Well, well, Wellington.
It’s bigger than she ever dreamed, and she’s in love with being queen. You know I’m talking about “Royals”, the current #3 on the Hot 100 from singer Lorde. If she makes it to the top of that chart, she could become only the second act from New Zealand to hit #1 in the U.S. and the first as a main-credited artist; this, while she’s only 16 years old. It’s quite the accomplishment and perhaps a sign of encouragement to other artists from the country to try their material out here. For now, here are some of the notable singers and bands to break in America and the Hot 100 from that land so far away:
CROWDED HOUSE / SPLIT ENZ
New Zealander Neil Finn first made the American charts as a member of the group Split Enz, based out of Auckland, who reached #53 with “I Got You” in 1980. They parted ways by 1984.
Later, Finn led the Australian-formed group Crowded House, who charted a few years afterward. The trio’s biggest single was the classic “Don’t Dream It’s Over”, which spent a week at #2 on the Hot 100 in April 1987. Followup single “Something So Strong” landed at #7 in the summer, and after three other minor entries from through 1991, they failed to break the big chart. They last released an album in 2010.
Bedingfield was born in Auckland before moving to England with his family at age 3. Two of his songs did particularly well here: the dance anthem “Gotta Get Thru This”, which went to #10, and the ballad “If You’re Not The One”, which peaked at #15. Both were bigger on individual radio surveys. His second album was never released here. He appeared as a judge on The X Factor: New Zealand earlier this year.
Urban was born in the town of Whangarei but was later raised in Australia. After a few minor Country chart entries with a trio called The Ranch in 1997, he trekked out on his own in 1999 and hasn’t looked back since. Over two dozen top 40 singles later, 13 of which went to #1, he’s one of the top-selling acts in Country music today. His biggest thus far on the Hot 100 is 2009’s “Kiss A Girl”, which peaked at #16.
The 23-year-old singer born in Hamilton also plays guitar and tambourine. She has only reached the U.S. charts as a featured act on Gotye‘s monster ballad, “Somebody That I Used To Know”. It totaled eight weeks at #1 and also ranked as the #1 song of last year. Her own solo single, “Settle Down”, saw some limited airplay here, but nothing substantial. Neither act has reached the Hot 100 since their duet.
The duo from Ōtara went from regional success to international buzz with “How Bizarre”, which hit the top ten in several countries. Due to a lack of CD single in the U.S., which was required to chart on the Hot 100 then, it only ranked on the radio surveys, going to #4 on the Hot 100 Airplay chart. They are a one-hit wonder outside of New Zealand. Lead singer Pauly Fuemana passed away in 2010 at age 40.
Here’s the most obscure act on the list, but obscure as he is, he did go Platinum. His only single to chart so far was a remixed version of his song “Swing”, with added rapper Soulja Boy who was hot at the time. It peaked at #45 in the fall. Thus far, he’s the only rapper from New Zealand to ever make the U.S. charts. He’s managed to score a few other big singles down under, but nothing has reached our shores.
Other acts from New Zealand to release here but fail to make it outside the airplay charts include Gin Wigmore, Steriogram and The Naked And Famous, who have an active single on the Alternative chart this week with “Hearts Like Ours”. We’ll see how far it goes. For now, if there’s an act that I didn’t mention or you want to let me know who your favorite artist is on this list, comment below or click the “Get Social!” tab to find PGTC on social media.