While never quite reaching the dizzy heights of Gangnam Style, New Zealand has plenty of novelty songs in its musical history. Finding inspiration in anything from convenience foods to the onset of middle age, local musicians have mined the genre to great effect, achieving some notable sales along the way.
Baked Beans proved an unlikely but successful muse for Dunedin band Mother Goose, who scored their biggest hit with this ode to the romance-promoting qualities of the tinned favourite. Released in 1977, the song became a substantial smash on both sides of the Tasman, with the hilarious video among the most played clips in Australia that decade.
Watch the video for Mother Goose Baked Beans here:
A novelty song with a message, The Knobz' 1980 anthem Culture? was fuelled by political unrest. Then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon had refused to lift a 40 per cent sales tax on recorded music (originally instituted by Labour in 1975), adding insult to injury by dubbing NZ's current crop of pop groups "horrible." In response, The Knobz penned this top five hit, with sample lyrics including "I can buzz around like a Beehive boy, but I'd like to see you do my job."
See the video for The Knobz Culture? here:
If there is a message to be found in Monte Video's Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang, we're not sure it would be entirely appropriate to share it here. Written by - and starring - veteran Auckland musician Murray Grindlay, the song reached number two in New Zealand, and scored releases in the UK and Australia. Shot in a Ponsonby nightclub, the video sees Grindlay drinking and smoking up a storm, while, er, making some new friends for the evening.
Watch Monte Video Shoop Shoop Diddy Wop Cumma Cumma Wang Dang here:
Another big early 80s novelty hit, Dave and the Dynamos' Life Begins at 40, was written by Hogsnort Rupert vocalist Dave Luther. An ode to the joys of middle age, it clearly resonated with many, quickly claiming the number one slot. But not everyone was a fan; Life Begins at 40 also had the honour of being named the second worst song ever by RipItUp, prompting Luther to ring the magazine and enquire why it wasn't number one.
Watch Dave and the Dynamos Life Begins at 40 here:
It seems even the power of "thousands of luminous spheres" couldn't help infomercial queen Suzanne Paul in her quest to break into music. In 1994 Paul released Blue Monkey, a dance pop number sampling memorable phrases from her TV sales pitches. All the ingredients were there: notable guest vocalist (Boh Runga), a choreographed dance routine, but alas world domination in music was not to be. A lot of fun was had in the trying though.
You can see the video for Blue Monkey here:
JGeek and the Geeks came to national prominence as finalists in the 2012 series of New Zealand's Got Talent, but had already received attention with their debut single Māori Boy. Released in 2010, the track fused Māoritanga with the worlds of fashion and beauty, colliding in a Mika-inspired celebration of what it means to be a modern 'Māori boy.' The video gained considerable traction, clocking up 100,000 YouTube views in just 10 days.
Watch the video for JGeek and the Geeks Māori Boy here:
You can see more classic New Zealand novelty songs here, in NZ On Screen's Spotlight collection.