Cover songs have always been such a big part of music. You can trace it all the way back to when Elvis Presley covered “Blue Suede Shoes” in 1956, Santana covering “Black Magic Woman” in 1970, Whitney Houston covering “I Will Always Love You” in 1992, Johnny Cash covering “Hurt” in 2003 (which would be this writer’s favorite cover of all time) and so on. These were all critically acclaimed, often receiving some radio play. However, once upon a time the alternative/”punk” scene once had their own run on popular cover songs (albeit a little less radio friendly) due to Fearless Records’ Punk Goes… series.

The series began in 2000 with Punk Goes Metal and last featured an entry with 2017’s Punk Goes Pop Vol. 7, containing a total of eighteen releases, featuring mostly cover songs. It’s seminal release, Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2, was released ten years ago this Sunday (March 10th, 2009) in the United States. The release was a massive success, debuting at #15 on the Billboard 200 — which remains the highest charting release from — and put this franchise on the map. In honor of its upcoming 10th anniversary, I decided it was time to look back and reflect on the best 30 songs from the series.

Before we begin, there’s just two rules that I set in place for myself: at least one song from each release, but no more than three from one single compilation. Each track will include a little blurb explaining it’s ranking, so we can all argue about it later on Twitter. So, let’s get started.

1.”Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (originally by Cyndi Lauper) by The Maine (feat. Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday) — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 5

There’s going to be some covers on this list that don’t stray too far from the original version, but this one here couldn’t be much further from the original. Lauper’s version was an upbeat, synth-driven song that defined feminism in the 80’s. The Maine turned that into an alternative song driven by vocalist John O’Callaghan’s soaring vocals, complimented by a raspy vocal performance from Lazzara, and even managed to mix in a little breakdown after the second chorus. This one was an easy choice.

2. Free Fallin’ (originally by Tom Petty) by The Almost — Punk Goes Classic Rock

This is probably the example of a perfect cover song. What I mean by that is not the actual song itself, but more so what The Almost did to it. It’s pretty stylistically similar to Petty’s version, with a modern flare added and The Almost speeding it up a bit. What sticks out most here is that it sounds like Aaron Gillespie, at times, really tried to honor Petty and sing pretty similar to the original version.

3. “Over My Head (Cable Car)” (originally by The Fray) by A Day to Remember — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2

This one doesn’t need too much of on explanation. I would have put A Day to Remember’s cover of “Since U Been Gone” on here if I could. These guys really knew how to take a song and make it their own, even if the closest it gets to the original is in the first fifteen seconds. It’s hard to argue that Punk Goes… would have taken off without this song, though luckily we will never have to find out.

4. “Little Lion Man” (originally by Mumford & Sons) by Tonight Alive — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 4

Much like The Maine, Tonight Alive took their cover and completely twisted it around, stylistically speaking. Their cover of “Little Lion Man” contains the same edge that Mumford & Sons instilled in it, but with less folk and more intricate guitar work and soaring vocals to turn this song into one that could have truly passed as a Tonight Alive song if you didn’t know better.

5. “Jasey Rae” by All Time Low — Punk Goes Acoustic Vol. 2

Not all of the Punk Goes… releases were covers, and this is our first entry from a non-cover song. All Time Low took the fast, pop-punk song and stripped it down (obviously) into one that was a staple on most pop-punk acoustic playlists 10 years ago. They re-worked this song so well (especially the bridge) that I sometimes forget there’s an original, full-band version out there.

6. “Everywhere” (originally by Michelle Branch) by Yellowcard — Punk Goes Pop

First of all, a little piece of advice: don’t trust anyone that dislikes the original version of this song, or “All You Wanted” or “Breathe” or — well, you get the point here. Regardless, the original was upbeat enough to wear Yellowcard didn’t have to change it too much. They took out the acoustic guitar, sped up the verses, and of course included the signature Yellowcard violin. What else would you expect?

