Author Topic: Is Yanni really all that bad?  (Read 16255 times)

michael sandler

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Is Yanni really all that bad?
« on: September 12, 2008, 05:27:11 PM »
The guy gets so much ridicule you'd think either he was the worlds worst musician or the world's biggest hack. Frankly, I think some of his arrangements are pretty good (did I detect an odd time signature or two?). Okay, his music and his shows are slick and polished, and he plays to a mass audience, but still, does he really deserve all this odium?

Mike S


judd stephens

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2008, 06:24:59 PM »
I've taken a few pot-shots at Yanni in my time...

It's just fun to poke at a New Age artist who's kind of a heart-throb with a big mustache who puts himself on almost every album cover.  It comes off as a little pretentious, that's all.  If I may use a rap similarity,  M.Griffin and Oophoi are like N.W.A. to Yanni's MC Hammer  :P  Or better yet if I saw Yanni, John Tesh and Gandalf run into Roach, Alio Die, and Lustmord in a dark alley, well you know who my money's on... - you know they're all tough and dark and Yanni's a romantic and sensitive.  It's just a ridiculous thing to tease this guy, and admittedly a guilty pleasure.  I'm sure he's not that bad as an artist.  There's no hate coming from me at least, just irresponsible silliness.  No Yanni joke should be taken too seriously. 

9dragons

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2008, 07:22:17 PM »
I have been vaguely aware of Yanni as a figure of mockery. Never actually heard any of his music. This thread prompted me to visit his website, and yes, it is actually much worse than I imagined. Could music get cheesier than this? It appears to be in a class by itself, where it seems that effort has been made to be as insipidly bland as possible. Perhaps it would enhance a visit to the dentist, but I could also imagine it increasing the pain. And just look at the album covers!:

http://www.yanni.com/discography/discog_complete.aspx

Robert Logan

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2008, 08:32:31 PM »
I checked that link.

"The human voice is the most expressive instrument known to man... it can evoke an enormous amount of emotion."

-Yanni.

Hmmmm.  I find it curious that that sentence has been shoved up there with his signature lurking beneath it as if it were some statement of immense profundity. Talk about stating the obvious.




uhurit

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2008, 08:43:19 PM »
Is Yanni really bad?  Not much worse than this guy who now has a radio talk show, John Tesh ::)

judd stephens

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2008, 08:51:58 PM »
I checked that link.

"The human voice is the most expressive instrument known to man... it can evoke an enormous amount of emotion."

Precisely why Yanni doesn't sing!  ;D





deepspace

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2008, 12:25:14 AM »
"The human voice is the most expressive instrument known to man... it can evoke an enormous amount of emotion."

-Yanni.


"That's why I prefer to use 1987 general midi flute loaded with portamento, with all the timbre of a melody-pop, as my lead instrument"

-Yanni.

« Last Edit: September 13, 2008, 02:13:25 AM by deepspace »
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Undershadow

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2008, 12:37:31 AM »


"The human voice is the most expressive instrument known to man... it can evoke an enormous amount of emotion."[...]

-Yanni.

[...]"ranging from mild distaste to extreme nausea accompanied by bouts of vomiting"

-Anti-Yanni.

deepspace

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2008, 02:12:46 AM »
John Tesh....

now there's a man who sounds like his teeth look.
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deepspace

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2008, 02:18:47 AM »
Now seriously.  I don't hate Yanni.  I can't stand his music and would rather cut myself repeatedly with a blunt butter knife, but I don't hate him personally.  No, seriously. :)  He's probably not as bad as people make him out to be, he just happened to make himself a bit of a target by looking like 'that' and sounding like 'that'.  But I'm sure he is probably passionate about what he does.  I honestly haven't heard his music in years.  I might go and see if i can listen to some, and report back, to see if it's all that bad still.
 


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deepspace

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2008, 02:24:18 AM »
HAHAHAHA!

Just had a listen. 

Two words: 

EURO-PAP



....Imagine an episode of 'Survivor' on location in Turkey.  That's what the demo track 'Nican' on his site sounded like.  Production is good, and it's very crispy, but very overblown and cliche.  Not worthy of the constant scorn heaped upon him, but certainly nothing that rings any of my bells. I'm sure he has more music and that I haven't really listened to the full extent of his repertoire, so i'm prepared to be surprised and revisit my opinion.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2008, 02:26:47 PM by deepspace »
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Bill Binkelman

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2008, 07:14:34 AM »
THIS IS A LONG POST, even by MY standards, so if you don't feel like reading it, don't. Just do me a favor and don't make a snide remark about how long-winded it is. I have a lot to say about this, m'kay?

