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10 Years, 100 Songs: #65. “We Do What We Like, And We Like What We Do”

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on July 30, 2009

Over the final months of our fine decade, Intensities in Ten Suburbs will be sending the Naughty Oughties out in style with a series of essays devoted to the top 100 songs of the decade–the ones we will most remember as we look back fondly on this period of pop music years down the road. The archives can be found here. If you want to argue about the order, you can’t, because we’re not totally sure what the qualifications are either. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy.

(Once again, I pre-empted myself on this one a couple years ago, as I wrote an ode to Andrew W.K.’s “Party Hard” as the #100 entry in my regrettably aborted “100 Years, 100 Songs” project. Nonetheless, it was one of the list’s better entries, so if you were sadly unaware of this blog’s existence in its earliest months, it is copied and pasted for your convenience here–albeit edited slightly, as double-checking was not a regular practice of mine in those days. Do give it a gander.)

I really couldn’t think of a better song to kick off my top 100 [of all-time] with than this. In fact, the words “kick off” could probably be used to sum up the entirety of Andrew W.K. It’s entirely arguable that no performer in the history of pop music has ever been as single-minded in his subject matter as AWK, and “Party Hard” is his most focused anthem ever–if Andrew W.K. is the God of party music, then “Party Hard” is His Ten Commandments, or at least his Commandments 1-8 (”We Want Fun” and “She is Beautiful” being #9 and #10).

“Party Hard” is a song about Partying Hard. So successful was “Party Hard” at being about Partying Hard, that Andrew W.K. was able to parlay the song into a public persona that far outlived his music in the pop culture subconscious. This included getting to host MTV’s Most Controversial Videos, landing a highly memorable guest spot on Aqua Teen Hunger Force, and even hosting his own T.V. show for a while, the regrettably short-lived MTV2 spot Your Friend Andrew W.K., in which people wrote in to the show asking for AWK to come over and help them with the groceries, or teach their kids how to fish, or help them rob a bank or something. He was always more than willing to comply, because that’s who he was. He was your friend, Andrew W.K. And he liked to party.

The song begins as it ends, middles, solos and bridges–”When it’s time to party we will party hard”–then a minor fill, and we’re off. Andrew W.K. is not a man who believes in build-ups, or really in dynamics in general–the one direction on AWK sheet music, should it exist, would be “PLAY LOUD,” and no one would ever dare attempt to conduct it. Mixed with every instrument at full rocking potential, “Party Hard” always sounds twice as loud as it should regardless of what volume it’s being played at. Instruments are totally interchangable–W.K.’s band is infamous for it’s four-guitar attack (two lead, two bass), which basically just functions so that guitar lines sound four times louder than they normally would. Brilliant.

The verses to this song (”YOU! YOU WORK ALL NIGHT! AND WHEN YOU WORK YOU DON’T FEEL ALL RIGHT!”) are fairly incidental, in between the first “YOU!” and the first pre-chorus at least. One chrous wouldn’t be nearly enough for “Party Hard,” so the pre-chorus chorus is almost as memorable–”WE WILL NEVER LISTEN TO YOUR RULES! / NO! / WE WILL NEVER DO THE THINGS YOU DO / NO! / WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT, AND WE’LL GET FROM YOU! / WE DO WHAT WE LIKE, AND WE LIKE WHAT WE DO!” Already raising the ante to us vs. them, party vs. not-party stakes, AWK flawlessly sets up the lay-up for the chorus to bring it home.

And bring it home, the chorus does. The guitars go into overdrive, AWK’s voiced is mutli-tracked to the point of sounding like a one-man army, and the one-chord piano riff sounds like the keys are going to get pounded through the instrument. “SO LET’S GET A PARTY GOING / LET’S GET A PARTY GOING / NOWIT’STIMETOPARTYANDWE’LLPARTYHARD / PARTY HARD! / LET’S GET A PARTY GOING / LET’S GET A PARTY GOING / WHENIT’STIMETOPARTY WEWILLALWAYSPARTYHARD!!!!” The rest of the song sounds vague and restrained by comparison–it’s the aural equivalent of willfully smashing your face with a brick. In a good way.

