Blood on the Dance Floor

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of Use )
Let's Start a Riot (2008), 7/10
It's Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World (2008), 5/10
Epic (2010), 7/10
All the Rage (2011), 4/10
Evolution (2012), 4/10
Bad Blood (2013), 5/10
Bitchcraft (2014), 4/10
Master of Death: Master of Death (2015), 6.5/10
Scissors (2016), 4/10
Sinners Are Winners: For Beginners (2016), 6.5/10
Sinners Are Winners: The Invocation (2017), 6/10
Kawaii Monster (2017), 6/10
Haunted (2018), 4/10
Cinema Erotica (2018), 4/10
Hollywood Death Star (2019), 4/10

Florida's Blood on the Dance Floor (whose name is the title of a Michael Jackson remix album from 1997) was initially the trio of rapper Jesus Torres aka Dahvie Vanity, guitarist Christopher Mongillo and keyboardist Rebecca Fugate. They came out of the "crunkcore" scene publicized on the Internet by the social platform MySpace which included makeup artist and future cosmetics tycoon Jeffree Star as well as Brokencyde, a hip-hop group that pioneered the fusion with screamo hardcore.

Blood on the Dance Floor's first album, Let's Start a Riot (2008), doesn't even feel like a real album, as its songs sound like cheesy, hilariously incompetent, lo-fi, covers of past synth-pop and electroclash hits. What offended the masses was the vulgar, gross and depraved lyrics, and the general display of Vanity's abominable persona, but the melodic talent was undeniable. Vanity's morbidly androgynous (and frankly amateurish) vocals further antagonized the rock and pop audiences. But in a sense his project was simply the continuation of the attack on sexual dogmas launched in the 1960s in a satirical vein by the likes of Frank Zappa and Alice Cooper and continued in the 1980s in a gross and self-destructive vein by certified punks like GG Allin and the Meatmen. Hip-hop music had often turned that attack into something more obscene and abusive. It's something that countless rock stars, from Elvis Presley to Mick Jagger and from Jim Morrison to David Bowie, had alluded to (with the silent collaboration of their fans). Blood on the Dance Floor restored a demented dimension to the long-running sexual-trasgression project of (un)popular music. The perverted anthem I Can't Get Enuff borrows from Nine Inch Nails but with much less virulence, more closely related to disco-music of the 1970s. The core of the album are degenerate raps like Bitches Get Stitches, that often exploit the beat of Hellogoodbye's Bonnie Taylor Shakedown (2004), and often sound like variations on Bloodhound Gang's The Bad Touch (1999), and often evoke the mood of 1980s synth-pop albums such as Soft Cell's Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret. Blood On the Dance Floor also incorporates the childish rigmaroles of Aqua, and in fact I Heart Hello Kitty sounds like Aqua on lust-inducing steroids. The two bands share the same passion for insanely silly erotic parody. There's also room for the gloomy atmosphere of Sex and Violence, that winks at Joy Division, and for the gallopping hard-rocking polka You're a Dancer You're Not a Lover. Vanity's delirious show ends with the piano-driven Libertine at a Neil Young-ian martial pace. The album is a tribute to musical stupidity, it's parody of music that wasn't meant to be taken seriously in the first place. In a sense, it's total nonsense. In a sense, it's the ultimate statement of provocation as entertainment (the ultimate punk ethos). In a sense, it's a weapon of deviant post-modernist cultural terrorism. The musical merits are certainly limited, especially after the first seven songs.

Vanity, who already had a reputation as a serial paedophile and rapist, recruited two different partners (Garrett "Ecstasy" McLaughlin and Rusty "Lixx" Wilmot) for It's Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World (2008) Here they didn't even try to sound like a hip-hop band. Past the brief demonic Slash Gash Terror Crew Anthem, this is jovial, flamboyant, thumping, Euro-house music of the late 1990s, again modeled after Aqua's catchy satirical skits (Save the Rave). The best (worst?) outrage is the breathless Scooter-esque S My D. Alas, it's a repetition of the same joke, which, like most jokes, sounds less funny every time you repeat it. Vanity's texts amount to a paranoid confession of being a sexual predator. Party music for retarded perverts, but viral on MySpace's crunkcore scene.

The duo of Vanity and Ecstasy also released the singles Siq With a Q (2008), Suicide Club (2008), one of their most frenzied techno numbers, and Crunk Man (2009), as well as the EPs I Scream I Scream (2009), which contains five songs (including Suicide Club and Scream for My Icecream) in five different styles, and OMFG Sneak Peak (2009), containing four better produced but mediocre songs (including Crunk Man and Lookin' Hot Dangerous).

Vanity was arrested in Colorado for sexually assaulting a little girl. Garrett Ecstasy left (accusing Vanity of being a pervert) and 18-year-old guitarist Jeremy "Jayy VonMonroe" Griffis partnered with Vanity for the sprawling, 22-song Epic (2010). The album is a cauldron of trivial, recycled musical stereotypes from the history of (non-intelligent) electronic dance music. The lyrics are the usual awful hell of perversion. And so their "art" remains the intersection of shocking hyper-pornographic proclamations set to relentless, pounding beats and to sugar-coated catchy melodies. They do produce an incredible number of memorable ditties: Beautiful Surgery, Candyland, Horrifically Delicious, Sluts Get Guts, Innocent High, and perhaps their best hip-hop number yet, It's on Like Donkey Kong, plus improved versions of Lookin' Hot Dangerous and Scream for My Icecream, while Sexting was the "hit" among the crunkcore crowd. Of course, 22 songs with almost the exact same beat and very similar melodies (and the crudest imaginable lyrics) don't constitute a groundbreaking achievement.

