New Zealand has a longstanding love affair with pop music. This can be traced right back to the 1940s, when a song called 'Blue Smoke' was released by Ruru Karatiana - originally penned while onboard a wartime troop ship. This was re-recorded in 1949 by Pixie Williams, eventually achieving triple Platinum status after remaining at number one in New Zealand's charts for six weeks.
In the next few decades the country's pop scene rapidly gained momentum. 1962 saw the birth of New Zealand's first TV show dedicated to pop music. Entitled 'In The Groove' this commenced in Auckland before moving on to other regional channels. This was followed by several other examples, such as 'C'mon' and 'On the Beat', both of which were introduced by Australian journalist and TV personality Peter Sinclair. These early highly-popular TV shows were the birthplace of many of New Zealand's talented pop sensations, such as Sandy Edmonds.
The 1970s and 1980s saw a boom in Kiwi pop music as this genre began to get away from being a purely chart-orientated pastime. Serious musicians began to write catchy songs. The brothers Neil and Tim Finn achieved success with the rock band Split Enz, before going on to form the internationally-acclaimed Crowded House. Popular with fans and critics alike, the Finns received considerable accolades, culminating in their 1993 OBE from Queen Elizabeth II for their contribution to their native land's musical landscape.
There have been many other successful New Zealand pop performers, and the highest-selling pop tune ever was ‘How Bizarre' by OMC, or Otara Millionaires Club. (There was considerable irony in that choice of title as Otara happens to be one of Auckland's poorest suburbs!) As well as reaching number one in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada and Ireland in 1996, this toe-tapping ditty spent more than 36 weeks in the USA Billboard Hot 100 airplay charts.
In more recent years, local singer Kimbra achieved international success with his collaboration with the Belgian Australian singer Gotye on the quirky hit ‘Somebody That I Used To Know'. This was a 2011 chart topper in Britain, Australia, America and many other international charts, reaching the top 10 in amore than 30 countries. To date this has sold in excess of 13 million copies across the globe, making it one of the highest-selling digital singles ever.
Earlier this year, Lorde, a talented 17-year-old singer-songwriter from Auckland, has been the latest young New Zealand sensation to achieve international recognition. After receiving a plethora of accolades she jointly won the 2013 Silver Scroll award - an annual achievement for New Zealand pop music songwriting. She is also four-times Grammy-nominated.