Tarkan Under Fire
The crisis Tarkan has endured with the Turkish press in the last few years is now paying negative dividends, as most columnists are using their newspaper space to crucify the pop icon in regard to his 2007 album.
Even among reports that Tarkan's album is flying off the shelves since its release, and his songs are garnering huge interest on the Internet - with 45,000 hits registered in its first day when the the opening track "Vay Anam Vay" was leaked on to YouTube - reporters are trying to stem sales by creating a barrage of antipathy towards the album.
UPDATE: Album is Panned by Music Critics >>
A few journalists have spoken out in defence of Turkey's international star. One has criticised the anti-Tarkan lobby in the press, while another reflected that it's because Tarkan doesn't play to his celebrity he is being attacked in this way.
Tarkan is under fire from two fronts, however, as the music pirates, spanning from Russia to Romania to Turkey, who are stealing Tarkan's work under the pretence of "sharing for evaluation purposes" are just as bad as his domestic press. The copies being distributed are not short samples, but the full album.
If music piracy is an indication of popularity, according to the emails Tarkan Deluxe has received, Tarkan's 2007 album was copied and distributed in a matter of hours after its release over the cyber highway, with a multitude of sites illegally distributing the star's hard work with its users, who are breaking domestic and international copyright laws.
Tarkan's 2007 Songs
While Tarkan's album is being slated in the press, Turkish TV station ATV ran a news report recently involving one of the new songs with an old İlke Gürman interview that took place seven months ago, after Tarkan had returned to Istanbul from giving a May 3 concert in Antalya.
Catching up with Tarkan at the airport in the first half of 2007, the singer had revealed to Gürman that he had written a song about the current political situation in Turkey and the world.
Running the news story as "Tarkan Speaks Out to World Leaders", comments Tarkan had made about a track he had written in April were re-run once it was discovered that the song had made it to the final version of the album.
The song Tarkan mentioned to Gürman, which made the final play list, is understood from the lyrics to be the track "Hop Hop". It's a deviation for Tarkan; this is arguably his first socio-political song. In 2001 interviews he was reportedly against being political in his music before - even though his video to the song "Verme" from his Karma album had also held political undertones by highlighting the plight of children during strife.
Gürman is one of the few reporters known to be on friendly terms with the singer, notably having followed him to Russia for an exclusive interview in 2006.
On the request of a large number of fans, Tarkan Deluxe has searched for sections of this May 2007 Gürman TV interview with Tarkan and pieced them together, along with an English translation for its readers.
You can watch Tarkan explain the philosophy behind the "Hop Hop" song, and his general views on the 2007 album, below.
Video footage of Tarkan at Istanbul's Atatürk Airport with İlke Gürman
(ATV) (Aired on various dates: May-December, 2007)
Click on the play button to view if your browser doesn't start the video on load.
Size: 4.85 MB
Sound: 198 kbps (Stereo)
Language: Turkish (with English subtitles)
Notes: Reporter İlke Gürman's interview with Tarkan at Atatürk Airport was first aired on ATV's main news slot on the 8 May 2007, and subsequently aired on entertainment news programmes during that week. In December, after the release of Metamorfoz, ATV news had re-run some sections of this interview again.
No Song for the Environment
Tarkan Deluxe had reported previously that there would be a track about climate change.
But from a straight reading of the lyrics, the "earth-type" song about environmental issues has not made it on the 2007 album, even though Tarkan mentioned it in a September 2007 report for TV and the album's multimedia art reflects scenes of humanity's effect on the landscape.
UPDATE: Tarkan's Gift to Nature (2008) >>
Tarkan is known for his concerns about the environment.
Tarkan's Traditional Lyrics
One point of interest, however, is how scenes from Tarkan's life have crept into his lyrics in other ways.
When kick-starting his 2006 Avea Tour at his father's homestead of Rize - after an absence of 10 years - he had made comments from the stage about preserving the natural beauty of the town. After an unrelated scuffle had broken out in the audience, he had said, "Let's make love, not war" (Sevişelim, savaşmayalım).
It became a tag-line for Tarkan, and pops up in the lyrics to his "Bam Teli" track.
Meanwhile, keeping to the theme of Tarkan's 2007 lyrics, Hürriyet's Kelebek printed an article that contrary to the album's name Metamorfoz that indicates change, the lyrics - which he penned solely himself - were steeped in history. The 2007 tracks are reportedly filled with almost thirty traditional idioms and sayings from the Turkish lexicon.
Then and Now
As Metamorfoz is Tarkan's end-marker to fifteen years in music, it seems natural that however different the artist intends to be, nostalgia will creep in.
What has changed in fifteen years? During the reign of his first album, Turkey had elected its first female prime minister, and there were great incentives to bring the country out of its traditional stupor. Musically, Tarkan was the wake-up call that had pushed people away from what's been termed as the "arabesque" culture - in more ways than one.
Today, in a historical twist, Tarkan is set to take the stage in TRT's studios once again for an end-of-the-year show, but the political climate is a much more traditional one. Arguably, Tarkan has not only realised it, but has changed to accommodate it - with an album that, in his May interview with Gürman, he referred to as the "turning-point" in his career.