In the latest edition of the polarizing Punk Goes… series, the ongoing compilation series has returned to the pop realm for its fourth go around. With bands like Pierce the Veil, Go Radio and Silverstein making their mark on some of today’s biggest tracks, we decided to follow suit and make this a collaborative effort between a number of Mind Equals Blown staffers. So whether you enjoy some of these bands or have a soft spot for some of these tracks – as many of us do – there is certainly something for everyone to enjoy this time around on Punk Goes Pop 4.
Pierce the Veil – “Just the Way You Are” (Originally by Bruno Mars)
Bruno Mars’ songs have that smooth edge because of his voice. Pierce the Veil frontman Vic Fuentes does not have that smooth voice. However, just because it is lacking the voice does not mean “Just The Way You Are” is any less good; it is just a little less Bruno Mars and a little more Pierce the Veil. They make this song their own with the somewhat heavy buildups and PTV signatures.
5/10 – Samantha Esgro
Tonight Alive – “Little Lion Man” (Originally by Mumford & Sons)
This is what I call adding energy to a downplayed song. Tonight Alive truly set fire to this mellow mammoth of a track, trading the light airy vocals for gorgeous loud echoing bellows. Vocalist Jenna McDougall was really on top of her game while the band recorded this one. The transitions are nicely done, and the instrumentation as a whole has an upbeat feel. It has an energy I definitely didn’t expect, and based off of this song I can say I will be checking out their other songs. Make sure to give this one a thorough listen, and take note of her vocal ability; I think it has the range to rival even Hayley Williams’ vocals.
8/10 – Austin Gordon
Woe, Is Me – “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” (Originally by Katy Perry)
Woe, Is Me certainly proved that Hance Alligood was a capable replacement for Tyler Carter with their hard-hitting comeback track “Vengeance,” but with their cover of “Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)” by pop superstar Katy Perry, the band has produced a track that doesn’t particularly take many risks. Not that Woe has ever been the biggest risk-takers out there, but with their previously released cover (again a Perry song, “Hot N’ Cold”) they at least found a way to make the track something more. Still, the song manages to be nearly as catchy as the original, and it’s everything you’d expect in a decent Woe, Is Me song.
7/10 – Corey Hoffmeyer
The Ready Set – “Roll Up” (Originally by Wiz Khalifa)
The Ready Set is Jordan Witzigreuter’s one-man electro/power-pop band best known for his platinum single “Love Like Woe.” While I can’t say he technically falls under “punk” and I can’t necessarily agree that Wiz Khalifa’s fourth best-known track would be “pop,” The Ready Set’s contribution to Punk Goes Pop 4 is Wiz’s “Roll Up.” While Witzigreuter’s rapping ability is definitely lacking, the true saving grace of this track is Mod Sun’s contribution. He is a white boy rapper who, in this track, shows potential to take on the likes of Mac Miller. Luckily, this song is catchy enough on its own that the synthesized take on it doesn’t fall completely flat on its face. Overall, this is a track that will inevitably have 14-year-old girls absolutely giddy.
5.5/10 – Kaitlin Nichols
Sleeping with Sirens – “Fuck You” (Originally by Cee-lo Green)
Like the original, the Sleeping With Sirens version of this song is a lot of fun. Kellin Quinn is more than capable of handling the vocals, and the instrumental parts fit well. The guitar parts are both heavy and poppy, and the drum parts are of high quality. My biggest problem with this cover is how some of the words are changed. If this was my first time hearing the song, it wouldn’t bother me but, as a pretty big fan of the original version, I would’ve preferred the lyrics unchanged. I do like that they went with the uncensored version, but the small changes still bother me. The addition of a breakdown isn’t a surprise, but it’s moderately original as far as breakdowns go. All in all, this is a respectable cover, not mind-blowing by any means, but definitely something worth a few listens and a song that would make a nice addition to the band’s live set.
6.5/10 – Jacob Testa
Go Radio – “Rolling in the Deep” (Originally by Adele)
Adele fans, if you’re looking for a fresh approach to one of the British lasses’ most enjoyed songs, look no further. Vocalist Jason Lancaster’s fantastic croon drives Go Radio’s cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” portraying all the attitude and spunk of the original, while not losing any of the song’s tenderness. Guitarist Alex Reed takes the tepid guitar parts of the original and makes the riffs his, dripping with alternative rock tones and crunchy distortion. Drummer Steven Kopacz provides a sturdy if unremarkable backbone to the song. Lancaster shines throughout, from the stadium-filling chorus, and lighter, more intimate bridge. Despite still riding high on the success of Lucky Street, the band have not taken the easy way out, staying true to the original while perking up a song that’s been played non-stop since its release. I must say, I can’t imagine Adele being unimpressed with the song – it’s that good.