Meanwhile, even Jeffree Star accused Vanity of being a sexual predator (he retracted the accusation two years later).

All the Rage (2011) veered towards more fashionable pop-soul ballads and yielded their biggest hit, Bewitched, besides the grandiose aria of Star Power. Evolution (2012) embraced a loud and dense wall-of-sound style and largely abandoned their sexual innuendos. Unfortunately the bombast didn't yield any memorable song. It became their most successful album yet. By this time Vanity had become a pop star, and his fanbase was largely made of teenage girls. After the mediocre Clubbed to Death (2012) and The Anthem of the Outcast (2012), the turn towards conventional disco-pop ballads continued on Bad Blood (2013), another professionally produced and performed album that attempted to establish them as a serious musical act with power-ballads like Always and Forever, bad imitations of Nine Inch Nails like Bad Blood, and goofy hip-hop numbers like I Refuse to Sink. The more sophisticated rhythms of Bitchcraft (2014) don't help. The album is bland and uneventful except for the ballad Call Me Master and the industrial metal of Poison Apple.

Vanity's solo project Master of Death recorded only one album, Master of Death (2015), a rock opera of sorts which is basically a macabre fantasy about his own death and resurrection. This album features some melodies worthy of Vanity's early career, like Beyond the Wasteland (over a primal beat), and some intricate synth work, notably in the creepy Ultima. Balancing the two, Vanity obtains some virulent digital hardcore like The Labrynth, gothic-industrial nightmares like All Hallow's Eve and fits of neurotic melodrama like The Suffering. On the other hand, Vanity also succeeds in naive rigmaroles that feel like skits of an expressionist cabaret, notably the double whammy of Death of Vanity and Skull Kid Rises From the Ashes. A female vocalist, Kerry Louise, helps to make the songs more digestible. The electronic arrangements are Vanity's most atmospheric yet.

Meanwhile, Blood on the Dance Floor released the six-song EP Cruel Pornography (2015), still produced by Rusty "Lixx" Wilmot, and then the album Scissors (2016) of more conventional synth-pop, with the magniloquent ballads Scissors and Mess Like Me. After this album VonMonroe quit. He had already released the solo album 10CMD (2015).

Vanity launched a new solo project, Sinners Are Winners, which debuted with an album of demonic bombast, For Beginners (2016). Half of the songs are explosive industrial screamo. It's a ceremony that begins with the grandiloquent Punish Me, continues with the vicious Zero F***s Given, peaks with the pummeling Like a Moth to the Flame and ends with the seismic Psycho. In between there's room for the gothic singalong Down With My Demons and the swinging Sex Drugs Hexes & Gore. The second album credited to Sinners Are Winners, The Invocation (2017), sounds like a psychoanalytic and gothic concept, inferior to its predecessor although it contains one of his most ferocious screamo outbursts, Kill Your Ego, the evil anthem I Hate Every Fucking One, propelled by a percussive maelstrom, and the demonic singalong The War Inside Our Soul. The symphonic pomp of Invoke the Darkness and the operatic metal of Perfectly Flawed make it sound like another rock opera, although the narrative here is all interior.

Vanity resurrected Blood on the Dance Floor, now a duo with his girlfriend Fallon "Vendetta" Maressa, for the album Kawaii Monster (2017), which sounds like a self-tribute to early Blood on the Dance Floor. However, the likes of Resurrection Spell and Love Live Voodoo are but faint echoes of those synth-pop anti-anthems, albeit much better produced. The frenzied and demented Ghosting and The Anti-Social Media are the real winners: exuberant, propulsive and catchy ditties built out of stale stereotypes of electronic dance music. The cartoonish Kawaii Monster is the manifesto of their post-modernist take on their own post-modernist take on dance-pop.

Haunted (2018) is instead a collection of tedious high-tech ballads. Cinema Erotica (2018) sounds like a collection of leftovers. Vanity created Hollywood Death Star (2019) alone.

Vanity set aside Blood on the Dance Floor for a new project, Kawaii Monster, which released the mini-album Love From Hell (2019) and two EPs, Poison Love (2019) and The Balance (2020).

In 2018 MetalSucks published an article about six women who claimed to have been raped by Vanity. In 2019 a harrowing report by the Huffington Post identified 21 women claiming that they been sexually assaulted by Dahvie Vanity (16 of them while still teenagers). In 2020 Insider ran another lengthy article about these accusations. Ironically, Vanity's main defenders on social media were teenage girls.

Vanity launched yet another solo project, the Most Vivid Nightmares, with a dozen singles between 2020 and 2022, starting with the power ballad Drowning in the Darkness (2020) and peaking with the catchy Angel From My Nightmares (2021).

(Copyright © 2021 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )