R.I.P. Pauly Fuemana

pauly fuemana

How could I not like OMC’s one hit, How Bizarre? It’s a catchy little pop tune penned by a Pacific Islander that features the accordion (the credits say that Hershal Herscher played it) prominently. Although it has a happy “Pacific Rim pop” sound with its C-G-F chord progression, its bounciness belies its subject matter: gang life and trouble with the cops, New Zealand style. It’s a gangsta campfire song!

Released in New Zealand in 1995, it went triple platinum there, an achievement that Wikipedia says had not been surpassed as of 2005. In 1996 it found its way into the Australian, British and Canadian charts and even did well in the U.S., despite its being released for radio airplay only and not as a commercially-available single. How Bizarre sold nearly 4 million records between 1995 and 2000, making it the best-selling one ever to be recorded and released by a Kiwi band. (Somewhere, the guys from Split Enz are fuming.)

Pauly Fuemana, the lead singer of OMC, died on Sunday shortly before his 41st birthday. For making an infectious tune with accordion that was a party standard during some of my partiest years, I pay tribute to him. Requiescat in pace, Pauly.

Here’s the video for How Bizarre: