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Monday, April 28, 2008

Tarkan: Looking Behind the Name [2]

S.B. from Germany writes:

My thoughts on the new video ["Pare Pare"]:

Tarkan Pare PareAbsolutely perfect and simple... just as it should be. This is my favorite song from the CD and he did not disappoint. No dancers and no backup singers. Just him dressed as if you saw him walking Istiklal Avenue [in Istanbul] sharing "this is me". Beautiful song with the emotion and heart coming thru in the video. There is no doubt about it Turkey does not have another singer on his level.

One thing I did notice (which means I have waaay too much time on my hands) is that the set/stage is the same as used for his 2008 TRT performance. Only 1 minor change with the bottom two steps that are now a 1 step triangle. [I at first thought] the TRT set was quite expensive so no reason they should not get more than a 1 time use out of it, [but] I think the repeat use of the stage/set for "Pare Pare" was perfect.

I think we can look at this another way. The beginning of the video shows the stage just as we last saw him perform. The expectation was there that Tarkan would walk out of the shadows and begin to sing. What we saw instead was Tarkan the man (not the performer) standing center stage. Alone. With a 1,000 constant spotlights of the critics, press and yes even the fans glaring directly on him. His posture/stance was very casual (hands in pockets) as if to say "let me explain..let me tell you who I am". Several times he opens his arms wide as if saying "I'm like you...I am vulnerable". He covers his face several times and to me that is a protective measure in any language. He is not dressed in costume (stage outfits) but wearing clothes just as if we were to seem him walking down the street just the same as 1,000 other men (ok ..much better looking but I don't want to digress off topic). He sings stronger and more passionately towards the end as if asking again for understanding. I think this goes back to the whole concept of the CD. That he was not born with a silver spoon and that his life is not perfect just because he sings for a living. That he has felt hurt and disappointments just as anyone else has. This is a beautiful song with beautiful music and a video that expresses it all.

I think something could be made of the fan blowing on him and him moving/swaying in the breeze. That he is without strong direction and he constantly blows and bends from all the internal and external forces. Especially following his wishy-washy BBC interview. But I will leave that to you as you are more perceptive than I am.

I would be glad to see any of the remaining songs as his next video (but if there was a vote I would have to go with "Cat Kapi"). And I am glad to see the longer hair is back (and could even go longer with no objection from me). The short hair and suit just made him look too mature and I missed the look of the young sexy Tarkan. Whichever song becomes his next video I hope it includes him in a red shirt.

"Pare Pare" is a favourite song of mine, too, and I do like the video, but there were many other ways to visualise the song. Simple visuals are always best, but the message must be well emphasised, and to be really simple is sometimes the most hardest thing of all.

With its unlimited possibilities, I would have preferred to see this concert footage in the video interspersed with flashbacks or scenes from Tarkan's personal life to create further intimacy with the viewer. For example, scenes from his everyday life - eating at home, feeding his animals, watching TV - to show his fans he is just a normal guy would have been a welcome addition I think.

Or to continue the theme (of showing his fans a side of fame they rarely get to see), the loneliness could have been emphasised by footage of Tarkan walking the streets of Istanbul - the city that created him - with all the Turkish world buzzing by as though a storm with him isolated in the eye of it, and then really alone up on a cliff edge singing out in rebellion against a thunder storm with images of our destructive footprint on nature - can you imagine the power of that image and then to have the thunder answer back?

Also, as an aside, I am still waiting to see the themes set out in Metamorfoz actually enter his videos or his concerts.

I was expecting to see the album's themes of nature, which appear in the imagery of its album art and lyrics, carried on to a small extent in his music videos and to a greater extent in the set of his shows. However, from what I've seen of the London leg of his Metamorfoz shows, there was nothing to tell me we were in his Metamorfoz world. Even though I'm probably being overly critical here to be fair, and reading too much into these things, I still can't help feel it would have added a sense of continuity.

I don't mean I had an expectation for his concert to be production heavy - as his 2001 Karma concerts that successfully continued the earthy, Eastern themes of that album were - but I did expect to see visuals of nature decorate his set, and subtle messages of the environmental damage done to our world, or maybe even shots of his own photographs that he has stated he has taken during his nature treks across Turkey, expressed in interesting ways in his show. It's possible he is postponing such things for his "nature campaign" that we had been informed about at the start of the year, but there was no discernible concept in the small details to be seen at Tarkan's Wembley outing that could indicate to me the artist was kick-starting a promotional tour for his 2007 album. As it seems from the BBC London report that he has lost heart - and his team has no interest - for anything outside of his home borders, is it possible one wonders, he is keeping any such sets for his planned extensive Turkish tours? Do they have any such sets for these shows?

Karma concertsFans can tell straight away when they watch a concert clip from the Karma tour: the designs pinpoint it immediately. If I'm not mistaken, the only thing Tarkan brought into his live performance at Wembley was the wearing of simple cut, classic suits; a wardrobe style similar to that worn on the front cover of his 2007 album and an image that initially attracted a lot of needless criticism.

