The Exponents, the band whose 80s and 90s hits became enduring national pop anthems, are the winner's of this year's New Zealand Herald Legacy Award.

The award was revealed tonight as part of the nomination announcement for the 2015 Vodafone New Zealand Music Awards.

The band which formed as the Dance Exponents in Timaru and Christchurch in the early 80s had a run of hit singles early in that decade and then another in the early 90s.

While the band never achieved stadium-filling status, songs like Why Does Love Do This To Me? have been sports stadium singalongs at rugby and cricket tests for decades.

Advertisement

The legacy award is a double honour for band frontman Jordan Luck. He has already been inducted as a songwriter into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame by APRA.

He now enters it a second time with his band care of the legacy award which is decided by Recorded Music New Zealand.

RMNZ boss Damian Vaughan said the band were true Kiwi icons.

"They are a key part of our history and are well deserving of this year's New Zealand Herald Legacy award. We all went to their concerts, we all chanted 'why does love do this to me?' with Jordan Luck when it blasted on the radio, and we all celebrated when they took home Tui after Tui.

"They're music legends and I'm thrilled that we can welcome them to the NZ Music Hall of Fame in the 50th year of the VNZMAs."

The core quartet of Luck, guitarist Brian Jones, drummer Michael "Harry" Harallambi and bassist David Gent first assembled in Christchurch in 1981 after Timaruvians Luck and Jones headed north with early member Steve Cowan.

A residency at a Christchurch pub and Luck's songwriting led them to be signed to Mushroom Records by Mike Chunn. Debut single Victoria becoming the first of many top ten hits and led the band to becoming the biggest local band of the post-punk generation.

Eventually decamping to England, the band were unable to make a dent in the British music industry.

But Luck's songwriting gave them a second wind upon their return home with hits like Who Loves Who the Most and Why Does Love Do This To Me?

Various members departed during the latter half of the 90s and the band officially called it a day in 1999, though reformed for a 30th reunion tour in 2011.

Russell Baillie picks some magic Exponents moments

Why Does Love Do This to Me?

At 1.33, the audible sad sigh from Luck before the refrain "I miss you, you know that ..." is a melancholy moment which makes the next chorus so much more rousing. Also the spectacular drum fill of Michael "Harry" Harallambi delivers in the closing overs.


Who Loves Who The Most? At 2.58, just when you think the funky Happy Mondays' early-90s rock groove is going to fade out, in comes Luck and co with plaintive Beatlesque harmonies above a climbing bassline before it roars back into life.


Victoria Having lit a slow fuse with Brian Jones' lovely chiming guitar lines and swelling strings beneath Luck's tale of a Christchurch call girl, the song finally explodes with a bit of the ol' scorching pick-down-the-fretboard.


Sex & Agriculture Yes, the stuttered tr-tr-tr-tractor lyric is the Kiwi answer to My Generation and Changes, but so too is the punchy bass and drums intro. The song also contains the best use of magpies in NZ writing to illustrate life in the backblocks since Denis Glover's famous poem. And its guitar harmonics have a bit of "quardle oodle ardle wardle doodle" about them too ... either that or someone is trying to extract themselves from a big roll of barbed wire.


Only I Could Die (And Love You Still) Luck's octave-leaping vocals in this 1986 track might be attached to a very Morrissey song title, but he still sounds like he's doing his best to out-Bono Bono in the choruses.


Know Your Own Heart No, not their best song, but the sound of early 80s pop-rock is all here - the effects-heavy guitar, the busy bass and drums which includes a snare sounding like God's biscuit tin and toms, which resemble R2D2's mating call.