Mario’s Music Review: “FANDOM” by Waterparks


Flickr/Claire Schuppel

Mario Ghosn writes about one of his favorite albums, “FANDOM” by Waterparks.

Mario Ghosn, Staff Reporter

If there is one thing I enjoy more than anything else in the world, it is finding and listening to new music. I take great pride in my ever growing collection of playlists and albums. Therefore, I want to begin sharing and reviewing my favorite albums I have found over the years starting with Waterparks, my favorite band, and their third studio album,“FANDOM,” released on Oct. 11, 2019. 

Consisting of lead vocalist Awsten Knight, lead guitarist Geoff Wigington and drummer Otto Wood, Waterparks is best described as a pop-punk band who is not afraid to try new things and blur the lines in their music, resulting in them not fully conforming to the traditional pop-punk genre label placed on them. This blurring of genres ultimately culminates in “FANDOM” with Knight, who is the mastermind behind the lyrics and structure of the songs, calling out fans and management who want the band to conform and be grateful for the little they have instead of branching out and expressing themselves in ways they have not before. According to a Q&A Knight did with the Daily Bruin, he felt that his words had been misinterpreted in the past so he wanted to create an album where his words cannot be misconstrued.

“Watch What Happens Next,” the second song of the album, tackles this issue head-on. Knight bluntly calls out those who he believes are disregarding his dreams and vision for the future. The song is a conduit for Knight to let out his frustrations with his past labels who underpaid the band and fans who did not support the genre shifts the band made. To address the fans who were voicing their displeasure for the shift in their music, Knight references Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” stating “HipHop can do whatever it wants, like make country songs and hit number one.” He envies Lil Nas X who is able to push boundaries without being attacked by his fanbase. What makes the song unique to the rest of the Waterparks discography is how Knight openly discusses that he wants his career to be greater than what it is now. He wants to live a lavish lifestyle with his bandmates and friends. He is not afraid to go against the mold and become taboo to the pop-punk community. 

Knight created this album to uninhibitedly address issues while also trying new things. Upbeat songs such as “Dream Boy” and “Easy To Hate” use electronic instrumentals and voice synthesizers to create a melody you cannot help but bop your head to. Knight also decided to showcase what his art could be without the pressure of fans and labels by utilizing autotune to warp his voice to fit the themes of songs such as “Turbulent” and “Worst.” He states in “Watch What Happens Next” that when he put autotune on a snippet of “Worst” and released it for the fans, he was met with disgust and judgment.

This album opened up the eyes of many fans and is revered in the Waterparks “fandom” as one of the very best – Knight was right to bet on himself and his vision for the band. This album spawned the two most listened to Waterparks songs ever: “I Miss Having Sex But At Least I Don’t Want To Die Anymore” and “Turbulent.” Without taking the risk and going against what he was told, these songs would have never been released. 

This album is one of my favorites because I want to listen to music that is real and hard hitting. “FANDOM” makes me feel something that other albums cannot because many artists and bands only care about keeping their certain niche and fanbase intact instead of creating art that comes from their heart and soul. Knight pours out his feelings in an emotionally stimulating way that results in unique lyrics and creative instrumentals. The closing song of this album, “I Felt Younger When We Met,” is the culmination of all of the themes and emotions shown in the previous tracks. Knight is the most raw in this song, which is why it is my favorite track. It tackles the loss of someone who knew all of his sins and flaws and is the perfect song to end the album because of how he becomes the most open about his emotions. 

As cliché as it is to say, this 15-song album does an incredible job of showcasing Waterparks’ versatility as Knight demonstrates his ability to shift from raunchy and demanding to vulnerable and easygoing at the drop of a hat. Dichotomy is a term usually reserved for talking about two opposing entities but I would dare say there is a dichotomy between every song on this album. “FANDOM” screams opposition, yet it somehow finds a way to tie together into a cohesive listen. I highly recommend you give “FANDOM” a listen and appreciate all of the detail Waterparks put into this musical masterpiece.