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Mega-star Tarkan’s subtly political new song goes viral in Turkey

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A new song titled “It’ll pass” by world-famous pop singer Tarkan, which has political overtones and sends a message that the bad times in Turkey will pass and good days will soon come, has gone viral, local media reported on Thursday, with millions listening to the song in less than a day.

The new video clip, which was released on YouTube at 9 p.m. on Thursday, has been viewed more than 4 million times in less than 24 hours, and the song’s lyrics became top trending topics on Twitter with academics, politicians and journalists among those who shared the song and commented on it.

Some observers saw the song as a political message, even though the lyrics make no mention of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Social media users described the song as an anthem to the opposition in the country, saying the lyrics “As it has come, so it will go. Everything has an end. This ordeal will end” and “Come on, that’s enough. We’re so bored. Get off our backs,” referred to Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), which has been in power since 2002, while others thought it was a post-pandemic song promising better days ahead.

In the last general election, held in June 2018, the AKP garnered a nationwide vote of 42.6 percent. However, public surveys have increasingly been showing the party’s public support to be slipping. According to the latest surveys, the party’s votes dropped to a historical low of below 24 percent.

Erdoğan has been accused by his critics of creating one-man rule and destroying the separation of powers under the presidential system, which went into effect following a referendum in 2017, replacing the country’s parliamentary system and granting him vast powers while weakening parliament.

Thousands of social media users commented on the song using the hashtags #Geççek (It’ll pass), #Gitçek (It’ll go away), and #TarkanYalnızDeğildir (Tarkan isn’t alone), which quickly became top trending topics on Twitter.

“Turkey’s megastar Tarkan releases new song and it’s taking over waves, promising these bad days too will pass and to just hold on a little longer, since good days are to come. Hard not to connect it to Turkey’s dismal state of affairs and hope for change,” Louis Fishman, associate professor at Brooklyn College CUNY, tweeted on Thursday.

Among the politicians who posted the video clip on Twitter were main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) spokesperson Faik Öztrak; İzmir Mayor Tunç Soyer from the same party; Meral Akşener, leader of the nationalist opposition Good (İYİ) Party, an ally of the CHP; and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) lawmakers Garo Paylan and Hüda Kaya.

“I listened to it. I bloomed. It’ll pass alright. Everything has an end. That day will come. … I’ll put on this tie that day,” journalist İrfan Değirmenci said, posting a photo of himself wearing a floral tie, in reference to the lyrics of the song.

Tarkan said the state of the world over the past year had pushed him to despair, particularly environmental destruction and the COVID pandemic.

“I wanted to write a song that would … maybe console us, lift our spirits or give us hope,” he said on YouTube.

Tarkan, 49, who was born in Germany to Turkish parents, regularly comments on social and environmental issues.

In 2009, he campaigned to stop the construction of a controversial dam in southeastern Turkey with a song titled “Wake up.”

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