Review: Relient K – Is For Karaoke

Mono Vs Stereo Records

Released June 28th 2011

Reviewed By Tyler Hess

Buy on Amazon

Oh, cover albums, aren’t you a funny bunch.  There is no secret around here that Relient K is my favorite band (except maybe when Bleach is a band), so you know I was chomping at the bit to listen to anything produced by them, even if it isn’t a serious piece of art like Forget And Not Slow Down.  Cover albums, like B-Sides and Rarities albums (See: The Bird And The Bee Sides), can be a weird kind of thing where you don’t necessarily have a solid unit, but rather a hodge podge of tracks.  I really hadn’t heard more than clips of this thing until now, so I didn’t really know what to expect.

The K Is For Karoke EP starts off with Girls Just Want To Have Fun, a song that would be terribly difficult to screw up, as it really is named appropriately as a fun track.  Lead vocalist Matthew Thiessen‘s voice has changed over the years, but never so much as what you see from song to song on here, as he tends to mix his own chords with the tones of the original singer of songs, making for a little bit of familiarity with both the songs and the band covering them.

Another thing about cover albums is that how good they are depends not only on how faithful you want the band to be to the original versus their interpretation, but also if you know the songs at all!  I don’t exactly know every track on this album, as is the case with Here Comes My Girl, but I am familiar enough with Tom Petty to know that the energy on this track definitely matches the attitude and swagger that he brings to his music.

Oh, the controversy.  It couldn’t have been any bigger than when it was announced that Justin Bieber‘s Baby would be included on this EP.  Internet comment explosions ensued.  How could this beloved band cover this…this…this pop star’s song?  This is when you have got to step back and realize that if you can’t have fun on a covers album, then when can you?  Although the shallow lyrics are hard to get past, the approach to the song actually makes it passable as Thiessen’s vocals are much more developed from over a decade of work.

Hearing Doctor Worm for the first time was an amusing learning experience for me, not knowing the song or much about They Might Be Giants, but if you came into this expecting something serious, you’re in the wrong place.  I was more familiar with Crazy, a spot on rendition of the hit from the last decade, and it is evident that the tracks on here show quite a variety of time period, taking hits from a few different generations and bringing them all together.

Remember when Thiessen sang “my favorite band will always be Tears For Fears” on In Love With The Eighties?  Well, I don’t believe him, but it is a funny thing for long time fans that they would cover this song, though it is probably the least inspiring of the bunch.  The EP closes with Weezer‘s Surf Wax America, a short track that will make everyone wish they were out in the ocean this Summer.

Although we can bicker over the song selection all day, this is just a really short and sweet Summer fun EP that I think any Relient K or pop music fan would be foolish to overlook.  There should be more songs coming out later in the year in the form of a full length album, but we’ll have this to tide us over until then.

Score: 4/5


  1. Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)
  2. Here Comes My Girl (Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers)
  3. Baby (Justin Bieber)
  4. Doctor Worm (They Might Be Giants)
  5. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
  6. Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears)
  7. Surf Wax America (Weezer)

5 responses to “Review: Relient K – Is For Karaoke

  1. Lindsey June 28, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I’m a fan girl of three bands Relient K, Anberlin, and Falling Up ( showbread minus their last release ahem) but this really wasn’t too impressive seeing as I just got Falling Up’s new album and Josh Garrel’s new album both which are blowing my mind.

    Relient K-I just want new music from you, not a cover of that cursed justin beiber….However the Tears for Fears cover is awesome ;)

  2. Tyler Hess June 28, 2011 at 9:04 am

    who is this Josh Garrel that everyone keeps talking about?

  3. Ian June 28, 2011 at 10:05 am

    I think Josh Garrel is an indie rock/folk guy. He released his newest album for free on bandcamp but I havent listened to it yet =P

  4. John Holcomb June 30, 2011 at 7:00 am

    While I’ve only listened to this once, I must say the song selection was gold. May faves were Tom Petty, Gnarls Barkley and Weezer. The weakest one of the bunch is the Tears for Fears cover, though it was still enjoyable. Then again, I do like covers albums. Lovedrug released one the same day.

  5. Tyler Hess June 30, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    yea i saw that lovedrug did that, thought it was funny. this makes me want to go back and listen to the mxpx covers album…the second one, not that awful first one

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