AU ABROAD

Compliation Album: Punk Goes Pop III (2010 LP)

I don't particularly understand the driving point of these constant, seemingly ubiquitous 'Punk Goes Pop' releases. They don't do these mash-up crossovers with many other genres, do they? I am yet to see 'Tekkers goes Grindcore 6' or 'Baroque goes Drone 4'.

When I was a young punk on the mean, cold streets of Pascoe Vale, I looked down my nose at pop music and all it stood for: conformity, sexual stereotyping, shameless self-promotion... all things that, I did not know at the time, were actually eeeeverywhere. But I was young and so naive, with my rainbow socks and teenage tunnel vision.

Anyway, even though it should really be titled 'Pop Goes Punk' (because it is pop that is 'going' through the punk wash cycle, as it were), we have a range of pop-punk, emo, screamo and weirdly electro pop-punk bands covering popular dance, r'n'b and pop tracks. Up to speed? It's not rocket surgery.

We open with Breathe Carolina doing quite a close impression of Jay Sean and Lil' Wayne with Down (oh yeah, did I mention that most of these bands have ridiculous names? They do) but, luckily or unluckily, we have Woe, Is Me (their comma, not mine) putting a thrash/emo touch to Katy Perry's Hot N Cold; it's oddly intriguing, in perhaps the same way a car accident is to passing motorists. Wait for the kick drum festivale and head-banging metals guitars towards the end and singer Tyler Carter confessing, "[like a] psycho bitch, but the sex is good so I might keep you around". Smooth, bro.

I was intrigued to hear what Texas’ Artist Vs. Poet were going to do with Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance", considering I found the original to be one of the best pop tracks the past few years has had to offer. It starts out similarly: synth galore, dark and chugging sounds. Then the guitars kick in, and someone that is not Gaga is singing, and I can't have a bar of it. Then again, Gaga original or not, it's another boring rock song. Mayday Parade's cover of Jason Derulo's "In My Head" isn't particularly one thing or another (not a Derulo fan, me...or a Mayday Parade fan, for that matter) but, I have to say, Asking Alexandria's cover of Akon's Right Now (Na Na Na) is pretty sublime. The combination of the dark, chugging punk stylings and Akon's penchant for bump and grind and Autotune make this cover sound like some glorious Nineties dance track or like a really good Cascada track. The growling vocals crap all over it, though: a pox on screamo!

This Centur's "Paper Planes" (did you need me to tell you it was by M.I.A?) stays pretty true to the original, simply adding the standard semi-whiny pained emo-punk vocal atop it, while The Word Alive's appropriation of Kanye West's "Heartless" drowns in too many ideas, too little sense in execution. Family Force 5 (officially the worst band name on the album, insert fanfare here) do La Roux's brilliant Bulletproof no real justice; FF5's singer sound like a parody of Jack White. They've gone for what I assume is 'sexy electro rock' but it sounds more like 'slimy and lazy.'

Forever more speedy kick drums and screamo vocals pervade "Run This Town", Miss May I's cover of the Jay-Z and Rihanna track, so I was reticent to click onto The Ready Set's cover of Aeroplanes, the dynamite B.O.B and Hayley Williams number. It turns out to be a pretty neutered version, thanks to Jordan Mark Witzigreuter's heinously adolescent singing style, more so than the rest of the vocalists 'pon the album, which says something. Though I kind of liked The Curse of Curves, in a shamed kind of way, Cute Is What We Aim For should not have bothered attempting a track that included pop demi-god Justin Timberlake (Dead and Gone, featuring T.I); they made it sound like a Linkin Park number. I seriously kept waiting for Chester to come in with: "But in the eeeeeend, it doesn't even maaaatterrrrrr....”. Hideous.

The album ends with another JT track- My Love- though this time the band in question, We Came As Romans, make every effort to sound like a rock band, as opposed to a rock band channelling a pop star. It, thankfully, kept that shuddering club beat, and some of the Timberlake falsetto-ettes, but adding hefty doses of kick drum madness, screamo vocals and speedy guitar. It's pretty amusing hearing what I assume is a beefy (assumedly straight edge, vegan, heavily tattooed) man screaming lyrics like, "All I want you to do is be my love" in a throaty, no doubt painful growl, with the synth of a JT track in the background.

I don't know how to improve these releases; after all, it's punk bands doing pop songs. You can't go too far. This is really just a release aimed at the hardcore fans of the featured bands; the ones that love Cute is What We Aim For sooooo much that they, like, don't even care that they covered some totally conformist sheep teenybopper song, you know. Like, you know, whatever.

Review Score: 6/10