8.5/10 – Shaun Tan
For All Those Sleeping – “You Belong With Me” (Originally by Taylor Swift)
In the realm of pop songs turned into breakdown-fueled frenzies, it’s easy to distinguish the line between something done well or gimmicky. Thankfully, this one sits comfortably on the done well side. The clean vocals are tight and accurate, and the expected breakdowns are well placed, not feeling too sporadic or cluttered. The song has a nice flow too, from singing verse to screaming verse and so on. This majorly took me by surprise, because I’ve never really been a fan of this band’s music. So far, they’ve stepped up their game. Out of all of the songs on this compilation, this is one of my favorites.
8/10 – Austin Gordon
Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! – “We R Who We R” (Originally by Ke$ha)
French easycore quintet Chunk! No Captain Chunk! show a slight case of Jekyll and Hyde in their interpretation of Ke$ha’s hit “We R Who We R,” mudding up the introduction with a heavy dose of pummeling guitars and deep-growl vocals. Yet, the group truly shines when the track shifts to the clean vocal-lined chorus, properly channeling the addictive nature of the track without turning it into a total mess along the way. The ending breakdown is a little more digestible, but it really isn’t enough to save the misled moments C!NCC! have on this seemingly fitting cover.
5/10 – Jason Gardner
A Skylit Drive – “Love the Way You Lie” (Originally by Eminem feat. Rihanna)
As one of my favorite tracks on Punk Goes Pop 4, A Skylit Drive does a driving rendition of Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie.” I really like how they stay true to the original formula. However, the song comes off as a little heavier than expected. Vocalist Michael Jagmin, better known as Jag, does all of the Rihanna parts and screamer Brian White does Eminem’s parts. White goes deeper than his usual vocal range and the overall music is heavier as well. I would love to see more of this unique formula in ASD’s future releases.
8/10 – Ridge Briel
Allstar Weekend – “Yeah 3X” (Originally by Chris Brown)
While it might fit their repertoire better than a majority of the bands on this compilation, Allstar Weekend’s rendition of the club hit “Yeah 3X” does very little to create a respectable cover. Everything seems so safe and flat – more of a sign of squeaking through as opposed to truly trying to make the song your own. The looping synth lines and stale guitar make for a nearly lifeless track from start to finish, as the song is chock full of predictable vocal lines and straightforward direction. You don’t need to totally reinvent a song to make a good cover, but you need to do a little something to remind people that this is your interpretation of it.
5/10 – Jason Gardner
I See Stars – “Til The World Ends” (Originally by Britney Spears)
Coming from a band that rides both sides of the hate fence for their style of music, it’s no surprise that a cover like this one could be expected to flop. Luckily for their sake, this is not one of those instances. This is surprisingly good, and serves its sole purpose of being catchy and well done. The production and mixing is tight, the vocals don’t get too over-the-top, and the breakdown residing near the end works well. Based off of my previous assumptions, I’d say that with this cover their sound has improved, and in essence with their genre, this is a huge compliment. Well done, guys.
8/10 – Austin Gordon
Silverstein feat. Down with Webster – “Runaway” (Originally by Kanye West feat. Pusha T)
Silverstein definitely does Kanye a favor by choosing this song to cover, because they, as always, make it sound better than the original – all the while sticking to their own sound. “Runaway” is the longest track on the album, topping a solid eight minutes and forty-four seconds – and that is its only downfall. Yes, the original is also this long, but the synth on the guitar not only sounds off, but it causes the song to sound a little bit too long; and the production is a little much. Other than that, two thumbs up for “Runaway,” Silverstein style!
7.5/10 – Samantha Esgro
Downtown Fiction – “Super Bass” (Originally by Nicki Minaj)
Transforming Nicki Minaj’s hit “Super Bass” into a sugary sweet pop-rock banger sounds a little strange, but the result here is actually surprisingly good. With smooth vocals in the chorus and a strong, albeit unexpected ability to cut through Minaj’s rapping, Downtown Fiction make use of having the last spot on the disc to close things off with a bit of a bang. While not overly explosive, the chill vibe and abundance of melodies make this a pleasant and successful cap to the ups and downs of this compilation.
6.5/10 – Jason Gardner