Scene vocalists have fostered plenty of questionable lyrics over the years, but there are some particularly garish examples that, were they released now, may well have led to the bands that sung them getting canceled.
While artistic freedom is an important aspect of any band’s creative output (and a few of these artists have pretty good explanations for their lyrics), there have been several occasions where scene bands have crossed the line from creative expression into downright disturbing territory.
Here, we’ve pulled together 10 examples of dodgy scene lyrics that really don’t stack up in 2020.
All lyrics via Genius.
Metro Station, “Seventeen Forever”
Lyrics: “You are young and so am I /
And this is wrong, but who am I to judge /
You feel like heaven when we touch /
I guess for me this is enough /
We're one mistake from being together /
But let's not ask why it's not right /
You won't be seventeen forever /
And we can get away with this tonight”
On the surface level, this is merely a soppy ditty about being young, reckless and in love, but dig a little deeper and Metro Station’s lyrics on “Seventeen Forever” quickly become problematic. The narrator is clearly aware that their desires aren’t wholly appropriate — “This is wrong, but who am I to judge,” “Let’s not ask why it’s not right,” We can get away with this tonight”— which makes the lustful nature of the song all the more unsettling. Vocalist Trace Cyrus admitted to Kerrang! in a 2009 interview that “Seventeen Forever” “is actually about wanting to be in a relationship with a girl who's underage so bad and how age limitations don't let you do that.”
Not cool, fellas.
Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, “If You Think This Song is About You, It Probably Is”
Lyrics: “Did you get sick of the shame? /
Did you lie on your back like a whore?”
The main point of contention here is the use of “whore” and the slut-shaming it implies. The song overall has been interpreted as a jibe towards D.R.U.G.S. frontman Craig Owens’ ex-bandmates in Chiodos, and it’s largely well-executed, which makes the inclusion of the “did you lie on your back like a whore?” line all the more disappointing. Owens’ point could have been made without the need for derogatory language, which makes “If You Think This Song...” a good track let down by a glaring lyrical misstep.
Lyrics: “I need a girl that I can train”
Pretty simple, this one. Women are not yours to “train,” lads. Cut that line out and you’re left with an undeniable pop-punk banger from an album packed to the rafters with, well, undeniable pop-punk bangers.
BrokeNCYDE, “Scene Girlz”
Lyrics: “Ahh yeah you’re in need of attention /
Now drop that ass like you’re in detention /
Sit down girl just shut up and sit /
Before I make you suck my (ohh!) /
OMG, You thought I'd say dick /
But I won't say dick /
Until you touch my dick /
So get on your knees girl, suck it bitch /
BC13 and we run this shit”
Classic BrokeNCYDE nonsense here, but lyrics like “get on your knees girl, suck it bitch” cross the line from crunked-up silliness into derogatory territory. Thankfully, BrokeNCYDE’s recent comeback single focuses on the coronavirus, rather than their lust for “Scene Girlz.”
Attila, “Proving Grounds”
Lyrics: “So who’s the f*ggot now?”
They don’t give a fuck about anything, let alone being canceled, and there are plenty of songs to choose from when it comes to Attila’s back catalogue of controversial lyrics. We’ve gone for “Proving Grounds,” though, because the use of the word “f*ggot” wasn’t cool in 2014 when the track was released, and it definitely isn’t cool now. Fronz did address the issues around the song following a call-out from Senses Fail, explaining that “Proving Grounds” came from a place of empowerment and was a shot back at the people who had previously used the F-word against him.
Emmure, “Bring a Gun to School”
Lyrics: “Get it through your fucking head /
All your friends are fucking dead /
Yeah they got what they deserved /
Stop acting hard you know it hurts /
Your loved ones living in the dirt /
Holy fucking shit /
I’m having too much fun /
Killing everyone /
That you’ve ever loved”
This song is now known as “untitled,” and sees Emmure vocalist Frankie Palmeri fantasize about bringing a gun to school and… you know the rest. Obviously, this wasn’t the band’s finest move, but Palmeri has defended the track, telling Revolver: “I was a kid who got picked on growing up because I was different. I was fat, I wore glasses, had suspenders and I got fucked with just because I was a little strange. So I identify with people who get pushed over the edge. I don’t think senseless violence is cool. I’m not promoting that. But I’m definitely speaking for people who think, 'Oh Yeah, you’re gonna fuckin’ bully me? Well watch this—bang!' It’s dark and really terrible, but it’s also a very real thing that people need to understand. The human race needs to wake the fuck up and be a little more conscious to the fact that we are all suffering together on this piece of shit planet, and maybe the assholes of the world can do something to make it a little brighter for everyone.”
Asking Alexandria, “Not the American Average”
Lyrics: “I see you cold /
I feel you heartless /
You stupid fucking bitch /
You stupid fucking bitch /
Danny Worsnop has admitted this track can be interpreted as misogynistic, and isn’t suitable for 2020’s social climate (though repeatedly referring to a sexual conquest as a “stupid fucking bitch” wasn’t acceptable in 2009, either). He elaborated on the issues surrounding “Not the American Average” in a recent interview with Kerrang!, stating: “We’re retiring this song [“Not the American Average”]. It will never be played live again. We’re doing it because everyone’s so fucking offended by everything. There’s the whole misogynistic and sexist angle [of the lyrics] that people could criticize it for, and the social climate has reached a point that means we’re going to get ahead of the bullet and retire this one before it becomes an issue. I actually can’t stand playing it, so I’m glad — I’ve been trying to drop it for years!”
Brand New, “Me Vs Maradona vs Elvis”
Lyrics: “Barely conscious in the door where you stand /
Your eyes are fighting sleep while your mouth makes your demands /
You laugh at every word, trying hard to be cute /
I almost feel sorry for what I'm gonna do”
The unsettling allegations (including soliciting minors for explicit photos) leveled against Brand New’s Jesse Lacey in 2017 have brought fresh attention to the emo vocalist’s lyrics, and in hindsight, songs like “Me Vs Maradona Vs Elvis” show themselves to be the definition of problematic. The fact that articles about this track come up if you google “Brand New Date Rape Song” is all you really need to know about the issues surrounding this cut from 2003's Deja Entendu.
Senses Fail, “You’re Cute When You Scream”
Lyrics: “I'll take you to the top /
Of this building and just push you off /
Run down the stairs so I can see /
Your face as you hit the street”
Scene vocalists spouting violent lyrics was pretty common back in the day — who can forget Brand New and Taking Back Sunday trading threats of violence via song — and Senses Fail’s “You’re Cute When You Scream” was another such example, as the narrator fantasizes about killing someone. To the band’s credit, they have expressed regret for their previous lyrical missteps, with vocalist Buddy Neilsen stating his desire to rerecord and remove derogatory lyrics from their old songs.
Saves the Day, “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic”
Lyrics: “Let me take this awkward saw
Run it against your thighs
Cut some flesh away
I'll carry this piece of you with me
'Cause all I can say tonight is, 'I hate you.'"
More disturbing lyrics from a scene frontman scorned here. Saves the Day vocalist Chris Conley recently spoke to Loudwire about the creative process around the album, Through Being Cool, to which “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” belongs, shedding light on how some of the violent lyrics were the product of a writing assignment and not wholly representative of his true feelings.