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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tarkan: Turkey's Last Greatest Star

Mehmet TezIn a Sunday article dated 19 August 2007, Sabah columnist Mehmet Tez (pictured left) discusses Tarkan's musical influence and wonders whether the singer's latest to-be-released album will be a hit.

Tarkan Must Change

(Translation by Ali Yildirim)

Will Tarkan's latest to-be-released album generate hits to set alight the new generation?

Those who hope that Turkey's last greatest star Tarkan will leave behind the now defunct "Şıkıdım" (Hepsi Senin Mi) sound to move on to a new and more mature stage in his career are not so few...

Which song made its mark this summer? What about the hit album or artist of the summer? The track on everyone's lips, in constant airplay on the TV and radio? A few names come to mind, but in reality this sort of thing doesn't happen much any more. There are popular names that have been around for years. Mustafa Sandal, Kenan Doğulu, Hande Yener, Serdar Ortaç... And then there are the ones we can call the new generation. The too-similar-to-Tarkan Murat Boz, Yalın and Özgün reminiscent of Kenan Doğulu.

So in Turkey who has become a star in the last five-six years in pop music, really claimed a stake to the throne of pop? Who is the last star you remember? Only Tarkan comes to my mind. Despite for nearly five years being off on an English album adventure with no end in sight, and being subjected to the very tiring provocations and taunts of the Turkish celebrity press, Tarkan is still Turkish pop's greatest living star. I'm certain we have artists whose songs we like more, that sing better, even those more talented... But I'm talking about being a star, making songs that speak to all and make everyone dance. Being a role mode with his character, lifestyle and looks. A trendsetter.

How Beautiful His Songs Are

A few weeks ago at a secluded café I hung out at during the holidays they were playing old songs. Tarkan's "Kış Güneşi" for example. Followed by Şebnem Ferah's "Bu Aşk Fazla Sana" (This Love is Too Much For You). Then an assortment of Kargo, Teoman songs... Even Fatih Erdemci's "Ben Ölmeden Önce" (Before I Died). What I felt at that moment was this. These songs are really great but what a shame there are no new ones. And immediately I focused on Tarkan. I realised how beautiful Tarkan's songs are... Even for someone like me who in every stage of his life has listened to mostly rock and guitar music, if you can escape your prejudices. But of course it isn't enough. No one could fill his shoes, although even Tarkan can't fill those shoes now. The Turkey of the 2000s is different from the 90s. The social dynamic is different, the rising values are different, current perceptions different. We are hearing that Tarkan will be releasing a new album very soon. What will it be like I wonder? Will Tarkan continue on in his own world by giving international concerts and letting Balkan girls and those newly coming of age from Europe listen to his new songs, or will he be able to generate hits to set alight and unify the new generation youth of Turkey? As he enters a more mature stage in his career, will he be able to make proper use of the strong standing of adoration and recognisability he enjoys as no one else does in Turkey? More importantly, wriggling out of the danger of becoming a caricature of what he was 10 years ago (cf. Axl Rose), and like world stars Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, Mali Music, The Good the Bad & The Queen), Dave Grohl (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) for example will he be able to open out to new horizons, and reinvent himself anew? In place of getting accepted by the new youth, will he try and satisfy the music needs of those fans that grew up with him? From what I see, those that miss the old Tarkan are lessening as time goes by. Yet everyone waits for the new with excitement.

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