By T.J. Dempsey | Music Editor Published: 06/20/2013 8:00 am EST
It’s widely acknowledged that the standards for what constitutes “cool” are in constant flux, subject as they are to the fickle and fleeting attentions of a media-saturated public. Conversely, the image of a “cool” persona is often allowed to endure far beyond the culture that spawned it, particularly if said individual is by all accounts open to and aware of the changing world around them.
Case in point: regardless of your opinion of his music or various commercial pursuits, the general consensus has largely held that Andrew Wilkes-Krier is an all-around “cool dude.” His earlier musical output under the W.K. name have aged shockingly well these past 10+ years, especially if you’re the type to enjoy some good old earnest party jams (of which Andrew W.K. is the de facto master), and his continuing displays of good humor and his efforts as a motivational speaker all strongly suggest a decent human being at the core of the “party hard” stage-presence.
Andrew W.K.’s good-hearted impulses have made manifest some interesting byproducts over the years. For instance, it’s said that his deep appreciation for his extensive Japanese fan-base is what lead him to release a pair of Japan-only cover albums in 2008 and 2009, the latter of which celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Gundam anime series. 2008’s ‘The Japanese Covers,’ on the other hand, was more just a straight-up English language reworking of various Japanese rock and pop songs, retooled to fit Andrew W.K.’s signature, relentlessly grandiose sound.
The result is a consistently catchy and fun album that finds its peaks on anthems like “Little Love Song,” a cover of MONGOL800’s “Chiisana Koi no Uta.” One of the best parts of “Little Love Song,” and most of ‘The Japan Covers’ for that matter, is how natural the English lyrics feel within the song: there’s just enough clunkiness to indicate a language gap (I’m not actually sure, for the record, how accurately translated this or any of these songs are translated), and yet you could be forgiven that W.K.’s version was an original composition all its own. Aiding in that sense is the fact that Andrew W.K. fans might not recognize him here by vocals alone. There’s plenty of guitars and hammering keyboards in the mix to indicate that this is the same guy who brought us ‘I Get Wet,’ but Andrew’s raspy growl from that record has here morphed into a lighter, almost nasal affectation.
Needless to say, the track is an absolute blast, on par even with W.K.’s more popular standards. What sells it is the genuine gratitude in Andrew’s voice (overproduced though it may be), as well as the lyrics, which convey more the kind of platonic love one can easily see Andrew having for his fans. It’s actually kind of touching to hear him sing:
[These words] are true but they are small
And they’re really not enough
And my eyes are full of tears
And the tears are full of joy
And I don’t know what to say
I just want to hold you tight
You may scoff, but I challenge you to find a love song on the radio today with that degree of sincere, selfless emotion. Guess it just comes with the “cool dude” territory.
Thomas Dempsey hails from Greenville County, South Carolina, where he has made a name for himself assembling and delivering sandwiches. A graduate of Presbyterian College with a duel major in Creative Writing and History and a minor in film, he’s achieved the technical status of professional writer by contributing to Examiner.com as a DVD critic. An aficionado of all media, Thomas harbors a particular affinity for visual storytelling and music.