I wonder if Mike was sitting there thinking "Is Bill going to chime in on this?" I must admit I'm a little hesitant to offer an opinion because this derisiveness toward Yanni, and many other new age artists, is one of my biggest gripes with the entire ambient fan base and many of its artists. I understand people just not liking Yanni's or anyone else's music, but the tone of the criticism is always so harsh.

Anyway, I don't know how many of you have actually listened to more than a sampling of his music. Saying he is without talent, though, is just ignorant. The man can play keyboards and he has composing talent. You can hate what he composes, which is fine, but he is obviously musically talented.

Yanni was signed by Private Music back in the 80s, the same label that Patrick O'Hearn started on. The label was founded by ex-Tangerine Dream member Peter Baumann. Yanni's earliest releases, Keys to Imagination and the excellent Out of Silence are totally electronic keyboard driven, esp. the latter. It was only later that Yanni developed his more, shall we say, melodramatic and romantic side, concentrating on the piano as his lead instrument etc. He also started playing live and this led to his breakthrough recording (meaning breaking into popularity with the masses), Live at the Acropolis. When that recording was selected by PBS (the American national public television network) as a pledge drive premium, and in conjunction PBS ran the video of the concert (many times) during pledge weeks, things really took off for him. His music had become more theatrical, more about the concert show at times and the visual presentation (he toured all the time, usually with a small orchestra of sorts). His music was also probably influenced by his now infamous love affair with celebrity Linda Evans. But who wouldn't be inspired by love, to be honest? Assuming you ever fell in love, of course, which I have more than once. I think people who criticize him for that aspect of his life are just nuts. Celebrities meet and they do fall in love...it happens (Brangelina, etc.). He didn't become famous because of that, it happened because he became famous. I find it hilarious that Yanni was much more "famous" at the time than Linda Evans. To opine that SHE made him is laughable. They merely fell in love. End of that story.

I was lucky (yes, lucky) enough to get comp tickets (this was in my magazine days of W and W) to see him play live on his Tribute tour and I have to say I was impressed and, remarkably, so was Kathryn  - not an easy task, I assure you. Sure, the production was kinda Vegas-ish, but the guy can really play and his arrangements were solid and tight, plus he surrounded himself with some seriously talented musicians. If his music was at times overblown and even grandiose, or too sugary and sweet, well, as someone who enjoys a LOT of new age music, you can see why I like it at times.

I recall at least one phone conversation I had with Spotted Peccary founder Howard Givens back in the late 90s during which he expressed frustration with folks who complained about Yanni. He was of the same opinion as me, that Yanni had undeniable talent and his music wasn't that bad or at least not as bad as people would have you believe.

If you listen to the music on Out of Silence, which I own, and then listen to the first Greg Klamt release, Fulcrum, or the recordings of Brain Laughter or John Flomer's Mysterious Motions of Memory (all on Spotted Peccary), you can appreciate why Howard said what he did, since Yanni's music is similar in sound to those albums, none of which have ever been blasted the way that Yanni has been.

Strangely enough, EM pioneer Suzanne Ciani's music has followed an eerily similar path to Yanni's. She started out as totally electronic, yet having a strong melodic base, with sweeping, even romantic influences (on albums such as The Velocity of Love and Neverland) but evolved into more of a piano player who toured with a band and whose music changed into something more mainstream and "pop" oriented. Coincidentally, Ciani also started out on Private Music.

I'm not saying that Yanni didn't develop over time into a somewhat schmaltzy pop/adult contemporary  music star. He kinda did, although again, he's no worse than many others who seldom are criticized to the same degree he is. FWIW, I find that in new age music, Enya is more insufferable because, unlike Yanni, she never has really changed her tune. Yanni has experimented with world music influences, for example.

And if Yanni takes himself a little too seriously....well, come on...like you can't think of some ambient and EM artists who don't do that too? Vangelis? Klaus Schulze? and then there are some ambient artists who I won't mention who can come across as being SO pretentious!  ::)

In those early years, Yanni was an electronic music artist, esp. on Out of Silence, which if you have a taste for dramatic quasi-Berlin esque tuneage, you just might surprise yourself and enjoy it.