7. “Somebody That I Used to Know” (originally by Gotye feat. Kimbra) by Mayday Parade (feat. Vic Fuentes of Pierce the Veil) — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 5

If you want to talk about making a song your own, look no further than what Mayday Parade did to “Somebody That I Used to Know.” They completely transformed this stripped down pop song into a full-blown version of Mayday Parade’s brand of upbeat pop-rock. Pierce the Veil’s Vic Fuentes appears with his signature voice in the second verse, and the result is the first single from Punk Goes… to appear on a Billboard chart, reaching #18 on the U.S. Rock Songs, though this was later surpassed by I Prevail with their cover of “Blank Space” that peaked at #9 on Billboard’s Hot Rock Charts, #90 on Billboard’s Hot 100, and has since been certified Gold by the RIAA.

8. “Chandelier” (originally by Sia) by PVIRS — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6

PVRIS really kept true to Sia’s original version here, and there’s nothing wrong with that, because the outcome is incredible. If you look at the Youtube comments — which has been a “do you at your own risk” adventure for years — you will see a handful of people touting this version as better than the original. It’s hard to argue, as Lynn Gunn shines on the song as she navigates between raspy vocals and smooth, more clean vocals throughout the chorus.

9. “Chalk Line” by Strike Anywhere — Punk Goes Acoustic

Welcome to the second original, non-cover on the list: Strike Anywhere’s “Chalk Line.” While the original is a punk-rock track about women’s right and clocks in at around two and a half minutes, this acoustic version finds itself extending past four minutes. The angst is lost in this transition, while it instead turns into a more simple and beautiful story.

10. “I Melt With You” (originally by Modern English) by Sugarcult — Punk Goes 80’s

Alright, I’m just going to come out and say it: Sugarcult deserved better. 2001’s Start Static and 2004’s Palm Trees and Power Lines still hold up today, and that’s not as common as you might think for some of those early-2000’s releases. Now that we got that out of the way, their cover of “I Melt With You” is a good cover for updating it to fit with their sound, while the vibe of the song still works to retain some of the 80’s new wave vibes from the original.

11. Let It Go (originally by James Bay) by The Plot In YouPunk Goes Pop Vol. 7

This is one of those covers where I went in expecting one thing, and came out completely surprised in the best way. Instead of an angry metal-core cover, we are gifted with a pretty similar version to the original. Vocalist Landon Tewers makes it his own with his smooth, yet rough vocals at times, while the guitar work throughout goes mostly unchanged. If this sounds like a bad thing, I promise you it’s not.

12. “Jumper” (originally by Third Eye Blind) by BEDlight For BlueEYES (feat. Sebastian Davin of Dropping Daylight) — Punk Goes 90’s

BEDlight for BlueEYES take an already slower, more emotional song and took it down another notch. They took all of the instruments away, kept the acoustic guitar, and added a piano throughout. Where this song shines though, is with lead vocalist Daniel Rinaldo and his performance on the track. He’s ultimately a better singer than Stephan Jenkins (not a slight on him, though) and it works out well. It’s sometimes hard to cover songs like this, but they did it.

13. “Apologize” (Originally by OneRepublic) by Silverstein — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2

You won’t find a more consistent band in the scene than Silverstein. This is a band that has carved out an impressive and solid career for themselves, while not straying too far off the path from what they are so good at. This isn’t a criticism, as they have certainly tweaked their sound over the years, but the changes they have made have always seemed to be for the better. All of that being said, their cover of “Apologize” fits right in with the rest of their discography. It’s an upbeat rock song by almost any measure, and for Silverstein, it fits in line with a song like “My Heroine,” stylistically speaking.

14. “Fool’s Holiday” by All Time Low — Punk Goes Christmas

While this release does feature a lot of covers of classic holiday songs, it’s one of the original songs that stands out and makes the list. This not only is All Time Low’s best holiday song (yes, better than this one), but it might be one of their best songs written — period. Put this right there next to “Painting Flowers” (off of the Almost Alice soundtrack) as All Time Low’s most underrated material.

