Kiwi artists hold a bloody special place in our hearts at The Rock - and even when competing against massive international artists and bands, the kiwi musicians have absolutely made a mark in The Rock 2000 countdown.
From West Auckland to the Waikato to Christchurch and everywhere in between, we’ve decided to highlight 21 of the best-performing kiwi tracks across all Rock 2000 countdowns (including Rock 500, Rock 1000, and Rock 1500 countdowns.)
The 21 best-performing kiwi songs across all Rock 2000 Countdowns:
21. Villainy - Safe Passage (2015)
Villany’s catchy tune ‘Safe Passage’ comes from their 2015 album ‘Raised in the Dark’. The album was recorded in Melbourne, over an intense two-month period with Shihad’s drummer Tom Larkin.
Speaking about the recording to NZ Herald, guitarist Thom Watts said "we'd get locked in the room, take for take, until [Tom Larkin] was happy. Sometimes it was three takes, sometimes it was 20. On 'Safe Passage', the take that you hear is the one that ends with Tom yelling at us to do another one.”
The song has appeared every year since its release in The Rock 2000 countdown, peaking at #58 in 2016, and retaining a solid average ranking of #376.
20. Blindspott - Yours Truly (2005)
‘Yours Truly’ was released as a single in 2005, and later appeared on the band’s 2006 album ‘End The Silence.’ The song reached #9 on the NZ charts, and has graced The Rock 2000 14 times.
The song has a peak of #113 (2021), and generally sits around the #315 mark in the countdown.
19. Blindspott - S.U.I.T (2002)
From the band’s self-titled debut album, ‘S.U.I.T’ is a heavy nu metal track that featured rap verses - something the band phased out for their follow-up album ‘End The Silence.’
‘S.U.I.T’ has appeared in 9 Rock 2000 countdowns and has a solid peak of #99. It’s garnered itself a median ranking of #279, and an average ranking of around #400.
18. Dragon - Rain (1983)
After a four year hiatus, the Australasian band came back with the timeless classic ‘Rain’, released as the first single ahead of their seventh studio album ‘Body and the Beat.’ The song reached success overseas and in New Zealand alike - it reached #88 in the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, and stayed in the Kent Music Report singles chart for 26 weeks, according to lyrics.com.
‘Rain’ has made a solid 20 Rock 2000 appearances, peaking at #86 in 2003, and generally staying around its average rank of #340.
17. Devilskin - Never See The Light (2013)
‘Never See The Light’ was released as a single, and then as part of Devilskin’s highly-anticipated debut album ‘We Rise.’ It found success in both NZ charts and Rock 2000 countdowns very quickly - the album remained at the top of the NZ album charts for three weeks, and was certified Gold within two weeks of its release.
It wasted no time getting into The Rock 2000 countdown the year of its release, and peaked at #58 the year the full album dropped. It’s retained an average rank of #286 in its 10 countdown appearances.
16. Dave Dobbyn ft. Herbs - ‘Slice of Heaven’ (1986)
A collaboration between Dave Dobbyn and Herbs resulted in the iconic "Slice Of Heaven". Dobbo wrote the song in just two days, for NZ’s first ever animated movie ‘Footrot Flats A Dog’s Tale.’
"...I thought that Herbs could do the honours and sing some classic Māori harmonies, it was a very attractive notion and they said yes straight away,” Dobbo told RNZ.
Dobbo told his manager at the time, “you put this on the radio and it will go off,” and boy was he spot on.
The kiwi anthem has stood the test of time and appeared in every single Rock 2000 countdown, with a solid peak of #59 in 2014. The song has an average rank of #353 - pretty impressive considering its stayed in the countdown every single year.
15. I Am Giant - City Limits (2009)
I Am Giant formed in West Auckland in late 2008 by kiwis Shelton Woolright and Paul Matthews, along with one Brit, Ed Martin. ‘City Limits’ was released as part of their debut album ‘The Horrifying Truth,’ and has been in The Rock 2000 13 times.
The tune peaked at a high #16 in 2010, then dropped only one place the following year. While it’s never achieved a lower number than the year it debuted, it’s maintained an average rank of #290.
14. Shihad - My Mind’s Sedate (1999)
From Shihad’s album ‘The General Electric,’ the music video for this song is an unsettling, sci-fi-esq clip, which took out the Best Music Video award the year of its release.
The track has featured every year since its release in The Rock 2000, with a peak of #62 in 2015, and an average rank of #285.
13. Devilskin - Vessel (2014)
‘Vessel’ also comes from Devilskin’s debut album ‘We Rise,’ and is another certified tune from the Hamilton four-piece.
The song has also appeared in The Rock 2000 every year since its release, with a strong peak of #37 in 2016. It’s never slipped out of the top 500, with a nice average rank of #178.
12. Devilskin - Start A Revolution (2014)
Also from the album ‘We Rise,’ this track was written by an American songwriter Aimee Allen. With Aimee’s blessing, the band re-wrote some of the lyrics to give the song a slightly more positive spin.
“It's basically a wake-up call. We can't keep letting the wool be pulled over our eyes,” guitarist Paul Martin told Stuff.
This track has also appeared in The Rock 2000 every year since its release, with an impressive debut and peak of #29 the year of its release. The track still rates pretty high - it’s never dropped lower than #251, but is usually found sitting around the #153 mark.
11. The Exponents - Why Does Love Do This To Me? (1991)
Frontman Jordan Luck wrote this tune in London in 1989, and the track was released in 1991 when the band returned to New Zealand. It quickly proved itself popular, peaking at #3 on the NZ Singles Chart, and staying on the charts for 29 weeks.
