“Party Hard” (Andrew W.K., I Get Wet)
On the heels of September 11th, we certainly needed something as gloriously, joyously ridiculous as Andrew W.K.’s ode to sweat, beer, and bad decisions. Sounding like nothing so much as a bunch of guys in a garage teaching themselves to play their instruments, “Party Hard” has no lyrical or musical complexity, doesn’t search for any kind of deep meaning, and roars along for a mostly unintelligible three and a half minutes with barely a change in tempo or key. And I love every one of those three and a half minutes.
Because while I can respect artistry and innovation, I can also respect it when someone or something is completely aware of what they are and embraces it with full-blooded sincerity (something that will come up again later in this list). And Andrew W.K. realizes he’s just this big loud guy who likes to party, and to sing songs about partying. Three of the twelve songs on I Get Wet have “party” in the title, and “Fun Night” leaves little doubt as to its subject matter. The whole thing is the equivalent of a silverback beating its chest and roaring about the things it really, really likes, with all the savage enthusiasm that entails. And it’s that reckless abandon that makes it so appealing. W.K. knows exactly what he’s doing here. This isn’t some frustrated musician thinking he’s making some work of genius only to be stymied by his limitations, with us laughing at him. He accomplishes precisely what he sets out to do, in the only possible way any of this could work: sheer over-the-top gusto.
I remember seeing W.K. perform this song on David Letterman one night, and he was every bit as frenetic on stage as he was in the music video. If it was just some act he was putting on to garner attention, well, there have to be less dizzying ways of garnering it. No, I think he was just having an absolute blast playing and signing this absurdly ebullient song. There’s almost a sort of purity in its simplicity. Clearly, here’s a guy who doesn’t care about image or market research or demographics, he’s just growling out his party music hoping we have half as good as time as he is. And considering what we’d been through when “Party Hard” came along, we were certainly ready to. It’s still a song that’s a speeding ticket waiting to happen when I hear it in my car. Something tells me Andrew W.K. would approve.