Apra to retrospectively award 1981’s Silver Scroll to the best song of that year.

Looking back at it now, it seems 1981 was a vintage year in New Zealand songwriting. It was, after all, the year of three local No1 hits - The Swingers'

Counting the Beat


See Me Go

by the Screaming Mee Mees and the biggest selling local single of the year, Deane Waretini's

The Bridge

, which was also the first Maori language track to top the charts.


But 1981 remains a blank spot in the history of the annual song of the year award, the Apra Silver Scroll.

The award is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year - but not quite. Apra didn't give out a Silver Scroll in 1981. No one can quite remember why.

"Nineteen eighty-one was a watershed year in our history. I'm not sure why the Silver Scroll was not awarded, but as often happens in times of social and political unrest the music scene was never more vibrant and exciting," says Apra boss Anthony Healey.

So they're making amends. This year's Silver Scroll will also retrospectively give an award for the best local song of 34 years ago.

Apra will announce a shortlist of five next week for its songwriter membership - many of whom weren't even born in 1981 - to vote on.

As someone who pretty much discovered local music in 1981, here are my contenders ...

 The Swingers got to No 1 on the local charts in 1981 with Counting the Beat.
The Swingers got to No 1 on the local charts in 1981 with Counting the Beat.
The Bridge by Deane Waretini

No, I wasn't one of the many who bought this big ballad at the time. But surely its te reo credentials make it a contender, though the song was an adaptation of Italian jazz musician Nini Rosso's instrumental Il Silencio. The hit, which spent 27 weeks on the charts, got the hit parody treatment from radio star Kevin Black as The Fridge.

There is No Depression in New Zealand and Don't Fight it Marsha (It's Bigger than Both of Us)

The two greatest songs by Blam Blam Blam - the post-punk band which brought us Don McGlashan - were released within months of each other. Could always declare it a tie.

Some the Class of 81 releases that could be up for a belated Silver Scroll
Some the Class of 81 releases that could be up for a belated Silver Scroll
Riot Squad

The local ska classic from the Newmatics which featured on their Broadcast O.R. EP. There's nothing that quite says "1981 in NZ" like this song. Unless you count No Depression above. Or indeed, 1981 by Riot 111.

Tally Ho

The year was also the year of the Clean and this slice of organ-powered garage pop announced the arrival of the Flying Nun label to anyone who wasn't already on the Flying Nun label or flatting with someone in Dunedin who was. Like The Swingers' Counting the Beat, it has lived on as a television jingle.

Billy Bold

Graham Brazier's solo album Inside Out, which featured this stirring track, was a personal triumph. He's got possible competition from his fellow solo Hello Sailor mates - Doctor I Like Your Medicine from Harry Lyon's band Coup D'Etat or Remember the Alamo by Dave McArtney and the Pink Flamingos.