It’s also a popular song in The Rock 2000, featuring every single year and sneaking into the top 20 with its peak in 2006 at #20. While the song has dropped out of the top 500 at times, it's kept a solid median ranking of #286, and an average ranking of #344.
10. Blindspott - Mind Dependency (2003)
‘Mind Dependency’ comes from Blindspott’s self-titled debut album, which went platinum in NZ during its first week of release.
While it’s only featured in seven Rock 2000 countdowns, it’ garnered a solid median ranking of #77 and average rank of #190, climbing as high as #34 in 2021. For the last four years, the song has made the top 80.
9. Dragon - April Sun In Cuba (1997)
This tune, from Dragon’s ‘Running Free’ album, was originally released in Aussie where it charted at #2, and then it hit NZ shores where it reached #9 on the charts. The track has also made number 10 on the APRA list of Top 100 NZ songs, as reported by NZ On Screen, and has appeared in every Rock 2000 countdown.
With a solid peak of #38 in 2013, ‘April Sun in Cuba’ has garnered an average rank of #286 - not bad at all.
8. Shihad - Run (2002)
‘Run’ comes from Shihad’s fifth studio album ‘Pacifier’ - which was the name of the band at the time of its release (Shihad changed their name to ‘Pacifier’ because Shihad sounded too similar to Jihad.) The band released a 20th anniversary edition of ‘The Pacifier Album’ on vinyl last year (2022.)
‘Run’ has appeared across 20 Rock 2000 countdowns, with a strong peak of #46 in 2011. It’s maintained an average rank of #182, and never dropping lower than #573.
7. Shihad - The General Electric (1999)
This song is the title track for Shihad’s 1999 ‘The General Electric’ album, which peaked at #1 on the NZ Albums Chart and was certified triple platinum in NZ.
The song has always been in the Rock 2000 countdown since its release, and is the first song on this list to reach a top 10 - peaking at #9 in 2012. The track has a solid average ranking of #146, and has never dropped lower than #380.
6. Shihad - Pacifier (2002)
Also from Shihad’s ‘Pacifier’ album, this song is about Weta’s Aaron Tokona, and his struggles at the time with mental health and self-medicating.
Tokona was considered family to the band, and after his passing in 2020, Tom Larkin told Stuff, ''we meant it when we said 'You are the best at what you are'. We miss him deeply and his influence on us is immeasurable.''
‘Pacifier’ is a staple in The Rock 2000, appearing every year since its release, and reaching as high as #22 in 2005. The song has a very strong average ranking of #88, and a median ranking of #65.
5. Blindspott - Phlex (2002)
‘Phlex’ is one of the more widely recognisable tracks from Blindspott’s self-titled debut album. Not only did the album go platinum in the week of its release, but it amazingly climbed back to the #1 spot on the Official NZ Music Chart in 2020, 18 years after its release, after it was re-released on vinyl.
The tune has come close to a top 10 - peaking at #14 in 2020, and staying around the #20 mark for the last two years. In its 19 Rock 2000 appearances, it’s maintained an average rank of #98, and a median rank of #61.
4. Th’ Dudes - Bliss (1980)
From the band’s album ‘Where Are The Boys?’, this absolute tune of a song was written as a satirical take on the drunk audiences that the band were used to playing to, and it’s definitely cemented itself as one of the greatest drinking songs in NZ.
Appearing in every single Rock 2000 countdown, ‘Bliss’ is an absolute staple for Rock listeners. The song has maintained a rank of #140, a median rank of #58, and even made the top 10 at #9 in 2021.
3. Devilskin - Little Pills (2012)
‘Little Pills’ was released in 2012, and was then a part of Devilskin’s debut album ‘We Rise’ (hell of an album - this is the fourth song in this list from it). The music video, which was their first ever, has garnered 1.8 million views over the last 11 years.
‘Little Pills’ has featured in the countdown every year since its release, and in 2014, reached the #2 spot - an incredibly impressive rank, and the highest a kiwi tune has ever reached in The Rock 2000.
2. Blindspott - Nil By Mouth (2002)
‘Nil By Mouth’ was the first song that the band ever wrote together, and the first song that launched Blindspott into fame.
The tune has found itself in the top 10 three times - in 2014 at #10, #8 in 2020, and #4 in 2021. In its 20 countdown appearances, it’s maintained an average rank of #125, and a median rank of #29.5.
1. Shihad - Home Again (1997)
Shihad released ‘Home Again’ as a single in 1997, and Jon Toogood was just 24 years old at the time of writing it.
Written in just 20 minutes, the homesick anthem is a reflection of how the band were feeling after being away from their friends and family while they were in LA.
Speaking to The Spinoff about the iconic opening line of the track, Toogood said “I was living in a completely different world where everything was opposite to where [my partner at the time] was, including something as fundamental as the seasons.
“I just thought that line helped illustrate that idea, more for myself than anyone else really.”
Appearing in every single Rock 2000 Countdown, ‘Home Again’ undoubtedly takes the crown for the most successful Rock 2000 kiwi track. It’s made the top 10 9 times - it was #10 2004 and 2018, #8 in 2013 and 2015, #7 in 2016, #6 in 2010, #5 in 2015 and 2022, and #4 in 2020.
The lowest the song has ever dropped is #31, making its average rank an incredibly impressive #13.
There you have it - the 21 kiwi rock anthems that have helped define over two decades of The Rock 2000 countdowns.
Notable mentions go out to The Feelers, Head Like A Hole, The D4, and Racing. While these four kiwi bands didn’t quite make the top 21 list, they too have massively contributed to The Rock 2000 countdowns over the years.