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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tarkan Blasted by Critics

By Adelind Osmanlı reporting from Munich, Germany

Turkish media defaces Tarkan's legacy

With Tarkan currently away in America, his critics back home have been letting loose on the Turkish popstar, with vociferous Tarkan critic Bilal Özcan writing his most scathing article on the artist so far.

Headlined as "Severe Criticism for Tarkan" (13 September 2009/Bugün), Özcan advises Tarkan to "immediately sack" his advisers and "never to see any of them again."

A Parody of Tarkan's Downfall

"Once upon a time Tarkan was the king of Turkish pop music," the Bugün columnist writes for the paper's variety section, gathering bits from this year's media gossip pages to make his case for the star's downfall.

"Since the release of his first album in 1992 to his English album in 2006 he was one of the most important names in the Turkish music sector. But these last years he has been in a huge downward slide. Can you image, he is going to release a record, but he can't ... After letting Sezen Aksu listen to the album he has been preparing for months, she says "Don't dare release this, it's no good," and he bins the songs."

Selective as to only use the rumours that help prove his point and print them as fact, the entertainment journalist warms to his theme by asking "how a star that left a giant nation in awe of him at one time, could have come to this in the space of 3-5 years?

"In truth, the answer to this question is hidden in Ajda Pekkan's recent concert. Did you notice Tarkan's hair cut at the concert where he sang with Ajda? You can't be surprised at the choices a person makes, if he chooses a hairstyle like that..."

Having confused musical talent for stylistic taste, the reporter goes on to state that, "if Tarkan dreams of becoming number one with his songs as he used to be, let him start by sacking his image stylist. Moreover, whoever else told him that the hairstyle suited him, he should sack them all, too. And never see any of them ever again."

Columnist's 'Pity' for Tarkan

Bugün's Özcan continues to sketch out Tarkan's fall from musical grace - by conveniently ignoring all the recent furore the rumour of Tarkan going to the Eurovision in 2010 caused - to claim that "an artist like Tarkan only makes the headlines when he appears on stage with Ajda.

"He lets loose a youngster called Emir, he becomes news worthy on the back of that. And the media just exaggerate Emir so much. 'He's singing Tarkan's songs, he's Tarkan twin,' they say. His album has been out this long, not one song has stayed in my head."

After turning the point of his poison pen towards Emir - who has recently topped one of the Turkish nation's most important charts with Tarkan's song "Ben Sen Olamam" - the reporter goes on to print the latest rumour doing the rounds, pushed by the anti-Tarkan lobby in the Turkish gutter press.

"I heard yesterday, I felt pity... Tarkan had offered to duet with half caste female singer Rihanna, but supposedly got the answer "no" ... Apparently he made the same offer to 2009 Eurovision entrant for Azerbaijan, Aysel Teymurzade and she didn't accept it, either..."

Although it's well reported that Teymurzade had denied these claims during her appearance at a recent music festival in Turkey, Özcan describes Tarkan's rumoured actions as desperate.

"Can you believe it, a legend like Tarkan is looking for the shoulders of a saviour to step up on to rise high again."

Looking for the 'Old' Tarkan

Whilst inadvertently revealing that his opinion is clouded by a sense of nostalgia and a musical taste locked in the nineties, columnist Özcan ends his diatribe on Tarkan by stating that those reading his article will think that he has been too hard on the singer.

"They can think what they like," Özcan declares, "I am just looking for the lyricist, composer and singer of songs I still listen to with appreciation like "Unutmamalı" and "Gül Döktüm Yollarına" (A-acayipsin, 1994) - that's all."

Meanwhile elsewhere, rather than a direct swipe at the artist, there is a possibly more blistering attack on Tarkan's legacy to Turkish pop music by what isn't said - and from the pen of a 'respected' music critic, too.

In an article published by paper Sabah, writer Melis Danişmend - who had written a tongue-in-cheek critique of the star for Rolling Stone magazine in 2006, but where she had even admitted the star was one of Turkish music's 'best voices' - this time decides to ignore Tarkan completely in an article about the attempts of Turkish music artists to cross cultural borders.

She only mentions Tarkan in passing in connection with the names tied to rumours on who might represent Turkey in next year's Eurovision Song Contest.

The Failure of Turkish Artists to Break Out

Tarkan in Bulgaria, 2004
Tarkan in Bulgaria in 2004; Bulgaria's Standart called Tarkan the superstar of European music
Danişmend's report "Still Haven't Conquered" (13 September 2009/Sabah) complains that although leading Turkish voices can be heard outside of Turkey in sport, film and literature due to the successes of people like three times Cannes Film Festival winner film-maker Nuri Bilge Ceylan and Nobel Laureate author Orhan Pamuk, she believes the same can't be said of opening home-grown music up to a wider audience.

Questioning the reasons why a Turkish artist is finding it difficult to make a name for themselves in Europe - she doesn't even entertain the idea of success in America, although she forgets the mark left by Turkish producers like Ahmet Ertegun on American music - Danişmend completely omits to mention Tarkan's inroads to Europop, and the consequent changes to the German pop industry brought in by the singer's 1999 emergence onto the European platform - as documented by such reputable music sources as Rhapsody.

Seemingly forgetting her own admissions of Tarkan's talent in her article for Rolling Stone as well, Danişmend writes that there is "still no Turkish artist that has entered the top ten of the European charts, and given concerts outside of the Turkish diaspora to the Germans, French and English, whose songs are sung by millions and who has wide coverage in the international media."

Although Tarkan has achieved these landmarks during his nearly two decade career in music - including singing to large international crowds, the star is giving a three day tour in Russia this November - having Danişmend slight Tarkan's musical legacy arguably shows that she is still bitter for Tarkan having refused an interview with her for Rolling Stone in 2006.

And finally...

ScreencapIn an interview with popular nineties Turkish singer Harun Kolçak, Tarkan's name popped up over a discussion of important singers in the Turkish music industry whose voices were constantly copied - enough to make it newsworthy for publication.

Kolçak is quoted as having said on a TV show that "important voices like Tarkan's can be copied, but mine can't be, so I've been told."

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