t.A.T.u. was a duo girl group consisting of Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova, originating from Moscow, Russia. Internationally speaking, they are the most renowned band to ever come out of Russia, routinely playing to audiences of 50,000 fans and selling more than 5 million copies of their debut album, 200 KM/H in the Wrong Lane
. The two girls met when they were thirteen years old and were both members of a children's vocal and instrumental group called "Neposedy" ("Naughty Children"). At fourteen, Ivan Shapovalov cast Lena Katina in his new project and she recorded the single, "Yugoslavia," about NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. Shortly after, Ivan decided to add another female singer and chose Yulia Volkova. The name t.A.T.u. is originated from the original Russian Cyrillic name for the band "Тату". In Russian language, ‘ta (та)’ means ‘that [female]’ and ‘tu (ту)’ also means ‘that [female]’ to be a shortened version of the Russian phrase 'Ta lyubit Tu (та любит ту)', meaning ‘This girl loves that girl’. Their first single, "Ya Soshla S Uma (I've Lost My Mind)," or the English version "All The Things She Said" dealt with a love affair between two girls. The song was set to a music video where Yulia and Lena were depicted in Catholic schoolgirl uniforms imprisoned in some form of cage while a crowd of people look on as they kiss in the rain and try to escape. At the end, there is an ironic twist where the girls escape and it is revealed the crowd were the ones truly imprisoned - by their own minds. Their music videos only became more controversial, with "Prostye Dvizheniya (Simple Motions)," depicting Yulia masturbating while Lena went about her daily routine. During this phase, they released the Russian 200 Po Vstrechnoy
and the English version 200 KM/H In The Wrong Lane
Infamously, they refused to perform at the World Music Awards unless provided with real guns. Lena said, "We wanted real machine-guns, but they didn't give us, so we wouldn't perform, that simple." Brazenly, after promising not to kiss on the Tonight Show, they engaged in a long, passionate wet one— much to the alarm of anxious network censors, (and well before Britney and Madonna's little stunt
). And yet, when expected to do the same on Jimmy Kimmel, they deliberately censored themselves. Yulia said, "Basically, because we like to do what we want, a lot of people are, like, 'you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that, you shouldn't behave in this way.' But you know what? Actually for us, we are the way that we are, and we don't really live in fear of anybody. So, if we behave in a certain way, then that's just actually the way we are."
In 2004, t.A.T.u. legally fired Ivan Shapovalov, their producer, from their project because they did not believe he took their music seriously. Yulia Volkova said, "He spends his time thinking up scandals instead of planning our artistic work. I'm sure our fans would rather hear new songs and new albums than new scandals." Lena Katina added, "He made us out to BE lesbians when we were just singing FOR lesbians. We wanted people to understand them and not judge them. That they are as free as anyone else." They reformed after Yulia had her baby in 2004 and produced a Russian album, "Lyudi Invalidy (Invalid People)" and the English counterpart, "Dangerous and Moving." Their first single was released with a similar flair of controversy, as Yulia was portrayed splattering a potential rapist's brains against the wall.
The most recent album, "Vesyolye Ulybki (Happy Smiles)," and Waste Management
in English is also the soundtrack for The Movie
, "You and I" or it's working title, "Finding t.A.T.u." which is based on the novel "t.A.T.u. Come Back". The film features Mischa Barton and centres around two girls that meet on the internet due to their common love of t.A.T.u. Their relationship then becomes the catalyst for a series of adventures. The content of the movie has drug use, disturbing scenes and images, sexual content, and coarse language. t.A.T.u. has stated the movie will be very scandalous, and would not deal with the "love and roses" often found in films, but the real scandal and hardships that come along with relationships.
With their relationship deteriorating and both girls having mutual desires to start solo careers and distance themselves from their "t.A.T.u." images, Volkova and Katina parted ways and t.A.T.u. broke up in early 2011. Aside from a quick reunion in 2012, Katina and Volkova have generally been out of contact with each other.
Things started looking up in late 2013 and early 2014, with a few one off appearances and rumors of a new single or album. However, fans were devastated after Lena posted on her YouTube
that she was breaking off the reunion due to Yulia's management essentially giving her a "my way or the highway" ultimatum and threats of shutting down her solo career within Russia.
As it turns out, they did manage to record one song together during this time, a Russian language only song called "Love in Every Moment", to be featured in a short film. By the time the song came out, their relationship had deteriorated to the point of their scenes for the music video being recorded seperately, and the song being billed as "Julia Volkova and Lena Katina".