15. “Everlong” (originally by Foo Fighters) by The Color Morale — Punk Goes 90’s Vol. 2

It’s pretty hard to cover a Foo Fighters song, which is why not many bands do it (at least on a sold, recorded version like this). Or if they do — maybe they shouldn’t. Regardless, The Color Morale took this staple 90’s song and knocked it out of the park. They didn’t do a whole lot to change the song, knowing that many folks might not be too pleased with that. Instead, they toyed around with it just enough to make it their own, and vocalist Garrett Rapp delivers an emotionally driven performance that ranks among the best on this list.

16. “Comedown” (originally by Bush) by Mayday Parade — Punk Goes 90’s Vol. 2

So this cover is a little different than the previously listed Mayday Parade cover. Whereas previously they took Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know” and completely transformed into their own, their cover of Bush’s “Comedown” is almost the opposite. Though the first chorus is toyed around with, that’s pretty much the only change Mayday Parade makes. But why change what’s not broken, right? They nailed the sound they were going for, and it turns out, this sound winded up being a bit of a preview of what was to come on their next album (Black Lines came out a year and a half after Punk Goes 90’s Vol. 2 was released).

17. “Rolling In the Deep” (originally by Adele) by Go Radio — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 4

Much like Sugarcult, Go Radio really deserved better. I don’t want to blame you for not listening to them enough, but you probably didn’t. Vocalist Jason Lancaster still haunts speakers with his voice, and was one of the best at crafting incredibly catchy pop-rock tunes (ex: their entire sophomore album, Close the Distance). Anyway, it should come as no surprise that this cover of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” is a gem. The instrumentals are on point, the vocal performance is nuts, it’s all there. Just listen to it.

18. “I Remember You” (originally by Skid Row) by The Ataris — Punk Goes Metal

People wanna talk about the terms “punk” and “metal” being thrown around easily in 2019, but goodness, Skid Row was a metal band in the 80’s/90’s. I guess glam metal counts all of the same, but anyway, I digress. The Ataris is best known for their cover of “Boys of Summer,” but a few years before that, they did a cover of Skid Row’s “I Remember You.” While they may never release an album again — despite popping up once a year for the past 10 years to propose a new album — we’ll always have their covers, at least.

19. “Don’t Be So Hard” by The Audition — Punk Goes Acoustic Vol. 2

I could write an entire article of bands that deserved better, and maybe I will one day, but The Audition would have to be included in there at some point. Here on Punk Goes Acoustic Vol. 2, the band takes their most popular song and strips it down to it’s core. Vocalist Danny Stevens lets his unique voice carry the way, and if you like this, then you should really check out the rest of their discography.

20. “Take Me Home Tonight” (originally Eddie Money feat Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes) by Every Avenue (feat. Juliet Simms of Automatic Loveletter)– Punk Goes Classic Rock

On a roll here with bands that don’t exist anymore, Every Avenue comes in as we near the end of the list with their cover of “Take Me Home Tonight.” This one finds them providing a modern (at the time) take on the cover, speeding it up while keeping it retro sounding at the time. Juliet Simms makes her mark on the song, even in more of a backup role this time around. Go listen to Every Avenue and hope they get back together like the rest of us.

21. “Love Yourself” (originally by Justin Bieber) by Grayscale — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 7

Ending the streak of broken up bands is Grayscale here with their cover of “Love Yourself.” Listening to this cover isn’t enough, in this writer’s opinion. To really get a feel for how they transformed the song, you have to watch the video as well. While Bieber’s version was more of a break-up anthem, Grayscale made a music video that served as an uplifting reminder to love yourself and forget what people label you as. This deserves your listen.

22. “Fuck You” (originally by Cee Lo Green) by Sleeping With SirensPunk Goes Pop Vol. 4

We can talk about Cee Lo Green here (and there’s a conversation to be had about him), or we can talk about what Sleeping With Sirens did here. Sure, the original is a fun, funky pop song, but why not turn it into a rock-driven (or “post-hardcore”) anthem? We’re not worried about radio play here, anyway. This is a fun cover of a fun song by a bad person.

