-- Jon Wiederhorn
Parents who were unsettled by Britney's sexual schoolgirl pout, queasy after seeing 3LW's new revealing outfits and red-faced upon hearing the naughty lyrics of Khia's "My Neck, My Back (Lick It)" might have a cerebral hemorrhage when they see the video for T.A.T.U.'s "All the Things She Said."
The clip depicts Julia Volkova and Lena Katina, the sensual 17- and 18-year-old members of Moscow's hot new girl-pop group, holding hands and kissing while a wall of throbbing electronic beats, spectral keyboards and buzzing guitar whirl around the groping gals.
The song, like many from their upcoming U.S. debut album, is about the excitement, emotionality and self-consciousness of young lesbian love: "When they stop and stare don't worrying me/ 'Cause I'm feeling for her what she's feeling for me/ I can try to pretend, I can try to forget/ But it's driving me mad/ Going out of my head."
"We are singing about our love. Love between girl and girl," said Katina, working with her limited command of English.
For T.A.T.U., talk is cheap. The visuals suggestive photos, performances in panties and tiny tank tops are what has helped the group sell over a million copies of their 2001 Russian album, 200 Po Vstrechnoy, which translates to 200 Kilometers an Hour in the Wrong Lane. Their racy image has been carefully crafted by the group's producer and manager, Ivan Shapovalov, who makes Lou Pearlman look downright virtuous. A former psychologist and advertising executive, Shapovalov glanced out at a sea of suggestive teen pop and experienced an epiphany. So he put together T.A.T.U. and tried injecting a stagnant genre with new forbidden fruits, pushing buttons and ruffling feathers, but stopping just short of being outright lewd.
"Our producer is a very good psychologist, and that's why he can feel all the feelings that we have," Katina said.
Katina, whose dad is a successful Russian musician and songwriter, grew up in Moscow, as did Volkova, an only child raised by a middle-class family. The two met in the children's pop group Neposedi. She and Katina were then contacted by Shapovalov, and led to the world of softcore lesbian pop.
Of course, selling sex is nothing new. But there's some question whether T.A.T.U. actually ascribe to the sapphic lifestyle they project: While management has eagerly released titillating details to the press such as how the girls insist on a double bed in their hotel rooms none of the group's representatives will affirm that Volkova and Katina are the genuine article. And while the girls might love to kiss, they're not about to tell.
"Every song is about our life," concluded Katina. "Everybody thinks we are lesbians. But we just love each other."
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