“Too Hard” was the first single off Tadpole’s third and final album. It’s a lot more upbeat than the gloomier tracks that were coming off second album The Medusa. This time around, Tadpole seem to be influenced by the rock ‘n’ roll revival that was a thing in the early 2000s. But the crunchier guitar sound is an odd match for Renee’s jazzy pop vocal style and over all it sounds like a band that’s lost its way.
The Wikipedia article for the self-titled third album tragically notes that “The album’s launch party in Auckland was also the band’s final ever performance.” The NZOA database has funding for two further videos, but I haven’t been able to find them online. So in a way, “Too Hard” marks the end of Tadpole’s video life. Their videography from the late ’90s and early ’00s was strong and they seem like just the sort of world-famous-in-New-Zealand group that would be a perfect match for NZ On Air funding.
So, what does Tadpole’s video swansong look like? A drag race. It’s a Ford versus Holden race, which I believe has some sort of cultural significance within the bogan/petrolhead community.
The drag race isn’t especially thrilling. It’s like those car ads that feature a disclaimer saying that the ad was “filmed on a closed road under controlled conditions”. Except the “Too Hard” race is so uneventful that it makes the sight of an Audi snaking around scenic Otago roads seem as thrilling as the drag race from Grease and/or the chariot race from Ben Hur.
When they’re not in the cars, we see Tadpole rocking out on a stage near the race scene, both at daytime and night. As has happened in some previous Tadpole videos, “Too Hard” is largely focused on Renee, looking super cool in rockabilly styles with new dark hair.
The band’s previous few videos from 2001 were all based on fantasy worlds, so it’s really refreshing to see Tadpole get back to their rockier side. Renee is full of energy and seems to have unleashed years of pent-up rock power in that one video.
It feels like a good place for the Tadpole story to end. They didn’t quite go out when they were on top, but as a rockstravagant drag race is a good enough finale.
Best bit: Renee’s sneering drag-race face to the other car’s driver.
Director: Tim Groenendaal
Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision
Next… a homecoming.