Welcome to weekly series The Singles Life, where known experts Katie Parker and Hussein Moses peruse, ponder and pontificate on the latest and (maybe) greatest in New Zealand music.
If his record label is to be believed, pop singer Graham Candy is about to become New Zealand’s next big export. Hussein Moses and Katie Parker attempt to figure out the appeal.
Hussein: It’s kind of absurd how many press releases I get sent that promise the next big thing in music. The latest to slip into my inbox is Graham Candy, a 25-year-old New Zealand pop singer and actor that is apparently “making waves internationally”.
Here’s what I’ve learned about him so far:
1. He’s referred to as “a quirky and unpredictable musical confectioner” on his own website.
2. Candy now bases himself in Berlin, but was born and raised on Auckland’s North Shore.
3. He was apparently “discovered” at Kingsland venue Portland Public House by a “record company executive” (that’s actually something they put in the press release, which sounds 100% made up).
The video for his single Back Into It actually came out way back in March, but it’s just starting to be pushed out to local media. As it stands, the clip has almost half a million views, which is impressive. According to the press release, the song “mixes his striking vocals with a Gnarls Barkley-style groove” and it’s “unlike anything coming out of NZ right now”.
Katie: My first thoughts about this are a) it sounds kind of like a Scissor Sisters song; b) this is a very literal video; c) I was hoping at the end, the ballet dancer and the boxer man would either do battle or get married, which they don’t so :-(
He’s a funny lil’ guy with his big starry eyes and a weird moustache, and I feel like maybe it was a mistake to have him stand almost completely still and stare straight into the camera for the entire video. Especially in a song about putting your back into it.
Hussein: There really isn't much to the song except a "hard work pays off" message. While relatable, it's not exactly revolutionary. Also, the video is incredibly anti-climatic: they spend three minutes setting everything up and then it goes nowhere. I wanted to see someone get KO’d.
In other news, I just went back and watched the video for Take Your Mama. It's way more ludicrous than I remember.
Katie: I actually kind of like the tune and the chorus is catchy but I hate these bloody inspirational songs that tell me what to do and how to do it. They are bossy and judgey and like, gee thanks, I hadn’t thought of working hard to achieve my goals. It also seems like a jinxy move when singers do songs about dreams coming true and how to succeed early in their careers. Like hold up Graham Candy, maybe wait until I’ve heard of you before you critique my work ethic.
Hussein: I just realised that if you freeze on the shot of the poster in the first few seconds of the video, you’ll see that the boxing showdown that actor (and real life bruiser) Leo Tchoula is training for is against … the director of this stupid video. No wonder there’s no ending to it.
My guess is that they envisioned the clip as some kind of visual sports analogy, but the framing is all wrong. It’s also messed up to try to have a song about putting your back into it when Ice Cube already clocked it back in ’99.
Here’s a weird fact: it was co-written by the guitarist from Panic! At The Disco.
Katie: Panic At The Disco were a poor man’s Fall Out Boy and I have no time for them. But that's nice he has some friends in medium places.
It’s so sad that the director inserted himself into the video. I think it’s a shame because if this had been a cool video, the song would probably have made a way bigger impression on me. Why is it so blah? What's with all these muted colours? I thought he was a musical confectioner or whatever.
Pre-Lorde, the Rangitoto college boy at the Portland Public House mythology might have worked, but now it’s like ‘so what?’. Do we have room in our hearts for yet another overachieving Shore kid?
Hussein: It feels like a stretch to even consider it, to be honest. I doubt he would even make it to the second round of X Factor NZ. This is big dumb pop music that we could easily do without.
My final rating: 1x shoulder shrug.
Katie: I feel slightly more generous towards Graham, partly as a fellow North Shoreian and partly because I like the catchy chorus. I think with a better video it could have been at the higher end of the benign mediocrity scale.
I give it 1x gentle nod and slightly furrowed brow.