The problem with the Punk Goes series is not that the bands selected for the compilation no longer come remotely close to falling under the “punk” umbrella. It is also not the fault of the bands, who are now selected not by the merit of their music, but by the buzz of their brand. No, the blame for this horrid mutation of what was once a cool, interesting concept falls at the feet of Fearless Records. They will keep releasing these albums as long as there are teenagers to consume it, and from the looks of it, I don’t think the world is ever going to run out of teenagers.
It would appear that we are stuck with the Punk Goes series. So long as we indulge in this scene of music, we will be forced to face the consequences. Really, it’s fine. At least we get to make fun of it.
Here’s what we’re going to do: As per TGS tradition, Craig and I (Donald, by the way) will each be reviewing Punk Goes Pop, Vol. 6 on this very page. I will be providing a small write-up of each cover song. Craig, on the other hand, will be providing a moving picture or “.gif” that closely resembles his reaction to the cover. It’s entirely ridiculous, but so is this entire compilation series, and we can only work with what we’re given. Let’s get this over with.
1. Tyler Carter / Luke Holland – Ain’t It Fun (originally performed by Paramore)
Donald’s take: I’ll be the first to admit that I have nothing against Tyler Carter. The dude can sing. When compared to Hayley Williams, who may end up going down as one of the greatest vocalists in emo history, he simply has too large of a shoe to fill. He tries his damnedest, though, and there is certainly credit due for trying, but Carter’s attempts to distinguish his take on the track from Williams’s only further proves the fact that Hayley Williams was the only person meant to sing this song. Youtube drummer Luke Holland (who I may or may not have had to Google to learn who he was) provides drums for the track, but fails to turn in a truly noteworthy performance.
2. August Burns Red – Wrecking Ball (originally performed by Miley Cyrus)
Donald’s take: After rendering Britney Spears’s smash “…Baby One More Time” an unrecognizable pandering session to pit-obessessed Warped Tour attendees, the underrated August Burns Red have returned for another regrettable choice of a pop song to assault with their aggressive brand of metalcore. The results this time around are exactly the same.
3. We Came As Romans – I Knew You Were Trouble (originally performed by Taylor Swift)
Donald’s take: Despite the shade I just threw on this entire venture, there have been bands who have emerged from the rubble, and despite my best efforts, have created covers that I couldn’t help but bounce around my room while listening. We Came As Romans did exactly that with their cover of The Wanted’s “Glad You Came” on Vol. 5, and this time around they’re really testing my patiences by coming out with a Taylor Swift cover. Like August Burns Red’s cover before it, the band’s approach was relatively the same, making this cover at the very least tolerable. WeCAR took a fun approach to the song, didn’t take it too seriously, and ended up with an above-average product at the end of it all.
4. Upon A Burning Body & Ice T – Turn Down For What (originally performed by DJ Snake & Lil John)
Donald’s take: On the other side of the “just have fun and don’t take it too seriously” approach that We Came As Romans succeeded with, Upon a Burning Body took the year’s most annoying hit song, brought in an attention-seeking Ice-T, and produced the most unnecessary breakdown-laiden cover of an EDM song you’ll ever hear and wish you never heard again.
5. Set It Off – Problem (originally performed by Ariana Grande ft Iggy Azalea)
Donald’s take: Set It Off’s attempt at the song that broke Ariana Grande through to the mainstream is an interesting interpretation (including a reference to TLC’s “No Scrubs”), but the track ends up feeling more like an angry lover’s confrontation that Grande’s empowered tone. The rap verse Iggy Azalea provides on the track gets the breakdown treatment, which goes about as well as you think it would. Things get even heavier during the band’s delivery of the final chorus, taking this cover from tolerable to forgettable in a matter of seconds.
6. Crown The Empire – Burn (originally performed by Ellie Goulding)
Donald’s take: I was fully expecting that Crown the Empire would take Ellie Goudling’s track and turn it into a breakdown-heavy mess, but they utilize their cinematic blend of screamo/metalcore and concoct a slow-burning (sorry, had to) track that is the most pleasant surprise of this release.
7. Oceans Ate Alaska – Drunk In Love (originally performed by Beyonce ft Jay Z)
Donald’s take: There have been many bad covers throughout the course of this Punk Goes series, but I can say with absolute certainty that this one is by far the worst.
8. Youth In Revolt – Royals (originally performed by Lorde)
Donald’s take: It seems like on every one of these things, a band will have a perfectly normal cover of a pop song that will inevitably take a turn towards generic screaming breakdowns that ruins the entire thing. Youth in Revolt (which I could have sworn was a Michael Cera movie) have stolen this page from Memphis May Fire’s playbook (see MMF’s cover of “Grenade” for proof), rendering the cover all the more disappointing because I now have to think about Memphis May Fire.
9. Volumes – Hold On, We’re Going Home (originally performed by Drake ft Majid Jordan)
Donald’s take: Everything I just said about Youth In Revolt’s cover of “Royals” applies to Volumes’s cover of “Hold On, We’re Going Home.”
10. Knuckle Puck – Chocolate (originally performed by The 1975)
Donald’s take: The 1975’s “Chocolate” is a song that can always put a huge smile on my face. When I heard that Knuckle Puck, one of the newest bands to come out of Suppy Nation, was going to cover the track, I knew that happiness was being threatened. However, the band didn’t try to get too cute with the cover, played to their strengths, and while it doesn’t have the swagger or pizzazz of the original, Knuckle Puck have provided a good cover that may end up having some replay value if their career continues to move forward in the years to come.
11. Slaves – Sweater Weather (originally performed by The Neighborhood)
Donald’s take: I’m just not sure about this one, at all. I’m not sure why anyone still wants to hear any music Johnny Craig makes. I’m not sure why he’s been given so many chances at redemption. I’m not sure why they decided to have his new band, Slaves, cover one of the most unique songs in indie rock in 2013. I’m not sure how they thought Craig would be able to channel The Neighbourhood vocalist Jesse Rutherford’s croon with any level of success. I’m not sure why I’ve spent so much time talking about this now, too.
12. State Champs – Stay The Night (originally performed by Zedd ft. Hayley Williams)
Donald’s take: Another Hayley Williams cover? Another song I love that I thought for sure was going to fail miserably? Another pleasant surprise? Awesome! State Champs, another promising new pop-punk band, take on the EDM smash from Zedd and, like Knuckle Puck, didn’t try to do too much with it. Instead, they did what they do best, worked the electronic parts out with their guitars, and made what I believe is the best cover on Punk Goes Pop, Vol. 6. Well done, State Champs!
13. Palisades – Happy (originally performed by Pharrell Williams)
Donald’s take: I can honestly say that my favorite part of this cover is that when it ends, there are no songs after it that I have to listen to. At last, the suffering is over. That is, of course, until the next Punk Goes Pop comes out, likely sometime next year.
Donald: I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t stand the Punk Goes series at all anymore. That being said, the covers turned in by Knuckle Puck, State Champs, and Crown the Empire impressed me, and it looks like we’ll be able to count on We Came As Romans to at least create an entertaining cover on these compilations moving forward. And think about it this way: no one covered Justin Bieber, no one covered a Pitbull song (whether it was his or a song he was featured on), and above all else, Ronnie Radke was not involved in any way. There aren’t too many, but there were some positive things we can take from Punk Goes Pop, Vol. 6. Let’s try to focus on that.