This is part of a Retrospective that covers the entire bands discography. You can find the post for the previous album here. There’s also an introduction and disclaimer that you can read here, that I strongly suggest you start out with.
So here we are with Blood on the Dance Floor’s ridiculously named second full length release, It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World. And despite that insanely stupid title, and the even more hideous and tacky album cover featuring Dahvie Vanity’s terrible, 2008 aesthetic, it’s actually a pretty solid release. Although it is significantly weaker than the bands previous effort, Let’s Start a Riot.
Diamond (let’s call it that for short), is notable in a couple of ways. It’s the first album to feature Garrett “Ecstasy” McLaughlin on screaming vocals, with the band presenting as a duo rather than a trio (which could continue to be the case until the end of 2018) and it’s also the first album to feature the bands longtime producer Rusty “Lixx” Wilmot at the head of the production, which honestly did wonders for the bands sound over the next several years. Rusty is one heck of a producer, and while this album is far from his best work, it’s a good indication of what’s to come on the production side of things. It’s also one of the bands shortest releases, with a total runtime of about 35 minutes (not including the bonus tracks on the Deluxe Edition, which I’ll get into later).
Much like its predecessor (and pretty much every one of its successors), Diamond is again considered to be one of the worst albums ever produced, and in terms of overall album rankings tends to be placed just slightly below Let’s Start a Riot in terms of awfulness. And again, I’m here to challenge that perspective because… It’s really not that bad.
One thing I will say though, is that a lot of the unique flavour from the bands debut album is missing this time around. While Let’s Start a Riot had an extremely varied production, with every song having its own unique twist on Electropop and instrumentation to make them stand out, Diamond is a bit of a downgrade due to the fact that it goes for a more “samey”, albeit consistent, instrumentation throughout.
While Let’s Start a Riot featured a lot more guitars and a nice blend of auto-tuned vocals, singing, rapping and screaming, Diamond is primarily a trashy Scene pop album for the duration of its run, with next to no guitar work. It’s a lot more “rave” heavy, with a lot more elements of MySpace era Crunkcore littered throughout, thanks to the inclusion of new backing vocalist Garrett Ecstasy, who can be heard screaming in the background of most of the albums tracks. And while Mongillo filled this role on the bands debut album, said role was incredibly limited and nowhere near as prominent as it is on this release.
That being said, Ecstasy’s inclusion is hardly a bad thing. His screamed vocals are fantastic and arguably the best the band ever had out of all of its lineups over the years. He adds a lot of energy to the songs whenever his screaming is thrown into the mix, such as the bridge after the first chorus of S My D where he just goes on this insane screaming session as the beat fucking slaps hard. Even this albums harshest critics have praised this particular section as being the one “listenable” part of the album, so it did something right.
As for the content of the music itself, it’s essentially more sex-filled, braggadocius, over the top Scene pop, only this time there’s next to no “serious” side like there was in Let’s Start a Riot. The “trashy” factor has been turned up to eleven in Diamond and while this isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world, when combined with the duller and less colourful instrumentation, it definitely makes this follow-up feel like a bit of a downgrade. Much of the underlying darkness and edginess from the previous release is gone in favour of goofiness and silliness, which is a bit of a shame.
But thankfully, with the album only clocking in at around 35 minutes, it doesn’t feel like it overstays it’s welcome either. For a release like this, it’s just the right length, and getting through it is a fairly easy task. Sometimes I’ll be in the mood for a shorter Blood release, and I’ll throw this one on if I have half an hour to kill.
And in spite of all my criticisms, the production of Diamond, as I mentioned earlier, is significantly better than their first release. The band still have a long way to go, but the evolution in production quality is pretty damn clear, with the first few tracks in particular being absolute bangers.
Save The Rave is a phenomenal opening track, and is one of my favourite Blood on the Dance Floor songs. It’s also one of the less sexually explicit songs on the album, and if I’m ever feeling a little down, I’ll stick it on to lighten up my mood. It’s a happy, upbeat, rave tune, and it’s pretty great.
