The other day my friend and podcast co-host, Eli, sent me a DM on Twitter asking, "what do you make of this?" attached to a link of TikTok metalcore musician Scene Queen's music video for "MILF"
I've seen her around here and there. Scene Queen, a moniker adopted by LA-based musician Hannah Collins for her highly feminine metalcore project, has over 600K TikTok followers so if you engage with certain kinds of alt music content at all you'll probably come across her videos. "MILF" (in this case, standing for Man I Love Fucking) is predominantly a country song about wanting to get fucked that occasionally shifts to a shot of men playing a metalcore breakdown in a scene that channels "MakeDamnSure" by Taking Back Sunday– concrete room, bright lights, serious expressions.
For what it's worth, I don't think this song is very good. I think it has to be far catchier to work. For this concept to work, it has to be undeniable, but even if it were catchier, I still don't think "MILF" would be a successful subversion of metalcore. It's not really participating in it. Sure, there are short passages of breakdowns and short little jokes leveled at metalcore guys, but it's more of a country song about how much she loves having sex. The genre-shifting isn't really successful to me either. It's clunky. It's one song that just has quick little breakdown parts that aren't integrated into the song.
It's just such an unfocused attempt at subversion. It attempts to, in one swing, comment on:
- You can't be taken seriously if you like pop music or country music and also claim to be involved in emo or metal or hardcore.
- Women should be pure and not like sex.
- Being feminine and wearing pink means you music not actually like music.
I think you can probably do the latter two or the first one, but doing all three would be really tough to pull off. I think if you want to be subverting the expectations of a genre like this as a musician, you have to be participating in it more than "MILF" is trying to. I never thought Jarrod Allonge's Sunrise Skater Kids comedic music was real funny or clever, but at least it was clear what he's getting at because it's within the confines of the thing he's doing a parody of. I don't think Scene Queen is doing full parody, but it is comedic and it is in your face about egging on guys who want to gatekeep the scene from her or whatever. It would just be more successful in the message Scene Queen is all about if the metalcore parts of the song were more integrated and it was more focused on the obsession with purity of what's Real Metal.
I believe she wants to make music and it's clear she enjoys her performance– you can see it all over her videos– but I think the appeal to fans is more in the idea of the whole thing.
The video for "MILF" presents a stark aesthetic contrast that really tells the story of Scene Queen's whole thing. Making music that aims to be aggressive and confrontational by juxtaposing a girl dressed in all Barbie pink against the self-serious and grey norms of heavy music. It's comedy and it's commentary. She calls it Bimbocore. It's obviously aiming for an in-on-the-joke subversion of metal(core) aesthetic expectations to make it as confrontational as possible. At every turn, she's daring you and any man on the internet to tell her it's not metal. There is a built-in "Me Vs. The Core Dudes" confrontation in her TikToks and her lyrics.
That idea– that confrontation– is the point and the root of her success. Calling out the misogyny rampant within a section of music is the point and if you say it sucks you're part of the problem.
The thing is that misogyny is undoubtedly everywhere within music, but it manifests differently depending on what groups you're looking at. If you look at Scene Queen more as an idea that's going after misogyny leveled at fans, that's where you'll find some logic in the success she's found. She is, right down to her name, most successful in calling out the misogyny leveled at female fans of heavier music genres. Talking about loving to fuck as a fuck you to men is more successful when you apply it to accusing girls who take part in music scenes of just being interested in sleeping with the band members. It's that sort of accusation that breeds the "not like other girls" personality type.
There is little that's subversive about being a conventionally attractive white woman musician wearing super feminine clothes, even as a musician within rock music. When you look at bands fronted by women who have broken through in emo and heavier music in recent years, you won't be hurting for people dressed in heavily stylized outfits and makeup. There is misogyny in the fact that female musicians are expected to look fuckable– and are often cast aside if they are not– in a way men are not if they want to be successful, but the criticism here, I think, is more of fan standards than of musician standards.
Not that musicians and people who work in the industry don't experience an extension of that misogyny– the assumption that a member of the band or crew is a girlfriend is still very real– but I think why Scene Queen reaches people because she's speaking to different kinds of fan-level misogyny. Both the "Name Three Of Their Songs" type of music bro misogyny and the rampant abuse of young girls that happens within alternative music. That's what she's usually going after and that speaks to people. That's the root of her success.
Best to just ignore it if you're the kind of person who would get mad that she got named Breakthrough Artist by Rock Sound. That's exactly the kind of thing Rock Sound would do. Deeply unserious publication.
If there's one song I think you should listen to today, it's this one:
Miranda Reinert is a music adjacent writer, zine maker, podcaster and law school drop out based in Chicago. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram for more assessments of misogyny: @mirandareinert. This blog does have a paid option and I would so appreciate any money you would be willing to throw me! You may also send me small bits of money at @miranda-reinert on venmo/on Paypal if you want. As always, thanks for reading!