As an underage, allegedly lesbian, pop duo prepares for world domination, Colin Paterson wonders if there is no limit to how low music svengalis will sink in their quest for publicity
From Russia with hot, underage, lesbian love. There is a new pop controversy on the horizon. Tatu, two girls from Moscow, have caused balking in the Balkans by cavorting in the rain (in their video) while singing of their forbidden feeling for each other.
Now, like a cold war Soviet ruler (except without the “being propped up despite being dead for a month” bit) the duo have their sights on the west. It is as if cultural revenge is finally being sought for Police Academy Vll: Mission To Moscow.
This summer Tatu are launching in the States, having just signed to Interscope Records. Trevor Horn has been brought aboard to mastermind their first English language recordings. The producer for Frankie Goes to Hollywood has once again been asked to polish pervs. Buggles this ain’t.
Tatu were created last year by former psychologist Ivan Shapovalov, Russia’s answer to Simon Cowell, except with lower trousers. From the 500 girls who auditioned he chose Lena Katina, 16 (a Mini Pops Tori Amos), and Yulia Volkova, 15 (Winona Ryder if she shoplifted potatoes).
The hand-holding duo soon caused controversy by having a rider which demanded one double bed and then they dodged all questions about their relationship. Just what the world needed—
Their Euro disco-sounding debut single, I’ve Lost My Mind, was a tale of young lesbian love (“There’s no me without you/Mom and Dad forgive me”). It was written by Yelena Kipper, a journalist for Prok, the national TV station’s consumer programme. More attention must be given to the side projects of Watchdog’s Alice Beer.
The song was a massive Russian hit, especially with teenagers, and spawned the follow-ups Gayboy (“Gayboy, Gayboy. Be more cheeky with me”) and They Won’t Catch Us, complete with video in which an innocent airport worker is crushed by the duo’s truck in a bid to let true love run its course. A wide variety of subject matter does not seem to be on the agenda.
Russia is not exactly famed for its pop music. PPK’s recent dance tune ResurRection was the country’s first hit since one of their rockets landed on Afghanistan. Tatu’s brand of shouty Euro pop has been signed solely as the ideal way to test that crucial gap in the market for teenage lesbianism.
Music svengalis making young girls say rude things in the name of pop is far from new. Exactly 40 years ago Phil Spector’s girl group The Crystals were banned from radio stations for their S&M classic He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss). Since then almost every avenue of controversy has been explored.
But Tatu shows the sad extremities of what middle-aged men will create in a bid to cause outrage. And if the sight and sound of two allegedly amorous teenage girls getting busy with each other is too much for the US public, then there is an easy get out. Well, the duo are Russians after all.