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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Is There Joy in Tarkan's Bounce?

There has been an increase in emails to me surrounding the topic of Bounce, Tarkan's first and new English language single which he released under his own music company HITT in Turkey last month.

So, I thought that it was time to finally answer a few emails about this subject.

From Teya [Country undisclosed]:

Hello Dear Ali ,

I have to tell you first that I'm an avid reader of your blog, and I wish that you would write more often. We never get enough of reading your insightful entries.

I find it weird too that you have not written anything in your blog regarding your personal opinion of Bounce, so I take the liberty here of making the initiative by asking some questions about the CD.

I assume that you have already bought the authentic CD of Bounce by now. In case you have really done that, may I ask you -

1- What do you think honestly of it? Are you satisfied with the content?? Or do you think that things could have been made better???

2- In Turkish newspapers, they say that the sales of the new CD are extremely dire. Do you think that it could be true and not fabricated by the malicious media, and why?

3- In comparison to the works of Sertab and Mustafa Sandal, could you sense any differences or similarities regarding the quality?

Dear Teya,

Thank you for your kind words.

I wish I could write more often, but at the moment I am very busy due to work and other projects and this means that unfortunately my blog and other Tarkan projects have had to be put on hold.

I haven't yet commented on Bounce, because in my opinion it hasn't been released, yet! At his official site he provided a press release explaining that the single was released early in Turkey as a gesture of thanks to his Turkish fans for their support. Some newspapers tried to explain this away as a ploy to get tourists to listen to it, but if this were true why not release it in the summer, at the height of the tourist season?

He isn't looking to hit the charts with it...he is waiting to do that when he releases it in Europe. Otherwise Tarkan would have filmed a music video along with the single's release.

That's why I haven't commented on it, yet. I wanted to wait for the European release and then comment on that and compare the two releases.

To answer your first question, I honestly think that both Bounce and Shhh are not bad at all. For me, they are like all the other Tarkan songs that have come along since the Karma album, they take time to grow on you. You need to listen to them a few times to get into his groove. But once you catch on to the vibe, and as Tarkan keeps reminding you, then you just can't help but move "to the rhythm of [the song's] body and mind".

As for the question could it have been better...yes of course. Things can always be made better, and I have heard a lot better English songs...and a lot worse. As much as fans would hope for it to be true, Tarkan cannot dictate his own tastes to the European music market as he can in the Turkish one, so he must follow certain trends. These trends may not be to our liking and may take away some of what we like about the singer, but it is a fact of the industry. I am sure Tarkan kept as true to himself as he could.

As to the second question, even though reports about Tarkan will vary from paper to paper, in general the entertainment parts of the Turkish media like to corrupt truth by mixing it with lie and supposition...In the past when Turkey's press wasn't free to comment on the politics of the day (as it is free to do so now), this was all they had to write about, and as a result this paparazzi press has a large readership and is for the most part uncontrolled. In effect, they write what they like, and if they are columnists or so-called music critics, they can also put their own opinions into their articles, being as inventive as they like.

Tarkan is a phenomenon that the Turkish media have difficulty in understanding because he became famous without their help. It is not the papers that sell Tarkan albums, it is Tarkan that sells papers. This is why media moguls attempt to denigrate him or trivialise him as a role model, to lessen the power they believe Tarkan has on public opinion.

Most artists are loathe to bring forward cases of slander and libel because good press and promotion help a great deal in album sales. Remember, this is not America but Turkey, and not all publicity (including bad) is good publicity.

Yes, sales of the Bounce single have been low in comparison to other Tarkan album sales, but then again any journalist would have to confess that 99% of all Turkish artist sales are low if they were to compare them to Tarkan. Secondly, Tarkan has not promoted this album, apart from online to Avea subscribers and at his official site. He has not promoted this on TV or made a music video, yet. Thirdly, the early release of the demo versions of the songs, stolen from a recording studio meant that certain people actually burned these to CD and sold them as Tarkan's official release. The Turkish public has listened to the pirate versions, which were terrible copies, and bought the pirate CDs, so why should they buy the original? Fourthly, these are English language songs in Turkish language charts. Only a few such songs have been considered "Turkish" to enter these charts, and these were because these songs represented the nation in the Eurovision Song Contest, namely Athena's For Real and Sertab's Everyway That I Can. And Tarkan's songs cannot be placed in the foreign language charts as it hasn't been released in Europe, yet. The single in this respect, is in limbo.

The mistake these newspapers make is to use the sales of the single to prove the popularity of it, but in this case it paints a false picture.

Most of my readers know by now that I do not promote piracy, but as an example of the popularity of Tarkan's Bounce single take a look at a certain mp3-share site/forum. While Sandal's new single took 8,000 hits, Takan's took over 20,000 in two days, and is now over 30,000. I interveiwed the owner of the forum and he explained that forum membership went up by 20% and 15% of these were foreign members during the leak of the stolen demo versions and the release of the official single in Turkey.

Finally as to your last question, there is a saying in Turkish that you "cannot debate colours and tastes" and really there will always be those that prefer Sandal or Sertab's releases to Bounce, regardless of quality. However, I think that Tarkan has been the more original of the three so far (though the album that will hopefully come after the single will tell us more) and his attraction to foreign fans is stronger and his fan base larger. Sandal's English language songs just came off as Latin American rip-offs and Sertab's were basically English versions of her Turkish hits...and if I am to be honest, in my personal opinion most of the album did not translate well. She had two good songs on the album, Here I Am and Got Me Like Oh. Had she just released these as one single only and heavily promoted this, she might have done better in the European market...but of course she would have had far less say in this than Tarkan does I would imagine.

As for their English accent, Sandal's seems to be better than Tarkan's, while Sertab's is rapidly deteriorating.

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From Stephen Klum [Germany]:

Dear Ali,

I think you are awesome, and your blog is 100% the best site on Tarkan. You can't get from lyrics and pictures alone the stuff that I have found out about my idol from your articles and views. Do you know that your opinion on piracy shamed me so much that I stopped downloading such content...just in time it looks to me as the law is coming down on such acts.

Anyway what I really wanted to ask you was about Tarkan's new single Bounce. I have read many fans in some groups complain that Tarkan has lost his unique voice and he doesn't sound as passionate as he does when he sings Turkish. Of course this is from a large female majority, but I will wonder what is your opinion on this?

Dear Stephen,

I want to roll my eyes and sigh...this is probably the most asked question in my box.

Passionate love songs are very different in the English language, for example you cannot translate the passion of love described in a Latin love song into English. The English language is more restrained when it comes to love in modern English, and no one really wants to hear the language of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in a chart song. This obviously impacts the singing.

I don't think this is just a problem for Tarkan. Listen to Gloria Estafan in English and then in her native tongue. You'll see what I mean.

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