Meredith Graves, here
This is a good read, and I think she’s A-plus, 100% right about the misogynistic backlash to Lana Del Rey, but oh man do I have a problem with calling Andrew W.K. a “complete fake.” I really would expect a little more understanding, too, from a touring performer. Like, were Devo fakes because they all decided at one point to perform with flower pots on their heads? Was Bowie ever accused of being inauthentic for performing under a persona? (I honestly don’t care if he was.) Lady Gaga, anyone? What level of concern for theatricality will we accept from our musicians before we accuse them of falseness? Was Liberace a fake?
It’s a trick question (or maybe even wholly irrelevant), because even bands who decide to dispense with theatricality and performative personae have made a calculated decision (looking at you, Pavement). To decide to perform “authenticity” is every bit as performative as adopting a persona. Some performers just decide to really do it up, and I fully grant Graves that Andrew W.K. and Lana Del Rey are absolutely similar in that regard.
Another big problem I have with Graves’s argument is how she just can’t wrap her head around the fact that W.K. has spoken about performance art at the Guggenheim (High Art!) but has written and performed songs with titles like “Party Til You Puke” (Low Art!), and she extends the same low opinion toward W.K.’s audience. Like, no way anyone out there headbanging could actually be cultured, or be interested precisely in the seeming contradictions of a performer such as W.K. They’re all just gross boys; her argument depends on it. (And like, anecdotally relevant, but I’ve definitely known a lot more girls who are fans of W.K. than boys.) Like, what kind of stodgy old garbage-headed gatekeeping is all that? To paraphrase Walt Whitman, like, Andrew W.K. contains multitudes, bruh.