What do Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys have in common with punk bands like, The Starting Line and Yellowcard?
Well, absolutely nothing. Think about it. If it were not for ultra dramatic cheesy pop songs that invade radio and television, millions of pre-teens would have nothing to call their own.
Some rock bands are even closet fans of pop stars like Britney for reasons unfit to print. The pop song is the heart behind the new “Punk Goes Pop” compilation off of Fearless Records.
The tradition started with “Punk Goes Metal,” Fearless’s original compilation featuring punk rockers covering hair band tunes.
“Pop” has seventeen bands covering teenybopper songs from yesterday and today. Songs by everyone from Mandy Moore and J.Lo to Nelly Furtado and Belinda Carlisle have been brought into the punk realm by bands like Slick Shoes, Rufio, Knockout and Fake ID.
Austin, Texas’s punk upstart Dynamite Boy offers the first track with “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys. The crunching guitar and strong bass line hooks add a harder edge to the song that made the BSB a hit and would even make the Boys proud if they could just stay out of rehab and jail long enough.
The track was also covered by Allister on their 1999 release “Dead-ends and Girlfriends.” Dynamite Boy’s rendition is cookie-cutter punk rock and Allister’s tries to mimic the pop beat a little too closely.
Michelle Branch’s “Everywhere” has been a smash hit on top-40 radio and TRL, but never has it sounded better than when Florida natives, Yellowcard put their spin on it.
The group features a violinist among their five band members, and speeds up and adds a fist-pumping element to “Everywhere,” which in its original version is respectable.
Branch could actually write her own music, something that teen pop stars would never be able to manage with lip-syncing taking the place of an actual performance.
Fake ID even get in on the pop cover party with their version of O-Town’s sappy “All or Nothing.” The group puts O-Town to shame with their sped-up version of “All or Nothing.”
The compilation’s best is from Penn State’s own The Starting Line, who gives Ja Rule and J.Lo a punk makeover with their version of “I’m Real.” Starting Line members range in age from 17 to 23, so The Starting Line is the perfect band to cover this rap-remix. Listening to 17-year-old Kenny Vasoli scream Ja Rule’s patented “Holla!” and wonder who is going to comfort him when he is “feelin’ sexy,” as J.Lo says in the original, is a riot, but somehow Starting Line makes it work.
Other songs on “Punk Goes Pop” include Slick Shoes covering Mandy Moore’s “Candy,” Stretch Arm Strong doing “Get This Party Started” by Pink and Further Seems Forever rocking out “Bye, Bye, Bye” from everyone’s worst or least favorite boy band N*Sync.