Headphones: Andrew W.K. Parties In A New Light

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When Andrew W.K. (Wilkes-Krier) began making music in 1996, people were skeptical of the way he merged different genres of music into one unique sound. Over two decades later, Andrew W.K. is still producing new music combining his trademark vocals with his talent on the piano, guitar, and drums. This March, Andrew W.K. has given the music world another blend of rock, metal, and pop in his latest album, You’re Not Alone.

The 18-track album combines 15 songs along with three tracks that act as lectures instead of songs. After trademarking himself as a self-proclaimed partier on his debut album, I get Wet, W.K. took a new route on the message of his latest album. You’re Not Alone focuses more on his ability to overcome and endure pain while trying to convey this message to his listener. It is clear that he evokes significantly more emotion than his previous work which focuses more on his life as a partier through heavy bangers with an emphasis on his background in metal.

While the first track on the album, “The Power of Partying”, does not feature any vocals from W.K., it is a beautiful representation of the producing talent he possesses. In a 96-second instrumental track, he combines pieces of his heavy metal background with his skills on the piano. With a sound that seems as if it was produced by a grand orchestra, the album’s opening track keeps with the up-tempo positive theme of the entire album.

“Music Is Worth Living For”, the second track of the album, takes the listener in a completely different direction showcasing the vocal talent of Andrew W.K. The song is mainly created with a heavy metal feel, while incorporating small samples of the piano skills he displayed in the first song. In the song, W.K. is able to create a feeling of empowerment and preservation over the everyday struggles he faces. The track evokes the same kind of emotion that is felt on the rest of the album that with perseverance pain can be overcome through lyrics like, “And I bet you never thought we had the strength inside/Yeah we almost died/And we kept on going”. Wilkes makes it clear that his silver lining throughout his pain was his love for music, and that through that he “kept on going” to the other side of his pain.

“Ever Again”, which showcases W.K.’s skills on the guitar coupled again with piano chords to compliment his deep vocal presence, is arguably one of the most powerful songs on the whole album. “I'll admit there were times I was terrified/I honestly thought I wouldn't survive”, he shouts, proclaiming the darkest moments he endured and the pain he thought would never go away. However, he delivers his central message of perseverance shortly after explaining, “But I learned a lot from my trip to the dark side/And from here on out I’ll keep my light alive”.

Throughout the entire album, W.K. evokes the feeling of his own pain from the listener. In each song, he explains the struggles he went through and that many of his listeners feel as well. By doing this, he can formulate a second and stronger message: that through these struggles and the pain, joy can be found on the other side.

“Keep On Going” encapsulates the entire message of the album simply with the title. W.K. hopes to inspire his listeners with the ability to persevere through their darkest moments. Again, the song utilizes several of W.K.’s musical talents. By slicing up-tempo piano chords into a traditional rock and heavy metal sound, W.K. has been able to produce another message of resilience and strength. “Keep On Going” as well as many other tracks on the album act as an example of the changes W.K. has made not only in the sound of his music, but the changes he has made to himself as a result of his pain and struggle.

At three distinct points in the album, W.K. makes his message much more straightforward by directly speaking to the listener. “The Feeling of Being Alive”, “In Your Darkest Moments”, and “Confusion and Clarity” all feature sermons from W.K. in which he relates the message of resilience and preserving strength to his personal struggles. By speaking directly, W.K. is able to motivate the listener through their own darkest moments and inspire positivity and strength to overcome. In the form of motivational speech, these three tracks help W.K. in encouraging hope to the listeners capturing the central message of the album.

You’re Not Alone not only contains a message of positivity and resilience, but also captures the new mentality that Andrew W.K. has brought to his music. It is clear that since his last project, W.K. has experienced incomparable pain. While his previous work focused more on the establishment of his role as a “party king”, his most recent record explains there is a more important message to be found in the highs and lows of life.

What makes W.K. such a compelling and innovative artist, despite being in the industry for nearly 25 years, is his ability to blend different sounds through his overall musical talent. On You’re Not Alone, W.K. again displays the vast knowledge of music production he possesses while demonstrating his instrumental skill as well. Back in 2001, on his debut album, fans got a taste of his capabilities as he took to the guitar, piano, and drums to combine with his technical production skills to create an album full of hits. Today, he continues to impress music fans of multiple genres as he utilizes this musical knowledge and talent to combine elements of pop, metal, and rock music.

Andrew W.K. ensures that his music incorporates a powerful message to accompany the musical talents he produces in his music. After establishing his label of a partier, W.K. has since moved on to produce more meaningful music with the intention to inspire hope in his listeners instead of simply making crafty bangers to make listeners move. He has certainly found his new direction in both his music and his message. He continues to break the barriers of modern music by incorporating so many different sounds into one comprehensive track. Through doing this, Andrew W.K has been able to create an album with a diverse sound with one inclusive message.