I’m going to admit what is probably my deepest, darkest musical secret. Of all the potentially career-ending things I’ve said online, this may potentially be the worst. Here we go: I was briefly really into the music of Yanni when I was a teenager.
I don’t have any good explanation or justification for this. The best I can say is that I guess I really liked synths? And, I don’t know, he played piano, and so did I, and he could emote without singing, in a really overwrought way. Recently I went back and listened to some tracks in the hope that I could find anything remotely redeeming in them, something that would rationalize my enthusiasm after the fact. But there was nothing I could latch onto in the aimless melodies, the poorly chosen synth patches, the excremental quality of the production, the self-congratulatory schmaltz slathered over everything.
If this seems superfluously harsh, it is more of an indictment of myself than anything. There is other music I liked during that period—e.g. Tangerine Dream, Vangelis, Patrick O’Hearn—that I used to denounce, but gradually came around to appreciate again, though in a drastically different (and occasionally contradictory) manner. This is, I think, a healthy impulse, a good way to reintegrate your past musical selves and learn from them.
But what do you do when you simply can’t relate to a past self? Here’s the thing: tons of people still like Yanni. A lot. And I can’t write them off, because I used to occupy that space. But I can’t understand them either, any more than I can understand the 13 year old rocking out to Keys to Imagination on giant headphones (if such a thing can be said to be rocked out to) while reading a Tolkien novel (though while I’m being honest, it was probably actually a Dragonlance novel, statistically speaking).