Who Wants to Live Forever?
Trawl through the entertainment programmes on Turkish TV - or just walk the streets of Istanbul - and Tarkan's songs will undoubtedly be some of the most played songs you'll hear. What is it about his songs that keep popping up everywhere in his home nation to make them such mega hits? Is it the minimalist, repetitive style and the seductive vocals? Or is it simply because he is currently at the top of the Turkish celebrity list?
A Universal Message
As Tarkan is the top of the celebrity A list, and probably can't pass most of a day in public in Turkey without being pestered for an autograph or dogged by paparazzi, the relentless success of his songs, which has come to soundtrack Turkish lives like sonic wallpaper, is probably down to a loyal fan base rather than the tune itself.
However, a recent look at Turkish TV entertainment programmes reveal that Tarkan's latest music video for "Arada Bir" has caught the imagination of the pop shows on TV and the public at large, with popular music programmes like Star TV's Kliptonik - hosted by male model Kerem Özşeker - doing their own take of the pop star's video for their own format.
The use of songs in such montages, like those we see in big sporting events and reality or entertainment TV shows, is called sync licensing, and is an increasingly important part of the entertainment business, along with use in adverts and computer games. The more a song is used and the more it is played, the more it works its way into the public consciousness. As the use of a word gives it meaning, the continuous use of a song seemingly gives it greater meaning.
These days that means turning off the radio isn't enough to escape a tune. A Tarkan song can be heard everywhere from in shops, on mobiles and especially on TV: used by advertisers and as the theme for the montages of TV shows.
So what is it that propels "Arada Bir" in the prosperous league of wallpaper music to make it so playable?
Like this track, the majority of Tarkan's songs are clearly no feel good anthem. However, examine the lyrics, and the listener knows that the "You" in the song could be anyone. Everyone loses their rag now and again. It's got one of those three- or four-word lyrics that means something to everyone's everyday life.
No-one wants a bad day, but everybody has one. It's impossible not to see a connection between the underlying universal everyday philosophy of "Arada Bir" and its "most played" status - the status most Turkish artists crave in the peak summer period, to have their track the main centre of attention, if only for as long as the heatwave lasts.
The science to have a song belonging to a loose ilk of mega hits with sentiments that can be universally understood might seem easy, but it isn't. If it was, artists would be churning out a hit a day.
Moreover, musically literate people will use the term "wallpaper music" pejoratively as "going-nowhere music," because of the very factor that makes it appeal to the masses: it is too vague, too impressionistic to paint a real picture that will stand the test the time.
But who wants to live forever?
The views in this article are those of the author alone.
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