Since 2002, Fearless Records has been putting out the “Punk Goes…” album series. The series seems to have found most success which is now its sixth volume. The Punk Goes Pop albums, release a batch of tracks every couple of years of metal/scream-o/hard rock bands covering iconic pop songs. Such covers have included A Day To Remember doing The Fray’s “Over My Head (Cablecar) and giving it a foot tapping heavy version to our ears. Or how about A Skylit taking Eminem and Rihanna’s passion of “Love The Way You Lie” and screaming and singing their heart out to it. But no song is better done that Telle Smith’s growls covering Kanye West’s “Mercy.” The covers are not always heavy, how about Chiodos’ Craig Owens covering Coldplay’s “Paradise.” No matter the the song every artist adds their creative flare to it making a club banger into a moshing worthy song. This November, Fearless Records seeks to add another notch into the Punk Goes Pop series with their sixth installment.
The opening track of Paramore’s “Ain’t It Fun” is exactly as the title says. Led by the cooing vocals of Issue’s Tyler Carter and supporting on the drums by the young drumming machine that is The Word Alive’s Luke Holland, this song has such a bromance vibe to it. The passion and love the two have for their craft is so vibrantly evident in the song that it translates so darn well.
Track 2 is Miley Cyrus’ beautiful ballad “Wrecking Ball” covered by August Burns Red, a band who is all too familiar with the Punk Goes Pop series previously covering Brittany Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” Needless to say this track had my jaw dropped, nothing too out of the blue from the ABR guys fantastic guitars and drums, but the chorus features almost a lighter version of Jake Luhr’s aggressive vocal tone that properly does the Miley Cyrus song its proper justice.
On the next track we have the dudes of We Came As Romans covering Taylor Swift’s “I Knew You Were Trouble” one of the first tracks released prior to the albums full release. This song is just a fun track that takes Kyle Pavone’s soft melodic voice and meshes it with Dave Stephens aggressive tone in a tug of war of sorts alternating builds and choruses and such.
The fourth track is I believe the shining gem on this album. Could I be partial because I recently spent an evening chilling with Upon A Burning Body? Certainly. But let me justify this statement. These guys not only teamed up rap legend Ice-T but they added original vocals to DJ Snake’s party anthem, “Turn Down For What.” Sal and Ruben’s guitars ring throughout the song, basset Rey Martinez adds just the heavy rhythm this song needs and Tito holds it down HARD on the cans. But the vocals provided by Danny Leal (again like Jake Luhrs..feel lighter than normal) and Ice-T just STEAL this song and take it from an EDM anthem into a hard rock, head banging, party banger, and just as you think it is over with a small break, the track comes back for one last finale chorus.
We are not at all close to being done because Set It Off comes on next and they destroy the next track, Ariana Grande’s “Problem.” What I love about this track is it is just so naturally fun and peppy but throw in Set It Off’s natural energy to the pop princess’ anthem it becomes such a fun foot tapping and head banging track thanks to Cody Carson’s vocals. After recently seeing Set It Off live, I can 300% see why they chose this song to cover, their style translates so well onto it.
Next up is another band I am far too familiar with. Crown The Empire covers Ellie Golding’s “Burn.” The first thing you will notice, is no screams. This was an eyebrow raiser because when I heard CTE was going to be on this album, let alone when I heard they would be covering “Burn” I wondered how it would translate. Great guitar and bass from Brandon, Benn, and Hayden, with a strong and catchy drums from Brent. The vocals remain clean even in the final beautiful crescendo towards the final chorus where one would expect Dave Escamilla to unload a vicious scream onto the track but the beautifully melodic vocals of Andy just keep ringing in my ears as Dave harmonizes against it. I went in expecting one thing and left with something totally different. Final verdict on this track would have to be positive even without screams. Everyone knows the CTE guys are capable of putting out non-scream vocals so I think this track was really just a beautiful showcase of all the members versatility but specifically showing that Andy and Dave are capable of so much more than screams.
We have up next Oceans Ate Alaska cove rig “Drunk In Love” by Beyonce with her boo Jay Z. Rule of thumb, don’t touch the queen, it is just an unspoken given in the music industry. I was not a fan of this track, far too heavy of a band to be covering a quiet track like “Drunk In Love” however the chorus does redeem the overly heavy verses as do the guitars and drums. This one I think comes from just a creative perspective. It is musically the rhythmic choices on certain parts of the song that confuse me. The breakdown is just so gritty and deep and I feel like you simply cannot appropriately translate a Beyonce song into metal core. The energy though that these gentlemean put into this song marvelous. I am sure there is a pressure when you have to cover a legend and I think in that respect these guys gave an extreme amount of passionate energy to adding there metal core flair to a respected pop anthem.
Next up is Lorde’s “Royals” which I forgot was honestly a song because it was so overplayed and then disappeared. HOWEVER I LOVE THIS VERSION OF IT. Youth In Revolt’s vocalist True gives Lorde the justice she deserves as an artist. Scott Baker also throws some pretty destructive fills on the drums a long with a high paced tempo as the song does not stray too far away from it’s original, till the chorus, when it just BREAKS DOWN HARD for maybe 7 seconds. The epic breakdown resolves itself very quickly into the final chorus and then abruptly ends. WHAT A TEASE.
Volumes covering Drake’s “Hold On We’re Going Home” is great it. For a band I have listened to here and there I loved that they were not only on this album, but covering Drake, again like the Lorde track, not too far off from the original just with some screams and heavy guitars. This song really has some killer drums and backing guitars that just fade into the background, one of those great songs to drive down the highway to and headbang to. The shocker this track has though is that it is heavier than “Turn Down For What.” I think it worked to Volumes advantage in this case like it did to UABB’s.
Now next up is The 1975’s “Chocolate” covered by Knuckle Puck. I am not familiar with the song, the original band, or the covering band. I am instantly in love with the great guitars in the beginning that repeat throughout the chorus. The drum fill into the chorus filthy. Great vocals all around. As an honest voice on this track specifically it is an A+ makes me not only want to check out The 1975 but also give Knuckle Puck some more listening.
Oh man have I been excited for this track. “Sweater Weather” by The Neighbourhood is one of my favorites. Such a chill track to just sit outside to and think to (judge me). But when you give it to Jonny Craig and the boys of Slaves, you can simply expect them to murder it. And boy do they. The first half of the song remains true to the original but the second chorus gets a little more creative and just more boastfully heavy, with more eccentric vocals and heavy guitars supporting it. The final bridge is pure ecstasy with Jonny Craig just belting it till the final words as it wraps up the song.
“Are You Gonna Stay The Night” is a favorite of mine by Zedd (and Haley Williams). State Champs crush the track bottom line, the gritty vocals add pounds of passion to the EDM anthem. I really do not have much to say about the track, it simply does the original justice, and is just strong all around.
Lastly is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. A lot of people seem to hate the original…why is beyond me. Because I love it. By far the toe tapping anthem of the 21st century. The New Jersey 6 piece band Palisades give the song just a heavier makeover. Like a prom queen putting on some black eyeliner this track is still as bubbly as it is known to be but it just has a different outfit on.
All in all this is BY FAR the strongest installment of the Punk Goes Pop series. If I sincerely had to pick one thing this album needs to improve on is its track ordering. A lot of strong tracks in the beginning and a weaker finish towards the end makes me feel that if it were organized differently we could have had a strong build from beginning to end. But hey, that is an easy fix with a custom playlist.
All in all, this album is worth the price. Go support the bands, go support Fearless Records, and go pick up Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6.