Here is a list of love songs from a seasoned expat to other foreigners who might want a taste of the kind of music that tickles the hearts of Turks. When it comes to love songs, and even love songs, Turks have it and they love to talk about it in many romantic and captivating songs. While there are many genres and eras to choose from, I present to you a list of songs from the turn of the 21st century that are still part of a now classic repertoire to draw from to evoke the spirit of love in Turkey. .
Senden Daha Güzel
“Senden Daha Güzel”, which translates to “More beautiful than you”, has to be my favorite song from the Turkish rock band Duman. The song begins with the lyrics: “I’ve never met anyone as beautiful as you, I’ve never met anyone as special as you…” and continues in the same vein in adding the heartbreaking lyrics “How did I ever meet you, I became the loser…but I ran away for you and didn’t care what other people thought.” Although the lyrics may sound desolate, the energy of the song is one of hope and inspiration and can be directed towards all things beautiful. The music video for the song was a first in Turkey as Duman changed the cameras from focusing on themselves to showing their own view of the audience as they performed.
But, another video produced for this song literally brings viewers to tears as the Anadolu Efes basketball team was filmed as the whole audience sang the song to the players as a surprise and accompanied by an orchestra performance spectacular. As Duman kicked off the song and performed it vigorously; an interpretation performed by Evrencan Gündüz, when he was just an up-and-coming musician, playing a solo at the Hangart that really captured my heart.
Bekle Dedi Gitti
“Bekle Dedi Gitti” is a heartbreaking ballad written by Duman singer Kaan Tangöze. However, Evrencan Gündüz delivered a lighter version of this song, making the lyrics a little easier to digest as the lyrics read: “She said wait and then left. I didn’t wait and she didn’t come. Something like death happened, but no one died.” My favorite interpretation of all time has always been performed by Evrencan Gündüz and Bilal Karaman in a video filmed at the beach. Both are talented musicians since Gündüz, who has already made a name for himself as a singer-songwriter, is the son of Asim Can Gündüz aka Awesome John, who is one of the blues guitarists and Turkey’s most revered rock, while Bilal Karaman is a present. virtuoso of the day and arguably the best guitarist in the country today.
“Bile Bile” which means “knowingly” has to be by far the most heartbreaking love song I’ve heard to date. Originally performed by Aşkın Nur Yengi and Harun Kolçak and later by singer herself Sezen Aksu and Levent Yüksel, either version will stir your heart. Listen to me and trust me. Although originating in the 90s, it is such a beloved song that contestants in Turkish televised singing contests continue to unsuccessfully insist on trying to sing the ballad on their own. I remember bringing a recording of it back to Los Angeles and everyone who listened to it, whether they understood it or not, had tears in their eyes.
“Güllerin Içinden”, which means “From inside the roses”, is a song by classic rock-pop band MFÖ which has mesmerizing guitar playing interspersed with the repeated verse “Come running to me my darling from inside roses”. To put it simply, this is one of those songs you want played at your wedding.
“Bağdat” is a beautiful song written by Ayla Çelik, who is joined by actor and talk show host Beyazıt Öztürk in an evocative duet that propelled her to fame. The song begins with the lyrics, “Once again, I didn’t do anything but love you today. I didn’t answer my phone or read the news, but you won’t believe how many kisses there were while I calculated our love today.” Çelik remembers the great love stories of Turkish tradition such as Leyla and Mecnun and says: “I don’t know them, but I could find Baghdad with both eyes closed.”
Deme Bana Yokum
“Deme Bana Yokum”, which means “Don’t tell me I’m out”, is a song by the young and outstanding pop singer Yalın which has a deep meaning hidden behind its upbeat dance beat. “If you come close to my shoulders, your dreams will become mine… Don’t tell me ‘I’m out’, everything that’s missing doesn’t suit us. Tell me ‘I’m your last’ and my name will be written with yours…”
Bu Şarkı Aşka Yazıldı
“Bu Şarkı Aşka Yazıldı” means “This song was written for love” and it is written and performed by the truly amazing Cem Adrian. Known for having vocal cords three times longer than average, Adrian is revered for his ability to sing from bass to soprano. This beautiful slow love ballad is part of the now prolific singer’s debut album, titled “Ben Bu Şarkıyı Sana Yazdım” (I wrote this song for you). The entire album is one of the most romantic ever written and was self-produced by Adrian in his home town of Edirne during the years 1997-2003. The song begins with the verse: “Something inside me is burning. I won’t turn it off, you turned it on.”
Son Seyi Yak
“Her Şeyi Yak” (Burn It All) is another one of those songs that will tear you up inside. Calling on the dark side of passion, the words are: “We will both burn in the fire. Then, the powerful voice repeatedly sings the phrase “I walk in the fire”. The song was originally performed by its lyricist Sezen Aksu, but its heavy rock rendition by Duman doesn’t rule out any comparison. The powerful music behind the poetic infinite love mantra was written by Greek composer and politician Thanos Mikroutsikos. Greek singer Haris Alexiou recorded a slow version of the ballad sung in Greek.
“Yağmurlar”, which means “The Rains”, is certainly one of the most beautifully evoked songs by a singer that has ever existed, performed by the singing prowess Şebnem Ferah. This song is so spectacular that it features twice on his Kadın album, the latter version serving as an instrumental bonus track. A beautiful story of heartbreak and hope, Ferah sings: “If you don’t love me, love the rain. The clouds can cry and you can smile and let the sun come back. Love the rain and let the rain fall on my face.”
“Ben Böyleyim” – “That’s how I am” – is certainly not a typical love song. But I beg to argue the difference because it’s a self-love ballad. A Turkish rendition of Frank Sinatra’s ballad ‘My Way’, the chorus of this upbeat rendition by Turkish ska-punk band and former Eurovision contestants Athena repeats, “Life is mine, for I live every moment, I tend to like it. So much for the rains. I made great mistakes, but I never deviated from my own path.