Sunday, November 07 2010 00:00

PUNK GOES POP Volume 3 (Review)

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61y0QrV4SHL. SL110 For the past decade, FEARLESS RECORDS has been pumping out new installments of their PUNK GOES... series with consistency. I've long held a special place in my heart for the series which I documented back in April with a special feature entitled PUNK GOES... again: 10 Years of FEARLESS RECORDS' PUNK GOES... Series. In that I offered up my thoughts on the 8 albums previously released, followed later that month by my review of album #9, PUNK GOES CLASSIC ROCK. Now to close out 2010, Fearless has issues PUNK GOES POP Volume 3, the second sequel to their 2002 "POP" release. How does it stand among others in the series? Let's take a look with some brief thoughts on each track...

1. Breathe Carolina - "Down"

(originally recorded by Jay Sean ft. Lil Wayne)

With it's thumping club beat and synth lead, Breathe Carolina captures the feel of the original song a little bittoo close to the original.

2. Woe, Is Me - "Hot 'N Cold"
(originally recorded by Katy Perry)

Woe, Is Me has deconstructed the Katy Perry track with death metal vocals, heavy guitars, and double-bass thunder for the verses, while retaining the "pop" of the originals chorus. Mocking the song? Sure. Entertaining? Absolutely. Katy Perry's boobs would undoubtedly shoot fire upon hearing this one.

3. Artist Vs Poet - "Bad Romance"
(originally recorded by Lady GaGa)

Already over-covered (do a YouTube search), the Lady Gaga track is presented here in a straight-forward manner accented by some decent guitar work. Just enough rock to change it up, but firmly planted with the pop roots of the original.

4. Mayday Parade - "In My Head"
(originally recorded by Jason Derülo)

Honestly, I don't think that I've ever heard Jason Derulo's original track. That said, this one feels like a Mayday Parade track. The vibe reminds me a lot of when The Starting Line took on J.Lo and Ja Rule with "I'm Real."

5. Asking Alexandria - "Right Now (Na Na Na)"
(originally recorded by Akon)

I'm more surprised that Akon is still relevant than I am with this cover. Asking Alexandria does a good job of layering melodic pop vocals of hard rock choruses and bringing some hardcore breakdowns where the hooks should be.

6. This Century - "Paper Planes"
(originally recorded by M.I.A.)

Another song that's already been covered by dozens of artists (check out the fantastic version by STREET SWEEPER SOCIAL CLUB), This Century takes the sincere route with their exceptionally true-to-the-original take on M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes." Crank it up and see if you can forget PINEAPPLE EXPRESS.

7. The Word Alive - "Heartless"
(originally recorded by Kanye West)

Yet another YouTube favorite for the cover set, The Word Alive takes the Kanye West track into far different territory. Retaining the nature of the song's iconic chorus, the band rocks up the verses hardcore style, and manages to keep the rock coming underneath the chorus vocals.

8. Family Force 5 - "Bulletproof"
(originally recorded by La Roux)

If you're already a fan of the duo known as La Roux, you won't notice a drastic departure between the original track and this one, aside for the gender-swap on the vocals. The chorus is a tad harder, but as a whole this song is about a true as it gets. One of my favorites on the album.

9. Of Mice & Men - "Blame It"
(originally recorded by Jamie Foxx ft. T-Pain)

As much as I respect Jamie Foxx as an artist and performer, I've always hated "Blame It." Of Mice and Men brings the noise on their version, making the song almost listenable. Not their fault, but I'd still skip this one.

10. Miss May I - "Run This Town"
(originally recorded by Jay-Z ft. Kanye West and Rihanna)

A great song covered in a dramatically reworked style. While the verses are  unrecognizable when compared to the original, the hooks and chorus remind you of what they're reworking. Miss May I actually managed to offend my wife with their cover. She loves the original. This song is bad-ass.

11. The Ready Set - "Airplanes"
(originally recorded by B.o.B ft. Hayley Williams)

Too soon? That's my initial response on this one. With the song in heavy rotation across multiple formats on radio, "Airplanes" is one of those songs that you just can't escape. The Ready Set unfortunately doesn't do anything remarkable with this one, and that's a missed opportunity. If anything, they've made it more whiny, and pretty bland.

12. Cute Is What We Aim For - "Dead And Gone"
(originally recorded by T.I. ft. Justin Timberlake)

A surprisingly sincere cover, Cute is What We Aim For has taken the original song and made it their own. With it's acoustic guitar-driven sound, the vocal trade-offs sound authentic, making this a highlight of the album.

13. Sparks The Rescue - "Need You Now"
(originally recorded by Lady Antebellum)

It's almost a running joke around these parts that I've never actually heard a Lady Antebellum song. Aside from their name (which I don't like for some reason), I've miraculously been able to escape this band. No real reason, not like I've been avoiding them, but I've just never had them enter my ears. As far as I can tell here, "Need You Now" could've easily been a Sparks The Rescue original.

14. We Came As Romans - "My Love"
(originally recorded by Justin Timberlake ft. T.I.)

We Came As Romans appears to be fully entering the realm of "mockery" with their take on Justin Timberlake's "My Love." Heavy, yes. Entertaining? Not really.

With a tracklisting that is more currently relevant that the second installment, PUNK GOES POP 3 captures some of the lightning that was there for the first volume - striking the current pulse of pop music with a mix of songs paying tribute to the source material combined with those obviously intended to mock and poke fun. The end result is an album that stands as a great novelty for those into creative cover songs, and a piece sure to incite conversation at weekend parties. While it doesn't live up to the first album, it's a substantial step forward from Vol. 2.



James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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