Music covers are fascinating to me: New versions of familiar songs can take music in a wholly different direction, find greater depth or emotion that wasn't there originally -- or, in the case of Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2, add a lot more screaming.

The title says it all: Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2 collects some top 40 tunes and has punk bands putting their stamp on them. Some covered songs are pretty recent (Rihanna's "Disturbia," the Pusstcat Girls' "When I Grow Up," Sara Bareillis' "Love Song"), while others go back a couple of years (Santana's "Smooth," Justin Timberlake's "What Comes Around"). Britney Spears should be honored -- or scared -- that two of her songs are covered here.

The music here is highly mixed. The best songs bring a lunatic energy to the album, be it Four Year Strong's beautifully off-key version of "Love Song" or A Day To Remember beginning "Over My Head (Cable Car)" very close to the original then gradually moving to howls. About half the album is raw, energetic fun.

Oddly, the weaker half of Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2 is split between too much punk and too little punk. Some songs are nothing but yelling and screaming (the worst being August Burning Red's almost unrecognizable cover of "...Baby One More Time"). Several other songs seem more like techno or even pop remixes rather than hardcore tunes. Heck, Breathe Carolina's take on Miley Cyrus' "See You Again" sounds less energetic than the original -- until the screams kick in.

Compilations are often a mixed bag, but Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2 is wildly uneven. If you're looking for some loud and original versions of radio-friendly fare you'll find several very good songs -- and several songs you won't listen to more than once.

Overall grade: C

Reviewed by James Lynch

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