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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Is this the Beginning of the End?

Posted by Hatice Soylu from Istanbul, Turkey and Steffan Matrak from Moscow, Russia

The aftermath of the attempted coup in Turkey has created a wave of patriotism, which has affected all areas of the country, including its famous faces.

Many of the nation's celebrities grouped together under the country's banner and joined the hundreds of thousands of people who gathered in Turkey's biggest city, Istanbul, on Sunday to rally under the hashtag #TurkeyUnited in protest against last month's attack.

The celebrities who decided to remain silent and keep away from the rally have faced a public backlash on their social media accounts, being accused of treason at worst, disinterested at best.

Tarkan placed himself firmly in the second camp of celebrity who chose to stay away and remain silent, until he and a few of those other silent famous faces appeared on a TV advert denouncing the coup in no uncertain terms.

Although Tarkan's social presence is apolitical he has in the past posted messages of condolence for lives lost in attacks on Turkey and responded to certain media speculation over his personal life and career.

Choosing not to post any messages of condolences for the civilians who lost their lives in the failed coup, however, cost the singer followers on his social media accounts and made a large political statement - possibly the largest the pop icon has ever made in his career.

The loss of followers has not been relatively great - ten thousand on Twitter and a gradual loss of about forty thousand on Facebook - but the likes and favourites and retweets have decreased, too.

It seems that Tarkan's pulling power as far as his live performances are concerned remains very strong. Despite the highly priced concert tickets, Tarkan's name still commands at least six dates at a venue where he is known for giving his personal best.

Nevertheless, some commentators found it callous that Tarkan only broke his silence on his Facebook account to publicise this year's series of Istanbul concerts, and the line-up to the Harbiye reveals Tarkan himself is aware he stands on the shaky precipice of popularity.

The decision to focus on his classical album is a strong indicator the artist is aware of a crisis. A few months ago Tarkan was ready to sideline this album, which had caused a frenzy, featuring classic Turkish favorites for decades - and which garnered huge attention by managing to shift over quarter of a million units - for a pop release instead.

Only Tarkan was powerful enough to skip over such a success and focus on a new release with just months in between. Now the coup, and the unexpected reception to his teaser track "Cuppa" released a day before - and his silence to both - seems to have changed all that.

But whether this change of musical heart is because of the lukewarm response to his latest pop offering or to win back the patriotic hearts and minds of a public he has ignored for weeks is unimportant. It's the singer's sincerity that is brought into question.

His Harbiye concerts have been extended from three to six dates, and more may be added, but tickets are not selling as quickly as usual. The new events posted on his Facebook and Twitter accounts have some of the lowest figures for attendance and likes and comments - a comparison with past events reveals a very noticable decline in numbers on his timeline.

Read the comments and you see that his core audience will always defend him, but the negative comments are rising in number, too. The singer's own production companies are his only sponsors, and he has no financial backers for this year's shows apart from the Turkish public. More than ever, it's the public he needs to fill those seats.

UPDATE: Tarkan's Harbiye shows find a sponsor >>

Tarkan is without a doubt one of the most loved music artists in Turkey. It's true his hardcore fans will support him even if he were secretly filmed burning the Turkish flag. They will buy whatever he produces and sing his praises - as long as he sings back.

Recent events indicate if his musical output begins to deteriorate, his fans may not be able to save him. His latest pop output "Cuppa" is a good example. Slow to receive a top reception, it's climb up the charts is a crawl. The song's YouTube viewing figures are rising daily, but the comments beneath it show that Tarkan is polarising popular opinion.


Translation notes: What does "Cuppa" mean?

So, unless Tarkan pulls a few tricks out of his Turkish hat during his Harbiye shows, the truth is audiences might be as large as before - for now - with his zealous fans still in attendance with huge banners, but in the long run the nation may no longer sit up and listen.

And yet, as tarnished as this incident may leave his image, Tarkan is a survivor. A feline artist with the proverbial nine lives. He was a polarising artist at the start of his career and was even labelled a traitor until a post-modern coup helped him out and he did a shortened military service at the end of the 90s. He overcame all that to become an artist with a unifying influence - one who was seen as patriotic.

This second coup in his illustrious career, however, may stain that due to its bloody nature. If the view that Tarkan is anti-Turkish sticks in the public's throat then, along with the end of the coup era, we may have just witnessed the beginning of the end of Turkey's national love affair with the singer. Tarkan's old nemesis the Turkish media has yet to rear its ugly head; it could only be a matter of time.

UPDATES: Turkish media claims "Cuppa" is a rip-off >>
Turkish media gets nasty over Tarkan's private life >>

But he has so many fans, at home and abroad, would the pop icon notice the difference? The failed coup has also shown anti-Turkish sentiment is a crowd pleaser the world over. This may be the perfect opportunity to open new markets for Tarkan.

<< Back in Demand? | Tarkan News Index | Teens React to Cuppa >>

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