As for their solo careers, both have continued the tATu sound in different ways. Lena's songs follow the soft rock and piano ballad style of some of their songs, while Julia's songs have an electropop edge like the third albums. The difference is highlighted by their first singles. "Never Forget You" is Lena's rock-infused sendoff to the band featuring a funeral in the video, and "All because of You" is an electronic song about wishing she didn't love a girl, with a video featuring a Lena lookalike getting jealous of her boyfriend and killing them with a bomb, much like the 30 Minutes video.
- Lena Katina (vocalist)
- Yulia Volkova (vocalist)
- 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane (2002)
- Dangerous and Moving (2005)
- Waste Management (2009)
t.A.T.u. contains examples of:
- Animated Music Video: Gomenasai.
- Author Appeal: t.A.T.u. was created by Shapovalov generally as an outfit for him to fulfill his sexual fantasies and desires, which was the main driving force of their early public image (the schoolgirl outfits, faux lesbianism, etc.). A large controversy erupted around the "All The Things She Said" video with many politicians and commentators viewing it as generally pedophiliac in nature (Lena and Yulia were 14-15 when it was filmed, and it depicts them kissing each other in schoolgirl outfits, with upskirt panty shots thrown in for good measure). Shapovalov's response? He admitted that he was attracted to underage girls and that he thought up the idea for the group while surfing underage porn on the internet.
- How far did Shapovalov take it? Early publicity photos of the girls in school uniforms included pictures of them spreading their legs with their panties in clear view, and pictures of Lena sitting on the toilet◊; he also forced them to strip each other out of their schoolgirl outfits while performing on stage. Shapovalov's firing came largely from the girls becoming tired of being his fetish fuel.
- Attempted Rape: Yulia almost gets raped in the music video of All About Us.
- Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: Lena and Yulia. Shortly after coming out as heterosexuals, Yulia told the world that she was bi and Lena started to suggest that their sexual attraction wasn't entirely nonexistent. And at many concerts and interviews they still kiss each other.
- Bifauxnen: Early Yulia.
- Bi the Way: Okay, so that whole thing about them being lesbians? That's not true, but really, Yulia is bisexual. This time she means it. No, really.
- There's also a great deal of speculation about Lena, due to her ambiguous statements saying that she "doesn't believe in orientation, only love."
- Blipvert: "Prostye Dvizheniya", "How Soon is Now?", "Ne Ver, Ne Boysia, Ne Prosi" and "Clowns/Klouny".
- The video for "How Soon Is Now?" is not a traditional video and is mostly a montage of behind the scenes and performances. Yulia and Lena selected all the clips, decided in what order to place them, planned on how it should go with the music and what effects/transitions to use and they had a lot of fun making the clip. Their ideas were put together by editors and other technical experts. So technically, yes they did direct the video and they are credited with directing the video....you see, just like a director, they called all the shots.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Yulia. Her natural hair color is blonde, she was a brunette during t.A.T.u. and she dyed her hair red for an episode of the show Eralash back in the '90s.
- Maybe t.A.T.u. itself, more or less. Before filming the music video for "Ya Soshla S Uma", Yulia was still a blonde, Lena was a redhead. In t.A.T.u.'s early days, Yulia was a brunette and Lena was a blonde, although after that, Lena had her hair dyed red... you get the point.
- Breakup Song: Arguably every song on Dangerous and Moving.
- Meta example is "Never Forget," a song Lena wrote about Yulia after the duo disbanded in early 2011.
- Catholic Schoolgirls Rule
- Coming-Out Story: Arguably the entire first album (though moreso the English version than the Russian version).
- Concept Album: "200 km/h in the Wrong Lane" is mainly about realizing and coming to terms with being gay, as well as the problems that can come with it (feeling different and being outcast). "Dangerous and Moving" consists mostly of Breakup Songs.
- Deadpan Snarker: Both of them, especially during interviews. Two of the most cited examples: The Frank Skinner Show 2005 and TV Total Germany 2003.
Lena: They're soooo sexy.
Frank Skinner: Who?
Yulia: When boy kiss each other and girl... No like?
Frank Skinner: Not boys... I think, boys, I find them too hairy.
Lena: No, there is such a thing, like, um, shaving thing.
: Yes... now I've got a Russian woman on the show telling me about shaving. Times have changed.
Stefan Raab: You know how they call you? The Russian Lesbians.
Lena: Oh... fuck.
Yulia: You Germany Gay.
- Dress Hits Floor: Lena's clothing in the video for Beliy Plaschik or White Robe.
