His hits "Sikidim" and "Simarik" made Tarkan a worldwide
success and they put Turkish "pop müzik" on the map. On the road
to becoming a universal pop icon, however, he finds himself increasingly
removed from the banal everyday existence of his fans.
There are romours that Tarkan is planning on recording an English album
and that he might never again sing in Turkish | For those who don't already
know, finding out anything profound concerning Tarkan is more difficult
than uncovering who really shot J. F. Kennedy. Despite this, or perhaps
as a result, the 32-year-old singer is today the most well-known pop star
that Turkey has ever produced, though not the most significant, as professional
music critics are fond of stressing.
His fans, and they can now be found just about anywhere on the planet,
find Tarkan "sweet" and that he is "the best." Some
fans, though, criticize in chat forums that "musicians like Tarkan
are only in it for the money."
Tarkan is always friendly to everyone, has a permanently neutral demeanor,
never comments on anything, solicits donations for tsunami victims on
Turkish MTV, is never arrogant or conceited, and this is why all Turks,
from small children to the elderly, love him.
In Turkey, he is regarded as modern, while abroad his music attracts
listeners with its oriental charm. Few, however, know precious little
about Tarkan Tevetoglu (his full name).
Tarkan is incomprehensible, both in the literal and in the figurative
sense. Of course, there is the official story of the singer, born in Germany
in 1972 to Turkish guest workers, which has been told a thousand times
At the age of 14, he left for Turkey to study singing. He became a worldwide
star with the self-interested support of Mehmet Sögütoglus and his Istanbul
Plak production company. Otherwise, there is nothing substantial to report.
It could be said that Tarkan truly does has a clean vest.
Rumors, scandals, and the media circus
There was a time in Turkey when he was regarded as "rebellious,"
because he frequently talked about illegitimate passions and he wore an
earring. And then there are the two "scandals," discussed to
the very last detail throughout the global village Tarkan's supposed
homosexuality and his run-in with the Turkish army. He is alleged to have
tried to avoid military service by going abroad, yet finally completed
his time in the army, although with a shortened term of duty
In 2001, he admitted to being homosexual in order to ward off a horde
of Turkish scandal journalists and a gang of blackmailers. It wasn't really
a matter of choice, but rather a frontal defense strategy. For the last
three years, however, he has been seen with a girlfriend.
A woman. And a Turkish woman, at that. Beautiful and a lawyer, therefore
intelligent. So is everything is back to normal again? Tabloid journalists
maliciously remark that this is just a public relations maneuver.
Tarkan has since attempted to evade the curiosity of the world by moving
to the labyrinth of the city of cities, the modern day Babylon, the ultimate
melting pot of cultures New York, New York.
Speculating about Tarkan
Tarkan currently calls the city his home. Hardly anyone knows what he
is doing, what he is thinking when he is by himself, if he has other interests
besides music, if he is experiencing a crisis or working out a vision,
why he always sings apparently banal songs about erratic love, or whether
he ever gets upset about anything (other than tabloid journalists).
At the very least, his fans would like to know if he plans on delighting
the world with a live concert in 2005! Yet, his new management, headed
by the legendary Woodstock Festival promoter, Michael Lang, seems to prescribe
to the theory that less celebrity hype means more star quality. On Tarkan's
homepage, one also finds only outdated information and his perfume ad.
Nonetheless, the editors of the Turkish radio station Metropol FM in
Berlin, where Tarkan is also the object of great reverence, claim that
he is currently working on a new album. He plans on singing in English,
"in order to conquer the international market."
The correct reading of this must be "conquer once and for all,"
as "Oynama Sikidim, Sikidim" could likewise be heard throughout
Latin America and Central Asia for years. It has even been said that he
might never again sing in Turkish!
It should be mentioned here for the sake of balance that Tarkan has also
severed his emotional attachments to Germany. The question arises, however,
if his magic on the international stage will disappear once people can
suddenly understand the lyrics to his songs.
After all, the German gothic rockers "Rammstein" continue to
sell their albums in the USA and Russia with exclusively Teutonic lyrics.
English versions of their songs were unimaginable flops.
Heartbreak as a recipe for success
Back at Radyo Metropol FM, no one doubts that the experienced team around
Tarkan will be successful. His songwriters produce lyrics that are "in
and focused on the language of the street" and "sound like slogans."
They are about love, jealousy, desire, and the pain of separation. "The
lyrics stay in your head and are unlike anything else you've heard."
His biggest hits, "Sikidim" and "Simarik" (the song
with the kissing sound) were written for him by the Queen of Turkish pop
müzik, Sezen Aksu. The trick here, and one specifically aimed at the masses,
is that the songs are gimmicks, provoking attention via alienation effects
and cross-cultural, easily decodable sounds that are independent of the
In addition, Tarkan's team works exclusively with renowned artists in
putting together the songs. Journalists have described Tarkan's singing
as "pleading." "He fears the valley of tears upon which
surfs his good mood". Along with the stomping electronic beats, he
is accompanied by "swaying oboes, melancholy Sufi flutes, and rattling
tambourines to a disco rhythm".
Projection screen for "the dreams of the masses"
Currently, the supply of Tarkan discs in Germany is running low, because
Istanbul Plak has raised the prices on his albums. Tarkan has thereby
become Turkey's most expensive music export. German wholesalers, however,
refuse to play along.
Tarkan once said that he wanted to settle in Bali after he had achieved
success similar to his role model, Madonna. Ever more godlike, Tarkan
removes himself from the banal everyday life of ordinary mortals.
Catapulted along a trajectory of superlative clichés, Tarkan is mutating
into a projection screen for the "dreams of the masses" worldwide
for musicians and producers, who hope to make it big under his name,
for homos and heteros, for young and old, rich and poor. He thereby has
what it takes to climb to the Olympian heights of pop music