How Not To Do A Cover: Atreyu - Holiday In Cambodia
So, the Dead Kennedys are a band that seems to be covered a lot. In the metal scene, off the top of my head I know three bands who covered California Uber Alles: Six Feet Under, Mayhem and Brujeria. The first two are pretty bad (but we can give Mayhem a pass because its an early demo, as well as the fact that their fucking Mayhem.) Brujeria's version, which has a slight name change, is pretty decent. Napalm Death do an awesome cover of Nazi Punks Fuck off. Dead Kennedys have been covered by countless punk bands and even a lot of rock bands.
The genius to the DKs is that their music is catchy, but not in a pop way and they experiment. They always keep a foot inside the orthodox punk box, but they are never afraid to look elsewhere to spice up their sound. Holiday In Cambodia is a classic. Its one of their most recognized tunes, hell its even playable on Rockband. The riffing in this, the atmosphere it gives off, the reverb drenched leads - this is a classic by any stretch of the imagination.
So of course a trendy band like Atreyu will come along and butcher it. Look, for a metalcore/screamo sort of thing, Atreyu's first two albums actually had some decent songs. I remember hearing Bleeding Mascara when I was 12 or whatever and being immediately blown away. Their lyrics and song titles were always atrocious, but for a while they did at least have a somewhat original sound going for them. It was on their 2007 album where they started going really bad, still a few decent songs like Can't Happen Here, but overall the beginning of the end (not that they where ever a consistently good band.) They started cleaning up a lot, using harsh vocals less and less while largely watering down their sound.
The cover we have here is the epitome of lameness. The production is so clean and polished that all the life is drained out of the music. The Dead Kennedys had heart (well before Jello left, anyways) but this is just a bunch of soulless drivel. The worst part is the singer. Is it still the drummer guy? His vocals where always a tad emo, but never this horrible. You can just tell the singer thinks he is the coolest guy on earth. You can just feel it in his voice. Sorry dude, this is fucking lame. This is the most commercial, boring and vapid shit ever. Your average modern mainstream radio rock BS. Truly horrible.
The one thing I do have to give credit to Atreyu for is not changing the lyrics. One of the lyrics that is sometimes censored and often changed during covers is the line "Bragging how you know how the niggers feel cold." Many silly politically correct people will be quick to shout "thats racist, you can't say that." No PC self-appointed speech police, its not racist. If you think Jello Biafra is a racist, than I highly suspect you may have intelligence issues. Rather than racism, its social commentary. A lot of bands change it to "bragging how you know how the brothers feel cold." I actually think this is kind of racist (albeit unintentionally). First off, "brothers" is stereotyping black people and a tad patronizing. Second of all, its just damn silly to change it to that. At least Atreyu had the guts to do something that they know will inevitably be misunderstood. Doesn't make up for a shit cover, though.
Heres the bad cover:
And just as a little bonus, heres Atreyu butchering another classic punk song, this time by The Descendants: