Punk Goes Pop 5

This time last year, I got my hands on one of my favorite compilation albums in my recent memory, Punk Goes Pop 4. Each track brought something to the table, creating an album I thoroughly enjoyed. It was the perfect blend of hardcore and pop-punk. A year passed, and without fail, a new slew of covers revealed themselves. Upon initial review, I was thrilled to see bands like The Word Alive, We Came as Romans, and Memphis May Fire on the billing. Then I got my hand on it. Within the first few songs it was evident something had changed…or maybe…didn’t change? Either way, this release was much less impactful than the previous release.

Scanning the list of covers, I saw a nice blend of popular radio hits from the past year. “Glad You Came, Some Nights, Boyfriend, Billie Jean?” For some reason beyond me, Fearless Records allowed classic hits to land on the track listing. Stupid move guys. Nobody wants to have classic songs sandwiched in between the likes of the lyrical “genesis” of Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber. Thankfully it only occurs twice, in the form of “Billie Jean” by Breathe Carolina and “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” by The Maine. If you have any familiarity with Breathe Carolina, you know exactly how their song came out: littered in awful electronica elements, and auto tune trash. When you think you’ve heard the worst, they break into an awkward hardcore element. While it certainly adds a new element, the transition is much too awkward to work.

With a compilation album, having filler tracks can quickly derail any potential success. That didn’t detract Fearless from including The Maine’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and Forever the Sickest Kids’ “We Found Love”. Both tracks lack the charm a punk cover should have. Compared to the rest of the album, these tracks come out as almost monotonous and really fall flat. Nothing helped these tracks stick out from the others, killing any potential flow the album was supposed to have.

I was beginning to question if this whole “Punk goes…” thing was wearing out on me. After a few listens it hit me. This album is just the same recycled trash that I was beginning to discover in the hardcore genre. Plain breakdowns, followed by some glitchy effects that are mainstays in this scene. The biggest culprit of redundancy occurred in the slopfest that is Upon This Dawning’s “Call Me Maybe”. As if the song did not suck enough when Jepsen did it, Upon This Dawning decided to take a stab at it. The vocals were atrocious, ruining any hope this song had of being listenable. But even ignoring the vocals, the instrumental track of this song is still really bland and extremely predictable. I was able to pinpoint the breakdown, and almost replicate the exact beat with my first listen. Upon This Dawning was just trying to make a catchy bubblegum pop song as brutal as possible, similar to For All Those Sleeping’s “You Belong With Me” off of Punk goes Pop 4. The difference is that For All Those Sleeping has actual talent, and a tad bit of a creativity. Not all hope is lost, however! If you are still searching for a pop song turned brutal, there is another option.

Like Moths To Flames took Fun’s hit “Some Nights” and turned that into a hardcore thrasher, with layer upon layer of depth in the instrumentation. It is clear Like Moths to Flames took the cover seriously and came out with a well thought out tune that has me banging my head as we speak. METAL!

As I touched on it earlier, a large portion of this album is just the same hardcore I have been hearing for some time now. With cookie cutter songs like Secret’s “Ass Back Home” and Crown the Empire’s “Payphone” I was getting lost. However, the lack of originality paved the way for me to appreciate the bands that strayed the path.

Craig Owens decided to do a relatively straight up cover of “Paradise”, but his voice makes this song incredible. The man can sing, with a suitable range I might add.

Memphis May Fire shredded “Grenade” with a combination of subtle hardcore elements and the strength of Matty Mullins’ voice. This song was a very nice start to the album, looking at the talent and overall appeal. This song is not brutal by any means, but it still retains Memphis May Fire’s style with laser precision.

Mayday Parade uses the vocal talents Derek Sanders and Vic Fuentes to change up “Somebody That I Used to Know” just the right amount, creating a song with a tad more intensity, but not so much where it ruins the core of the song.

Kyle Pavone demonstrates a new vocal style for We Came as Romans in “Glad You Came”. Tyler Carter destroys Justin Beiber’s “Boyfriend” with his new band Issues, jumping from crushing riffs to his smooth R&B influence. And the first taste of the uber-popular Luke Holland can be heard on The Word Alive’s “Mercy” cover, and the drummer does not disappoint whatsoever.

The new installment of the Punk Goes… series might be its weakest. Only half the album has lasting value. Fearless needs to start getting more out of the bands for this compilation to survive. It’s beginning to seem like bands are more concerned with being included on the CD rather than putting out a song worth including. For the bands that gave us something of value, thank you. These songs actually stick out amongst a tracklist of bare minimum efforts. Those bands deserve credit for giving us listeners a reason to spend our time on Vol. 5.


Album Rating 6/10

Download: Some Nights, Paradise

Play: Grenade, Boyfriend

Delete: Billie Jean, Call Me Maybe