Netflix win for Kiwi and here comes Taika: The week that was in pop culture
Welcome to Pop Tart, our weekly rundown of what’s scorching hot in the world of pop culture – from movies to memes, and books to fresh looks.
Here’s what’s captured our attention this week:
Musician, composer and rapper David Dallas has been a fixture of the local hip hop scene for so long now, it’s almost a surprise to find out he is still a “world famous in New Zealand” figure who hasn’t made the impact he deserves offshore.
Dallas’s signature hit Runnin’ has featured in video games – especially FIFA 14 – but mostly the world has been kept sadly in the dark about one of our absolute bests.
That all changed last week, with the release of Adam Sandler’s Hustle, which uses Runnin’ prominently and pretty much in full, to score the all important “training montage” without which no sports’ movie is complete.
Runnin’ uses a sample from Philadelphia producer and DJ King Britt, from the song New World In My View, so we can maybe guess that it was the Philadelphia connection – Hustle is set in that beautiful city – that sealed the deal and got Runnin’ over the line. Anyway, with a track in the – at time of writing – number one movie on Netflix, with the critics also loving it, Dallas is at last getting some of the international recognition he’s been long due.
The sound of Aotearoa hip hop is unique. It draws on American West and East coast styles, but is also massively influenced by Pasifika music, with a large dose of our country’s obsession with reggae stirred into the mix as well.
Hearing that unmistakable style looping over scenes of Philadelphia’s snow covered streets was a surprise – and yet somehow perfect.
Aldous, Reb – and Albanese
It’s a well known saying – that I just invented, that you should always vote for someone who has decent taste in music. While our last PM – of any longevity – was apparently fond of a bit of Hayley Westenra (Or, so he said. His delivery made it sound like a name that a PR hack had suggested for him), our current PM has famously DJ’d in night clubs and at parties for years.
Having seen her on the decks at least once, I can also say she knows exactly what she’s doing up there – and where the bangers are in her collection.
So, when the time came to get over the ditch to say gidday to the new bloke – and also knowing that Albanese has his own history as a DJ, Ardern knew what she would be taking to crack the ice. Step up, four classic platters from the good people of Flying Nun records.
There was Warm Chris, the new album from Aldous Harding, about which respected music rag Pitchfork have said: “Its soft, slightly psychedelic folk pop is deceptively thorny and dense”, which sounds right in Pop Tart’s wheelhouse.
As well as Reb Fountain’s late 2021 release IRIS, which, if you’re not a Reb fan already, is a fine place to start. Also, you’re not a Reb fan already? Seriously, catch up.
Also included – and this is where the list really betrays the creditability of the selector – was The Clean’s absolutely crucial and genre-defining 1981 EP Boodle Boodle Boodle, which is one of the foundation stones of “the Dunedin Sound” and also, 40 years later, a timeless slice of New Zealand pop and post-punk song-writing wizardry.
And lastly, just for kicks and giggles, the vinyl re-issue of the seminal Auckland punk compilation AK 79 was included. Albo’ is apparently fond of dropping song lyrics into his speeches, so hopefully we can expect Proud Scum and Scavengers references from this day forward.
In return, the Aussie PM gifted Ardern copies of albums by Midnight Oil, Spiderbait and – no, really – Powderfinger.
All we can say about that, is if the two trans-Tasman PMs are playing at parties on the same night, our money is on Ardern, not Albo, to pack the floor.
The saddest news in the Wellington scene so far this week is that legendary juke joint, venue and late night bar Laundry has been driven to close, by the usual landlord rapaciousness.
Laundry stepped up to be the best place in town to hear new music, meet solid people and just genuinely indulge whatever obsessions you had, while enjoying a perfect pint or a startling cocktail.
The staff were brilliant and would quickly become friends if you treated them as human beings and kept yourself sociable and friendly no matter how late the night became.
While the rotating roster of DJs were some of the absolute best, Laundry was also one of a handful of Wellington bars that offered a respite and an alternative to the ugliness that has engulfed the Courtenay Place scene in the last decade.
With Mighty Mighty and Laundry both gone, and San Fran only operating as a gig venue, some of the corner-stones of the “coolest little Capital” have been kicked away. And unless something can be done to rein in commercial and domestic rents in this city, there will be nothing opening soon to replace them.
RIP Laundry. You were the absolute best. End of.
Our Flag Means Death is coming back
And lastly, Taika Waititi’s already-cult Our Flag Means Death (well, technically it was created by American show-runner David Jenkins, but try telling us that) has been renewed for a second series, and Waititi – oh alright, Jenkins – is intending to bring the show to Aotearoa to film.
Waititi has been quoted in US media as saying: “We start filming hopefully I think by October, and we’re gonna shoot in New Zealand.
“We shot the last one in LA. Weird place to try and do something all on the ocean, so we’re gonna go down to New Zealand which is surrounded by it. That’s one of the things I’m most excited about for the next year.”
Well, amen to that.
And the show will be another shot in the arm for a local film and TV industry that is still struggling to build up the pace and capacity it had reached in 2019 before old you-know-what shut everything down.
With lead-in, pre-production and planning for a movie or a TV show typically taking a year or two, the film industry is looking at several more very tough months until the international productions we used to host are ready to return, or new shows and movies take their place.
The industry will bounce back, but that bounce will be slow and delayed, compared to some of our other foreign exchange earners.