S My D is also a pretty strong track, even if the lyrics are ridiculously juvenile. It’s catchy, it’s funny and it has some fucking incredible screaming vocals from Garrett Ecstasy as I mentioned earlier on. It fucking bops.
Ima Monster is also an iconic Blood on the Dance Floor song that went semi-viral thanks to a certain, cringe-inducing, YouTube video. The song itself is solid and has a super memorable chorus in the form of “Chop, chop, chop you up! Ima monster hahaha!” It’s the perfect embodiment of overly cute and edgy, MySpace era, Scene Kid culture, and I fucking love it. Unironically.
There’s even some semi-decent rapping and singing from Dahvie in Keys to the Bakery and the title track respectively. Both those tracks are among the highlights of the album.
Sadly, the latter half of the album is where things start to fall apart for me. Starting with a lazy remix of the song Blood on the Dance Floor from the previous album, the “DJ Pickee Remix” as it’s named is pretty underwhelming because it’s essentially just a worse version of the original song. It isn’t bad, but there’s very little point in listening to it when the far superior, original version exists. All of the flavour from the original has been sucked out in favour of a generic instrumental that doesn’t compliment the song anywhere near as well.
And from there it’s only downhill.
Mosh & Roll brings back the guitars and features heavily screamed vocals, but it just feels so out of place compared to everything else that I often find myself skipping it. Again, it isn’t a bad song, but in the context of the album it just doesn’t fit at all and puts a downer on the overall listening experience.
Wet Dream War Machine is similarly frustrating, featuring some of the worst production I’ve ever heard from the band. And not in a good way like anything on Let’s Start a Riot. This shit is… So fuzzy and unlistenable it actually hurts my ears. And this is coming from someone who’s a fan of the band.
For all the strengths of its first half, the second half of Diamond is loaded with weaknesses. Most notably the production just seems to take a nosedive, almost like they stopped giving a shit during the second half. I often find myself skipping the second half on repeat listens, which is a damn shame because the first half kicks ass and is some of the bands best work.
I don’t hate Diamond though. It’s definitely not the bands best work, especially when compared to its predecessor, but it’s not a bad album at all. It’s a very fun, energetic, goofy, Scene pop album with some iconic tracks, and an improved production overall. And Garrett is a fantastic addition to the band, who does a far better job than Mongillo ever did.
It’s a fun time, and a solid listening experience overall, despite the much weaker second half and the issues I have with it.
And now, here’s some track ratings for you all:
- Slash Gash Terror Crew Anthem! – 8/10
- Save The Rave – 10/10
- S My D – 9/10
- Ima Monster – 9/10
- It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World – 8/10
- Keys to the Bakery – 9/10
- Blood on the Dance Floor (DJ Pickee Remix) – 5/10
- Mosh & Roll – 6/10
- Do You Want to Be a Superstar? – 8/10
- Wet Dream War Machine – 4/10
- Mad Rad Hair – 4/10
Save The Rave, Ima Monster, Keys to the Bakery
Blood on the Dance Floor (DJ Pickee Remix), Wet Dream War Machine, Mad Rad Hair
Would I Recommend It?
Yes I would. It’s Hard to Be a Diamond in a Rhinestone World is definitely one of the weaker Blood on the Dance Floor releases, but it’s still pretty damn great overall. If you’re into really trashy pop music and are looking for something more upbeat (and don’t mind goofy, sexually explicit lyrics) then Diamond is most certainly worth checking out. At only 35 minutes, it’s hardly a big time sink. Give it a listen!
What about the Deluxe Edition?
Yeah, there was also a Deluxe Edition released, which comes with two bonus tracks. Epic and Lawlz. They’re alright. Lawlz in particular is a good outsider-esque track that’s worth a listen.
Other than that, there’s not much else to say regarding the Deluxe Edition. It’s two extra songs, and they’re alright. Nothing spectacular, but give it a look if you want some more Diamond era Blood I guess.
Next time, we’ll be switching things up a bit and will be talking about the bands first EP release, I Scream, I Scream. With only 5 tracks, and a much heavier emphasis on screaming (both in the album title, and the songs themselves), this is yet another notable release in the bands discography that I’m looking forward to discussing.
But until next time!