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Monday, February 11, 2008

Tarkan Sets the Standard

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

In his February 9 article for Turkish newspaper Hürriyet, Tolga Akyıldız has written about Tarkan and the pop icon's 2007 domestic release. It's singled out for its balanced tone, in that the writer gives his own personal opinion without succumbing to the character assassination tactics which are the general tools of the celebrity press.

In summary, Akyıldız cites Tarkan as a star that plays in a league of his own, setting the musical standard for years in the history of Turkish pop music with no need to prove himself to his critics. But, the writer concludes, that in order for Tarkan to grow, the star needs to take even braver steps to create new standards worthy of a real "metamorphosis".

Tarkan Deluxe had first featured an Akyıldız article in 2005, after Tarkan's English language songs had been stolen from the recording studio before their release in 2005.

Tarkan's Metamorphosis
by Tolga Akyıldız (for Hürriyet)
Translation into English by Ali Yıldırım

Tolga AkyildizTarkan Tevetoğlu put his stamp on the history of Turkish pop music in the 1990s, there's no doubt about that. With his voice, his songs, his flirtatious way of singing, his stage persona and his gentlemanly manner, he completely deserves the great success he has earned.

Equal to the effect Sezen Aksu has had on the style of female vocalists, since the 90s Tarkan has inspired the style of male vocalists. Tarkan, just like Sezen Aksu in this sense, has set his own standards, given inspiration. I count Aacaypisin as amongst the best Turkish pop albums ever. Tarkan is one of the few names that really deserves the excessively-used title of "star".

In short, Tarkan isn't really playing in the league we put him in. But now and again, despite his cool-headedness and the common-sense I know he has, he has been goaded into trying to play in this league. You've set your own standards, produced albums that are masterpieces of popular music right; so surely to keep feeding the desire to capture another hit like "Şımarık", "Hüp" or "Aacayipsin" isn't necessary any more?

So, what is the man to do? Should he say I've done all I can and retire... In my opinion he had two ways he could go, and he has partly tried one. As you're likely to guess, I'm talking about his international venture. That English album stretched on and on, like a recurring bad dream. Was the end result bad? If I were to say I hated the final product, I'd be lying. But to catch on in Europe (it's not possible with this sound in America or England) is a difficult process. Japan is in his range, but to get on there you need to show due care to its market. So as a result, for now, it didn't happen. I don't know if Tarkan has given up, but every time his morale gets low he should remember how his songs, and with their Turkish words too, are memorised in a lot of countries in Europe. I can't see a stronger candidate in this country to finish the job. Above all, he should see it as a mission...


Let's come to the second route... How should a musician in his position, a song writer, a pop star base himself after this? The issue isn't one of should I get a song from Sezen, get a song from Nazan [Öncel], do it myself; fall out with one, make up with the other any more. The issue is one of sound; the issue is one of overtaking oneself. In the popular arena the thing we call sound is a trend, and Tarkan is at the top of a list of people that can show the courage to define trends.

When Tarkan makes a new album everyone crowds round him. I preferred to wait until the "haters" and the "lovers" retired to their fighting corners before I wrote about Metamorfoz. You know, when Erol Köse [music producer] and [his signed singer] Nihat Doğan gave a press release saying that "Tarkan stole his image from us". I thought it better, at least, to wait until these types of stories had dropped from the current agenda, I can't stomach it any more. And while I'm on the subject; that image is completely Justin Timberlake. Even the music video to his opening track "Vay Anam Vay" has undeniable influences from Timberlake's clips. I'm not saying imitation, but I simply want to emphasise that, if Tarkan were a little braver, he has the energy and creativity to create new standards; he is going to go places.

To be frank, at first Metamorfoz reminded me how good Tarkan is at song writing. A large section of the songs that make up the album are good songs. And the album's music producer, Ozan Çolakoğlu, is to world standards in my opinion. Can Şengül on guitar, he is a maestro. So where's the problem? The problem is in the sound. Possibly in the fact he didn't give complete control of the arena of sound to Çolakoğlu, that Tarkan wasn't being brave enough. When I first listened to "Vay Anam Vay", I thought the electronic, dance baseline was a step in the right direction. However, I realised after listening to the album as a whole that Tarkan simply can't risk breaking away from himself. I don't see a need to mention the songs. Ultimately it's a Tarkan album, it has good songs, it will hold, sell, that's a different issue. As I've said the real issue is that Tarkan needs to overtake himself now. There's no need for him to be his own best impersonation, there's a lot of those impersonators about. Now is the time to break new ground, to risk losing his dominance and take a brave new step. We see the first seeds of this in Metamorfoz but Tarkan needs to be more resolved. If only to give the album's name its proper due...

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