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Kiwi Boys Topple Ladies From Pop Throne

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Fuseworks Media
Kiwi Boys Topple Ladies From Pop Throne

This year New Zealand's music scene saw men set out to steal the leading ladies' thunder, pop music was back on the local menu and indie bands continued to strive for success, writes JULE SCHERER of NZPA

Wellington, Dec 26 NZPA - Under the cloud of a global recession and laments of the demise of the music industry as we know it, Kiwi artists produced a 2010 vintage that was more than handsome.

A quick glance at some numbers shows that local artists have stood their ground in matters of sale figures and radio play.

Seven of the top 20 biggest selling singles of the year were by local acts, including this year's No 1 You Got Me by J. Williams feat. Scribe. Eight New Zealand artists' albums rose to the top of the charts, with Gin Wigmore on the second spot, behind Scottish singing sensation Susan Boyle.

Overall two trends emerged in 2010: For most of the last decade more female artists - from Bic Runga, to Brooke Fraser, Fur Patrol, Stellar*, Anika Moa or recently Gin Wigmore - found favour with radio stations.

"This year, however, it's been all about the guys", airplay and sales monitor RadioScope's Paul Kennedy said.

"Duelling it out for the top spot on the 2010 RadioScope Airplay Charts are two of the country's newer pop idols, Stan Walker and Dane Rumble. Not far behind them J. Williams makes two appearances in the Top 20 while two of the year's biggest breakthrough acts, Kids Of 88 and Dukes, help to boost the Kiwi bloke factor."

Furthermore long-time favourites OpShop and Shihad reported back with well-received new releases.

The other trend was the comeback of local pop music.

"New Zealand has always had a proud underground, alternative, rock and urban music scene but we haven't had a pure pop vein for a while," said NZ On Air music director Brendan Smith.

"But lately, we have seen the likes of Dane Rumble, J Williams, Kids Of 88 making a big impact and that was reflected at the NZ Music Awards this year when the organisers introduced a new category for Pop Album Of The Year," he said.

But 2010 was by no means a poor year for female artists or the independent music scene.

Auckland trio Street Chant -- two thirds female -- made big waves with feisty, defiant grunge rock.

They topped the RadioScope Alternative Charts and were named best album of the year by online music distributor Amplifier. The band was also in high demand for live shows, opening for Jack White's The Dead Weather and The Fall, playing showcases in Melbourne and New York and won the inaugural Critic's Choice award.

But the biggest break-through band of the year were electro-rockers The Naked and Famous, with their bed-room recorded and self-released album Passive Me, Aggressive You.

Their single Young Blood debuted on the charts at No 1 -- the first New Zealand artist in the three years to do so -- and earned them the prestigious Silver Scroll Award for the best song of the year.

The band have just signed a deal with UK label Fiction Records, home of The Cure and Snow Patrol, and made it into the chosen 15 for the BBC's influential Sound of 2011 poll.

And let's not forget indie master-minds The Phoenix Foundation, who not only accounted for the soundtrack to Taika Waititi's movie Boy but also released their forth longplayer Buffalo, for which they were rewarded with four of the eight Tui awards they were nominated for.

But Boy not only showed off the Wellington's band talent, but brought back one well-loved song: Patea Maori Club's 1984 sing Poi E re-entered the Top 20 and peaked at No 3.

Another celebrated come-back was that of seminal indie-label Flying Nun Records, after it was bought back by its original owner Roger Shepherd. This year he set out to live-up to the legacy with releasing albums by artists like Grayson Gilmore, Die! Die! Die! and The Clean's Robert Scott.

Although male artists had the upper hand on the radio waves, their female counterparts still knew how to convince.

Brooke Fraser released her long-awaited third album Flags in October and was already on the way to double platinum by the end of the year.

But the queen of New Zealand music 2010 was Wigmore, who not only grabbed four Music Awards -- as many as male competitor Stan Walker -- but was also runner-up for most sold album of the year.

Boyle's debut album Dreamed a Dream stayed on top of the album charts for the second year, followed by Wigmore's Holy Smoke, teen-heartthrob Justin Bieber's My Worlds and Boyles' sophomore album The Gift.

The loudest fans the three had were without a doubt those of young Bieber. During his whirlwind visit to Auckland the 16-year-old Canadian singer made droves of girls shriek in delight.

But he was also introduced to Kiwi girls' hands-on-approach and had to mourn the loss of his hat. The cunning plan of two teens to swap their ransom against a hug of their idol backfired when Bieber complained to his more than two million Twitter fans.

Bieber -- who didn't even perform a proper concert -- was not the only superstar to visit our shores.

Bogans rejoiced by starting the year with Australian metal stalwarts AC/DC, followed by Metallica, who after vocal protests from the South extended their tour to Christchurch.

And then there were Bon Jovi, Megadeath and Faith No More who came around to make the long hair fly.

Not only rock enthusiasts got their money's worth. Alternative music fans celebrated bands such as Pavement, the Pixies, The National and Gorillaz. Also global stars such as Lady Gaga, U2 and Jay Z, Simply Red and Adam Lambert played here.

But the biggest audience of the year came together in October to support Cantabrians in the wake of the September 4 earthquake. Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, OpShop, The Feelers, J. William, Anika Moa, Dane Rumble and the Exponents teamed up and played for 140,000, with many more watching the show on TV.

The 2011 live music season will kick off with various festivals and winery tours. Friends of hard and heavy rock will be looking forward to the Big Day Out with Tool, Rammstein and Iggy and the Stooges.

Brooke Fraser will tour the wineries with Opshop and Midnight Youth. Lionel Richie, Roxy Music, Crowded House and Supergroove will play the Day on The Green, Joe Cocker will come and dance the dance and Elton John will be the first big artist to play in Dunedin's New Forsyth Barr Stadium.

Add even more festivals from Auckland's Laneways to Wellington's Homegrown and the year is already shaping up nicely to cater for all fans of live music.

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