I know I've diverted off the subject of the music video to "Pare Pare", and even though I don't really have an opinion on Tarkan image-wise - you either buy into the concept or you don't - I think too much was made of the image, especially when music critics should be focusing on the artist's music, delivery of live performances and treatment of fans.

In this sense, my criticism of his critics has arguably been justified: why are they are now staying silent when they could be criticising the artist in a better attempt to guide him for all the right reasons? Having only 5,000 fans come to a 12,500 venue and allowing reporters to call it "Tarkan filling the arena" - but attacking a musically sound album like Metamorfoz - is just nonsense to me. Plus, why has nothing been made of the dismal treatment of the opening act maNga? Why is news anchorman Uğur Dündar of Star TV reporting lies over fees for TRT performances, when actually there's quite a lot he could legitimately criticise? Female columnist - known for her acidic attacks on Tarkan - Ayşe Özyılmazel was audacious enough to lie about the success of the Istanbul signing day at the Kanyon Mall, so why then could all she find to criticise about the Wembley concert was his wardrobe?

Tarkan's Metamorfoz imageNaim Dilmener made the same attack as Yılmazel on his wearing suits in a 2007 December report for Turkish news channel NTV, but really the only complaint that could have been was that it was a little out of synch with the album's overall concept. The suit didn't look worn in, and so made it look a little unnatural, and maybe clothes such as the artist is seen wearing in "Pare Pare", or even one of the outfits in the album sleeve might have executed the idea better.

If Tarkan was trying to come off as natural - with the hair and beard - to compliment the nature motifs in the album, then I can see how that particular style of beard and hair in unison might have been too much for some critics. Had the beard been trimmed or styled, rather than left in a unshaven fashion, than the critics might have been encouraged in seeing a glimpse of Tarkan's own stamp on the traditionalist Turkish macho image to read it as the artist once again turning the tables on the traditionalists by this time adopting their look, but not their outlook.

However, these are all very minor points in relation to the grander scheme of the album - which Tarkan has been ignoring in his latest videos and "live" shows (what he has given of them recently in between lip-syncing for the TRT). Plus, in the video to "Pare Pare" it seems Tarkan is heralding a return to one of his more popular looks with fans. Does this mean he is reverting back to pre-Metamorfoz days? Who knows? We wait and watch with interest.

Moreover, that naivete we spoke about in relation to the BBC London interview - and which we are asked to see so endearingly in the video to "Pare Pare" - cannot excuse the half-heartedness of Wembley. This can in part be blamed on the organisers and Tarkan's own team for their slow responses - that failed to raise Tarkan's profile in the UK in the run-up to the Wembley show - however how can we excuse the official site's deplorable content dynamics or that music poll to elect the second music video? Is this due to Tarkan's childlike innocence, too?

When you ask your fan base to come to your official site and participate in a poll to choose the next video, then you at least expect the results to be taken seriously. What sort of message does it send out to fans when the results are not only completely disregarded, but are misrepresented at Tarkan.com? First the song that gained the most points was ignored and the second choice was declared the winner. Then all top five selections were ignored to choose a song that came in the bottom three according to all votes.

My vote was for "Pare Pare", but I would have rather seen the majority vote be taken into consideration, because that's what we do in a democratic process. Ironically, the fears that many critics had over Tarkan becoming some echo of the conservative thinkers in Turkey were unfounded in his image, but certainly could hold water with the nonsensical antics of the people at Tarkan.com over this little poll.

Possibly another minor point, but critics have stayed silent on this issue, too.

Then again, I guess it all adds to the "enigma" of Tarkan, which is also portrayed in the "Pare Pare" music video. For example, take a trawl through the news reports at our Tarkan Deluxe News Index: we have a great team at work, but count how many of these reports have come from or been confirmed by official channels, or how many are press speculation that will probably never materialise, and its safe to assume that it will be a fair amount. This is even though we try to keep the number low by applying a high criterion to filter out low grade celebrity gossip, and warn readers when we believe stories are just speculation at best.

More specifically, if he had a dynamic PR team that published a weekly or monthly update of the artist's agenda, and had quick response times for some of the more important speculations that appeared in the press, then in truth this would be a far stronger counteraction than having to fall back on the final resort of legal proceedings when he needs to put the record straight. For example, Tarkan could have even requested an appearance on the offending news programme about the TRT performance fees, and come with the correct documentation and receipts to shame the broadcaster live on their own TV station.

Tarkan's PR team could also have released a statement to fans to clear up the poll confusion. It's possible the poll episode had some reasonable excuse: for example the other popular songs might have had so much airplay already due to Turkish radio stations just playing songs of their own choice that the artist felt they were suffering from over-exposure, and so decided to go a completely different route.

And had there been a Tarkan fan forum at his official site during the first months of 2008 set up alongside the release of Metamorfoz, this could have been an avenue for fans to let Tarkan know how they felt on that and other issues.

Finally, Tarkan needs to know the line between being an enigma - which can be part of a star's image - and being unprofessional, in terms of delivering to fans what they demand via his works.

I am not talking about a guy trying to please everyone and ending up upsetting everyone, I'm simply talking about giving 100% to what you do. No real fan would ever ask for anything more.

Post index | Part one | End of part two

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