The newest installment of the Punk Goes… series, Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6, was released this week and to say it is the best installment of the series in a while would be a complete understatement. For the first time in a long time, we are treated to a 13-song compilation that delivers quality as well as ingenuity.
My idea of a successful cover is when the artist changes it up enough so it’s not instantly recognizable as a cover, but not so much that the song loses what made fans fall in love with it in the first place. I think that quite a few bands have difficulty finding that balance, thus resulting in forgettable covers and, for the Punk Goes… series, unsuccessful compilations. Finally though, with the sixth volume of pop song covers, bands seem to have found that balance.
Let’s start with the great, and that would be the two singles released by Fearless Records – Tyler Carter and Luke Holland’s cover of “Ain’t It Fun” and We Came As Roman’s cover of “I Knew You Were Trouble.” Carter and Holland take a fun song and make it even more fun. Both are musicians who are at the top of the scene right now and bringing them together makes for one amazing song. I can’t wait to see what these two come up with in the future.
As soon as I heard WCAR’s cover, I immediately knew nothing else would compare on this compilation, and I wasn’t wrong. This is the PERFECT example of how a cover should be executed, so future Punk Goes… contributors take note. They kept the song’s quirky, upbeat feel, but blended enough metal into it to give it new life. The stand out part of the song is in the chorus when the “Ohs” are replaced with screams.
If I had to pick a favorite song, it would, hands down, be State Champs’ cover of “Stay The Night,” originally by Zedd and Hayley Williams. I heard State Champs from afar playing on Warped Tour, and I have been intrigued ever since. Plus this is one of my all-time favorite songs, which is saying a lot since I don’t listen to pop music ever. The thing that won me over with this song is Derek DiScanio’s annunciation and inflections. His voice is breathtaking, and matches Williams tenfold in vocal performance. I would not object to a collaboration between State Champs and Williams.
As far as the good goes, there are a few tracks that have a strong presence. Youth In Revolt and Issues both deliver covers that are so different from the originals. I have never been a fan of Lorde, but Youth In Revolt make “Royals” a tad bit tolerable. While the charts have considered Lorde to be a rock artist (HOW?!?!), if you want a true rock rendition of that song, listen to this one.
Since “Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Drake was released, I have heard numerous alternative covers of it and all have been fantastic. This song translates perfectly into other genres. But Issues’ cover is unlike any I have heard so far. It starts off smooth and mellow, but quickly changes.
One of my favorite bands to emerge recently has been The Neighbourhood, so to see them being covered so early in their career excited me. Unfortunately, Slaves’ cover of “Sweater Weather” started off weak. It reminded me of a mediocre karaoke performance at first. There was nothing unique about the song and the instrumentals would overpower the vocals at points. Luckily, towards the end, the song started to take on a life of its own and becomes enjoyable.
Where there’s good, there has to be bad. Thankfully, with this compilation, there wasn’t too much to rag on. August Burns Red completely drops the ball with their cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball.” This is the only time that I actually would’ve rather heard Cyrus singing. There is no deciphering between verses and choruses, and you only get a break from the chaos during the bridge. It’s a mess and not fun to listen to. This was just poor song choice on August Burns Red’s part.
Another song that just doesn’t do it for me is Palisades’ cover of “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. They took a song that was severely overplayed and annoying, and made it worse. I don’t think there was any way I would have enjoyed this cover honestly.
One thing that I do really enjoy about the Punk Goes… compilations is when you come across the unexpected. There’s always going to be bands that blow you away and you didn’t even know it could happen. The most unexpected breakout of the whole album is Upon A Burning Body’s “Turn Down For What” cover. With Ice-T on the track, it easily qualifies as the coolest collaboration in Punk Goes… history. I didn’t know I would love this song as much as I do and it amazes me how easily a hip hop song with the same few lines repeated over and over again can translate into a heavy screamo track. It’s brilliant and definitely worth the listen.
The song that most bummed me out was Set It Off’s cover of “Problem.” I was expecting sass-master Cody Carson to out-sass Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea, but he failed. This is by no means a bad song, it’s just weak. Set It Off are known for going big and they don’t with this cover. There’s also a cut to “No Scrubs” by TLC that makes things confusing.
What were your favorite covers from this volume of Punk Goes Pop?
You can purchase a CD here.