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The History of New Zealander Pop Music
by Alex Cosper (5/30/13)

Pop recordings in New Zealand began to surface in the early 1940s. The organization that oversees the music industry is the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ), which compiles weekly sales for singles and albums charts. The organization also issues annual music awards as well as platinum and gold certifications. The top selling music in New Zealand tends to be dominated by artists from the United States and Europe. Well known acts from New Zealand who enjoyed worldwide success include Split Endz, Crowded House and OMC.

By the 1960s New Zealanders had become big fans of rock and roll. Once "Lawdy Miss Clawdy" by Johhny Devlin broke in 1959, many New Zealand-based rock and roll bands followed. Band that helped popularize rock music in the sixties included The La De Das, The Fourmyula and Ray Columbus & The Invaders. Johnny Devlin, who was heavily inspired by Elvis Presley, went on to tour with The Beatles in Australia. Devlin also made recordings in 1963 and 1964 that featured backup vocals from the Bee Gees.

Punk rock bands such as The Scavengers, The Suburban Reptiles and Nocturnal Projections developed in local night clubs during the late seventies. During the 1980s an independent music scene began to flourish with small labels such as Propeller Records and Flying Nun Records. Some of the successful acts to emerge from this development included The Verlaines, The Chills and The Bats. By the late eighties harder rock bands influenced by American metal bands such as Shihad began to surface. The independent scene strengthened in the nineties and the new century with alternative bands such as The Brunettes, Goldenhorse and The Phoenix Foundation.

During the 1990s and 2000s a movement developed to influence New Zealand radio stations to start playing more music by artists who originated in New Zealand, encouraged by the Kiwi Music Action Group. Instead of resorting to a government quota, radio industry officials have agreed on their own quota system. As a result, between the years 1995 and 2000 the percentage of homegrown New Zealander music had grown from one to ten pecent. By 2005 indigenous music was near 20 percent of the music played on radio throughout the nation.

In the 2010s artists who have received Critics Choice awards have included Street Chant, Kimbra and Watercolours. Other big names include Home Brew, The Naked and Famous, The Popstrangers, The Unfaithful Ways, Loui the ZU and Beach Pigs. Some of the top selling native artists in the new century have been Bic Runga, Fat Freddy's Drop and the comedy act Flight of the Conchords.

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