Finally, as for how he was on every album cover...trust me, a LOT of artists put their pictures on their CD covers. Ambient music is the ONLY genre in which artists don't make this a normal practice, for the most part. New age music is the opposite...look at folks like David Arkenstone, Suzanne Ciani, Robin Spielberg, Chris Spheeris, George Skaroulis, etc. Plus, let's be honest, the man (Yanni) was good looking, or at least if you were a 30-40 year old female, he was. (I have no problems saying that I considered him attractive). But to say that's WHY he sold all those albums is just flat out ignorant.

Hate his music all you want. Heck, I hate some ambient artists' music. And mock him if you must, but don't download one or two tracks from his rather deep discography and think you "know" what his music is about. Finally, I'd say that if you think Kitaro is talented but you don't think Yanni is, you're being hypocritical. Why John Tesh is compared to Yanni, I don't know. Kitaro is much more like Yanni than Tesh EVER was. It's one reason I don't care much for Kitaro these days, as I feel about recent Yanni music - too over the top and bombastic. Both men are talented but both should, IMO, go back to their roots.

End of novella-length rant. ;D

mgriffin

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2008, 08:29:10 AM »
I'd go along with Bill a little ways, and wouldn't go so far the other direction as the other posters here.

I think the albums on Private Music were not too bad, and I'm sure most of the people laughing hardest at Yanni have never heard Optimistique, for example.

I can't really blame Yanni for playing up the "handsome dreamboat with a big moustache and long hair" angle, as it was undoubtedly helping him sell a lot of CDs to women who found him appealing. 

I do feel that the playing-up of the image (flowing white shirts open to the navel, windswept hair, intense amorous gaze) in every picture of Yanni after those first few years, led me and many others to see the guy as "Fabio with synthesizers."  What's more, he was probably the most widely-famous instrumental or New Age artist, so I'm sure everyone reading this has had the experience of talking to music-ignorant friends trying to understand what ambient music is or electronica is, and hearing the question "So, it's like Yanni or John Tesh?"  After hearing that a handful of times, you start to think of Yanni and Tesh as perfect exemplars of what's wrong with instrumental electronic music.  Add in Tesh's cheesy "Entertainment Tonight" TV persona, and Yanni's "Greek Fabio with a DX7" thing, and you end up with two guys who are perfect targets, really.  So the mockery is understandable.

The Linda Evans thing was funny... more so because they lived in Tacoma, Washington.  Anybody here been to Tacoma, Washington?  I'm told that Tacoma has its nice parts, but I find it hard to imagine where they stuck them.
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Undershadow

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2008, 08:36:47 AM »

[...] Just do me a favor and don't make a snide remark about how long-winded it is. [...]


OK, Bill, I will do you a favour and not make a snide remark about how long-winded it is ;)


mgriffin

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2008, 08:40:33 AM »
I think Bill's defense of Yanni can be distilled down to this one little bit.

Plus, let's be honest, the man (Yanni) was good looking, or at least if you were a 30-40 year old female, he was. (I have no problems saying that I considered him attractive).

I Bill's argument is all about desire here.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

 ;)
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drone on

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2008, 09:27:23 AM »
C'mon Mike, I think it's time you can admit you and Yanni have been working on a secret project for the last ten years (it is now being tweaked and will be ready to go to the CD plant in another ten): "FABRICATIONS 2: BEYOND THE REALM OF THE MUSTACHE"

Undershadow

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2008, 09:59:04 AM »
C'mon Mike, I think it's time you can admit you and Yanni have been working on a secret project for the last ten years (it is now being tweaked and will be ready to go to the CD plant in another ten): "FABRICATIONS 2: BEYOND THE REALM OF THE MUSTACHE"

I hear tell there's an I am Breathing Dreams out of the Hair in the pipeline too.


mgriffin

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2008, 10:05:14 AM »
(Mike scrambles to re-title several works in progress...)
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MarkM

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2008, 01:01:38 PM »
The only exposure I have had to Yanni is the PBS shows.  Musically he has a style that doesn't strike a chord with me, but when looked at as a performer, Yanni has a unique style that obviously has made him appealing. Giving certain musicians in his orchestra theatrical roles is clever and is almost Disney-like.  On that level I respect his talent and style. Yanni has marketed himself without criticizing others.  To mock a fellow musician who has found a unique formula for success without utilizing cheap sexploitational antics (i.e. Britney Spears) smacks of elitism. 

APK

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Re: Is Yanni really all that bad?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2008, 01:42:33 PM »
... it is actually much worse than I imagined. Could music get cheesier than this? It appears to be in a class by itself, where it seems that effort has been made to be as insipidly bland as possible.

That about sums up my view too. Terrible stuff. Sugar water.
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