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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Goff's Pick of the Week- I Get Wet by Andrew W.K.

I wanted to write a comparison piece. It has been ten years since Andrew W. K. released his partying opus I Get Wet, and I thought I would take the opportunity to compare his works, his personality, and his love affair with the party to other artists. But then I came to a startling conclusion, that really there weren’t any artists that in comparison did him justice. Sure, could I compare W.K.’s love of partying with a sonnet maybe, or a rococo painting that captures the unrelenting desire of its creator? Probably. Could I have contrasted Andrew’s desire to get down with obsession, perhaps through the lens of Ahab in Moby Dick or of Jimmy Stewart’s character in Hitchcock’s Vertigo? Again probably, even the idea of taking the character Party Pat from Adventure Time and chalking him up beside W.K. was a possibility, but those comparisons would not have sufficed. They would have left too many questions unanswered, taking that approach, never would I be able to get at the true enigma that is Andrew W.K.. At the heart of this riddle is a simple question, who is the man behind the mask? Two more questions, is there a mask at all? A man? I don’t know, but here we will explore those issues, in the guise of a review of I Get Wet. So without further adieu let’s get a party going party hard party hard.

First I conceive of party. Is party a religion? Is party a metaphor, an allegory, some sort of zen philosophy, a metaphysical conceit, a reflection on our times, all of these things? Is it party to think about and review music? I have no answers, only Andrew W.K. has answers and he plays them on a guitar shaped like pizza. One of the central questions that I have about party is whether or not its any fun, every image I have of Andrew W.K. seems to suggest that it is. He hovers about, all clad in white (that’s not a literary device or anything W.K. only ever wears white), with a smile that can only be described as goofy. Every picture, the exact same smile, every picture except for one, and ironically it’s the photo that dons the cover of I Get Wet. A bloodied W.K. looks like a fighter retreating to his corner, a horny teenager from a monster movie slasher, or yeah a guy who partied way to hardy. I stare into his distant and seemingly empty eyes and think maybe party isn’t worth it. That cover is like a window, a reflection of the partier who, too involved in what they are doing, does not realize that their dis-contentedness is written on their face. Or maybe not, W.K.’s idealistic take on partying seems in direct contrast with that notion, that cover. Is it instead some commentary on how the world of party is under attack? Is the message one of resilience in the face of adversity as opposed to the previously postulated one of defeat? More questions, and never have the answers seemed further. I party on.

The face of a genius?

 A fighter retreating to his corner, a horny teenager from a monster movie slasher, a guy who partied way to hardy. It’s not hard to imagine W.K. in any of those roles. The only role I find it difficult to picture W.K. in is normalcy. An avid pinball enthusiast, all white clothes even after Labor Day, the pizza guitar, hosting a show on Cartoon Network, these elements don’t add up. I cant think of a single person in history or fiction who’s tastes are as eclectic, as diffuse, as appealing, as weird as W.K.’s are. Call it art, call it a joke, Andrew W.K. has devoted his life to something that is as impossible to understand as it is to describe, and whether you prescribe to party or not that is pretty admirable. W.K. falls into a vapid category of people who are more idea than people, but what that idea is and what its limits are is anyone’s guess. 

So how is I Get Wet, how is the music? Eh, it’s okay. Many things have been said about the record, like that it is the crappiest album ever, that it is stupid, juvenile, jejune, sophomoric, you get the picture. While those descriptors do have some truth to them, writing the album off as bad music is a clear showing of ignorance. The record is more of an art piece, and it demands to be thought of as such to fully be appreciated. This is a very strange sentiment because most art pieces end up being more fun to think about then listen to, I Get Wet is a rare mixture of both. I have often heard of modern art described as being a race to the bottom, an attempt to depict something as sublime as say The Mona Lisa without actually putting that much work into it, instead making the observer do the work. Andrew W.K. very well may have won that race, and I Get Wet is as good a Mona Lisa as they come, ambiguous smile on the cover and all. It’s like a bad movie e.g. The Room or Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter, come in for a laugh, leave with a new appreciation on life. Movies like those are very endearing, as is I Get Wet, push play and camaraderie ensues, it is almost easier to love them for their flaws than for what they do right. 

It is true, party may not be for everyone, and likewise I Get Wet. In fact the only person party may truly be fit for is W.K. himself. I Get Wet serves as a window into his world, a world where party is on hot and cold tap, a world were sleep is death and the week only has two days. It is a kinder, gentler world I think, and whether W.K. is its master or its slave I cannot be certain. What I do know is this; Andrew W.K. is out there somewhere. He is wearing a white shirt and white jeans. He is smiling, and yes he is partying, party hard party hard.

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