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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Is It a Wrap for Tarkan?

Editorial by Mark Mayhey reporting from London, UK

Kral list sees Tarkan top all major chartsAs Turkish music station Kral lists in its "Nation's Top 10" last week that Tarkan has topped all the major charts in Turkey - including both airplay and sales - it seems that Tarkan has wrapped up the mouths of his critics tightly shut once and for all with his 2010 album.

How can you criticise someone who is making money - when so many other artists are struggling with album sales? It's not about the music is it?

Of interest is music critic, musicologist and Turkish pop archivist Naim Dilmener's recently re-published list of his 100 best Turkish songs and albums, with Tarkan making the grade in both lists.

Dilmener is noted for not having gotten over his pet hate, Tarkan's 2007 double award-winning Metamorfoz, and can't help but take a dig at an album that went platinum in its first and diamond in its second year of sales, with four top ten hits.

Holding a rock heavy slant in what purports to be a pop list, Dilmener has listed Tarkan's "Kır Zincirlerini" (Ölürüm Sana, 1997) - known as "Bu Gece" in Europe - at 57th of his 100 best songs, while putting the album Ölürüm Sana at 22nd place, and Karma (2001) at 56th position of best records.

A recent tweet from Dilmener is even more interesting, with the critic responding to a follower who agreed with him when he described Tarkan's rise from now on as temporary.

"I also said that if Tarkan doesn't change his sound and intentions, his journey will lead him straight to Serdar Ortaç's door; just like Ajda Pekkan has done," he notes.

Therefore, it's a little more than ironic that Ortaç decided to release as his second video single from his own 2010 release the track titled "İşim Olmaz".

It happens to share the exact same name with the Tarkan-Yıldız Tilbe track from Tarkan's 2010 album, which has been growing in popularity amongst listeners if a past poll by music station Kral is anything to go by. It's already been reported in the Turkish media that the similarity of track title did not go unnoticed by Ortaç.

Was Ortaç's second video decision from his 17-track album to choose the same title as Tarkan's so as to jump-step the singer? Take from it what you will.

Meanwhile, 70s music icon Erol Büyükburç has been quoted as saying in an article published by Haberturk (pictured left) that Tarkan hasn't been able to go past his "Şıkıdım" era (A-acayipsin, 1994).

"They locked him there," Büyükburç is quoted as saying.

Now, for those in the know (or many of us who don't), Büyükburç is a crazy egomaniac at best, who started with high school pop, then tried to crossover to folk music dragging his pop-ego behind him. Most of his material is kitschy taverna-like music. His music had its moments, far less than Tarkan's music has, but does the man make a valid point here?

It seems to me that public perception was subconsciously "built up" to be disappointed by Metamorfoz (the Turkish public were never going to really warm to anything he released as a follow up to the Come Closer fiasco - releasing on the back of his English language failure looked like Tarkan was treating the Turkish music industry as second choice in rebound), and they have been just as "built up" to like whatever he published after it looked like that had pushed him over the edge (a.k.a Tarkan turning to drugs).

And of course none of that is really true, either. Tarkan was neither pushed off the edge or otherwise, and his 2010 album has yet to reach the sales of Metamorfoz - and yet perception is everything.

The only thing that is possibly true is that Tarkan has for the first time made music for the masses, not for himself. He made it to silence the only critics he couldn't face to let down - the ones he thought he ran the risk of losing after the drug arrest - his staunch fans. With his 2010 album, fans have been screaming that "Tarkan is back", wholeheartedly applauding songs that - if truth be told - would be mediocre, kitschy taverna-like music at the hands of any other Turkish artist.

And Tarkan fans should be proud of the singer's 2010 album. It truly is their album, not Tarkan's - because it is full of the rehashed same-o, same-o that he knows they want to hear. Does the album have its moments? Of course it does.

But maybe this is what music critic Dilmener meant (although in this, his hands are just as dirty). In giving up the fight, Tarkan has handed Ortaç the legacy of Turkish pop music, because for years Ortaç has been constantly filling up the eardrums of the Turkish public with the same humdrum, dum-dum. If Tarkan is now following Ortaç by example, then we should all say goodbye to the longevity of Turkish pop. It's a bubble that will ultimately burst.

I haven't seen the likes anywhere in the western music industry where the fans dictate the music their favourite artist creates. Surely, we should follow the artist on his or her journey - we shouldn't drag them onto our path, or worse still force them to never grow up but stay forever in one moment in time, even if that was their greatest moment in time.

So, when Büyükburç says that Tarkan has been "locked in", maybe he isn't all wrong after all. Tarkan's 2010 album is musically fine to Turkish standards I guess, but somehow when I hear it I can't help feeling the album may come to symbolise Tarkan's arrested development in music. First arrested by the cops for drugs, then by his fans for music. In different senses of course, but the limitations are the same.

News on Tarkan's first video single from his 2010 albumLook at Tarkan now: any other artist would have immediately released a music video to launch his new album (not that Tarkan needed to). But it took him until September, nearly three months later, to provide his first video single from his 2010 album. And it was to a track that polls did not show as a favourite. A little rebellion from the child, maybe?

And Tarkan seems more happier concentrating on his social projects, voicing National Geographic documentaries and visiting Africa, then he is on pushing his latest album. Of course he doesn't need to push it, but ten years ago Tarkan would have been living and breathing his new songs - he wouldn't have been taking pictures in Kenya.

But isn't it cruel not to let a child grow up? Not to let them free to be what they want to be and to follow their dreams? Sometimes, with all the best intentions, this cruelty comes from a love that believes it knows what's best - when in reality it's the farthest thing from that.

Tarkan voices National Geographic doco for Turkey

Yes, an artist should give fans what they want in regards to performance, concerts, official sources online, etc., - but he shouldn't give them what they want so much that he has to compromise his music to do it.

Check out what it means to be a 21st century pop star with Lady Gaga who's doing it through 24 hours a day of fierce work (it's almost as obscene as not letting a child grow up) and compare that with Justin Timberlake, who hasn't released anything since 2007 and is concentrating on acting instead.

The showbiz sites tells us:

Uncertain when he will make a chart return, "Does a painter make a painting because he has to make it by December 21st? No, he doesn't," Timberlake said when asked if he plans to release another record.

"It happens when it pours out of him. That's how music is for me.. I never stop making music. I don't know what else to tell you, except that I just don't know in what capacity I want to be involved any more... All I'm saying is, in very simple terms, I'll know when I know. And until I know, I don't know when I'll put another album out."

If only Tarkan had that freedom. But, Tarkan's making money. The fans are happy. So, who cares about the music?

History will. Time - that little devil fans want to press the pause button on for Tarkan - will actually show whether this 2010 album was simply a flash in the pan, or whether it really is a work that will endure over time as Tarkan's Karma record has for example.

But for now, it's a wrap for Tarkan. And the here and now is all that matters in pop.

The views in this article are those of the author alone.
Read more Mark Mayhey articles on Tarkan >>

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