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Five Punk Goes... Songs That Don't Suck

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Last time in our "things that don't suck" series, we looked at some educational songs ( ) that our children could learn from without being bored to death. This week, we're looking at the Punk Goes... series, and some of the worthwhile tracks to grab from the series.

Punk Goes... has long been the bane of real punk rock fans around the world. Often the bands doing the covering aren't really punk bands and their covers are convenient cash grabs, trying to make a quick buck off the novelty of hearing a pop song covered in a "hard" style of music.

That being said, even a broken clock is right twice a day and out of the 13 Punk Goes... releases, it was inevitable they'd stumble on a few worthwhile tracks. Here's the ones to download, now that with the advent of iTunes you no longer have to buy the whole damn CD for one good track.

5. Mae, "March of the Pigs" From: Punk Goes '90s (2006) Original Artist: Nine Inch Nails Why It's Good: This is one of those instances where it's hard to fuck up. Nine Inch Nails was heavy to begin with, so it's not like it's going to end up gimmicky to play one of their songs in a heavy way.

If I have one complaint with Mae's cover, it's almost too faithful to the original, and vocalist Dave Elkins is no match for Trent Reznor's intensity, though he tries his best. However, being faithful to the original may have paid off because this is actually a surprisingly good cover, and who knows how bad it could have ended up had they tried to be inventive with it.

4. Cartel, "Wonderwall" From: Punk Goes '90s (2006) Original Artist: Oasis Why It's Good: I honestly never expected anyone could cover "Wonderwall" and make it even halfway decent, but Cartel pulled it off. Vocally, it works because Cartel's Will Pugh really pulls off the snotty accent of Liam Gallagher, which, while it never occurred to me before, actually strongly resembles a pop-punk tone anyway.

This rocks out the song a bit more than Oasis' original, eliminating a lot of the more overt Beatles worship, but it works because playing the original chords on a distorted electric sound surprisingly good.

3. A Thorn for Every Heart, "Dead Man's Party" From: Punk Goes '80s (2006) Original Artist: Oingo Boingo Why It's Good: Okay, "Dead Man's Party" is one of my favorite songs from the '80s and Back to School is one of my favorite comedy films of the era. So I wouldn't bullshit you on this one.

What makes this work is that A Thorn for Every Heart doesn't attempt to change the song in any detrimental way. Their vocalist sounds remarkably like Danny Elfman, and the instrumentation is almost note for note, just replacing the synths with distorted guitars to make it rock harder. The outro is jammed out in a different way, but that actually just makes for an epic exit for the song.

2. Say Anything, "Got Your Money" From: Punk Goes Crunk (2008) Original Artist: Ol' Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis Why It's Good: A nerd-rap cover in the vein of Ben Folds' classic recording of Dr. Dre's "Bitches Ain't Shit," Say Anything's Max Bemis recites the lyrics with a huge dose of droll irony, even including a few laugh-out-loud moments where his exceedingly monotone, white-boy voice is so incredibly discordant with what he's saying that it rivals the hilarity of ODB's original delivery. Musically though, it retains the fat bass of the original that made it suitable for jamming in the car. See if you can trick your friends into thinking you're listening to real rap with it!

1. Rx Bandits, "Holy Wars... The Punishment Due" From: Punk Goes Metal (2000) Original Artist: Megadeth Why It's Good: Rx Bandits is a weird band that combines post-hardcore, ska, and even prog rock influences, but for this cover of the classic Megadeth track, they just go balls-to-the-wall metal. There's a few reggae beats thrown in for good measure, but mostly it rocks out just as hard as the original, and they don't miss a beat even on Mustaine's most complicated riffs.

The thing that makes this one a winner, though, is singer Matt Embree's tortured delivery of the lyrics, which honestly might even be better than Mustaine's.

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