Critiquing the Critics / Judging the Judges / Rating the Raters
Music Review Review:
Three totally biased nut jobs battle it out for the title of “World’s Biggest Yanni Fanatic.”
New-age composer and pianist Yanni released his newest album, Truth of Touch, on Tuesday. If you’re like most people, this is the first you’ve heard the news. If you’re like the three reviewers we’re reviewing in this article, however, you’ve anticipated this oh-so-very-glorious day for quite some time (probably since you were first foretold of the event by the miniature Yanni oracle you constructed out of cello wax and moustache trimmings back in 1994).
That’s right, in a Reviews of Reviews first, we’re reviewing three reviews at once. All three reviewers dismiss the hackneyed reporting convention of presenting balanced, impartial statements of fact in favor of regaling us with an enthusiastic celebration of emotion-rich superlatives. But which one will prove to be the superlativiest?
Let’s find out!
First up, John P. Olsen of New Age Music World. His review begins with a statement to which all of us can relate: …if you are like most people you can vividly recall the very first time you viewed a televised Yanni concert. This is true for me, and it is equally true for you. If you disagree with Olsen’s assessment, then you’re just not thinking hard enough. Now just think a little bit harder, and you will begin to remember the concert…vividly.
Olsen next contends that Truth of Touch is an excellent example of “what Yanni does best” which is create a personal interaction with an audience through his extraordinary music abilities, and just like those powerful memories of yesteryear the close societal bond is shared by virtue of his magnificent studio version of 15 songs with an over hour long symphony of refined harmony.
Although some may take issue with the length of this sentence (particularly members of the infamous Washington, DC “Period” lobby), Olsen leaves nothing for debate regarding its content. The facts presented here are as true today as they were in days of yesteryear.
Next, Olsen gets specific about who exactly will appreciate this album, noting that it has been highly anticipated by a vast multitude of people searching for outstanding music that greatly surpasses the everyday ordinary. Think this might be a bit of an overstatement? Think again. After all, as Olsen explains in his next sentence, Yanni is conceivably the greatest influential musician of our time. (Emphasis his.)
Well played, counselor. Case closed.
Our next reviewer, from Sputnik Music, is known simply as Irving. The fact that he has chosen to follow Yanni’s lead in identifying himself by just a single name indicates a high level of fanaticism before the review even begins. His concise yet completely over-the-top article summary – A modern day Midas – confirms this suspicion.
So he’s off to a good start.
Once we get into the review itself, Irving treats us to several satisfying displays of man-crush inspired hyperbole. He claims that Yanni is a musical Messiah and that when his music finally slows to a halt a part of oneself always seems to disappear along with it. (Usually, it’s the spleen.)
According to Irving, Yanni also compares favorably with some of the greatest composers in history, as he is: neither as daunting as Beethoven nor as high-brow as Mozart, yet more earthly than Bach and less ethereal than Chopin. One might be tempted to criticize Irving here, pointing out that “more earthly” and “less ethereal” mean practically the same thing. But that’s not the point – what he wants us to realize is that Beethoven and Mozart are pompous douchebags, and that Bach and Chopin need to get their stupid-looking heads out of the clouds already.
Unfortunately, Irving completely loses us in his penultimate paragraph, as he writes: But this album is not without its faults. Excuse me, Irving? I don’t care if you do think the final three instrumental numbers appear to sprawl around rather aimlessly. We came to you for blind, overzealous approval. If you can’t deliver it, we’ll find someone else who can.
That “someone else” could be The Hellenic News of America’s Markos Papadatos. His review includes the standard Yanni-worshipper staples we’ve come to expect – he calls the album an eclectic fifteen-track masterpiece, and asserts that the album’s end leaves audiences yearning for more.
How Papadatos truly distinguishes himself, however, is by including a reference to Yanni’s rarely-written-about supernatural abilities, noting that the artist is able to take his listeners on a journey, transporting them to alternative realms. Sadly, Papadatos goes into no detail about the locations of these realms, exactly how “alternative” they are, or what kinds of adventures he (presumably) has had there. So we are left only to wonder.
Or are we?
Papadatos sums up his review with the ethnically and sexually charged insight: Yanni’s contemporary instrumental music is like fine Greek wine; he only gets better with each release. Clearly, “release” here refers to ejaculation – and to Yanni’s no less! To be fair, Papadatos is of Greek origin, and thus the chances that he has witnessed Yanni ejaculate in person are higher than that of the average music critic. Yet it still seems like a remote possibility. Thus, we must conclude that the ejaculate in question actually belongs to Papadatos himself – no doubt brought on while in an extended, frenzied state (read: “alternative realm”) of ouzo-infused, autoerotic Yanni listening.
The author practically admits as much in his very next sentence, confessing: Yanni’s “Truth of Touch” may very well be every Greek-American’s “guilty pleasure.”
In conclusion, these three reviews are – objectively speaking – bad. The writers do little to conceal their obvious preconceived notions about what the album was going be like before they heard it, and they dedicate the majority of their pieces to fawning over their subject like prepubescent girls at a Bieber concert instead of presenting the reader any rational argument for consideration.
Yet it is precisely this unapologetic romanticism that makes their writings such a delight to read. From a sheer entertainment value perspective, Olsen, Irving and Papdatos give us more than we were expecting – which is why we gave them an equally excessive rating. Five even for the reviews, plus an extra half for the “happy ending.”
Andy Ankowski, February 10, 2011
That was actually an awesome and hilarious critique, and I had the time of my life reading about at what an external, objective reviewer thought of my review. You’ve made my day Mr. Ankowski; it isn’t often that something like this – with so much tongue-in-cheek value – comes along. I sincerely hope you review me again sometime.
But there I go sounding too fanboy-ish again!
Efffing hilarious. Best mention of grape leaves and auto-erotic fantasies EVER.
I usually do not drop a comment, but I read a few and liked them, so here you go!