It couldn’t last, and it didn’t. Supposedly his [2007] album, Close Calls and Brick Walls, is pretty awesome, and the one song I have from it (”Pushing Drugs“) definitely helps to support this claim, but realistically, AWK has about as good a chance at a commercial or critical comeback as The Darkness–an 00s rock relic if there ever was one. Still,Andrew W.K.’s songs will be eternally remembered for their ability to reduce all of music to a simple Q and A format.

Q: Is this song about partying hard?

A: Yes. Yes it is.

As such, “Party Hard” is one of the greatest songs of all time.

The List So Far:

100. Green Day – “Jesus of Suburbia”
99. The Ying Yang Twins – “Wait (The Whisper Song)”
98. Crazytown – “Butterfly”
97. Taylor Swift – “Teardrops on My Guitar”
96. The Fray – “Over My Head (Cable Car)”
95. Fergie – “Fergalicious”
94. Lidstrom – “I Feel Space”
93. Chevelle – “Send the Pain Below”
92. T-Pain f/ Yung Joc – “Buy U a Drank (Shawty Snappin’)”
91. The Arctic Monkeys – “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
90. Cassie – “Me & U”
89. Nelly Furtado – “Maneater”
88. Mike Jones f/ Slim Thug & Paul Wall – “Still Tippin’”
87. Bat for Lashes – “Daniel”
86. The Darkness – “I Believe in a Thing Called Love”
85. Dynamite Hack – “Boyz n the Hood”
84. DJ Khaled f/ T.I., Rick Ross, Fat Joe, Birdman, Lil’ Wayne & Akon – “We Takin’ Over”
83. Matchbox20 – “Bent”
82. The Game f/ 50 Cent – “Hate It or Love It”
81. 311 – “Amber”
80. 3 Doors Down – “Krptonite”
79. Nas – “Made You Look”
78. Royksopp – “Eple”
77. The Pussycat Dolls – “Don’t Cha”
76. DMX – “Party Up (Up in Here)”
75. Junior Senior – “Move Your Feet”
74. Twista f/ Kanye West & Jamie Foxx – “Slow Jamz”
73. The Streets – “Weak Become Heroes”
72. Jimmy Eat World – “The Middle”
71. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Maps”
70. Snoop Dogg f/ Pharrell – “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
69. Alice DeeJay – “Better Off Alone”
68. Xiu Xiu – “I Luv the Valley OH!”
67. Incubus – “Stellar”
66. Mariah Carey – “We Belong Together”
65. Andrew W.K. – “Party Hard”

13 Responses to “10 Years, 100 Songs: #65. “We Do What We Like, And We Like What We Do””

  1. Sam Skeen said

    Nice entry; I think I missed it the first time around. Glad to see that Andrew W.K. made the top 100.

    Andrew, I know you already know about this, but for anyone else’s benefit, I talked to Andrew W.K. on the phone once. He was a fairly nice guy, and I’ll never forget his life advice: “stay in school, don’t party too hard, and never bend anything metal, because you’ll never be able to bend it back to the way it was.” It’s the advice that got me where I am today.

  2. Jason Kirk said

    I remember seeing Andrew in like 2002 at a metalcore fest. Nobody knew why he was there. He wasn’t as big as when Party Hard came out, but he was still pretty mainstream popular, and he sure didn’t play metalcore or go on about animal rights. Lots of skinny dudes with ear plugs were planning a revolt or protest or something.

    By the middle of his set, he was crowdsurfing with a kid riding on his shoulders, screaming I LOVE YOU ALL into the mic in his left hand while holding the other one down for the crowd to sing into. Never seen anybody own a crowd like that. And THEN he played Party Hard…

  3. Andrew WK is a gentleman and a scholar and one of the best live acts I have ever seen. Dude’s secretly a genius, I am pretty sure.

  4. Garret said

    Oh, there’s nothing secret about it.

  5. Doug said

    Everything good ever said about Andrew WK seems to be true, and if this doesn’t convince you, then probably nothing will.

  6. I saw Andrew WK lecture at NYU a few years ago and I actually thought he was awesome and really entertaining. Also saw him play Irving Plaza way back in the I Get Wet days. Way awesome live and so friendly, stayed after the show to talk to fans sign shit etc.

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