- Even the Girls Want Her: Both Lena and Yulia have plenty of female fans.
- Face-Heel Turn: Yulia during both breakups:
- Slammed Lena's efforts in a 2009 interview while the group was still together (mainly criticising her for performing tATu songs in her solo shows, which she has since started doing HERSELF). Lena stated that she was very hurt by this.
- Her first solo song "Rage" was basically telling Lena to go away.
- In 2014, told Lena that the reunited tATu would be run her way, and if Lena didn't like it, she'd replace her and sabotage Lena's career in Russia. Lena naturally baulked at this and revealed the whole threat on her YouTube, at the same time torpedoing their reunion permanently.
- Utterly cemented by her statement that she'd condemn her son if he turned out gay. For comparison, Lena spends her summers playing gigs at gay pride festivals.
- Faux Yay: Obviously Lena and Yulia.
- Flipping the Bird: Done a lot during the ХУЙ ВОЙНЕ (Rougly translated from Russian: "fuck war") era, mostly in photoshoots.
- Genre Shift: From Eurodance to Pop Rock to Electronic Rock to Electronic Dance Pop.
- Their music still consisted of mostly electronic pop songs, though only with different-sounding, um, stuff...it's kinda hard to explain.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Lena and Yulia. Also, their backup dancers.
- Gayngst: Possibly the entire first album.
- Girls Behind Bars: Yulia in Beliy Plaschik/White Robe.
- Gray Rain of Depression: The set for the All The Things She Said/Ya Soshla S Uma video.
- Hair Contrast Duo
- Incompatible Orientation: "Malchik Gay", literally meaning "gay boy."
- Japandering: They reunited in 2013 for a Japanese Snickers commercial.
- Kaleidoscope Eyes: Lena. Sometimes they're blue, sometimes they're gray, sometimes they're green... might depend on the lighting though.
- Lost in Translation: The English versions of their songs often have very different lyrics from the original, while keeping the same general meaning.
- Meaningful Rename: Subverted. Yulia now goes by the Anglicized version of her name, Julia, while Lena has not done the same (which would be Helen). Despite this, it's Lena who prioritises English markets, and Julia who prioritises Russian markets.
- New Sound Album: Dangerous And Moving - some people consider it as a Base Breaker album.
- Also, Happy Smiles/Waste Management.
- Older Than They Look: They're 29 in the last video, but Julia looks 25, and lena could still pass for a teenager.
- Old Shame: What Lena and Yulia now see their "faux lesbian" days as, and to a lesser extent, their entire time as t.A.T.u.
- Rape as Drama: In the video for All About Us, Yulia shoots a man who attempts to rape her and splatters his brains against the wall.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Yulia is the red to Lena's blue.
- Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: What Lena called their relationship after they were called on using homosexuality for publicity.
- Siamese Twin Songs: A rather obscure example: "Show Me Love" and "30 Minutes". The "Mama, Papa, forgive me" part at the end of "Show Me Love" is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the beginning of the song "30 Minutes".
- Schoolgirl Lesbians: In the beginning, t.A.T.u.'s manager, Ivan Shapovalov, decided to give the girls a lesbian schoolgirl image.
- Sopranoand Gravel: Lena and Yulia respectively, kind of. In terms of natural singing voice, Lena's is high and Yulia's is lower. In the early days of the band, Yulia would match Lena's range by basically screaming, giving their music this effect. eventually, this damaged Yulia's voice, and she now sings much lower.
- Stalker with a Crush: Their song "Fly on the Wall".
- The Mockbuster: Some could argue that the Russian girl duo TEMA is this. Their songs sound in some ways similar to t.A.T.u.'s and they once attempted to pass off their song Kto Esli Ne Ya as a t.A.T.u. song to gain publicity.
- The Movie: A couple years ago, a movie called "Finding t.A.T.u." was released starring Mischa Barton about two girls so obsessed with t.A.T.u. that they involved themselves in a series of dangerous events.
- Title Only Chorus: Nichya
- Title Track: Dangerous And Moving.
- This and this may also be considered, even though they're just instrumentals.
- One is from Vesyolye Ulybki/Happy Smiles (Russian Version) and the other is from Waste Management (English Version). Heck, it's the same song!
- What Could Have Been: An anime movie, t.A.T.u. Paragate, was in production, but was cancelled before its target release of Winter 2004 due to numerous circumstances, including a fallout between the singing duo and their manager Ivan Shapovalov.
- Yaoi Fangirl: Those ladies suuuuuuuure like their sexy gay guys