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Friday, December 21, 2007

Tarkan Courts Polemy and Popularity

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

Tarkan in Hepsiburada's Top 10Tarkan Deluxe reported yesterday how Tarkan had managed to reach seventh place on online shopping site Hepsiburada's top ten highest selling pop albums listing.

The category is refreshed daily, and today the pop artist's pre-sale orders have jumped three places up to number four.

It has to be noted that all of the other albums in the category are in distribution, with some on the market for more than a year. Tarkan's 2007 contribution to Turkish and world pop music has yet to be released.

Hepsiburada prints the release date as 26 December.

Tarkan Polemics

Meanwhile, Tarkan continues to court controversy between Turkish pop music fans and in the Turkish press.

Fans are divided by the imagery depicted in the poster for Tarkan's new album, with the star sporting a shining suit, standing in a field of corn against the backdrop of a stormy scene.

The picture is eye-catching, and will probably stand out amongst the other ordinary pop products on the shelves this Christmas time, but some fans have expressed that Tarkan is too traditional in his stance, while others have said he is the exact opposite, even quoting gay fashion designer Tom Ford as an influence.

At Tarkan Deluxe, the poster had been described as reminiscent of his "Start the Fire" image minus the hat, with his stance reflective of American preachers calling the faithful to follow through the difficult times towards musical salvation.

The poster/CD cover has now been incorporated into the artist's official site, which is being designed by Trafo. Their logo has recently been added to the front page of Tarkan.com.

TRT Tactics

Alongside the issue of Tarkan's new image, Turkish papers have been criticising Tarkan's support of Turkish state broadcaster TRT, by appearing on it's end-of-year event, especially coming under fire for the rumoured amount the artist is said to be getting for the show. As the state TV company receives its funds mainly through public taxation, there was outcry that "the hard earned money of the everyday person" was going into the star's pocket.

It was initially printed that Tarkan was to get $1.5 million, though the papers later amended this to half its amount by quoting Tarkan's manager of domestic affairs as its source. One news story wrote that Tarkan's manager refused to comment at all, but that Tarkan had confided in a close friend he had received no where near the amounts circulating in the papers. A paper quoted Tarkan directly as saying that he would be getting $250, 000 - using what they claim to be a close source to the star.

A few journalists, however, openly came out in defence of the pop star, who was quickly being blackballed by certain sections of the public, the music industry and the press whom were calling for a boycott of his works.

Most notably Turkish paper Milliyet columnist Ali Eyüboğlu and Vatan writer Can Atatklı have tried to clear waters made murky by the dirty gossip thrown from their colleagues.

Ataklı expressed in his 17 December dated article that the problem was not Tarkan getting a high amount for his services, but that the protest was because a state-run broadcaster funded on public taxes was making the payment. He also went on to suggest that those in the music industry offering negative criticisms were doing so out of professional jealousy.

Eyüboğlu, meanwhile, tried to clear up the confusion surrounding the production of the end-of-year show.

Headlined as "TRT's Metamorphosis" (19 December, 2007), Eyüboğlu's column details the true events behind the TRT show, including the real reason why Turkish pop diva Sezen Aksu and Tarkan will not be featuring together on the pre-recorded event for the new year.

Making clear that Tarkan is not getting paid personally, but that Tarkan's company HITT Productions is being hired by TRT in the outsourcing of their New Year show, Eyüboğlu writes that what would have been a historical duet between the two landmarks of Turkish pop was blocked not due to a rift in their professional relationship as the press suggests, but simply because of timing and TRT internal boardroom wranglings. He explains:

Last month HITT productions suggested a project to TRT that went something like this: "Let's provide you with a Tarkan-Sezen Aksu evening for [your New Year celebrations]." TRT jumped at the chance, but wanted to wait for the appointment of its new head. When this started taking too long, Sezen Aksu said, "I can't wait at the pleasure of TRT. I have other plans. A concert in Israel, my American vacation," and removed herself from the project. So HITT productions revised the project with Tarkan as the main attraction and presented that to TRT, who had finally declared its new head.

If Eyuboğlu is correct, it means that Aksu will not be taking place in the show at all, contrary to previous reports where Aksu was said to be taking part, but just not featuring with Tarkan.

Tarkan's company, the reporter went on to reveal, would be hosting the show with seven other artists and Tarkan, on a tight budget of $250,000. Tarkan will start recording his slot for the New Year celebrations three days after the previously scheduled Christmas day date. Filming will now begin on 28 December.

TRT itself could have put the furore to rest before it had even begun by being transparent and releasing the amount Tarkan's HITT company has received for the undertaking of the show, but some believe that they are riding high on the free publicity the polemics over pay has generated, so much so that they haven't even started advertising the show on their channels yet.

Seen as a new vision from a new management, it looks as if TRT will be a ratings winner, by actively competing with the highly popular private channels this year.

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