and old words are redefined.

I think there needs to be a new word: alanis. “Alanis” is there to describe those situations when things go wrong, and the situation may appear ironic, but is actually just bad luck. For example, “I had only had my brand new pants for a day, when they ripped – what an alanis thing to happen!”

I have found myself using this on a more frequent basis, and endeavour to to use once a day until it has been assimilated into the English language.

Make the effort to use “alanis” every day, and you too can experience that feeling of aloof gen-x coolness. Kind of alanis, really.