Thursday, September 15, 2005

Screwed... Blued... t.A.T.u!
(An Accidental Comeback Tale)

New attitude... same old t.A.T.u?About 3 years ago (a lifetime in internet terms), I wrote an article about this up-and-coming Russian girl-pop duo called t.A.T.u. (aka "Tatu").

At the time, the novelty - and controversy - centred on the singers' youth and alleged lesbian love affair with each other. All this fell under the watchful eye of their manager/Svengali Ivan Shapovalov, who has succeded in pissing off the moralists in the music industry and giving closet pedophiles endless amounts of forbidden pleasures.

Well - at least it was fun while it lasted. I predicted at that time that eventually the music fans' bullshit detectors would go off. And in a way, they did.

The jailbait-lesbo routine was just that - a routine.

Julia (a.k.a. "Yulia") Volkova (the quasi-brunette) had a baby with her martial-artist boyfriend. (She eventually broke up with him.)

Lena Katina (the strawberry redhead) wanted to have a family herself.

Ivan Shapovalov is nowhere to be found. He allegedly got the boot in 2004 for being a little too manipulative.

So the girls went MIA for a little while until, from out of nowhere, they have unleashed a nice little Russkie-pop ditty called "All About Us", the leadoff single from their upcoming sophmore English-language release, "Dangerous and Moving", a title that's light-years less cumbersome than that of their Anglo-Saxon debut, "200 km/h in the Wrong Lane". (Their second Russian-language release will be called "Lyudi-Invalidi/Invalid People", FYI.) While the debut had producer Trevor Horn just tweaking-up the music and recording the duo's English vocals, this release has a few stars joining in - Sting, Dave Stewart (the guy half of the late, still-lamented, Eurythmics) and Richard freaking Carpenter! Yes... that Carpenter. Brother of the late Karen Carpenter. One half of ├╝ber-soft-easy-listening pop group "The Carpenters".

WTF?

In fact, I've been asking myself the same question since I received the latest e-mail from puretracks.com. Could it be that t.A.T.u. has finally exited the teen years and started being adults? Could it be that they are showing a bit of maturity and restraint in their music, performances and videos? Is the metaphorical ghost of Shapovalov finally exorcised from the duo's personal space?

Well, judging by the original uncensored video for "All About Us", I am at a loss for words. It is a bit hardcore due to some sexual and physical violence, but at least the tune doesn't sound like a hack job like "All The Things She Said"/"Ya Soshla S Uma" (the hit's original version). Maybe the ladies have grown up, but it seems that they decided to continue titillating us good enough to have us open our hearts - and eventually our wallets - and put them back on the pop charts for another full-frontal assault on North American music fans.

In the meantime, their North American handlers, Jimmy Iovine's Interscope, have one hell of a job on the go: how to market a duo who made their money playing jailbait lesbians as a serious, international pop contender? t.A.T.u. are - by virtue of culture and attitude - different from the cookie-cutter American Idol/Avril-Wannabe/Simpleton Sisters pop-trash shilled out on commercial radio, but will the fans be more open to the bittersweet acidity of their new offering? Will the proverbial bullshit detectors be set off because of an apparent shift in focus? Only time will tell.

As for Lena and Julia - welcome back to the Big City, kids. Don't screw up this time.

(For more stuff on t.A.T.u., check this.)

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