Other People's Greatest HitsRude Records
By Cole Faulkner
Teenage Bottlerocket’s Stealing The Covers is one of the most unique and purposeful cover albums I’ve ever heard. Placing a focus on unappreciated and lesser known pop-punk bands was a stroke of genius for exposing listeners to a new spread of lesser known but influential bands. It’s a cover album with heart that doesn’t feel like a cheap cop out or lazy excuse to release something new with minimal effort. So many other bands stumble when releasing cover albums, and New York pop-pop outfit Patent Pending is among them.
Patent Pending’s latest offering comes in the form of a ten song (or eleven song, depending on how you look at it), cover album entitled Other People’s Greatest Hits. The source material lifts chart topping radio hits over the past few decades and coats them in the the quintet’s unmistakable brand of pop-punk gone electro-pop. The only problem? The band has stripped what makes each of these songs unique (from hallmark genre sounds to general atmosphere), and made them all feel like a low level collection from Fearless Records’ Pop Goes Punk series.
Despite a range of source material, every song gives off an overdone Head Automatica meets Good Charlotte vibe, diluting any unique tempos or time signatures to a combination of gang-vocal defined choruses and predictable melodies. Covers include songs taken from The Spice Girls (“Spice Up Your LIfe”) and The Killers (“Mr. Brightside”), to Ricky Martin (“livin’ la vida loca”) and John Bellion (“All Time Low”). And in an effort to be relevant they even managed to secure a cover of Ed Sheeran’s hit single “Shape Of You,” which predictably strips the track of the intimacy that Sheeran is known for, and replaces any inkling with a blanket of forgettable, crunchy riffs.
The only two marginally interesting moments occur with the mashup of party anthems in “Wasted / Wake Me Up” and a classic instance of Rick-rolling in “Never Gonna Give You Up.” The former combines the intro to Tiësto’s club romper “Wasted” and the iconic chorus call and instrumental toe tapper of Avicii’s “Wake Me Up.” Both tracks work surprisingly well together, and actually fit Patent Pending’s overarching poppy feel. As for their treatment of Rick Astley’s 80’s classic, the song maintains the essential synth elements, respecting the quintessential cheese that has extended the tune’s lifespan well into the present. Unfortunately, listening to the track typically results in me rushing to YouTube for a quick reminder of the original version, so it never quite leaves the shadow of that which it emulates.
Sadly, two marginal songs is not enough to carry Patent Pending in this covers effort. The album’s treatment of the source material is unremarkably uniform, and consolidates a breadth of genres under the Patent Pending flag, all the while leaving behind the uniqueness of the originals. The album is titled Other People’s Greatest Hits, and it’s best that they remain that way.