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Punk Goes Pop Returns With 5th Volume

November 25, 2012

I’ve always loved the Punk Goes Pop series of albums. They always feature a good selection of bands I like, covering popular pop songs and giving them a whole new lease of alternative life. Punk Goes Pop 5 is no exception.

This time around, Punk Goes Pop opens with Texan hardcore band Memphis May Fire giving us their take on Bruno Mars’s number one single “Grenade”. I already like the original, but this cover gives it a completely new edge. It may be the first track on the album, but I think it’s also my favourite.

Next up is Upon This Dawning’s cover of “Call Me Maybe”, the infectious tune brought to us originally by Carly Rae Jepsen. Upon This Dawning’s version is much more to my liking than the original, although I still can’t shake the image firmly imprinted on brain by the video of the OAPs in a Canadian retirement home doing their own version of the song. Can’t see them adapting this cover though; they might put their backs out headbanging.

“Somebody That I Used To Know” reminds me of being on holiday, simply because it was playing one night in a restaurant while I was in the US this summer. Mayday Parade’s version, however, I don’t feel quite does Gotye’s original justice. It’s still good, but it just lacks some of the emotion of the original, and I liked the marimba in Gotye’s version.

I’ve not heard the original of “Some Nights”, so I don’t know how much of a departure from it Like Moths to Flames have made. I’m guessing a pretty huge one. In places it sounds a little jumbled, like they’re trying to put their own mark on it and keep elements of the original at the same time, but it’s OK. Not one of my favourite tracks here.

Some would argue that a bit of Michael Jackson is never out of place on an album of pop covers. Am I one of them? I’m undecided. Breathe Carolina haven’t sent me wild with their pop covers on previous volumes of Punk Goes Pop, and their cover of Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean doesn’t either. It sounds pretty much like a different band singing a Michael Jackson song without putting any mark of their own on it, or at least not enough that if I heard it while out and about I’d be able to say “oh yeah, that’s the Breathe Carolina cover”. Overall it left me cold.

Rihanna’s music tends to lend itself really well to being punked up. All Time Low’s cover of “Umbrella” on Punk Goes Crunk has become a bit of a classic, and I really, really enjoyed A Skylit Drive’s cover of “Love The Way You Lie” on Punk Goes Pop 4 was one of my favourite tracks on that album. Forever The Sickest Kids aren’t one of my favourite bands normally, and I don’t think they’ve done as much as they could have done with “We Found Love” (the original features Calvin Harris). There are places where it’s brilliant, but also places where it too closely mimics the original for my liking, although this creates a great juxtaposition of genres throughout the song. An OK track.

These days, you couldn’t have a Punk Goes Pop album without including a bit of Bieber. I cannot STAND Justin Bieber, but I accept his place in the music industry if it’s only to provide rubbish pop for decent punk bands to put their own stamp on. Issues’s cover of “Boyfriend” is a little unnerving at first, but grows on you as the song goes on and I reckon it’s way better than Bieber’s original.

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is another 80s throwback tune that feels a little out of place on Punk Goes Pop 5. The Maine do a great job of bringing it into the 21st century, but it doesn’t have the same tempo and energy as the original, or as other tracks on the album, and it just doesn’t quite fit.

Crown The Empire’s cover of “Payphone”, originally by Maroon 5, brings us quickly back to the present and is exactly the type of song that is the reason these albums are so brilliant. Much better than things better suited to Punk Goes 80s.

Next up is Craig Owens’s cover of Coldplay’s “Paradise”. You can’t really mess with Coldplay too much and it just wouldn’t work all punked up with guitars and stuff, and Craig Owens doesn’t do much to differentiate it from the original other than you can tell it’s definitely not Chris Martin singing. However, at the end of the album, it makes for quite a nice change from the onslaught of guitars and shouty vocals…

Which we return to straight away in The Word Alive’s cover of Kanye West’s “Mercy”. To me, this song is largely just noise. After “Paradise”, it’s like hell, really. This kind of screamy shouty isn’t my cup of tea in the real world so it’s even less my thing in the land of punk covers of pop songs. It’s very instrumental heavy so you can’t hear the vocals to know how it connects with the original and what features they share. I don’t like it.

The final song on the album is “Ass Back Home”, originally by Gym Class Heroes, but presented here by Secrets. This I like better. It makes a good final song in that it’s a return to the essence of Punk Goes Pop, but it’s not as good as some of the songs on the earlier part of the album, like “Grenade”, for example, which I can say now I’m at the end is definitely my favourite.

Punk Goes Pop 5 is a fantastic continuation of a great series of albums that, for as long as there’s pop music and as long as there are punk bands, will have no end.

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