Once I became a teenager and started actively listening to pop music (pre-teen I was obsessed with more alternative ’90s fare like Garbage and Alanis Morissette), some of my absolute favourite artists were rebellious girl bands like TLC, Sugababes, and All Saints (I never really got the fuss around the overly-polished Destiny’s Child).
However, I don’t think any girl band spoke to me more than t.A.T.u. and their debut album, 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane did. Despite being a newly-gay 15-year-old when it came out, it wasn’t really the whole gay thing that drew me into t.A.T.u.’s wild world — it was everything.
When I think back to when 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane first came out, what I remember the most is the thrilling excitement of the whole era. You never knew what Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova would do next. Just like real teenagers, they were passionate and unpredictable, acting off of their own whims and desires rather than common sense. Their sullen attitudes and short attention spans in interviews were refreshing at a time when we were still transitioning over from the manufactured Max Martin era of pop. And that’s not even covering their crazy publicity stunts. I still remember when t.A.T.u. went on Jay Leno with “Fuck War!” plastered on their t-shirts in the middle of the War on Terror hysteria, or when they had a hundred schoolgirls strip down and kiss at the MTV Movie Awards. It’s a rare thing to find a pop act that not only brings it with the outrageous media play and shock tactics, but can also back it up with legitimately amazing, timeless music.
There’s very few pop albums that capture the roller-coaster ride that is teen angst better than 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane did. It was the kind of album that made you feel simultaneously sad, understood, and like you could do anything in the world (me and my best friend back then often fantasized about fleeing our small town to the sounds of “Not Gonna Get Us”). And musically, it introduced a style of pop that was completely foreign to most people my age at the time, but was also instantly accessible.
So, as you can see, I’m a little but of a t.A.T.u. stan, and I’ve been following every shred of their latest stop-start comeback in the desperate hope that my beloved teen idols will return to me as they once were. In case you don’t know the tea on the whole messy situation, I’ll get you up to speed really quickly (with hotlinks on the dates for the full scoop).
October 2013: t.A.T.u. reunites for some performances and a Japanese Snickers commercial
February 2, 2014: t.A.T.u. opens the Winter Olympics in Sochi, slays your faves.
February 11: t.A.T.u. announces official comeback with new concerts and a new single, “Love In Every Moment.”
February 18: t.A.T.u. officially breaks up again amid infighting. Everything is cancelled.
February 20: t.A.T.u.’s VK page announces that “Love In Every Moment” will still be released via radio, despite the duo’s split.
February 23: “Love In Every Moment” premieres.
February 24: Arcadey (me) writes about it.
“Love In Every Instance” is pretty much exactly what I expected it to be: A very good t.A.T.u. single that isn’t on the level of past hits like “Beliy Plaschik” or hidden gems like “Ya Tvoy Vrag,” but is still strong enough to not be a total disappointment.
It opens with some grungy chords (always a good thing), before the tried-and-tested europop beat arrives and gets things started. Burbling electro underlines the chorus as the Lena and Yulia sing in unison, almost gruffly, leaving behind the high-pitched squeaking of their early recordings. There’s a breakdown, which is half brostep posturing, half electronic freak out, which might be awesome if it weren’t for Russian rapper Ligalize word vomiting all over the top. If there’s one thing t.A.T.u. doesn’t need it’s a rap feature (unless it’s Yulia slaying “Stars”), and the mere presence of Ligalize sounds like nothing more than Ukrainian frat boy pandering.
Still, it’s just one scuff on an otherwise great song.
Lyrically is where “Love In Every Moment” is its strongest and most typically t.A.T.u.
“There are many of us who risk every day to show up here on earth,” they sing. “No one can decide our rights / we decide ourselves who to love / who to choose / love is a cure.”
Even as their own inability to get along with each other has ruined t.A.T.u, Yulia and Lena are still championing free love and independence with as much fervour as they did over ten years ago. It’s the perfect ending for this imperfect pair, who will go out like a beautiful disaster until they both go broke and unsuccessfully try to reunite in another 10 years time when nobody in their right mind will be interested in seeing two 40-year-old Russian broads prancing around in school uniforms.