23. “Your Love” (originally by The Outfield) by Midtown — Punk Goes 80’s

Alright, so outside of the awkward intro to this song, we’ve got a solid cover by an underrated pop-punk bands. This is an iconic song from the 80’s — so much so that I See Stars had to cover it again for Punk Goes Classic Rock. Midtown gets the edge here, and that’s why they place on this list. Vocalist Gabe Saporta maybe tries a bit too hard at times to fit the song a bit bette, but that’s alright. It all works out in the end. Except it didn’t for Midtown.

24. In My Head (originally by Jason Derulo) by Mayday Parade — Punk Goes Pop 3

Mayday Parade appeared on this Punk Goes… series more than just about anyone, so it’s only fair that they find themselves on this list more than anyone. Jason Derulo writes some really good and catchy pop songs (seriously, don’t kid yourself here), and once again, Mayday Parade turned that into a classic sounding Mayday Parade song. Give me Mayday Parade covering “Want to Want Me” and I’ll be content.

25. “Staplegunned” by The Spill Canvas — Punk Goes Acoustic Vol. 2

Mayday Parade got a lot of credit 10+ years ago for being a pop-punk band that could break your heart with their lyrics — and while you won’t get an argument from me there, I will point to The Spill Canvas as being one that could do that just as well. “Staplegunned” isn’t the best example of that — even this acoustic version here — but it’s a good place to start. The Spill Canvas take one of their first upbeat alternative-rock songs and strip it back acoustically here, and it works. After you listen, go listen to this, this, or even this.

26. “Sleigh Ride” (originally by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops Orchestra) by This Wild Life — Punk Goes Christmas: Deluxe Edition

This Wild Life take this classic Christmas song and don’t really do a whole to it. I know what you’re probably thinking — yes, they did replace an entire orchestra with their acoustic track. What I mean by that isn’t that it’s even a bad thing that they didn’t change a lot here, but simply that if you listen to the original versus their cover, they kept the same structural bones behind it. Regardless, it made the list because it’s good.

27. “I Wanna Love You” (originally by Akon) by The Maine — Punk Goes Crunk

I know that you were probably worried I was going to forget Punk Goes Crunk. Truthfully, I nearly did until I started going through this list again and went to write down the explanations for each track. For better or for worse, Punk Goes Crunk happened and we all probably had The Devil Wears Prada’s cover of “Still Fly” on our MP3 players. Anyway, The Maine did a hilarious cover of “I Wanna Love You” that gets the nod here. It was really between this and All Time Low’s cover of “Umbrella,” but The Maine gets the nod mainly because of how dated their sound is here — given that they sound so much different/better now. It’s a nice trip down memory lane, you’re welcome.

Speaking of Punk Goes Crunk: why.

28. “Hot N Cold” (originally by Katy Perry) by Woe, Is Me — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 3

This is a fun cover. I don’t really know what else to say about it. The chorus still does pretty well, and the verses are very 2010 as you might expect. Maybe this wouldn’t make the list if I didn’t set rules for myself, and maybe it shouldn’t still. But it’s my list and it’s here all of the same. Just sit back and enjoy the 195 seconds of this song.

29. “Toxic” (originally by Britney Spears) by A Static Lullaby — Punk Goes Pop Vol. 2

The first time I watched this video, I remember being amazed that they got Britney Spears in the music video — then I found out those were just look-a-likes. Regardless, this cover is similar to Woe, Is Me being on this list: it’s just a fun cover. This is probably A Static Lullaby’s most popular song, and that’s a shame because they have some really good songs (if you like early to mid 2000’s post-hardcore, that is).

30. “Down” (originally by Jay Sean) by Breathe Carolina — Punk Goes X

Give me a break, we all thought that this screaming was cool at one point. Honestly, if you take that screaming out, this really isn’t that bad of a cover. Is it great? No, maybe not, but when you have to pick a song from Punk Goes X, your options are fairly limited. Perhaps the largest takeaway here is that this video was filmed on the Fearless Friends 2010 tour, which featured a lineup of Mayday Parade, Breathe Carolina, Every Avenue, Artist Vs. Poet, and Go Radio. Only one of those bands still exists at the time of me writing this.

That’s it. We did it. We made it through the top 30 Punk Goes… songs. If you want to argue about it, let’s do so (civilly) on Twitter.