Tatu - 200 KM/H In The Wrong Lane
You’ve got to feel for Tatu. There they were happily knocking up hit after hit around the Eastern block with a unique blend of Russian power pop before being thrown head first into the sensationalist media frenzy that the UK is so famous for. They can’t claim complete ignorance of course, after all their image is clearly modeled on Japanese hentai, but Yulia and Elena could never have predicted the sheer extent of the vigorous lynching they were about to receive by a public high on tabloid headlines and forced fed one child sex scandal after another. The nations favorite moral spokes couple Richard and Judy immediately declared them “pedophilic” entertainment and the girls even found themselves under the spot light on ITV’s Tonight with Trevor McDonald, complete with trademark sinister music, slow-mo camera shots, and dubious sound bite confessions by alleged guilty parties. As to be expected, the moral panic only helped to increase record sales (which were already pretty good to begin with) giving Tatu a straight entry to the top of the charts with their first UK single All the Things She Said.
You can argue until you’re blue in the face about the authenticity – no they’re probably not dating each other, no they’re probably not lesbians or even bi-sexual, and yes they probably are one of the biggest manufacturing stunts ever pulled in pops history. But all this cynicism seems irrelevant when you actually sit down and listen to 200KM/H in the Wrong Lane and find that the girls appear far more sincere about their love than many a less tampered artist. When Yulia and Elena announce “I’m feeling for her what she’s feeling for me” in the face of a disapproving judgmental society, their desperation seems considerably more genuine than when Fran from Travis sings “Why does it always rain on me?” – an allegedly non-manufactured so-called real artist and allegedly one of Britain’s finest!.
Producer Trevor Horn’s influence is blatantly clear and it’s safe to say the girls themselves probably had little involvement in the song writing process (especially in this lazy, rushed English language version) but they bring to the table a sense of unknowing beauty and tortured passion that the likes of Kim Marsh could never hope to convincingly portray. They also successfully manage to create a world where really only the two of them exist – For all the running around in wet schoolgirl outfits and kisses in public, they’re completely untouchable to anyone else male or female (a point which appeared to be lost on the likes of Richard & Judy).
As for the songs some might be surprised to hear that I didn’t find a single bad entry or filler. On the contrary 200KM/H In the Wrong Lane is one of the most innovative and unique pop records in very recent history. Not Gonna Get Us kicks off the album and was also the two-somes under appreciated second single where they are hunted by the relevant authorities across Siberia in the music video. It’s colossal, pounding, relentless, the two teenage girls with high-pitched helium voices complimenting the sensitivity they feel for each other and the reckless abandonment of the outside world perfectly. We have the exceptional haunting piano piece 30 minutes complete with the occasional eerie sample of child laughter – it sounds as chilling as Siberia looks. We have a fantastic slice of cheese pop in Malchik Gay where the girls passionately sing about their affection of believe it or not, a gay boy. Amazingly it sounds nothing like the cringe worthy description suggests, again Tatu somehow manage to make their feelings seem totally genuine no matter how absurd the subject matter. We even have a cover of The Smiths How Soon Is Now (the forgotten 3rd UK single that never saw the light of day) which is either completely hideous and should have remained untouched or the best cover the song has ever received - I personally feel it falls into the latter camp.
Sure it’s all a big gimmick but quite honestly every song on the album is deeply satisfying and completely convincing so what does it matter ? I can’t recall another pop album in very recent history which boasts such a claim. Tatu breath fresh air into the pop genre by completely side stepping the cheap stripper routines of other female pop tarts and the pseudo RnB/Hip-Hop poses which seem to be part and parcel of being a credible pop icon these days. Instead they create a unique fantasy world for their forbidden love and offer up enough innovative songs to make it impossible to disregard them as mere manufactured throw away pop stars. Better still, they deliver their message with exceptional passion and authenticity which is no mean feat considering they are clearly one of the biggest marketing stunts ever pulled. I guess Tatu’s greatest achievement though is that they’re one of the few pop bands which have the songs to back up the heavy manufacturing and rightfully over ride the ridiculous levels of controversy. In reality the only thing controversial about Tatu is just how good they sound!.
The release reviewed here is the UK Special Edition which includes 2 extra tracks, a multimedia music video for All the Things She Said, and a behind the scenes multimedia interview. The album has since been re-re-released this time with an additional dvd which includes music videos for All the Things She Said, Not Gonna Get Us, and How Soon is Now. It also includes a 25 minute interview making it the version to go for. However, you're well advised to hunt down the Russian release which contains a slight alteration to the track listing found on the UK version. While the songs on the UK release are extremely good, Tatu take on a whole new meaning when performing in their native language. The English version of 200KM/H In the Wrong Lane hasn’t been in my CD player since I purchased the original Russian release other than for the purpose of this review.