10 years ago Andrew W.K had a vision: that he would party and the whole world would join him. Everyone would party (possibly ‘til they puked) and the world would be a better place. He was so determined to make this vision a reality that he wrote a song about partying. Then he wrote the same song 11 more times, took a photo of himself covered in blood and released it as I Get Wet. And the party never stopped.
To celebrate 10 years of I Get Wet, Andrew W.K’s party manifesto is getting the reissue treatment. In many ways it’s strange that it would get such attention. I Get Wet isn’t really one of those ‘landmark’ records that demands celebration, nor is it so obscure that it needs re-analysis. I Get Wet simply is.
What I Get Wet is, however, is unequivocal proof that ‘to make people have fun’ is as good a reason to make music as any. The songs on I Get Wet are not musically challenging, nor are they lyrically intriguing. They’re not even varied, at all. Every one of I Get Wet’s 12 tracks is an up-tempo stomper with layers upon layers of smooth guitars and crunching keyboards and Andrew W.K’s largely indistinguishable snarl buried somewhere in the middle. Three songs have the word ‘party’ in the title (It’s Time To Party, Party Hard, Party Til You Puke) and most of the others are about partying anyway and yet one of I Get Wet’s most bizarre accomplishments is that it never really explains what a party consists of. When the Beastie Boys fought for our right to party, it was with the understanding that we would playing loud music and spiking the punch with Spanish fly. Andrew W.K doesn’t care what you do at your party, as long as you party hard.
Opening track It’s Time To Party remains one of the greatest mission statements of all time. Right out of the gate, upon building drums and a chugging riff, Andrew W.K arrives with a wave of guitars and orders us to party. Uncontrollably ecstatic (and only a minute and a half long), it’s over almost before you have time to process it. Party Hard follows with the album’s most distinct, fun riff and is succeeded in turn by Girls Own Love, which features a chorus key-change that is pure ear candy. The rest of the album follows suit.
So it’s well established that I Get Wet is big and dumb, but is it flawed? Absolutely. The fact that there is ZERO variation, musically or lyrically, means that unless you are wholeheartedly dedicated to the party things can begin to wear slightly. Moreover, despite the similarity between the tracks, some do fall a little short. There’s very little to separate Party Hard from, say, Ready To Die and yet somehow the latter fails to match the former. By contrast, the title track starts (perhaps appropriately) as being very ‘I Get Wet by numbers’ until the female vocal harmonies kick in towards the end and it just ascends. It’s hard to explain, but it is what it is.
It’s also hard to explain exactly why I Get Wet is a great album. It’s loud, monotonous and incredibly simple but it’s entirely possible that these qualities are why it succeeds after all. There’s an earnestness here that’s rare to come by these days. Throughout I Get Wet, Andrew W.K shows no sign of irony, cynicism or self-consciousness. Andrew W.K is enjoying himself and he wants you to enjoy yourself too. And what better reason for an anniversary rerelease than that?