Tarkan Sings at Love Fest
Karadeniz Ereğli is a city and district in the Turkish north-western provinces, near the Black Sea. It is well developed, and because of its Black Sea beach, is a popular tourist destination locally. A lively coastal port brimming with ancient civilisations, it is affectionately called the "pearl of the Black Sea", and is noted for its fishing, steel industry, fragrant Ottoman strawberries and for hosting the largest music festival of its kind in the country.
The pop icon's headline appearance at the festival last Sunday, touted as the biggest Turkish festival in Europe, took place after months of promotion. Ece Erken, the female host for this year's event - and long-time Tarkan fan - had tweeted about the singer's upcoming appearance after posting a picture of the two of them together.
On stage for the festival's third and final evening, Tarkan sang as the finale act to a screaming crowd, who had come from all across the country and was reported to number over 250,000 in total. A sea of shining screens lit up the crowd, as people held up their phones to capture the moment the pop icon appeared from under the stage in an elevator, and throughout the show, to film the singer's famed live renditions of their favourite tracks.
As well as fainting fans receiving medical attention, there were scuffles reported between members of the audience and the event's security personnel, when some Tarkan fans were said to have tried to breach the press area. Peace was restored by Tarkan's new security team, recently changed over from his extended partnership with the Legend Security company.
Aksu co-wrote the track with late female lyricist Aysel Gürel, who passed away in 2008. Tarkan's cover was recorded for the highly anticipated tribute album to Gürel, titled Aysel'in (Aysel's), a three year project undertaken by Gürel's daughters. Her daughters were said to be the inspiration for the track, but it was later disputed to be inspired about Gürel herself.
It is rumoured that Tarkan worked closely with Aksu on the popular song, which music critics noted was a brave choice for Tarkan. Rumours were rampant pre-release about the song's disastrous production, with impatient Twitter users tweeting music label DMC head Samsun Demir over the release date of the tribute album, as far back as April this year. The album's release coincided with Tarkan's 24 June YouTube upload broadcasting his cover version. Many thought the much-loved original could not be equalled, but judging by the buzz Tarkan's upload has generated, the cover has been well received.
The song, posted on his Facebook page and tweeted last Monday, was quickly shared among users. For Twitter users, the YouTube video was posted as part of a tweet which simply read: "Tarkan-Firuze". It was retweeted more than 1,800 times and favourited 799 times. Many of his Twitter followers responded by tweeting favourable comments, with their followers also commenting and tweeting in turn.
On Facebook, it was shared close to 7,000 times, with nearly 10,000 likes, and attracting nearly 2,000 comments, most of which were positive. The media link published on his YouTube channel has currently notched up over 1.5 million views. On 2 July, DMC's Demir shared the video, tweeting that the track had surpassed the million mark in five days. Percentage-wise its popularity is high, with nearly 6,000 viewers giving it a thumbs up as opposed to just over 150 viewers opting for a thumbs down.
Now in its second week of release, with the attention the song has garnered, Nielsen Music Turkey has tweeted it as the fastest rising track in the 26th week of its official charts, while it has topped the most downloaded digital track chart of Turkey's largest digital music provider, TTNET Müzik. Six tracks from the album hold positions in the top ten, with Tarkan's ranking as the highest paid-for download.
The pop maestro's first venture into classic pop history was last year. The artist covered an updated version of Aksu's break-through 90s dance song written by Gürel called "Hadi Bakalım" (Here We Go) for his long-term producer's 2012 début album 01. Unlike "Hadi Bakalım", however, "Firuze" was arranged by next generation singer-musician Mustafa Ceceli, who also produced the Tarkan track "Herşeye Rağmen" (Despite It All) for ENBE Orchestra's 2010 album, Kalbim (My Heart).
The release of "Firuze" marks the third posthumous Gürel collaboration for Tarkan. It started with Tarkan's 2010 award-winning song "Sevdanın Son Vuruşu" (Love's Last Strike). The hit song was published by Tarkan in his 2010 album, when Gürel's discarded lyrics were discovered after her death.
Tarkan sang both songs at the Ereğli event, with a repeat performance for "Firuze" when he returned for an encore, which was accompanied by fireworks at the festival's close. His Ereğli show marks his fourth appearance at the festival. He had previously appeared at the event in 2004, 2006 and 2009.
Honorary Award for Activist Tarkan
Half-way during this year's set, the mayor of Ereğli, Halil Posbıyık, and his wife presented Tarkan with gifts and a "Love, Peace and Friendship" honorary award. The festival honours have been criticised this year for being used as a political platform, and reports claim that Tarkan refused an award in the past because it was presented in the memory of a war hero relative.
The singer did not publish images of the award presentation for his Facebook followers, but comments attributed to the mayor say the entertainer was selected for supporting the festival four times, his services to raising the area's profile, and for his contributions to local nature preservation.
On presenting Tarkan with his award, Mayor Posbıyık described the artist as a "real gentleman in every sense of the word" whose decency outshone his stardom. Posbıyık said:
As the mayor of Ereğli, we will never forget the warm sincerity he has shown to our region, and the generosity and closeness he has shown us. I am therefore greatly honoured to present, on behalf of all of Ereğli, the artist award for love, peace and friendship to Tarkan."
Tarkan thanked the mayor for his award, before continuing on with the show.
Tarkan is very active in raising public awareness for cultural and political issues. This is evident in the 2010 incarnation of his official website, where he openly writes about his activism and his wish to protect "mother nature".
In 2007, the pop entertainer became a spokesman for Turkish nature association Doğa Derneği in their campaign to protect indigenous bird life and animal species from human cultivation. Using his official online presence, Tarkan has taken a keen interest in the environment, supporting green organisation Doğa in their "Stop the Ilisu Dam" campaign, and is a personal friend of Güven Eken, president of the nature association.
Tarkan has worked with PETA, too, and has been outspoken on various contemporary political and social issues, encouraging people to take peaceful action for positive change.
The singer also supported the Gezi Park protests, by cancelling his own charity concert for a nature school and visiting the protests on 4 July. The impromptu visit came after the icon had reportedly returned from a trip to Germany and was spotted by media journalists wearing an iconic world-wide protest mask, and waving to marching activists from a nearby building.
|The stylised mask popularised by the film|
"V for Vendetta" was used at Gezi Park
According to the artist of the mask, David Lloyd, it has empowered demonstrators by allowing them the anonymity to become representatives of a cause, rather than individuals who can be arrested and persecuted. However, Lloyd told MSN he would never wear one as he thought there wasn't "any point in demonstrating."
"The way the world is now, whatever government you have you are still ruled by oppressive corporations and power structures," he said.